If you wish to visit Pacific island with truly authentic feeling and avoid the masses of tourist flow, if you would like to experience the adventurous feeling of knowing new tradition and culture, and at the same time, want genuinely live like in the movie Blue Lagoon or Robinson Crusoe, then you should head up just right to Samoa!
Samoa is a Polynesian island which offers little more than just exotic heavenly beaches and turquoise waters, even though, its beaches are considered to be one of the most beautiful among its Pacific ‘brothers’.
Furthermore, Samoa managed to preserve its unique traditions and culture even though, it was influenced for centuries by colonial powers battling for their control over this territory.
The result is, that people still live a traditional way of life, in their traditional abodes called ‘fale’, and strongly value their country and culture, but at the same time, most of the residents have a good proficiency in English and are able to offer good services for tourists.
The core principle of Samoan life is the fa’a Samoa – which defines Samoan way of life – centered around family and good relationships in family and community. In Samoa, there is no ‘me’ but rather ‘we’, and this fellowship is most important thing in their lives.
Their lives are more relaxed and slow paced and the same is offered to tourists – a peaceful slice of heaven.
Top Activities To Do In Samoa:
Living in Fale
To visit Samoa and not to live in a fale means you haven’t been there at all. It is the unique way how you can try on your own to merge a bit into their culture, and also it’s a wonderful experience offering you an authentic feeling of being in paradise with exciting experience aka Robinson Crusoe. These fales are managed by ‘resorts’ or better-said hosts, which also offer meals and other services. It is also the cheapest option of paid accommodation in comparison to other hotels unless you are going to stay with the local family.
List of The Best Beach Fale Accommodation Spots:
- Taufua Beach Fales on Lalomanu Beach – we personally stayed there for few days and it was very pleasant stay, good services, food and also gorgeous stay at fale right on a picturesque beach. Except for classic fales without walls, there are also available chalets which offer more privacy.
- Namu’a Island Beach Fales – just 10 minutes of a boat trip from Lalomanu Beach, the Namu’a island is home to cute and friendly turtles. The fact, that you can swim and observe turtles in their natural environment makes it one of the most attractive spots for animal lovers and adventurers. Price is 120 Samoan Tala per night per fale -which is approximately 47 USD.
- Vaiula Beach Fales – Surfers paradise on a nice spot not far away from Lalomanu beach. Open beach fales costs 60 talas per person per night and their new 2 story fales with private toilet and showers are for just 70 talas per person.
- Anita’s Beach Bungalows – Offering open fales and chalets or bungalows of a little lower standard than Taufua Beach Fales, but still on the perfect location of popular Lalomanu Beach.
- Lusia’s Lagoon Chalets – Beautiful and private bay without a beach, but with turquoise lagoon perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. Accommodation features awesome private chalets built right on the water among tropical bush around and free hire of kayak and snorkeling gear. Also, they have a restaurant with delicious Samoan and European meals! This resort has something for everyone. From adventurous simple chalets built on the water, to VIP ensuite rooms, they really can satisfied customers of every taste and need. We stayed there for few days and highly recommend this resort.
- Tailua Beach Fales – are located on the breath-taking and most beautiful beach of Savai’i Island – Manase Beach. This exotic white sand beach with palms bent over and incredibly aquamarine sea will let you feel like in a real paradise. One of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life! Tailua Beach Fales have a high review and visitors were highly satisfied with accommodation and services provided by their host.
- Janes Beach Fales – another beach fales on a lovely Manase beach have a slightly lower review than Tailua, but still the perfect location.
- Joelan Beach Fales – Located on stunning Lano beach perfect not only for swimming but also surfing and other water sports like wind surfing. We stayed there for about 5 days off the main season, and it was perfectly quiet, the hosts were really nice and accommodation price includes breakfast and dinner, but we would appreciate the better range and variation of meals, because after few days of eating the same food. you’ve got enough. Open fales for couple cost 180 Samoan Talas per night – which is roughly 70 USD per night.
Those are just some of the chosen beach fales I recommend due to our personal experience and/or rating of visitors across the internet. In our opinion, the best thing you can do is to leave the advanced booking alone, and book the fale accommodation right on the place where you will like it. There are a lot of places and beach fale accommodations on every Samoan beach, so you have plenty to choose from, and decide after you will see it with your own eyes. Not just it’s often cheaper than booking, because many websites take commissions for referring, but you might also avoid disappointment in case things don’t work out like has been promised on the internet.
However, if you prefer privacy and luxury, we picked best Samoan luxury accommodation list below.
In this list of just some great resorts, we have considered location, reviews, standard of amenities, food, services and whether the place has something special to offer:
- Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa – situated in capital Apia, this luxury hotel is a slice of heaven for adults only.
- SaMoana Resort – the family friendly resort with a variety of activities for adults and kids situated in a breath-taking scenery.
Lupe Sina Treesort – this is undeniably unique and original luxury accommodation in the tree, very stylish, something you have never experienced before!
- Seabreeze Resort – I doubt that there is any better definition of paradise like in this ultimate luxury resort at Paradise Cove. Suitable mostly for couples.
- Le Lagoto Resort & Spa – at Fagamalo on Savai’i Island is perfect for weddings and honeymooners.
Almost every resort offers snorkeling gear, some of them for free, some of them for a small charge. If you are keen snorkeler, pack up your gear and be prepared for spectacular coral reefs, beautiful colorful fishes and even spotting of turtles.
Kayaking is one of the must do’s when visiting Samoa. Even if you have never tried it before, Samoa’s calm waters in some areas are ideal for give it a go. Some resorts offer free kayak which you can borrow for several hours. When we stayed at Lusía’s Lagoon Chalets we could hire a kayak for almost entire day (it was off the main season), and paddled across all nearby calm bays. It was the first time we have ever been on kayak.
Alternatively, you can book kayak on your own, or in a group on one or multi-day trip which might also include accommodation and expeditions to interesting places.
For many outdoor activities including kayaking check out Outdoor Samoa.
Swimming in waterfalls and natural cave pools
Samoa is full of beautiful waterfalls and natural cave pools and honestly, it is probably the only place, where you can cool down a bit from the heat. Sea on the beaches is often so warm, that doesn’t offer refreshment at all, especially during the day, when the sun is high and this is why most probably every visitor ends up refreshing in this precious places. Generally, a small fee has to be paid (about 5 Samoan Tala per person) prior visiting these attractions, and you can stay as long as you want. Not only you will refresh yourself, but even you’ll be totally stunned by the beauty of Samoan exotic nature.
Some of the best and breathtaking spots include:
To Sua Ocean Trench – is probably the most visited attraction in Samoa, entry costs $20 (WST)
Afu Aau Falls – are lush and very picturesque waterfalls with clear and refreshing cold water great for cooling down on a hot day. Surrounded by tropical bush and with entry just $5 (WST), this is our favorite spot for a trip in Savai’i.
Papapapaitai Falls – are the most beautiful waterfalls in Samoa. They can be watched only from the distance and you can’t swim there, but this place is breath-taking, huge alluring waterfall with exotic bush all around, and nice garden with flowers, palms, and coconuts maintained by locals. This lovely place is located only 20 minutes of drive from capital Apia, so if you’re heading to Lalomanu Beach, it’s a great stop-over for an hour or two. And if you will like it too much, you can stay there in one of the cute colorful fales. Entry to waterfalls is $5 (WST) per person.
Piula Cave Pools – perfect place for refreshment when traveling across Upolu Island. If you will drive by car, you will certainly want to cool down in this natural cave pool just right next to the sea. Piula Cave Pool is situated in the area of historic Methodist Chapel and theological college, only 45 minutes of drive from Apia.
Trying Samoan cuisine
Samoan cuisine has a lot common with other Polynesian and pacific islands – their meals mostly consist of the ingredients which can be locally resourced, which means lot of fishes and seafood, taro, coconuts, green and little yellow sweet bananas (sweet like a candy), papayas, mangoes and other tropical fruits, and from meat it is mostly chicken and pork. Samoan cuisine doesn’t need any oils for cooking because most dishes are prepared in coconut milk or cooked and then served with side dish from green bananas (which tastes almost like potatoes – very starchy) and taro.
The most popular dishes and must-try for every visitor is an Oka – raw fish in coconut cream with vegetable, and Palusami – young taro leaves baked in coconut cream. It is undeniably very delicious and tasty food and if you are a seafood lover, you’ll definitely fall in love with Samoan food.
However, we strongly advise to eat only fully cooked foods and if you would like to try Oka, try it only in resorts and restaurants – as the raw fish might be a risk and upset your tummy. Also be aware of sweet and tempting tropical fruit juices often seen in markets and street stalls and do not drink them, even if the locals will offer it to you and maybe even push you to try it – they are made using the tap water, and it is not suitable for people from overseas – you could end up with serious stomach and intestinal infection.
Feeding and swimming with turtles
Best spot to encounter cute and friendly turtles is in the Village of Sato’Alepai in Savai’i Island. This reservation was made up by locals to preserve endangered turtles which have been hunted for many years. Now they are taking care of them and after they grow enough, are released back into the ocean. You can swim with them and feed them with papaya – they really do love papayas!
If you would like to encounter turtles in their natural environment, the best place for it is Namu’a Island – which is located near popular Lalomanu beach. In turquoise waters, you can swim and snorkel with friendly turtles or sunbath with them on the hot sand and enjoy the picturesque island, which also offers simple accommodation in fales. Highly recommended!
Surfing and Diving
According to official Samoan travel website “Samoa may just be one of surfing’s last great undiscovered paradises.” There are waves for any level of surfer’s experience and also some resorts are specialized for surfers mainly. Generally, the south shore of both islands are good for surfing, but most popular hot spots include Lano, Ananoa and Manase Beach on Savai’i. When it comes to diving, Samoa is home to about 900 fish species and beautiful coral reefs.
Visit Manono Island
Manono Island is little paradise which lies between Upolu and Savai’i Island. It is an extraordinary place where the time has stopped long time ago. Would you believe that electricity has been introduced there only in 1995? There are no cars and roads, only footpath and also there aren’t any dogs and horses. Only a few small shops and beach fales. With only 20 minutes of a boat trip from Upolu, you can find yourself suddenly to be moved back in time and enjoy all the best simple things which life offer to us naturally.
Ride In The Samoan Bus
Samoan buses are a special topic – they are unlike any bus you have seen before because they are made from wood and very colorful painted. Besides that, no bus starts the ride without music playing out loud. These buses are a common way for transferring locals all around the country, so they tend to be quite overcrowded. Sometimes are people literally squashed like sardines there. They usually don’t have windows and in our opinion, it is a must try experience when visiting Samoa – consider it for yourself when you see it with your own eyes.
Showcase of Samoan Culture and Traditions
As I already mentioned before, Samoans strongly value their culture and traditions and there are many ways how you can experience some of these performances and showcases of their traditional habits. One of the must see experience of this kind is so called Fia Fia night, which is traditional celebration dance performance of Samoan girls and boys including dramatic fire show. Many resorts have Fia Fia night program included in their accommodation once a week, as we had in Taufua Beach Fales Resort on Lalomanu.
If you are truly interested in rich Samoan culture, you should not miss visiting Samoan Cultural Village in Apia, where you will see astonishing authentic performances and ceremonies.
The Last But Not Least Activities To Do in Samoa:
Rent a car, or hire a taxi to discover islands in more detail on your own. It’s a great chance to see many hidden gems and experience different places and villages across islands. When you want to hire a taxi, try to bargain price because a lot of taxi drivers are trying to charge visitors too much.
Visit Apia – as a capital of Samoa, it’s uncommonly modern place in comparison to other areas. You can enjoy an espresso or drink at many cafeterias, dine in a restaurant, enjoy the rush of the city with a lot of visitors and at the same time, see a lot of things which define Samoan culture – like Old Apia Market with handcrafted souvenirs or Fish Market with fishes of the colors you never thought existed.
Interesting might be a Robert Louis Stevenson Museum which is dedicated to famous Scottish writer who settled in Samoa.
Important Information What To Avoid When Traveling To Samoa
Regardless Samoa can be a heavenly paradise with stunning beaches, great tropical weather and the sweetest fruits upon the reach of a hand, it can turn out to a hell as well.
There are certainly some things you should take care of when you don’t want your holiday to be spoiled by unexpected and very unpleasant health condition and other things.
- Don’t drink tap water, don’t even brush your teeth with tap water. Don’t do the same mistake as we did and if you are sensitive, brush your teeth with bottled water. Always keep a bottled water with you and also avoid drinking homemade juices (even though they look and taste amazing) from food stalls and food markets which are usually prepared from tap water. Also, be aware that ice cubes can be made from tap water as well. Generally, resorts and restaurant use ice cubes from bottled water but if unsure, always ask.
- Eat only whole fruit which has to be peeled off the skin. Like bananas, mangoes, papayas, coconuts – it’s still better to eat fruit you have peeled yourself than the one which has been prepared and/or handled by locals.
- On the official website of ministry of health of Samoa is advised to dine at identified restaurants, resorts, and vendors. It is a wonderful cultural experience to stay and dine with a local family in their home, but you might be at risk of getting typhoid or general stomach upset from food prepared by them. If staying at local family home, try to avoid drinking their homemade juices and uncooked food.
- Pack up with you some worthy medicine in case you will get some gastrointestinal infection – nifuroxazide or other alternatives, painkillers, oral rehydration salts, which are especially important during gastrointestinal infection in such a heat, and broad spectrum antibiotics.
- Also, don’t forget to pack some effective repellent as in some periods there may be Dengue fever outbreaks in some areas.
That’s pretty it! Samoa is quite safe country to travel to, mainly because people and country depend on tourism and also it originates from their culture. Most of the people are Christians and value family and community, people are taught to be good and caring to each other, and thus there is very low criminality.
If you will respect their culture and habits, they will respect you and treat you well. Most of Samoans are smiley and friendly people, even if they might look ‘mean’ at the first sight.
Except for mosquitos which in some periods may transfer a Dengue fever, there are not dangerous animals or insects which would present a potential risk to visitors.
When you will keep a good standard of personal hygiene, wash hands before food, drink only bottled water and dine in restaurants or resorts, you should be fine all the time.
We hope this guide helped to clear some of your thoughts regarding your trip to Samoa. We are sure you will have wonderful and unforgettable stay in this paradise.
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All pictures were taken by my husband Radoslav Cajkovic unless stated otherwise and are subject to copyright.