With crystal clear water, lush green rainforests, volcanic mountain peaks and the friendly smiles of the locals, Samoa is the perfect place for those looking for an island paradise getaway.
If you’re in the early stages of planning a trip to Samoa, or already have a trip booked but still have a few questions to ask, then this article is for you. In this post, I’m going to take you through everything you need to know to have the perfect Samoa holiday.
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Where is Samoa?
Samoa is located just south of the equator in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. Other nearby islands include Fiji, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Which Islands in Samoa should you visit?
Samoa is made of ten different islands of which only four are inhabited – Upolu, Savaii, Apolima and Manon. Most tourists visit Upolu and Savaii islands.
The capital of Samoa is Apia, which is on Upolu Island. It is here that most travellers begin their holiday in Samoa. Savaii is the biggest Samoan Island and is also very popular for visitors.
Do I Need a Visa to Visit Samoa?
Generally, most nationalities can visit Samoa without prearranging a visa. Tourists can stay in Samoa for up to 60 days and must have at least 6month left on their passport and also have an ongoing ticket.
Please note, visa requirements are different for all nationalities, so I recommend doing your research on the official government website.
How to Get to Samoa?
Samoa Airways, Air New Zealand and Virgin fly from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland throughout the week. Fiji Airways also has flights from Fiji regularly as well as a flight from Hawaii once a week.
Depending on where you are in the world, make your way to one of these destinations and fly to Samoa. You will land in Apia, the capital of Samoa.
TRAVELLING TO SAMOA WITH VIRGIN AUSTRALIA
Flying to Samoa with Virgin Australia is a great option as every fare includes food and 23kg checked baggage. With direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane, you’ll be able to find yourself a great-priced fare.
If you want to plan the perfect Samoan holiday, you can call Virgin Australia on 13 15 16, or visit virginaustralia.com.
How to get around Samoa?
The main ways to get around Samoa is via car hire, taxi or bus.
If you’re planning on visiting a range of different tourist attractions in Samoa, you’re best to hire a car. You can either hire a car for the entire length of your stay, in which case it would be best to pick up your car from the airport.
Alternatively, most resorts have car hire, so you can hire the car just on the days you want to go sightseeing.
If you wish to hire a car, you will need to hold a full driver’s license in your home country and apply for a temporary driver license which costs 20 Tala for one month. You can obtain a temporary license from most car rental agencies.
Taxis in Samoa are not metered, and so you will need to agree on the price with your driver before commencing your journey.
The Samoa Tourism Authority suggests that a taxi from the airport to Apia costs around 80 Tala and trips around town are between 3 to 12 Tala.
There is a bus service around Upolu, but it’s known to be unreliable and not the best way to get around the island. However, with the brightly coloured buses and with the friendly local people onboard, it’s sure to be an experience to remember.
Apart from a few major bus terminals, there are no designated bus stops, and so you will need to flag a bus down to catch it. You pay your bus fare as you leave.
How can I travel between Upolu and Savaii Islands?
To get between Savaii and Upolu, you will need to take the ferry which takes 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can also take a car across on the ferry too.
The ferry from Upolu to Savaii leaves as follows:
- Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 6 am, 8 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 4 pm
- Tuesday: 6am, 8am, 10am, 2pm and 4pm
- Sunday: 12pm and 4pm.
The ferry from Savaii to Upolu leaves as follows:
- Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 6 am, 8 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 4 pm
- Tuesday: 6am, 8am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm
- Sunday: 10 am and 2 pm.
Tickets are 12 talas per person and 95 talas per vehicle. If you are bringing across a vehicle, be sure to book in advance.
Where to Stay in Samoa?
There is a range of great range of accommodation options in Samoa from small luxurious boutique resorts to large resorts sprawled across massive gardens as well as more budget-friendly chalet-style options.
I’ve stayed and visited a few different resorts in Samoa, here are a few of my favourites:
- Aga Reef Resort;
- Seabreeze Resort;
- Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort;
- Taumeasina Island Resort;
- Levasa Resort;
- Stevensons at Manase (pictured above); and
- Le Lagoto Beach Resort.
What is there to do in Samoa?
From swimming at beautiful beaches and lagoons to admiring waterfalls and exploring the local markets, in Samoa, you can do as much or as little as you like.
You could spend your entire trip relaxing and enjoying the facilities at your resort or being adventurous and exploring as many landmarks as possible.
No matter your interests, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you busy during a trip to Samoa. Here is a brief overview of some of the best things to do in Samoa:
1. Swim at Lalomanu Beach
Voted by the Lonely Planet as one of the most beautiful beaches in the WORLD – this is one beach you’re going to want to visit.
At Lalomanu Beach there is a great little casual restaurant, with views to die for. Also, by eating at the restaurant, you will avoid the need to have to pay the entry fee to the beach which starts at 10 tala – although if wish to swim, you will still need to pay the fee.
2. Admire Sopo’age Waterfalls
Visit Sopo’aga Waterfalls one of Samoa’s stunning waterfalls. The viewing point for the waterfalls is in a lovely little garden setting and entry is 10 tala per person. From the carpark to the viewing point is a short walk and suitable for everyone.
3. Go Swimming at To Sua Ocean Trench
To Sua Ocean Trench is an absolute must-do for everyone visiting Samoa! You could easily spend half a day or more at the Trench – depending on how long you like to swim for. If you plan on spending a few hours, consider bringing a picnic lunch to eat in the grounds.
Don’t leave the Trench without checking out the Fagaoneone Beach as well as the lava field with blowhole and rock pools.
Entrance to To Sua Ocean Trench is 20 tala per person.
4. Swim at Vavau Beach
If you’re up for checking out another stunning Samoan Beach, check out Vavau Beach. This is a lovely little quiet beach which has both surf and a lagoon for swimming.
5. Learn about Samoan Culture at the Apia Cultural Village
Be sure to take some time to learn about Samoan culture at the Apia Cultural Village.
Here you will have the opportunity to participate in basket weaving, a welcoming ceremony, learn about local traditions such as the roles of men and women in the family, witness various things such as the traditional art of tattooing, cooking methods, wood carving and art.
At the end of the tour, you will be served some Samoan food while enjoying Samoan dance and singing.
The cultural tour is on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 10.30 am and entry is completely free. The centre is located right behind the tourist information centre.
6. Visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
Just a short drive from the Cultural Village is the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum which was once the home of the famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson.
Author of novels such as Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Stevenson moved to Samoa in the mid-19th century in search of warm climate in aid of his health condition.
The home is a stunning two-storey, with sprawling manicured gardens. Each room has been set up as it was during the time Stevenson lived there with either original items from the home or replicas.
You can join a guided tour throughout the home where you will be provided with commentary about Stevenson, his family and the Samoan people that worked for him.
Entry into the museum is 20 tala per person, which includes the guided tour. The museum is open from 9 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday and 12 pm Saturdays. The museum is closed on Sundays.
7. Buy Local Produce at the Fugalei Fresh Produce Markets
At the local markets watch the local Samoan people go about their business as they set up their stalls. Here you can pick up various souvenirs such as jewellery, t-shirts, dresses and local produce.
These markets are open daily from 6 am.
8. Slide down Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
At Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, you will find a series of waterfalls which depending upon how much water is flowing you may choose to “slide” down the rocks like a waterslide. However note that although I did see people doing this, I didn’t, and I’m not sure how safe it is – so partake at your own risk.
There is quite a steep descent to reach the rocks and, although it only takes a few minutes, the walk both down and up would not be suitable for anyone with mobility issues. The stairs down are steep.
Entry to the rocks is 5 tala per person and opening hours are Monday to Saturday 8 am to 5.30 pm, and on Sundays, 11 am to 6 pm.
9. Be Mesmisrued by the Alofa’aga Blowholes
At the Alofa’aga Blowholes, you will be mesmerised by the ocean water spurting high in the sky as it surges through holes in the lava. Just be careful not to get to close, or you will get drenched!
Entry to the blowholes is 5 tala per person.
10. See the Saleaula Lava Fields
At Saleaula Lava Fields you will see how the lava from the eruption which occurred in 1905 wiped out an entire village – although thankfully no deaths occurred.
Make sure you check out the church which is the only building which survived the eruption, although it’s somewhat eerie yet oddly beautiful with the lava flowing although the church and now with so much time having passed there are trees and shrubs growing right through the church also.
The other interesting place to visit at the Lava Fields is the Virgin Grave. This is the grave of the daughter of the village’s chief, which oddly was untouched by the lava. The local people claim this was a miracle.
Entry into the Lava Fields is 5 tala per person, and the fields are open Monday to Saturday 7 am to 5 pm, and on Sundays, they open at 10.30 am and close at 5 pm.
11. Swim at Falealupo Beach
Spend some time enjoying the stunning Falealupo Beach. This is a gorgeous stretch of beach which is perfect for snorkelling with life coral visible just a metre or so from the water’s edge. The water is calm and crystal clear and just perfect for a swim. However, note that this is a coral beach and it would be best to wear reef shoes.
12. Cross the Falealupo Canopy Walk
The canopy walk takes you climbing high into the rainforest canopy and then across a suspension bridge to a giant banyan tree. At the other side, you can climb even higher up the banyan tree for a fantastic view across the canopy and out to the ocean.
Entry to the Falealupo Canopy Walk is 20 tala per person, and the walk through the rainforest to the canopy walk is short and flat. However, the climb to the canopy is steep and not suitable for anyone with mobility issues.
What’s the Weather Like in Samoa?
Samoa has a hot tropical climate all year round with two distinct seasons – the dry season and wet season. The dry season runs from May to October, while the wet season is November to April.
Year-round the average day time temperature in Samoa is around 28 to 32˚ Celsius with it getting slightly cooler at night.
The most popular time for tourists to visit in Samoa is during the dry season. However, the wet season is still a fine time to visit too. While it does rain more regularly during the wet season, it tends to never be more than an hour or so at a time.
What is the Currency in Samoa?
The currency of Samoa is the Samoan Tala.
While within resorts credit cards are generally accepted (with fees), outside the resorts you are best to have cash to purchase items.
You will find ATMs in large resorts and around shopping areas.
What Language do the people in Samoa speak?
The official language of Samoa is Samoan; however, you will find English widely spoken and understood across Samoa. Nevertheless, it’s always good to know a few words in the local language, so here a few helpful Samoan words:
What is Food like in Samoa?
In Samoa, you will find a range of beautiful dishes prepared with fresh local ingredients. On most menus, you can expect to see a mix of traditional Samoan food and popular international cuisine.
Seafood is heavily featured on menus, so if you are a seafood lover, you’re in for a real treat! Seafood includes crayfish, snapper, octopus, tuna and more. Fresh tropical fruit and vegetables are also in abundances, such as taro, banana and mangos. And you mustn’t leave Samoa without drinking a coconut!
What Should I wear in Samoa?
With Samoa being hot all year round, opt for light casual summer clothing.
While you are in your resorts, it is quite acceptable to wear your swimwear with a cover-up. However, you will find outside resorts, that Samoan people dress very conservatively and so it is best to ensure you are wearing appropriate attire such as shorts, t-shirts or dresses.
What’s the WIFI like in Samoa?
While some resorts may provide you complimentary Wi-Fi, many will not. Resorts that don’t provide free internet charge a hefty price for the privilege of using it. And even then it can be patchy and slow at the best of times.
For those that want to be connected to the internet, it’s best to buy a local SIM card on arrival at the airport. Just outside the arrival hall, you will find both Digicel and Bluesky – here you can purchase a local SIM with a data package
If you require topping up while you are in Samoa, simply go into any convenience store or supermarket and purchase vouchers. You can then use these vouchers on your phone to top up your data package.
Can I drink the Water in Samoa?
While the water is safe to drink in Samoa, the Samoa Tourism Authority still recommends tourists to drink bottled water.