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Samoa boasts some of the most idyllic beaches in the South Pacific, but you won’t find us mentioning the B-word here.
This one’s all about the Samoan hot spots you didn’t know about.
1. Alofaaga Blowholes
Where: Taga, Savai'i
Experience the furore of the ocean at its most powerful at the Alofaaga Blowholes. Powered by waves, these roaring jets of water defy gravity - for a short time at least - and shoot skyward at an incredible speed and with great ferocity. With several blowholes of various strength, there’s a white safety line indicating where you should position yourself, and unless you want to meet your maker sooner rather than later, you’ll want to stand well behind it. Spectacular views abound, so take your lunch and enjoy the surroundings.
Secret HOT tip: Seek out the old Samoan man with a smiling, weathered face and ask him to throw his coconuts into the blow hole. Yes we're being serious. For a pocketful of change, he’ll time it perfectly and the coconuts will catapult out of the earth at pinball speed. Only in Samoa.
2. Ma Tree Walk
Where: O le Pupu Pu'e National Park, Upolu
Pictures do not do this one justice. Didn’t think you believed in giants? You will in Samoa.
Take an easy 700m walk through the tropical rainforest of O le Pupu Pu’e National Park and you’ll come across Ma Tree. Wow, a tree. Now don't be dismissive, this isn’t any old forest shrub, this is an earth creature of gargantuan proportions. With billowing buttress roots that extend like enormous trunk tentacles in every direction, you could get lost in its gnarly tree feet and not be found for a decade. Once you’ve climbed the labyrinth of branches and craggy woodwork, the walk can be continued for another 1.4km towards the Togitogiga Visitor Center, but it’s notoriously over-grown and very, very jungly – only experienced hikers need apply.
Secret HOT tip: A fantastic excursion to get away from the sun for an hour or so, but you’ll never get away from 'dem mosquitoes, so wear plenty of insect repellent.
3. Vailima Brewery Tour
Where: Northwest Upolu, between Apia and the airport.
Discover Samoa’s award-winning national beer, Vailima, on the most unannounced brewery tour you could imagine. Not one you’ll find readily available in the tourist books, there are no formal tours, simply give them a call and ask if they’d mind. That’s laid-back Samoa for you.
Brewed to a classic German recipe, Vailima’s literal translation is ‘water in hand’, which, considering how well it goes down with a big plate of food, suits it very nicely. Guests will be kitted out with steel-toed shoes and fluorescent safety vests before a tour-led guide through the production plant. You’ll taste samples straight from the vat and venture past enormous tanks that hold the wort, grind the malt and age the beer. Then it’s into the lab where you’ll be served a taste of pure Vailima lager.
Secret HOT tip: If you fancy an impromptu beer tour, call (685) 20 200 on the day you wish to visit and hope for the best. You have a 50/50 chance of them answering.
4. To Sua Ocean Trench
Where: Lotofaga village, Upolu. 40-45min drive from Apia
Look out for the faded sign on Lotofaga village's main road, because that’s the only way you're going to find To Sua Ocean Trench. More of a natural sink pool than a trench, here lies a 30-metre deep lagoon, with heavenly blue waters and verdant green walls as high as 20 metres. Accessed via a vertigo-inducing ladder, stomach the steep descent because the rewards are plentiful; you’ll be in awe of the crystal-clear water and surrounding foliage. Take a picnic for a post-dip feed, the cliff top bluff provides the perfect setting for al fresco dining.
Secret HOT tip: Roughly 20 Samoan Tala (NZ$12) will gain you access into the trench, surrounding gardens and blow holes.
5. Homestead of Robert Louis Stevenson
Where: Vailima, Upolu - High in the hinterland behind Apia.
If you’re familiar with buccaneers and buried gold, you’re probably a fan of the Scottish author, Robert Louis Stevenson’s most famous novel, Treasure Island. Stevenson’s beautifully restored former residence, Villa Vailima, resides in Samoa along with his ashes in the adjacent Mt Vaea Scenic Reserve. Guests can visit both sights for a fascinating insight into the novelist’s latter years, before his untimely death in 1894. Enjoy a guided tour of the writer’s grand 19th century abode; venture through immaculately preserved rooms, take respite from the sun on the villa’s expansive verandas and hike the muddy pathway up Mt Vaea to his tomb.
Secret HOT tip: Stevenson believed the climate of Upolu might ameliorate his tuberculosis, but he passed away a mere four years later. Nevertheless, venture into the surrounding gardens and you'll appreciate his reasoning.
Of course, there's always the beach. The beautiful, hardly-touched Samoan beach.
Hands up if you want a different kind of Samoa holiday. We've got the deals to get you there STAT.
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