About Samoa

In the heart of the Pacific is Samoa, a cluster of islands that make for a wonderful holiday destination. Just a warning though, when you get home your friends will probably get sick of hearing how great it is. You'll just have to take them back to visit Samoa so they can see for themselves what you're raving about!

Holidays in Samoa are great for so many reasons. The islands are home to beautiful beaches, friendly locals and tonnes of chances to explore the nature of culture of the area. The food, flea markets, people and traditions are all bold, delightful and down to earth, so you'll feel welcomed instantly!

Head to the lush rain forests and channel your inner Indiana Jones as you hike and explore. You'll come across waterfalls and picturesque views from the top of mountains. You can get a hint of what it was like for the first explorers of the world to first step foot on islands like these, as the rugged bush stretched out for miles and remains untouched.

After you've trekked your way through the green, head to the beach. If you still have boundless energy, grab a kayak and head to the aquamarine lagoons that seem bottomless. Have you tried snorkeling before? If not, you're in for a treat. The marine life is colourful and abundant, and snorkeling is a great way to see the majesty of the underwater world.

This is the ideal place to sip from a freshly plucked coconut and chill out with the latest thriller novel. Get your sunnies out, spread out your towel and settle in under the sun. Samoan holidays are a great time to relax - all you've got is time in this magical destination.

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Popular Regions

Samoa is comprised of ten islands, the two main islands being Upolu and Savaii. Faleolo International Airport and the capital city of Apia are located on the island of Upolu. Apia is the commercial hub of the country but is more like a sleepy town than a bustling metropolitan. But don't be fooled by its sleepy appearance, some of the best restaurants and bars are found along the main strip of beach road and Apia Marina.

Getting around Upolu is easy with one ring road and two cross island roads cutting through the mountains giving visitors a taste of its varied and dynamic scenery encompassing lush rainforests, towering mountains, quaint rustic villages, spectacular white sand beaches and cascading waterfalls.

Just an hour's ferry ride away or a 15 minute interisland flight is the Big Island of Savai'i. Many historians refer to the island as the birthplace of Polynesia. Savai'i has a rugged beauty and an even more laid back lifestyle.

With a well paved ring road circumnavigating the island, Savai'i boasts one of the best coastal drives in the South Pacific.

A stay on Savai'i gives you an insight into what life was back in the days of old, where Samoans carved out a more traditional way of living, staying in fales and living off the land and the sea. A great way to experience the culture and the Polynesian sense of community is by attending a Sunday church service, where the local choir's singing is sure to lift your spirits and rejuvenate the soul. All are welcome to attend a service and after nourishing your soul, nourish your body by indulging in a traditional Sunday meal called a to'onai cooked on an overground volcanic rock oven called umu.

Getting around Samoa is easy. Driving is on the right hand side of the road. Cars, 4WD's and Jeeps are available for hire. Drivers are required to have a current Samoan driver's licence. This can be obtained by presenting your current valid overseas licence to the Police Department in Apia. Cost WST10. Cycles and mountain bikes are available for hire from several beach resorts and hotels. Taxis are available and are metered.

The bus service on both Upolu and Savai'i provides inexpensive transport for the local people, it's an experience to remember for visitors. Bus schedules and details of fares are available from the Samoa Visitors Bureau, but Samoan buses rarely run to a strict timetable, particularly later in the day.

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People & Customs

Samoa boasts a 3,000 year old tradition found nowhere else in the world called Fa'a Samoa 'The Samoan Way'. It's a tradition that stems back thousands of years and is the Polynesian culture at its most authentic. Fa'a Samoa acts as a guide for all Samoans on their behavior and attitude towards family (aiga), elders and chiefs (matais), village, church, country and environment.

Matais, more commonly known in the western world as 'chiefs' have a complex role in Samoan society, often managing matters of family issues to civic and political duties in the village.

There are 362 nu'u or villages found throughout the islands with a total of 18,000 matai.

Fa'a Samoa culture has a strong focus on welcoming visitors, however it is important that visitors respect and follow protocol when entering villages and family homes as well as using and accessing village resources. Some handy hints are:

• Avoid walking through villages during the evening prayer curfew (usually between 6pm and 7pm). This usually lasts for 10 to 20 minutes and is often marked at the beginning and end by a bell or the blowing of a conch shell.

• Respect Sunday. While many visitor attractions are open on Sunday, you are expected to behave quietly and to travel slowly through villages.

• Skimpy clothing is not recommended in villages, and will cause offence. Women are recommended to wear a lavalava (sarong) rather than shorts or pants, especially if they attend church.

• Always ask permission from your host before taking photos in a village.

• Don't offer children money, even if they ask. If in any doubt, ask your host or a village member.

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Top Things to do

Robert Louis Stevenson's House

Vailima, also known as the abode of poet and writer Robert Louis Stevenson, is on the main island of Upolu and has been converted into a museum and is open to the public. Set in lush tropical gardens one can see how Samoa, where he spent the final years of his life, inspired his world famous novel, Treasure Island.

Matavanu Crater on Savai'i - Meet Da Cr8terman

Mt Matavanu in the village of Safotu was an active volcano from 1905-1911 and slow moving lava from the eruption destroyed everything in its path as evident in the village of Saleaula today. Treks to the crater are hosted by Seu Tumapu aka Da Cr8terman, one of the most fascinating people you will ever meet. The drive to this track takes about 20-25 minutes. At the peak of the crater is a magnificent, breathtaking view of Savai'i's western villages.

Aggies Fia Fia Night on Wednesdays - Food and Cultural night

Synonymous with Samoa, Aggie Grey is THE place to be seen in Samoa. An institution in itself, Aggie Grey's put Samoa on the map and was a trail blazer in the hospitality industry in this tiny island nation. Their Fia Fia nights on Wednesdays are known all over the country, a favourite night out for locals and tourists alike.

Swim with Turtles

For an animal encounter with a unique twist, head to the wetlands sanctuary at Savai'i's Satoalepai village and take the plunge with half a dozen or more green turtles. These majestic prehistoric animals have been hunted down for their flesh and eggs for years and years and as a result are now an endangered species. If you'd rather swim with the turtles in their natural habitat, the ideal place to do that is in the ocean around Namua Island, just off the south coast of Upolu.

Stay in a Fale

A rewarding experience for visitors is a stay in a Samoan beach fale. Once a fiercely guarded secret by locals, surfers and intrepid travellers, fales are quickly gaining popularity among the general leisure market as a low budget, convenient and unique accommodation experience. With the water lapping on the white sandy beach only a few steps awway, a fale is your typical Samoan beach hut. Try one of the fales set along the north east coast of Savai'i or along the south coast of Upolu. Fabulous fales can be booked along glorious Lalomanu Beach - voted by Lonely Planet as one of the top seven Beach Paradise in the world.

To Sua Trench

One of the most iconic sites in Samoa. Situated amongst lush tropical gardens, the park overlooks the stunning South Coast. Open to visitors, there are two trenches - one with water and one without. Sea water is fed through a lava cave and swimming in the trench is an exhilarating experience. Day fales are available for picnics and for just lounging around. Access to the trench is down a steep ladder. Managing the ladder can be very scary but the experience is worth it.

Papasee'a Sliding Rocks

A popular picnic site and weekend activity for the local Samoans. Natural slides have been carved by the waterfalls through the rocks. Stunning gardens filled with ginger flowers embrace the path down to the rocks.

Piula Cave Pool

A popular swimming hole for locals and visitors the pool is formed by a natural spring flowing out of a cave and out to sea. Inside the main cave opening on the north side is a short submerged tunnel leading to a smaller cave opening on the east side of the pool. It is open Mondays to Saturdays. Excellent and refreshing after a hot drive. The cave pool is half an hour's drive from Apia.

Deep Sea Fishing

The waters of Samoa are known for its rich and abundant marine life. Giant fish are not uncommon catches with a range of species such as sailfish, yellow fin tuna, wahoo, mahi mahi and dogtooth tuna populating the deep turquoise waters.

Palolo Deep Marine Reserve

An excellent spot for swimming, diving and snorkelling, be amazed at the glorious coral clusters and the colorful schools of fish and marine life that feature at Palolo Deep. The highlight is a sudden drop into a deep blue hole, surrounded by walls of coral.

Saleaula Lava Fields

Site of a church spared from the lava's destructive path and the legendary Virgin's Grave - the grave of a princess who in life was so pure that the lava did not touch her grave.

Rainforest Canopy Walk

Strong legs and no fear of heights is a must for this activity. Kids will think they were the Lost Boys with Peter Pan. Cross the suspension bridge and climb the steep stairs up the banyan tree for a stunning view of the rainforest and the North Western coast of Savai'i. This is an hour and a half drive from Le Lagoto.

Afu Aau Waterfall

One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Samoa. Located on the island of Savaii a crystal blue waterhole is fed by numerous waterfalls. Receive an aquatic massage from one of the smaller falls. A beautiful setting for a refreshing swim.

Cruises

Samoa Adventure offers day-charter with a 35ft sailing yacht, the only Samoan based sailing catamaran. They offer a wide range of excursions/trips aboard a comfortable, spacious and stable vessel, surveyed for up to 18 guests.

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When To Go

Samoa's climate is tropical all year round, with two distinct seasons - the dry season running from May to October and the wet season from November to April.

Average daily temperature is 29 degrees Celsius and ocean temperature in the in the low 20's.

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What To Pack

Light summer clothing is appropriate all year round and packing a light sweater for the cooler evenings is recommended. As Samoa has a strong cultural structure and Christian faith, tourists are asked not to wear bathing suits in Apia or in villages.

Nude and topless (for women) swimming or sunbathing is prohibited and when leaving the beach to venture into the villages, guests are asked to wear a lavalava (sarong) pants or shorts and t-shirt. If attending church on Sunday, women are asked to wear a dress or blouse and skirt and men trousers and shirt.

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General Health

Samoa is one of the safest travel destinations in the world however, we still recommend that you apply the same common sense approach to your health and safety as you would at home, by not leaving valuables unattended, and investing in both travel insurance and a basic travel first aid kit.

No vaccinations are required to enter Samoa unless you are arriving from, or transiting through, an area infected with yellow feature within 6 days.

The water in Samoa is generally safe to drink, although we recommend that travellers purchase bottled water, which is widely available. There are a dozen medical clinics found in Apia should you require a doctor. The Tupua Tamasese Meaole II National Hospital and Medcen (private hospital) are also located in Apia along with two private dentists and four pharmacies for your prescription needs.

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Got the info you need? Ready to relax in Samoa?