As the sun set on my last night in the Pacific, my eyes glazed over, and the coconut trees that stretched as far as the eye could see began to blur. Two of the best weeks of my life, my holiday in Samoa, were coming to an end. From the second we landed in beautiful Samoa, up to this very moment, I’d been living in a dream, so far from reality, so distanced from worry, with no qualms of the future or the past.
Samoa (pronounced Sa-ah-mo-ah), a group of Polynesian islands, is one of the most beautiful, untouched islands in the world and if a visit to Samoa is not on your list of things to do, then let me change your mind and help you plan your trip asap.
- When to travel to Samoa
- Currency and Costs
- Hotels in Samoa
- Beach Fales in Samoa
- Waterfalls in Samoa
- The Robert Louis Stevenson House
- To Sua Trench
- Visit the Island of Savai’i
- The Cava Ceremony & experiencing Samoan Culture
When to travel to Samoa
Being a tropical island, the only thing you need to remember when planning your visit to Samoa is that it is hot all year round. The islands have two distinct seasons – the dry season running from May to October and the wet season from November to April. You’ll want to pack light summery clothing no matter what time of year you plan your trip. Fun fact: the majority of tourists in Samoa come from New Zealand and Australia.
Currency and Costs
The currency in Samoa is the Samoan Tala. £1 is approximately $ST3.50 and the cost of living on the islands is relatively reasonable. They have lots of local markets selling locally made crafts, clothing and souvenirs which are reasonably priced if you can also do a bit of bargaining.
Luxury Hotels in Samoa
We stayed in the stunning Taumeasina Island Resort in Apia and it was an absolute dream. From the moment we entered the hotel, the staff welcomed us with the kindness and warmth that only a people truly in love with their islands and culture could provide.
There’s nothing like waking up in the morning to the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks outside, to coming for breakfast and gazing out at the three swimming pools facing the turquoise ocean.
The hotel was also amazing in organising all of the tours we needed in order to see and do everything that the islands had to offer.
We got to enjoy the beautiful Polynesian cuisine at the hotel’s stunning buffets and drank our fill of coconut water after long days out exploring. On top of that, every night the hotel boasts a themed night, one of which included a fantastic dinner show which comprised of traditional Polynesian dancers in beautiful patterned clothing, followed by a heated fire dance, which is an experience not to be missed when on the islands.
Want to know more about booking a stay at the beautiful Taumeasina Island Resort? Click HERE
During our visit to Samoa, we also took a day trip to the furthest end of the island to the stunning Return to Paradise Resort in Lefaga. Although a bit far from the main tourist areas or many of the popular sights, this isolated little piece of paradise is worthy of its name. You have never seen whiter sand, taller palm trees and bluer waters.
The area was actually the set of a popular film produced in the 1950s so it’s definitely got a very romantic atmosphere to it. The contrast of the black of the volcanic rock and the white of the foam of the crashing waves will have you begging to freeze this moment in time forever.
Want to see more stunning images of Return to Paradise? Ready to book your stay? Click HERE
Looking for more budget accommodation, click HERE to browse some of the smaller, but still beautiful hotels in Samoa
Beach Fales in Samoa
As you drive round in Samoa, you’ll find that all of the traditional houses are open plane, some don’t even have doors or windows. Interestingly enough, Samoa has the lowest crime rate in the world, and that’s simply because of the deep-seated respect that people have for one another and the sense of tribe that remains even to this day. Their open houses speak to their open hearts, boasting the lifestyle of a civilisation that has been around for thousands of years. Naturally, the people have opened up the experience of living in an open style accommodation for tourists.
If you’re interested in living like a local, you could hire a beach Fale, and spend your holiday nights protected from the elements simply by a sheet of material as your walls. In the morning you’d be hosted for breakfast by the family who owns the property and you’d be free to wander the beautiful beaches and swim in the clear ocean.
If you’re not that adventurous, you could spend only one night in the Fale, leaving all your bulkier luggage in your hotel and experience the local lifestyle and still come back to your comfortable hotel if you find it’s not for you.
Or alternatively, if you’re not keen on spending the whole night, rent one out for the day as you lounge on the beach and soak in the waters under the tropical sun.
Waterfalls in Samoa
- Papapapaitai Falls in Apia. One of the highest waterfalls in Samoa, the falls are free to see, since all you have to do is park the car in small car park and make your way along a little path that overlooks the stunning landscape.
- Sopoaga Falls in Upolu. The viewpoint for these falls are situated in a beautiful little traditional garden, where endemic flora are growing strong, and if you’re keen enough to speak to the locals, they could tell you that every single plant has a medicinal property. They could tell you exactly which leaf to boil and lay on your head to get rid of headaches and which one to drink to get rid of the flu.
The Robert Louis Stevenson House
The famous author Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote among others, the classic tales of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, fell in love with the beautiful islands of Samoa and lived there for many years of his life, until the day he died in the very house that is today open for visitors and locals alike to tour.
With a reasonable admission fee of $ST20 for adults, the museum and its estate is worth a visit to step foot into the home of one of the most beloved authors in history. The house has such a humbling aura to it, and you walk around the bedrooms and gaze at the various pieces of art, you can’t help but almost feel the lives that once lived there.
The most chilling experience is to stand near the very spot where Robert Louis Stevenson took his last breaths, and have your guide sing the song that the Samoans dedicated to the man that the whole island came to not only respect and love, but call one of their own. A tear-jerking experience but you can’t visit the island and miss this.
Book your sightseeing and history tour of Apia HERE
The To Sua Trench
One of the most photographed places in Samoa, the To Sua Trench in Apia is a natural swimming hole consisting of two giant holes joined by an ancient lava tube cave. The trench is accessible by a single vertical ladder (which is slightly scary at first but worth it!) and the gardens in which the trench is located is open every day of the week for a small admission fee of $ST15.
The gardens themselves are lush and green and they overlook a stunning view of the ocean, with rock pools that you can make your way down towards via a small flight of steps.
Plan your guided tour of Upolu’s beautiful waterfalls HERE
Day trip to the Island of Savai’i
Take the ferry for a day trip to the Island of Savai’i for even more island adventures. The island of Savai’i is well known for its impressive lava fields created by the eruption of Mt Matavanu in 1905, which resulted in 5 villages were completely covered up. The expanse of the fields is very impressive and you can walk through what was once bustling Samoan villages.
You can also visit the turtle sanctuary and swim with the gentle giants that are part of a conservation project which has developed over a few years. There’s a small entrance fee but the guides provide you with food to feed the turtles and it’s such a beautiful experience to be around such peaceful creatures.
Savai’i is also well known for the Alofaaga blowholes which are a natural feature that tourists can view and awe at. Another site of interest at the blowholes is Pa Sopo’ia Cave. It is believed that this cave is an ancient pathway where the ancestors’ spirits travel to reach the Devil’s Haden at Cape Mulinu’u, the final meeting place before they enter the Spirit World known to Samoans as Pulotu. It’s absolutely fascinating to learn about all the folklore from your guide as you make your way around.
Want to do the same guided tour of Savai’i as I did? Book it HERE
The Cava Ceremony & experiencing Samoan Culture
Plan a day trip to the smaller islands off the coast of Apia to experience rural, untouched island life and spend an hour with a real Samoan family. Take a small boat from the mainland and be greeted by local children playing on the water’s edge.
Be hosted by a Big Chief in his home and be a part of the Cava Ceremony where the youngest daughter of the family prepared an offering drink that is served to the guests. This is followed by words of blessing being shared among the locals and visitors while the locals explain some Samoan culture, such as the traditional use of coconut leaves to weave baskets and plates.
Watch fresh coconut cream being squeezed from the grated coconut and taste the purest coconut cream you’ll ever try, all while hearing the story of why it is that the peeled coconut has three little holes at the top slightly resembling the face of an eel. I would tell you the story, but you’ll just have to go to Samoa and find out.
You can’t visit Samoa and not witness the Savi Afi Cultural Show, with its fire knife dancing, traditional dance and delicious dinner all included, Book Here!
I come from some freaking beautiful islands too, and so one would imagine that all islands are the same. In many ways they are, and in many ways, they aren’t.
One sits in the Pacific, the other (my islands) on the opposite side of the world in the Indian Ocean, yet we share some of the same flora and fauna and some very similar traditions.
The landscapes on the islands of Samoa are some of the most magical to behold. The waterfalls and rock pools, framed by dark volcanic rocks. The endless plantations of coconut trees that extend over fields and mountains. The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum that brings tears to the eyes. The fire dancing, the music, the beaches, the markets, the food! I wish I could give justice to the way it feels to watch the sunset behind the darkening shadows of the towering coconut trees. That helplessly romantic little twinge in your heart that makes you wish you didn’t have to leave. Unfortunately, of course, we did. But don’t worry, I’ll be back.
Until then, sit back, grab some Oreos and let’s see what life has to offer us next.