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    Samoa: Good to know before you go

    Samoa: Good to know before you go

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    The immense natural beauty of Samoa is exceeded only by the warmth of traditional Samoan hospitality – known in the islands as fa’a Samoa or ‘the Samoan way.’ This beautiful island nation is a fabulous alternative to its more well-known South Pacific neighbours, so whether you’re planning a romantic beach break or a fun-filled family escape, our Samoa holiday guide (Good To Know Before You Go) is a great place to start.

    1. Weather in Samoa

    Wet season: Around 70 percent of Samoa’s annual rainfall occurs during the wet season, which typically runs from November to April.

    Dry season: During May to October, you can expect lower humidity and mostly clear, sunny days.

    Although temperatures remain pretty consistent – at around 28 to 30 degrees – throughout the year, many people choose to visit Samoa during the dry season when the blissfully warm, settled conditions are ideal for escaping the Australian winter.

    2. Accommodation choices in Samoa – there’s something for everyone

    luxury accommodation in samoa

    Luxury resorts: The spa facilities at the only true island resort in Samoa – Taumeasina Island Resort – make this an excellent choice, just outside Apia, if you’re looking for quality ‘me-time.’ On the opposite side of Upolu, you’ll find the beach that was made famous by the 1950s hit movie, Return to Paradise. These days, you won’t find Gary Cooper cavorting on its white sands, but you will find one of the island’s most spectacular resorts, which comes complete with blockbuster-level sunsets.

    Beachfront fales: The island of Savai’i offers a selection of resort-style accommodation, but if you’re looking for an utterly unique experience, we suggest you opt for a few nights in a traditional fale (hut) with a spectacular beachfront setting.

    Hotels and guesthouses: Apia’s historic Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows has been a landmark for decades. Guesthouse-style accommodation is a great option if you want to experience authentic Samoan hospitality.

    Eco resorts: A growing number of properties in Samoa are looking to minimise their environmental footprint while maximising their guests’ enjoyment of this fabulous destination. This includes installing solar power and saltwater instead of chlorine swimming pools, sourcing local produce, minimising single-use plastics and supporting for local community initiatives.

    Holiday homes and villas: These are a popular choice for guests who like to have the option of self-catering. There are plenty of options on both Savai’i and Upolu, ranging from apartments to luxury villas.

    3. Best things to do in Samoa

    best things to do in Samoa, good to know before you go

    Upolu: The island is home to Samoa’s capital city, Apia, and offers a wealth of beautiful scenery, vibrant cultural experiences and historic sites. One of the most iconic locations is Sua Ocean Trench: a stunning natural swimming hole of incredibly blue water, which you access by climbing down a ladder to reach a wooden swimming platform. You can also enjoy a memorable dip in the freshwater Piula Cave Pool, which is located inside a cave, by the ocean, within the grounds of the Piula Theological College.

    On the southeast coast you’ll find Lalomanu Beach, which is one of the best beaches on the island. Its sparkling white sand and crystal-clear water makes it a popular choice for swimming, snorkelling and relaxing.

    You can also dive into the island’s rich and varied history, beginning with a visit to the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. It’s located in the former home of the renowned writer, and offers a fascinating insight into his life and work in Samoa. For a different sort of cultural experience, head to Apia’s bustling markets. It’s a wonderful place to shop for local produce, handicrafts, and souvenirs, as well as to experience the vibrant atmosphere of Samoan daily life.

    Savai’i: The largest island in Samoa is arguably even more laid back than Upolu. Its landscape of rainforests, waterfalls and lava fields has been forged over centuries of volcanic unrest, while its beaches are the among the finest you will find anywhere on Earth.

    Saleaula Lava Fields are among the island’s most striking illustrations of its volcanic past: they formed as a result of the eruption of Mount Matavanu between 1905 and 1911. You can still see the remains of a church that was buried in lava, and learn about the impact of the eruption on the local villages. The Alofaaga Blowholes are another of Savai’i’s great spectacles. These natural blowholes shoot water high into the air when waves crash into the lava tubes below.

    You could easily spend an entire day enjoying the island’s most dramatic waterfalls, the most famous of which is the Afu Aau Waterfall (also known as Olemoe Falls). Located in the village of Vailoa, the waterfall cascades into a clear, cool pool surrounded by lush vegetation: the perfect spot for a refreshing swim.

    4. Essential cultural experiences

    Cultural night in Samoa, good to know before you go

    Many of Samoa’s resorts offer traditional fiafia nights, which feature traditional Samoan music, dance and cuisine. They are a fun and exhilarating way to experience authentic Samoan culture and hospitality, as well as food prepared in a traditional umu (earth oven). Many dishes are prepared using locally sourced coconut cream, including Faiai eleni (fish bake served in a coconut shell) and sweet, fluffy Fa’apapa coconut bread.

    The Samoa Cultural Village in Apia offers an immersive experience where you can learn about traditional Samoan practices including tapa making, carving and weaving. For a truly unique cultural experience, you can’t beat the incredible singing and community spirit of a Sunday church service.

    5. Getting to and around Samoa

    getting around in Samoa, good to know before you go

    There are regular direct flights to Samoa’s Faleolo International Airport from Australia and New Zealand – flying time from Brisbane and Sydney is around five hours. From there, you can catch the interisland ferry to Savai’i – the journey takes around 60-90 minutes. It’s a good idea to pick up a rental car or scooter if you want to explore the islands at your own pace – they drive on the left side of the road, and you can get your Australian driver’s licence endorsed by most rental car companies or at a number of outlets in Apia. It’s also fun to flag down a local, brightly coloured bus for a taste of authentic Samoan life.

    6. Local currency

    The local currency in Samoa is the Tala, which is issued by the Central Bank of Samoa and it comes in both coins and banknotes. The subdivision of the Tala is the sene, with 100 sene in one Tala. You can check the current exchange rate here. Some businesses may also accept New Zealand dollars, but we suggest having some Samoan cash on hand. ATMs are available on both Upolu and Savai’i.

    7. Time zone in Samoa

    Samoa operates in the West Samoa Time (WST) time zone, which is UTC+13 hours. During the Southern Hemisphere summer months, typically from late September to early April, daylight saving time means the clocks move forward by one hour to UTC+14 hours.

    8. Internet

    Vodafone Australia, Optus and Telstra all offer roaming services in Samoa – check with your provider for details and pricing. Alternatively, you can pick up a pre-paid local SIM card when you arrive in Samoa, which can then be topped up online or in convenience stores around Samoa as required. Many hotels, resorts and restaurants offer guest wi-fi services via hotspot.

    9. You’re on island time

    In Samoa, schedules can be flexible, and punctuality is often more of a guideline than a strict rule, so don’t be surprised or concerned if things don’t always run to the scheduled time. The concept of ‘island time’ is just one aspect of embracing fa’a Samoa, allowing for spontaneity and ensuring that you have the freedom to savour each moment of your holiday.


    From pristine beaches and lush rainforests to ancient archaeological sites and vibrant cultural experiences, Samoa has something for every type of holiday. For more information and inspiration, say talofa to your local personal travel manager.


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