Swains Island

Swains Island
Swains Island
Swains Island
Swains Island shore
Swains Island shore
Swains Island shore
Swains Island film by Jean-Michel Cousteau
Swains Island film by Jean-Michel Cousteau
Swains Island film by Jean-Michel Cousteau

Swains Island is a very small atoll.  Swains, also known as Olohega is considered to be part of American Samoa.  It is actually part of the Tokelau group but is owned by the Jennings family and administered by the United States.  The politics are very complicated.  The name “Swains Island” was bestowed upon the island by Captain William Hudson, in 1841. 

An American, Eli Jennings, joined the copra farmers on Swains Island, with his Samoan wife, in 1856.  It is said that he purchased the island from a British Captain Turnbull, for 15 shillings per acre, plus a bottle of gin. So, if Swains was calculated to be 373 acres, the total paid would have been 5595 shillings.  That would be about £23,000 ($US40,000) in today’s values.  Plus a bottle of gin.

Eli Jennings jr. managed a flourishing copra plantation for many years.  Presently, Swains is inhabited primarily by a few copra workers although there is little or no copra exported from Swains due to a lack of transportation. 

Getting to Swains is difficult or nearly impossible.  Special arrangements need to be made long in advance and transport is always subject to weather conditions.  If you wish to plan a charter to Swains, we suggest you contact Alex Jennings.  

Wikipedia has a great page on Swains

Samoa Shipping can arrange charters


A film to be launched in American Samoa about Swains Island from an expedition by Jean Michel Cousteau in 2013, for more information about the film contact Jim Knowlton of Ocean Future's Society @ jim@blueoceanproductions.com . Click here to learn more.