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Holidays in Samoa are a wonderful experience. We love Samoa. And Samoa travel is easy, relatively inexpensive and well worth checking out for a tropical vacation. It is one our favourite destinations and we can’t recommend travel in Samoa highly enough. We have been twice and spent time on the main islands of Upolu and Savaii, and are seriously considering another trip to Samoa in the next few months. Travel to Samoa is fairly straightforward from New Zealand and Australia. Travel in Samoa is a bit more rustic than other destinations, it is not over run by tourists and the locals pretty much get on with their own lives – which we love.
Here we will outline our favourite accommodation in Samoa along with things to do, and how to get around.
Things to know
Getting there: Flights into Faleolo Airport. We fly Air New Zealand from Auckland.
Getting around: Local buses, taxis, car hire
Weather: Wet Season – November – March; Warm all year round
Parts of Upolu were devasted after a tsunami and earthquake in 2009. This may seem like some time ago, but we like to think we when travel to Samoa we are contributing in a small way to rebuilding communities following these disasters.
Bucket List? Here’s why…
Here is why we think Samoa should be on your bucket list:
Visitors to Pacific Islands will often talk about ‘Island time’. Time moves much slower on Samoa – well it feels like it does anyway. There is no rush to do anything, be anywhere or do anything. It is the perfect place to stop, pause, reflect and just do nothing. You can stay on small islands with no electricity or internet. You can sit on the beach all day. You can go diving, fishing, exploring. Or you can just sit and watch the world go by.
The locals are friendly, warm and welcoming. The population of Upolu (Samoa’s main island) is 135,000. On an island that is 434 square miles. As you move around the island the locals wave out and engage with you. Friendly. Warm. Welcoming.
It is important to remember that Samoa is a very Christian country with large churches in most villages. Most things will close on Sundays as locals attend church. Be mindful too that it is not appropriate to be leaving your resort in your swimsuit, wearing modest clothing will demonstrate a recognition of the local ways of doing things.
Samoa has a burgeoning tourism industry. It is a stunningly beautiful country. As a visitor to Samoa you aren’t going to feel over run by the thousands of other tourists who have turned up to have exactly the same experience. Being at Angkor Wat or the Eiffel Tower are worlds away from the type of experience you will get in Samoa. People are getting on with life around you. The flipside of this is that you aren’t going to necessarily be the focus on attention. There are plenty of touristy things to do though – head to To Sua Trench (see pic above), go snorkeling, check out local villages and see if they are selling any local produce or handicrafts, watch a rugby game or kiliketi (the local version of cricket), or attend a fiafia (cultural performance) night.
There is plenty of accommodation in Samoa but we did notice there were lots at the budget/entry level and plenty at the high end – not a lot of choice mid range. You can stay in a fale (bungalow) on the waterfront or a high-end resort. Fale (traditional Samoan accommodation) are generally at the budget end of the spectrum with shared bathroom facilties. Here are the places we have stayed and loved. Availability can be limited so make sure to check if there are rooms available.
Here are the places we have stayed and loved. Availability can be limited so make sure to check if there are rooms available.
Aga Reef is a relatively new hotel which has a mix of waterfront bungalows and hotel rooms. It is a small complex with a fabulous pool and a couple of lagoons to swim in. We loved staying here. The hotel was spread out enough so that you felt you were by your self, but access to facilities was never far away. It is also beautiful spot to have a cocktail and watch the sun go down. We also had an amazing experience where we watched a school of fish coming into shore and breaking the water – just an amazing thing to see.
Taufua Beach Fales are a great cheap accommodation option. But don’t let ‘budget option’ fool you into thinking this place is not spectacular. The beach and the views at Taufua are outstanding. This place has a great vibe, with a communal dining experience for breakfast and dinner. Did I mention the beach is amazing??? There is a Samoan cultural experience a couple of nights a week, so if you are wanting a quiet retreat it would pay to check with the cultural experience is taking place.
We stayed at Vacations Beach Fales on our first visit to Samoa. We took our car on the ferry from Upolu to Savaii – which was an experience in itself. Essentially you are jammed on in your vehicles and then the passengers squeeze into various nooks and crannies on the boat. We had a couple of lovely old ladies draped across our car having a wonderful time! But I digress, Vacations Beach Fales are an amazing experience. Image staying in a fale that is essentially beach front, where you drift off to sleep to the sounds of the waves and you wake up to them too. When we stayed we also meandered down the beach to another facility where there was a lovely bar that had a lovely happy hour every day.
Le Lagoto is a short drive away from Vacations Beach Fales and an upmarket accommodation choice. We had a large fale, with air conditioning and hot water! A beautiful hotel which we would totally recommend checking out. This is also where I discovered the delights of fresh coconut water – with a slosh of vodka! These images from Le Lagoto (we managed to lose all of ours) show how beautiful it is.
Fresh Island Food
Fresh tropical fruit is a must, along with freshly caught fish. If you can, buy fruit from a local selling on the side of the road. Pawpaw, coconut, mango, banana – yum.
We have put this at the end deliberately. Samoa is a beautiful country with stunning beaches and gorgeous weather – but it is so much more than beaches. It can draw you in in a very unsuspecting way – and then you have fallen hard – and keep trying to figure out ways of getting back there. There are opportunities at every turn to meet locals – stop by the side of the road and watch a game of the local version of cricket, visit the local markets, there is even the possibility you could attend a church service.
Samoa – Thumbs up or down?
Samoa is definitely a thumbs up from us. A holiday in Samoa is a great choice for relaxing and getting away from it all. We would recommend at least a week. If you have more time, catch a ferry over to Savaii for another taste of Samoa.
Check out the Samoan Tourism page for more info.