If you can’t wait to see 2020 end and 2021 begin, then you should visit Samoa! Not only do Samoans know how to party, it also currently has the lowest number of Covid-19 cases in the world!
This could be your first sunrise of the year!
The Samoan islands were first inhabited around 3,500 years ago and, along with neighbouring Fiji, formed part of the Polynesian triangle; a region of the Pacific Ocean stretching from Hawaii to Easter Island and New Zealand. Samoa’s original inhabitants had no European contact until the 18th Century. In 1722, the Dutch saw the islands of Samoa but didn’t make a landing. In 1768, the French made landings and call Samoa the “Navigator Islands”. Because of its remoteness, however, Europeans didn’t arrive on a permanent basis until 1830 when English Missionaries arrived. During the late 19th Century, Samoa was exploited by various colonial powers as they recognised the value of controlling paradise. The French artist Paul Gauguin, painting in nearby French Polynesia did much to romanticise the remote islands. During the early 20th Century, Samoa was under the government of New Zealand until gaining independence in 1962. Today, Samoa is the beautiful home to soft sand beaches, exotic flora and fauna and tranquil cascading waterfalls. Fun fact – did you know Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is half-Samoan? He’s the grandchild of a great Samoan wrestling champion!
Here’s a Pro-tip: The currency used is the Samoan Tala. About 3 Samoan Tala is equal to one British Pound.
Faleolo International Airport sits just 25-miles west of Apia, Samoa’s capital but can only accommodate a narrow-body aircraft due to a short runway in this mountainous island. So, to reach Samoa, you’ll first need to fly into Pago Pago International Airport in American Samoa before transferring.
How is this for being transported!
To immerse yourself in the Samoan way of life straight off the plane, consider taking a public bus to the capital of Apia for just £1; it’s not the fastest way to reach Apia but it is fun!
Here’s Another Pro Tip: Consider purchasing a lava-lava (sarong) on arrival. Most Samoans wear them, and they come in handy if you need to dress a little more conservatively when soaking up Samoan culture!
Here are my all-time favourite things to do when exploring Samoa:
- Togitogiga Waterfall – This former swimming hole for Samoan Warriors is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing dip. The water is crystal clear and calm if you visit in the wet season.
Where there is Samoa-ic, there’s fire!
- Lalomanu Beach – If you’ve made it to the island for New Year’s Eve, then Lalomanu Beach is the place to be when the clock strikes midnight. Situated on the islands most eastern shoreline, residents and travellers alike tend to party here late into the night.
- Namua Island – Located just off the coast of Samoa, and with zero facilities or amenities, Namua Island is heaven on earth. Rent a snorkelling kit, pack a picnic, and take a boat ride over to this remote tropical island.
- Satoalepai Turtle Sanctuary – Ever wanted to swim with endangered turtles? Here’s your chance! This impressive little turtle sanctuary allows you to not only swim but also feed the resident turtles.
- Peapea Cave – There’s plenty of incredible hiking trails in Samoa, most of which wind through thick green jungle, but the Peapea Cave walk allows you to avoid the midday sun and explore an old lava tube underground!
- Samoan Cultural Village – the Samoan culture is ancient and still revered on the island. Visit the Cultural Village to gain an understanding of the culture and customs, including the intricate tattoos that adorn the Polynesians.
- Robert Louis Stevenson Museum – few people know that the author of Treasure Island was a long time resident of Samoa. His former house has been turned into a museum showing artefacts from his many voyages.
Samoa has one of the freshest and most delicious cuisines in the world! Ingredients are always fresh, locally sourced, and you’re bound to try something completely new! Dining in Samoa is an activity in itself, so to help you pick where to eat I’ve provided my three favourite restaurants on the island:
- Nourish Cafe – For lighter bites or a tasty lunch, head to Nourish Cafe. The menu features traditional Polynesian cuisine made using colourful ingredients, and healthy dishes are the core concept of the cafe.
Dining in Samoa can be so-fish-ticated!
- Taumeasina Restaurant & Bar – For dinner with a view, head to Taumeasina, a high-end restaurant located just feet from the lapping ocean. Delights like grilled seafood, Sashimi with Coconut Cream, and Sicilian Arancini populate the menu.
- Paddles Restaurant – Take a break from Polynesian cuisine and visit Paddles, a small restaurant known for its Italian dishes inspired by the northern regions of Italy. Order the shrimp risotto!
In my humble opinion, there’s nothing like sipping a refreshing cocktail, made using local fruit, as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Here are my three favourite bars in Samoa where you can do just that:
- Cocktails on the Rocks – This Apia-based bar is a long-standing island venue, well known for its live music nights. Head here after the sun goes down for a post-dinner cocktail.
- Le Vasa – This beachfront resort hosts traditional ‘Fiafia’ nights which showcase local culture. Expect fire shows, dancers adorned with flower garlands, and local drum bands playing late into the evening.
- The Edge Marina View – From Thursday to Saturday The Edge Marina View bar comes alive as locals and travellers alike gather to enjoy live DJ sets with views over the harbour.
Sleeping here is an ‘open and hut case’!
Oceanfront resorts, jungle hideaways and budget-friendly B&B’s are all available in Samoa. Here are my favourites:
- Lupe Sina Treesort – If you like your accommodation quirky, check out the treehouses at Lupe Sina. The resort sits in the heart of Samoa and makes a good base for exploring the island.
- Coconuts Beach Club Resort and Spa – This independent resort sits on Samoa’s southern coast, and is the only hotel on the island where you can sleep in an overwater bungalow.
- Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa – Made up of laid-back beach huts, the Saletoga resort is perfect for those on a budget. Enjoy spacious rooms, an outdoor pool and sea views from your bed!
Samoa offers a wonderful break from the stresses of modern city life. The country is a serene and spirited destination, with roots set deep in Polynesian culture. So if you’re ready for a relaxing location in the future, ask for Samoa!