Quietly tucked away in the South Pacific, Samoa has an endless array of beautiful locations and attractions that take even the most experienced traveller’s breath away. Whether it be the world-famous ocean trench, swimming with turtles or enjoying a fiafia (cultural night), Samoa has something to offer holidaymakers from all walks of life.
Samoa has been described by many as the ‘hidden gem’ of the South Pacific. Comprising two main islands, Upolu and Savai’i, Samoa has more to offer than meets the eye. Visitors wanting to experience the Pacific can rely on Samoa’s tropical climate to be hot and humid throughout the year. The recent discovery of what can only be described as Samoan pyramids further confirms the unique and secret history of this Pacific Island and why it is a must-see experience for travellers.
To assist those on the hunt for a breathtaking holiday, here’s a list of just a few of the most exhilarating spots on this beautiful Pacific Island.
As for getting around the island, Seabreeze Resort owner Wendy Booth explains, “Taxis are a cheap way to travel but they aren’t metered so just negotiate a price with the driver before setting out.’’
Another fun way to explore is by local bus and while there are two terminals in Apia (behind the food market in Fugalei and opposite the flea market on the waterfront at Savalalo), there are no other designated stops around Samoa so wait beside the road and wave a vehicle down as it approaches.
To-Sua, which means ‘giant swimming hole’, is easily one of Samoa’s most photogenic locations. Located on the south-east coast of Samoa’s Upolu Island, this world-famous 30-metre (98-foot) deep ocean trench is the perfect spot in which to enjoy the beauty of Samoa while escaping the humidity. According to site owners Salati & Samuga Petelo Fiame, To-Sua is “one of the most unusual place to swim on the planet surrounded by lush vegetation, beautiful gardens and magnificent ocean views.”
While there are talks of implementing a spiral staircase to access the water below, swimmers can currently make their way down to the pool via a wooden ladder onto a platform where they can jump or dive into the beautifully crystal-clear blue water; an experience HuffPost aptly described as something out of a movie.
Not only is the pool filled with tropical fish, but the view from the top is second-to-none; perfect for Instagram photo-ops, weddings and family picnics.
The fee to enter and swim is 20 Samoan Talas (£6) for adults and 10 Samoan Talas (£3) for children over the age of 6 (children under 6 can enter free of charge). To-Sua is an absolute must for first-time travellers to the Pacific.
Situated in the north Coast of Upolu Island beneath the historic Methodist Chapel of Piula lies the country’s exquisite natural freshwater pool, originally formed as a result of volcanic activity.
This popular swimming hole is fed by a natural spring flowing out from a cave into the sea. Spoilt-for-choice sightseers can take a dip into the crystal-clear refreshing cave pool or enjoy the warm ocean waters. To fully appreciate the beauty of this experience, it’s best to go snorkelling and spot the tropical fish.
The college grounds and facilities are beautifully maintained, while Samoan fales (huts) and surrounding trees provide great shade for relaxation.
As far as travellers are concerned, the route to get to Piula Cave Pool is straightforward. Simply drive 26 kilometres (16 miles) from Apia along the scenic coastal road and look for signs for the Piula Theological College.
Book lovers may be surprised to learn that one of the literary greats spent his final years enjoying the tranquility and beauty of Samoa. In the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Kidnapped and Treasure Island, “few men who come to the islands leave them… the palm shades and the trade-wind fans them till they die.”
Overlooking the city of Apia is the museum and home grounds of this great icon. With guided tours available throughout his mansion, tourists will soon learn why and how the well-known writer fell in love with the beautiful island of Samoa.
The museum grounds possess a beautiful garden worthy of exploration. For the hearty, you can still visit his grave to this day. The hike consists of two paths with two clearly separate degrees of difficulty; but once at the top the view is absolutely unforgettable. A water bottle and mosquito repellent are recommended.
Palolo Deep is a protected marine reserve and is one of Samoa’s best kept secrets positioned just outside of Apia city. This natural treasure trove is run by the local caretaker family who are very friendly and welcoming.
The main attraction at Palolo Deep involves a 100-metre (328-foot) swim from the shore across the shallow reef towards the deep drop of a natural aquarium. The lively-shaded wall of coral encloses this underwater paradise, providing a home for a rich diversity of marine life, including sea turtles, reef sharks and plentiful tropical fish. Snorkels and fins are available for hire so there is absolutely no excuse not to explore this stunning coral beach and what it has to offer.
The reserve’s shop serves hot food, snacks, cold drinks and provides beach huts and rope swings.
A ten-minute boat ride from the popular village of Lalomanu will take sightseers to the uninhabited island of Namua: a paradise within a paradise. This small island can cater for day trips or overnight stays in beach fales (huts) especially for those who want to experience some solitude.
This is an ideal spot to bring children or for the less confident open-water swimmer, as the water is relatively shallow and is almost certainly underutilised as far as tourists are concerned.
Namua Island is a breeding ground for sea turtles so snorkelling should be top of visitors’ to-do list. While the coral reef is still in recovery from the 2009 tsunami, the island still has plenty to offer, including walks to appreciate its natural beauty as well as the amazing views from the mountain. Lunch can also be provided for 15 Samoan Talas (£4.55).
The stretch of white sandy beaches along Lalomanu offers numerous small resorts and beach huts for overnight stays. These resorts are a great place for families or large groups to relax and enjoy the clear turquoise ocean water with the added benefits of the bars and restaurants at hand.
The resorts keep guests entertained with their cultural night shows (fiafia nights) consisting of Samoan cultural dances, fire dancing and demonstrations of traditional food preparation. Be warned, however, most of these cultural shows are very interactive so visitors can be asked to take part. It’s a great experience for a family with children or even for a lone traveler who wants to learn about and observe Samoan culture firsthand.
On the big island of Savai’i in the village of Satoalepai visitors have the opportunity to swim with endangered green turtles in captivity before they are tagged and released into the wild by the Fisheries Department.
The enclosed turtle sanctuary is run by a local village family who charge a mere 5 Samoan Talas (£1.50) per person to experience feeding and swimming with the friendly turtles. Savai’i is only an hour-and-a-half ferry trip away from Upolu and is an integral must-see part of the Samoa experience.
According to travel writer Craig Tansley, “for just a few dollars you can swim with an endangered marine species, the green turtle. At the Satoalepai Turtle Sanctuary on Savai’i, juvenile turtles are raised from infancy by villagers, before they’re released into the wild – where they reach 180 kilograms [397 pounds]. Savai’i is one of the only places on the planet where you can swim with green turtles in captivity.”
Furthermore, if travellers need help finding turtles while in Samoa, Manoa Tours owner Neil Lumsden has “an almost super-human ability to spot turtles”.
Located on a five-acre (two-hectare) section of land in the village of Tafaigata is Samoa’s recently opened amusement park. With 17 rides, this amusement park will keep families entertained.
The name Fiafia, literally translating to happy, was chosen by Samoa’s prime minister, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi himself. The rides include a 100-foot (30.5-metre) ferris wheel, a castle and a membership bar for the adults.
Admission is extremely affordable at £1.70 for kids and £3.35 for adults. Parking costs less than £1.70 and each individual ride ticket costs £1.70.
The owner of the park is also the ring master of the Magic Circus of Samoa, so rest-assured the organisers know how to put on a show for tourists of all ages to enjoy.