Think of picturesque stretches of white sandy beaches, surrounded by turquoise ocean and lagoons, flourishing rain forests that nurture the cascading waterfalls and famously hospitable locals with their generous spirit and humble nature – this is Samoa – the heart of the South Pacific. Made up of nine separate islands, of which two are main islands – Savai’i and Upolu, which holds the nation’s capital Apia, nothing can prepare you for the exhilarating journey that lies ahead. BBM will tell you exactly what you need to know if you’re thinking of visiting this beautiful island.
The islands of Samoa lie approximately 5632km northeast of Australia, either one-stop flights from Melbourne and Perth or direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane are available. The direct flight from Sydney to Faleolo International Airport near Apia is about 5 hours and from Brisbane to Apia, a little under 5 hours. The one-stop flight from Melbourne to Apia takes 7 ½ hours and from Perth, roughly 10 hours.
Upon arriving, you’ll find the best ways to get around is by bus or taxi. Taxis are plentiful around the islands and are great value; however it is best to settle on a price before heading off. Take in the scenic views while riding the bus, as there no bus stops, just wave at a bus if you need to get on. Polynesian Airlines and ferries operate frequently throughout the day for travel between Upolu and Savai’i.
Where To Visit
Both islands are blessed with an abundance of natural springs and waterfalls so for a refreshing dip, head to Papaseea Sliding Rock, found in the Faleata District of Apia. The thrilling ride down the 5m waterfall, sliding on smooth, well-formed rock into a deep pool of cool freshwater is an experience not to be missed.
Hidden deep within mountainous jungle is the spectacular sight of Fuipisia Falls, in southeast Upolu, witness clear rushing water hemmed with white foam plummeting 180ft into a stream of freshwater. The perfect combination of tropical climate and fertile soil decorates Samoa with beautiful verdant rainforests and plush-green landscapes, making it an excellent place to explore and see the unique wildlife and untouched scenery.
On the south-eastern tip of Upolu, a tree wreathed mountain creates an impressive backdrop to the brilliant white sands of Lalomanu Beach. The ideal place to relax or snorkel, with its shimmering turquoise lagoon, stunning coral reef and the soft sea breeze gently rocking the palm trees, there is no wonder to why it is considered one of the most idyllic beaches in the South Pacific.
With a choice of waves so diverse, Samoa is definitely a surfer’s paradise. Solosolo sits on the northeast section of Upolu and during certain times of the year, you can either attempt mighty 10ft waves or mellow break-point waves.
Beneath the breaking waves, the chance to venture into Samoa’s aquatic wonderland awaits. The enchanting reefs are home to a wondrous array of marine life; for an unforgettable snorkelling experience visit Lano Beach on the north-east coast of Savai’i and enjoy the captivating splashes of vibrant colours from the exotic marine life.
For an excellent place to buy gifts and souvenirs, along with any items of clothing you may have forgotten to pack, head to Old Apia Market. The flea market has an interesting range of finely designed handicrafts, from jewellery to wall hangings made from traditional tapa cloth. While in Apia, it is worth seeing the Museum of Samoa, inside is a remarkable collection of cultural and historical artefacts.
Where To Eat
The Samoan cuisine compromises of fresh locally sourced produce, expect bountiful feasts of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables, with pork and fresh caught seafood. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants around to grab a tasty meal and a variety of western options are also available.
Amani’s Restaurant – Fugalei Street, Apia, Contact: +685 25363
This charming eatery offers tantalising traditional dishes at affordable prices, to eat-in or takeaway.
Le Lagoto Vailili Restaurant – Fagamalo, Savai’i, Contact: +685 58189
Dine on reasonably priced flavoursome delicacies freshly caught from the ocean; the restaurant is open seven days a week from 7.30am – 10pm.
Marketi Fou – Fugalei Street, Apia
Conveniently located behind Old Apia Market, Marketi Fou has an appetising selection of fresh vegetable and fruit to stock up on and is open daily. The broad choice of fruits available includes juicy mangoes, a variety of bananas and sweet pawpaw. There are also scrumptious traditional foods such as Samoan pancakes and palusami, a dish made with coconut milk and taro leaves.
Bistro Tatau – Beach Road, Apia, Contact: +685 22727
This Australian-run restaurant offers the best fine-dining experience in the area, although it’s slightly pricey, the unique Pacific and European fusion always gets rave reviews. Reservation required.
The emerging nightlife in Samoa offers a mixture of unique clubs and bars, while incorporating interesting cultural shows and events. Whether you want to relax while watching the sun dip below the horizon at an exquisite beach bar or enjoy a lively night out, Apia is the prime location.
Lighthouse Bar & Grill – Beach Road, Apia, Contact: +685 22691
During the week, Lighthouse serves delicious grilled food and a range of drinks. Over the weekend, the transformation into a nightclub makes it a fantastic place to meet people on the busy dance floor.
The Le Vasa Resort Fiafia Show – Cape Fatuosofia, Upolu, Contact: +685 46028
The luxury beachfront resort hosts traditional Fiafia nights, and offers a superb insight into the country’s culture, join in the traditional dance of Fiafia or watch amazing professional dancers perform to the sound of rhythmic drumming.
Aggie Grey’s Resort – Mulifaunua Village, Apia, Contact: +685 2880
Two bars – Bloody Mary’s and Solent Bar, located within the resort, each have their own fun atmosphere and signature cocktails. They also offer an extensive range of imported beers, spirits and wines.
RSA Night Club – Beach Road, Apia, Contact: +685 20171
The popular club provides a great chance to mingle with the locals, while listening to live bands and DJs.
From quaint backpacker rooms to extravagant coastal resorts, Samoa has the perfect accommodation to suit everyone’s needs. For those looking for a traditional experience, thatched-roof fales perch on most beachfronts and are furnished to your requirements, with either a simple sleeping mat or soft beds.
Dave Parker’s Eco-Lodge – Tapatapao, Aleisa East, Apia, Contact: +685 842 8899, Rates: From $45 pp
This tranquil mountain top lodge provides guests with stunning panoramic views of Apia and the island of Savai’i. The affordable accommodation also arranges complimentary travel to central Apia, which is only a ten minute drive.
Apia Central Hotel – Savalalo Road, Apia, Contact: +685 20782, Rates: From $110 pp
Located in the bustling streets of central Apia, this hotel fulfils its promise of convenience and comfort. Guests will receive free continental breakfasts during their stay and second-to-none local knowledge.
Tanu Beach Fales – North Coast Road, Savai’i, Contact: +685 54050 Rates: From $80
Famous for its Samoan flair, this family-run business offers guests traditional fales packed with numerous facilities while being the place to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
Le Loimata Cottage – Apaula Heights, Apia, Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Rates: From $250 for 2
Situated on the leafy hillside of Apaula Heights and a few minutes from central Apia, this cosy fully equipped 2-bedroom cottage is ultimate home away from home.