We decided to spend our Christmas break in Samoa and that was the best idea ! Samoa is an incredible island (actually 2 islands, but I’ll get back to it) with a strong culture.
I spent an amazing holiday, out of time. Out of time because precisely we took time to take time. We took time to enjoy life and enjoy all the simple things life gives you. Embracing all those new experiences and interactions with the incredible persons you meet that make you richer every time. But we also enjoyed all that Nature offers us. And man, how Nature has a lot to offer !
We lived 2 weeks like the Samoan, meaning simply and fully lived, enjoying it all, slowing down from the stress of the busy life, relaxing and being away from civilisation (understand : we spent 2 weeks without WiFi and it felt amazing!). What I really loved about Samoa is the fact that it’s not a touristic place, and the island kept its authentic culture and people, as the Samoan traditions are really strong. Thus, it is a perfect break in paradise !
If you go to Samoa, I strongly advise you to stay (at least!) 2 weeks to have time to explore both islands and enjoy all that Samoa has to offer (paradise beaches, waterfalls, good food…) without rushing it !
Upolu is the main island of Samoa. It’s the busiest island, with Apia, the capital.
Apia is the capital and main city of Samoa. It’s a quite busy city, but you are never really far from the sea. There, you have different things to do and you’ll find lots of shops, restaurants as well as taxis and buses. Indeed, that’s where all the buses start, and to go from one point to another, even if they are both on the South coast, you’ll have to go back to Apia to change buses, so take it into account while planning your itinerary!
We arrived there and stayed at Olivia’s Accommodation
. It’s a great place, where you can rent a room with air con
(so it can be a good idea, to have time to get used to the hot – and humid – temperatures!) and the breakfast is included. We paid 65WST per person (1 WST – called tala – is approximately 0.50 NZD, so quite easy to convert mentally !). If you arrive in Apia, they can arrange a shuttle to pick you up from the airport
(25 WST per person) or you can take a taxi (it’ll cost you around 60 WST).
That was the only hotel we booked, after that we wanted to go with the flow, and that is totally doable, even during the Christmas holidays which is the busiest time as all the Samoans living abroad (usually in Australia or New Zealand) come back home to spend Christmas with their family. Christmas is really important for them and it was great to be able to experience this time of the year there !
For breakfast you’ll have toasts, fresh fruits, coffee and sweet grass infusion made from the sweet grass of the garden, and it’s really good (for the taste and for your body! 😉 ).
From there, you can go to all the main points of interest either by walking or by taxi.
Samoa Cultural Village
During the week (Tuesday to Thursday) you can go to the Samoa Cultural Village for a free tour that starts at 10.30am and lasts around 2 hours. This is a great way to discover Apia and the Samoan culture. You’ll be able to learn more about the Fa’a Samoa – the Samoan way, and assist to a dance show, a tattoo ceremony or food preparation. Unfortunately, the tour wasn’t organised during Christmas as it was the holidays, so we couldn’t do it.
Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
The Palolo Deep Marine Reserve is a really nice spot to spend a afternoon chilling on the beach, enjoy the shadow in the beach huts (or please your inner child by playing on the swings!) but also a good place to go for snorkelling. You can bring your own gear or rent it there.
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish writer (who wrote Treasure Island) who came to Samoa because he was sick and wanted to live in a warm place. He bought a big house in Apia that is now a museum. You can enter it for 20 WST, then walk into his huge garden or walk to the top of the mount where he’s buried (and from where you have a beautiful view). Unfortunately, that day it was raining so we haven’t made it to the top. There is also a natural pool if you feel like swimming 😉
The kitchen outside the house
Papase’ea Sliding rocks
The Papase’ea Sliding rocks is at 15 minutes drive from Apia. As its name suggests, it’s rock on which you can slide down to a fall. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to go there as it was raining the day we wanted to go (but I won’t complain, we only had 2 days of rain while December/January is supposed to be the wet season), so I don’t have pictures of this place, but it looks like a fun place to go ! 😉
To enter, you’ll have to pay 20WST. Indeed, in Samoa, every place is owned by locals so you have to pay a small fee for everywhere you go (beaches, waterfalls…)
Enjoy a traditional Samoan meal
We were lucky to spend Christmas in a Samoan family. It was a great experience ! The Samoans have a lot of respect for traditions and family. So for the meal you have the chief of the village, the sub-chiefs and their family. You are all seated on the floor in their fale (their typical house, without walls), everyone having a defined spot, and you all eat together.. And when I say you “eat”, what I mean is “you devour” the food as it’s delicious ! (and you have a lot of meals to choose from… or to try them all, like I did ! 😉 )
Among all the great Samoan food we tried, my favourite is the Palusami
(taro leaves with coconut cream – they love coconut in Samoa, so I was at cloud 9, because remember how I love coconut
? 😉 ) and the Oka
(raw fish marinated in… coconut milk !). All of it is always served with fresh fruits (the Samoan flora is really rich – for our biggest pleasure!) including the breadfruit which tastes a little bit like artichoke. Remember this name as you’ll find breadfruit everywhere, and you’ll eat it in any way (slightly cooked, fried…) and they also use its juice to make their traditional siapo (clothes) – so yes, it’s a really useful fruit! You’ll also find a lot of papayas, coconuts (yaaay!) or pineapples.
Speaking of coconuts, the Samoan call the coconut trees “tree of life” as you can make everything from it : you can eat it, you can drink the coconut milk, you can use the coconut oil for the skin or the hair… So yes, they really are big fans of coconuts too ! 😉
Take a local bus
Taking a local bus is part of the Samoan experience ! Indeed, the buses are pretty colourful, and you’ll live an experience you’re not ready to forget. Imagine a bus, with loud Samoan music, where people sit on each other (even if they don’t know each other!) in order to have everyone fitting in the bus (yes, it can get pretty crowded 😉 ) and admire this dance when people have to get off the bus (there’s no stop, you pull a cord or hit the window with a coin to tell the driver you’d like to get off) changing sitting places, and everyone helping to carry the bags of the person who’s getting off to the front (or through the window if it’s easier!).
Imagine it with loud music 😉
Go to a Fia Fia show
A Fia Fia show is a Polynesian show in Samoa of traditional dances and fire-knife dancing show.
It was a really good experience. In Apia, you have several Fia Fia shows at different places according to the day, and we went to the one at Sails Restaurant
on Friday. They performed traditional dances from Samoa but also the Cook Islands and Tonga. The leader also performed the Siva Afi
(fire dance) and it was impressive !
The show was embellished with a buffet, and I strongly recommend this place ! The food was delicious, with a great view (as it’s on the beach) and the show was really good. We paid 65 WST per person for the buffet and the show.
Shop at the flea market
The Flea Market
is a covered market in Apia and the place to go if you want souvenirs from Samoa. You’ll find jewellery, fabrics and typical colourful Samoan clothes.
To Sua Ocean Trench
To enter the To Sua Ocean Trench, you’ll have to pay 20 WST, but it’s really worth it ! You’ll be able to access a cave pool with beautiful clear water, where you can swim (or jump from the top!). The water is really cool, which feels good with that hot weather. 😉
We stayed one night in the Aga Reef Resort
and it was amazing. It’s a luxurious hotel located on Lalomanu Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches of Upolu
(no pressure!). At first, we wanted to stay in fales at Taufua Fales but it was too crowded and it was 90 WST per person, being more that what I saw on the Internet (they were pretty busy so they increased the price). Just next door, we saw that peaceful and lush hotel
and we asked for the prices. Lucky us, they were doing a 50% discount on all the rooms so we got a night fo 215 WST (so only a little bit more per person than in the crowded fales next door : we quickly made our choice! 😉 ). Once at the hotel, we understood why they were discounting their rooms : there was no one in the hotel ! We were the only ones, with another Samoan family. Needless to say, it was perfect !
We had the pool and the beach for ourselves !
The Aga Reef resort offers comfortable rooms, with air con with such great views !
What I preferred there was the natural pool
where we spent countless hours, and the fact that you can hire (for free) snorkelling gear and kayaks to enjoy this beautiful water. Icing on the cake : you can admire the sunset from the hotel
, either from the natural pool or from the actual pool and restaurant, you choose ! So I was at cloud 9, as you already know how I loooove watching sunsets
Not a bad view, right?!
Can you spot the blue starfish ?
To go to Namu’a Island
you have to take a boat (“oh thank you Cindy for your tips, we couldn’t imagine that to go on an island you would need to go on a boat !” 😉 ) from the mainland. There, you can spend the day snorkelling and enjoying this paradise beach.. but you can also spend the night ! And you really should, it was an incredible experience ! So incredible that we’ve decided to stay 2 nights instead of 1 as we were originally thinking. A night will cost you 100 WST including the diner and breakfast… And what a diner and breakfast ! The food is delicious !
I just loooooooved this place. I think that’s how paradise would look like. It is so peaceful, the water is so blue (it almost look like you’re in a pool ! Except you can spot some sea turtles there ! 😉 ), the sand is so white and the coconut trees on the beach gives the place its final perfect touch ! There is no electricity there and you stay in fales on the beach. I spent an incredible night just listening to the sound of the wind and the rolling noise of the waves.
We were the only visitors so we had the place for ourselves. The family who lives here is really nice and Sala (the mother) has a lot of stories to share ! We spent the days walking around the island (it’s a small island so it takes around 1 hour to walk around), chilling on the beach and snorkelling in the transparent water. Speaking of transparent water, be careful of the sunburns ! But in case you got sunburnt, ask for some nonu leaves – there are plenty on the island, put them in water and then on your skin. You’ll feel the heat go away slowly. Do that over and over until you feel soothed 😉
.. and the magical Nonu leaves
One of the delicious meals
Our fale with a view
Doesn’t it look like a pool ?
Savai’i is the second island and is wilder, quieter. The Samoans told us that for them you don’t experience Samoa if you don’t go explore Savaii! This island is incredible, and the vibe there is really different, and really worth the detour! 🙂
To go to Savaii, you take the ferry from Mulifanua, and the crossing takes around 1 hour. There are only a couple ferries per day so check the timetables before you go (and arrive earlier to get your tickets!). A one-way ticket costs 12 WST (it’ll be more expensive if you want to cross with your vehicle.)
While in Savaii, take time to enjoy the road as the coast itself offers spectacular views. But there are also particular spots that you have to make sure to go to.
We stayed in fales (with electricity this time, It felt like a luxury 😉 ) at Vacation Beach Fales
at Manase. The fales are quite comfortable, with bed and mosquitos net.. and a view on the sea ! The Manase Beach is really beautiful but for me the icing on the cake would be that you can spot sea turtles there – and even swim with them if you’re fast enough !
The view from our fale
For only 5 WST you can go and admire those beauties of Nature. It’s quite impressive ! The rock formed holes where the water rushes into, creating huge jets. Be prepared to get wet if you get too close to them (but who would complain of that, as it’s really hot in Samoa 😉 ). And of course the road is lined with coconut trees (don’t forget you’re in Samoa!), which gives the scene colourful contrasts.
The Canopy walk is quite expensive as it’s 20 WST to enter. You can climb on top of the tree and admire the beautiful view from the top. After that, as it’s quite short for the price you paid, you can walk into the forest and enjoy the shade.
Afu Aau Waterfall
I spent an incredible moment in the Afu Aau Waterfall. For only 5 WST, you can swim in those cool waters and enjoy this little corner of peaceful paradise.
Have you ever been to Samoa ? If not, I hope this article has convinced you that this place is definitely worth being on your list ! 😉
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