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There’s truly nowhere quite like Samoa. From the moment you arrive on this idyllic nation’s shores, you will be greeted by smiles and the lively ‘Talofa’ of the locals, who are ready to treat you like a treasured friend.
A special and important part of Fa’a Samoa – ‘the Samoan way’ – are the traditions. Check out the song and dance such as the Siva at a unique cultural show for visitors. You’ll leave enchanted by the skill, grace and passion evident in the various dances, ranging from slow and captivating to thrilling and fast. The island’s abundance of colour is sure to leave an impression. Locals don lavalavas and formal dresses and decorate their homes, buses, fences and even rocks with bold tones.
The colourful culture and welcome attitude is not all you’ll find here – Samoa is packed with natural delights like glistening turquoise lagoons, towering volcanic landscapes, blissful beaches and banyan groves, all of which offer once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for adventure or relaxation – whichever holiday type suits you. There are ten islands that make up Samoa, with Upolu (home to Apia, the nation’s capital) and Savai’i as the main two. Each island has its own unique flavour and feel – though both are equally delectable.
There’s a different type of accommodation to suit every need in Samoa. No visit here is complete without spending at least one night in an open-sided, thatched beachfront fale, lulled to sleep by waves lapping the shore. If you’re splashing out, there are, of course, deluxe resorts available where you can unwind in luxury. Or if you prefer, there’s a complete range of accommodation in between. Whatever type of lodging, and however you decide to spend your time in these islands, it’s possible that you’ll leave them with more than just a tan and happy memories. Samoa… serene, spectacular and super special.
Samoa has so many hidden treasures to discover and hiring a rental car is the perfect way to explore at your leisure. Upolu, the most popular island has loads of sightseeing options. Spots that we recommended are: To Sua Trench, located down on the South Coast it’s an iconic swimming hole that is reached by a long ladder, it can be deep and is tidal so best for confident swimmers. Also in this area is Lalomanu Beach, one of the best in Samoa. Togitogiga Waterfall, in the village of Saleilua is a popular swimming and picnic spot. Closer to town you will find the Piula Cave Pool, a fresh water pool that runs under an old Methodist Church or Papase’ea Sliding Rocks for a bit of a natural water slide experience. Head to Apia for the markets and a good range of restaurants to try. Drivers are required to get an endorsement on their full license before driving in Samoa. Driving is on the left-hand side and is relatively safe and easy with a speed limit around 56km/h with slower speed restrictions in villages. Keep an eye out for wandering dogs and pigs.
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Upolu Island has a number of great surf spots, many of which are located on the South Coast. Enjoy surfing in crystal clear, warm, tropical water. Get front row access to the best of Samoa’s local breaks through Manoa Tours. The surf guides have unparalleled experience and with their knowledge of local conditions, currents, wind and waves, you will find yourself in the best hands possible. Proximity of breaks also means you’re the first in the water and the last to leave. Nearby breaks include Coconuts (right hand reef pass), Salani (right hand reef pass), Boulders (large lava rock left hand point), TafaTafa (right hand reef pass), Nuusafee Island (an unforgettable left hander that wraps around a nearby deserted island). Surfing in Samoa is better suited to intermediate and advanced level surfers rather than beginners due to the fact that the waves break directly onto the reef and currents can be harsh at times.
In Samoan, the word for family is ‘aiga’. This special word refers to not only your immediate family, but also entire clans and communities, in keeping with the warm, welcoming vibe of Samoan culture. If you are after a true taste of Samoa and keen to have more of an authentic holiday experience we suggest you live like a local and opt to stay in one of the many beach fales dotted around the coastline. They are mostly on village land and usually family-operated and enjoy some of Samoa’s most scenic vistas and million-dollar scenery. That means you get to sleep right on the beach under a thatched roof on wooden posts, and let the gentle lapping of waves lull you to sleep. There is no power, no private facilities and no room service, but there are stunning beachfront locations, unimpeded ocean views and unbeatable R&R.
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Upolu is Samoa’s second largest island and home to its colourful capital, Apia. Take a stroll through the city’s bustling markets. Enjoy a refreshing drink of coconut milk, or stock up on tropical fruit. Upolu has scores of dazzling white beaches, making it easy to find your own secluded cove. But take time, too, to venture inland to enjoy the verdant rainforest that echoes to the sound of tropical birds and is threaded by rivers and spectacular cascading waterfalls. To make the most of the magnificent natural attractions Upolu has to offer, hire a car – it’s a fun and easy way to get around the island.
For a taste of the true Samoa you must visit Savai’i, Samoa’s largest island. It's like travelling back in time to the way Samoa was many years ago and is the cultural experience you have yearned for. Here you can live like a local while at the same time savouring the island’s stunning natural attractions. Get high on a rainforest canopy boardwalk or if you’re a keen diver, take the opportunity to go scuba diving. Savai’i is an island of incredible contrasts – follow the lava tube trail, or blow away the cobwebs by taking an invigorating hike around the easily accessible volcanic crater on the Tafua Peninsula. Cool off afterwards by relaxing in the shade of a palm tree on a nearby white sand beach.
Paddles is a well-established restaurant in the main township of Apia. The menu includes a display of both Samoan and Italian cuisine to tantalise the taste buds. A relaxing time is guaranteed with good company, great food and excellent service. Open for lunch and dinner.
This stunningly beautiful swimming hole is fringed with lush green foliage and connected to the ocean by an underground lava tube which fills it full of crystal clear water and tropical fish. There’s a slightly nerve-wracking ladder leading into the trench which might daunt younger sprogs in your clan, but the older ones will love to cannonball from the steps into the lush water below.
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 features many of his belongings, musical instruments and family photos. Enjoy a guided tour of this grand 19th century abode. (Image: ©Samoa Tourism)
Hands down one of Samoa’s most good looking beaches, this is the paradise we all dream about. As part of the mainland, the ice-white sand, crystal-clear lagoon and lolloping palms have ‘come hither’ written all over them. (Image: ©Samoa Tourism)
This spectacular waterfall in South-eastern Savai’i, plunges from the rainforest deep into a fresh-water swimming pool. Access is on a dirt road which is maintained by the local village. Entrance fees are collected at the Samoan fale about 650 metres from the main road.
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.
Independent State of Samoa
Current time in Samoa
New Zealand is 1 hour behind Samoa
Samoan Tala (SAT)
Current is 230V, 50HZ. Plug is a 3 point rectangle-pin adaptor
English and Samoan
ANZ and Westpac are available. Both have ATMs in Apia .
Hospitals are located in Upolu and Savai’i .
If you’re travelling on a NZ Passport, a Visa is not required but you are required to have proof of return or onward ticket. If you intend on staying longer than 60 days a visa will be required
3 hours and 55 minutes from Auckland to Apia, 6 hours and 25 minutes from Wellington to Apia and 6 hours and 45 minutes from Christchurch to Apia.
Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Qantas and Virgin Australia
Are you planning your next trip to Samoa? Want to learn more about this destination? Or looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday? Here is where you can find our featured articles on Samoa.
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