Do you want to discover a true South Pacific paradise? Visit Samoa!
- Palm trees – check
- Clean, white sandy beaches – check
- Tropical weather – check
With a relatively short flight from either Australia or New Zealand it’s no wonder that so many Samoan’s have re-located, but why have they fled this beautiful South Pacific paradise island?
Well mostly due to lack of work and opportunities. Samoa is now hugely dependent on remittances from family now living abroad.
Did you know these facts about Samoa?
So I learned several things whilst in Samoa…
- Did you know Samoa has some of the best beaches in the world?
- Did you know Samoa is approximately 5,000 miles away from San Francisco!
- Did you know that when making coconut cream, chickens eat the shavings left over?
Whilst living in Australia I had the perfect opportunity to visit Samoa. Way back in October 2009 Samoa was hit by a tsunami, although it mostly affected American Samoa the island was also badly damaged.
I’d originally booked to stay in a fale (Samoan beach hut); unfortunately by the time I’d arrived the whole area had been totally destroyed by the waves.
Thankfully the Samoan’s are incredibly strong people, they quickly brushed themselves off and started to build again within the same month of the tsunami. Due to the fact that the infrastructure was damaged sadly my only choice of places to stay on the main island was the capital Apia.
Apia is not known as a cultural capital, trust me I really wish I hadn’t had to stay there!
When you arrive in a foreign country, it’s usually an odd feeling of the unknown. Typically a few dodgy taxi drivers waiting around for the unsuspecting tourist who’ll charge them 10 times the usual local price.
My flight from Australia landed in Samoa late in the evening, I’d been liaising with the guesthouse to collect me from the airport so I felt reassured after receiving an email confirming I’d be collected; I was certainly not expecting what happened!
At this point it was about midnight, most places at the airport were closed but thankfully a tourist information office was still open. I quickly asked about the guesthouse and where they would normally pick people up; sadly the reaction said it all…they don’t collect people.
The last hotel shuttle bus, which stops at all the popular places in Apia, was just about to leave so I decided to hop on and head on over to the guesthouse. When I arrived it was all in total darkness, I proceeded to walk in to the garden area only to discover several barking dogs.
Not a good idea.
I simply gave up, thankfully some locals helped me get a taxi back to the last hotel stop that I could remember from the shuttle bus. So although it wasn’t the best place, it was somewhere to stay and I could relax.
Thankfully when I woke the next morning I went to explore and discovered these awesome sites…
The main island of Samoa is called Upolo, it’s where the capital Apia is situated. There isn’t a huge amount of things to do in the capital, so my advice is to get out and go rural. I’m very jealous of the number of unspoiled beaches available, however this really depends on which side of the island you’re on.
In 1905 volcanic eruptions of Mt. Maatavanu occurred leaving a trail of destruction. Thankfully these days the lava fields make amazing photos.
One of the most beautiful sites you can see in Samoa is the Sapoaga Falls, a stunning waterfall located near the village of Lotofaga (be careful how you say this!).
Samoa’s largest island is Savai’i, just a short 90-minute ferry ride away, it’s a more lush green landscape which is well-worth seeing.
I decided to see the island in one day so the best way was to hire a local guide, there was a couple of other tourists I’d met whilst staying in Apia who wanted to join me. After arriving by ferry we quickly adapted to our new surroundings and set off to see some of the world’s most unusual caves created by volcano eruptions.
One place you won’t want to miss is the Alofaaga blowholes, they are simply a freak of nature! If you meet one of the locals in the nearby village of Taga they will come show you how far coconuts can fly when they throw one into the hole…NUTTERS!!
Samoa certainly did test my planning skills, it was my last day in the country and I was due to take the last ferry back to the main island of Upolo. Unfortunately for me my tour guide misjudged the timings and made us late, resulting in us missing the ferry.
Thankfully we all had to return to the neighbouring island that night so she managed to hire a boat.
As we left Savai’i it was slowly starting to get dark, but there was also storms all around us. Being in such a small boat and after my crazy experience in Tonga (see Tonga article) I really just wanted to be on dry land. It took almost three hours but we made it back, in the pitch black.
Although I visited Samoa in 2009, I have thoroughly researched to ensure all my information is still up to date.
Thankfully you can get to Samoa from a number of other South Pacific countries including Fiji, New Zealand, American Samoa and Australia.
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