Why we think Samoa is the hottest destination this year!
Known for its gentle and traditional way of life, pristine scenery and friendly hospitality steeped in a deep, soulful history, Samoa ticks all the boxes for modern travellers.
Over the past couple of years, the country has attracted a rapidly increasing number of tourists to its sandy shores, and we suspect this trend is going to continue well into the future as the story of the South Pacific’s hidden gem spreads.
Samoan culture extends back over 3,000 years, with the country’s oldest known site of human occupation in Mulifanua on the island of Upolu dating back to around 1000 BC.
Local legends say that Samoan people descended from the gods, and that their ancestors made their way across the Pacific Ocean in canoes thousands of years ago to inhabit the country’s cluster of islands.
Since then, the Samoan people engaged in trade, battles and intermarriage of nobility with the neighbouring islands of Fiji and Tonga. This interweaving of customs and bloodlines has helped strengthen the ties of these South Pacific nations and has shaped Samoa’s unique and fascinating culture, which is still thriving to this day.
Known as Fa’a Samoa, the local culture – which is based on a communal way of life – is renowned as one of the oldest and best kept cultures in the Pacific, and a holiday in Samoa wouldn’t be complete without experiencing some of these traditions.
One of the most popular things for travellers to do is attend a Fiafia Night, which roughly translates to mean ‘happy get-together’. Held across the country, these evenings involve a traditional buffet and entertainment featuring beautiful songs, graceful dances and the spectacular fire knife dance where the performers wear traditional lava lavas (men) and puletasis (women), which echo the vibrant colours of Samoa.
Following a sumptuous buffet using fresh produce from the local area, the night’s entertainment turns to storytelling, with the women performing a beautiful Siva dance, and then the energy transforms as the men perform the Faataupati (clapping dance) and Siva Afi (fire knife dance).
The evening culminates with the Taualuga (final dance) and you are invited to join in, with the hope you will learn a few moves to take back home to show your family and friends!
Samoa is geographically astounding and is home to long, untouched white sand beaches, volcanic mountain ranges, lush rainforests, blowholes, lava caves, and the famous To Sua Ocean Trench.
The island nation is blessed with a number of stunning waterfalls; two of the best being Sopoaga Falls and Afu Aau Falls. Sopoaga Falls, which are located on Upolu, are best viewed from a higher vantage point, as this accentuates their sheer size and volume.
The Alofaaga Blowholes are also popular with nature-loving tourists. These blowholes were formed by lava pushing through a flat top of lava rock. When waves break, water spurts through the holes at high pressure, creating an amazing display and an unmissable photo opportunity.
The Saleaula Lava Fields in Savai’i are another fascinating geological phenomenon worth a visit. Here you can see where villages were buried after a volcanic eruption at the beginning of the 1900s, and the striking visual effect of the lava against the buildings, including a ruined church, that remain.
Considering Samoa’s status as a natural playground, the islands are home to a plethora of outdoor adventures including kayaking, snorkelling, golfing, beach bowling, and of course, the country’s speciality… surfing.
If you’re a fan of animals, one of the most amazing experiences available in Samoa is swimming with wild turtles, who are regular visitors to the country’s warm, coral-adorned waters. The ideal place to do so is in the ocean around Namu’a Island, near Lalomanu Beach, off the south-eastern coast of Upolu.
Interestingly, churches are another draw-card in Samoa, as their stark white foundations set against bright blue skies make for brilliant photo backdrops. One of the most popular is The Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral in Apia. Not only is the outside of the cathedral beautiful, the interior, with its highly-skilled craftsmanship and stained-glass windows created in uniquely Samoan style, is stunning. If you are lucky enough to be there on a Sunday morning, put the camera down and enjoy the beautiful singing and the welcoming friendliness of the people.
For history buffs, the Robert Louis Stevenson museum is a must-visit. The famous Scottish author, who was most well-known for books such as Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, spent his final years in Samoa.
He was known by the local people as Tusitala – Samoan for ‘teller of tales’. His gorgeous mansion Vailima has been converted into a museum set within lush gardens and is open to the public. Visitors can also visit his grave located at the top of Mt Vaea, along a trail named by the locals as “The Road of the Loving Heart”.
Where to stay…
SINALEI REEF RESORT & SPA
This luxury resort embodies the very best of its island home, including breathtaking tropical vistas and soul-enlightening Samoan hospitality. Choose between perfectly-appointed garden villas nestled amongst lush gardens or beachfront villas offering incomparable ocean views.
LE LAGOTO RESORT & SPA
Le Lagoto Resort & Spa, a boutique and beachfront resort, is located on Samoa’s largest island, Savai’i. Perched on a secluded white-sand beach, fringed by coconut palms and a crystal-clear, turquoise lagoon, the resort fuses modern beachfront bungalows with traditional fale style.