Samoa is Polynesia’s beating heart, a crossroads of ancient traditions and modernity. It’s no surprise that Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, chose Upolu as his final home.
You’ll discover that modern Samoa retains the same enchantment. With a variety of activities and serene resorts to suit all types of travelers, this is an excellent destination for both active vacations and relaxing beach vacations.
Samoa is a one-of-a-kind Pacific island destination where curious visitors will discover much more than stunning white-sand beaches and turquoise lagoons. Here is a list of amazing facts about Samoa.
You’re only a 30-minute flight away from where you were 24 hours ago
Samoa is located directly across the Pacific Ocean from the International Date Line, which runs between American Samoa and Samoa.
In other words, if you fly to Samoa, which is only 30 minutes away, you will travel back in time by 24 hours.
Tattooing is a big part of Samoan culture
Tattoos distinguishing men and women are culturally significant for Samoans:
- Young Samoan women are expected to get a malu tattoo covering their upper thighs to just below the knees.
- Men refer to their tattoo as Pe’a, and it is more intricate in design, extending from the upper waist to the knees, and it is more visible.
Even if you don’t want to go the traditional route of painstakingly and manually tapping the tattoo into the skin, finding a good tattoo artist who uses modern tools should be relatively easy in Apia.
Rugby is the County’s Biggest Sports
Rugby union is Samoa’s most popular sport. Both rugby sevens and the standard 15-man game have been gaining in popularity over this past decade, with both sports seeing participation increase exponentially.
With more nations playing the games, it’s important to recognize that the large nations of China, Australia, and New Zealand are often competitive against teams from vastly more populous nations.
Go on an island hike
If you enjoy hiking, Samoa is the island for you, with a diverse landscape that includes vast volcanic and dense rainforest areas.
Silisili, the highest point on the island, stands at 1,858 meters and provides panoramic views of the entire island.
A guided tour can be completed in two days, making this an excellent choice for experienced hikers.
Dive headfirst into the To-Sua Ocean Trench
To-Sua, which translates as “giant swimming hole,” is one of Samoa’s most photographed locations.
This world-famous 30-meter (98-foot) deep ocean trench is located on Samoa’s Upolu Island’s southeast coast.
While plans call for the construction of a spiral staircase to access the water below, swimmers can currently access the pool via a wooden ladder leading to a platform where they can jump or dive into the crystal-clear blue water; an experience described by HuffPost as “movie-like.”
The pool is teeming with tropical fish, and the view from the top is spectacular, making it ideal for Instagram photos, weddings, and family picnics.
Here is what you will have to pay:
- Adults pay twenty Samoan Talas ($8) for admission and swimming.
- Children pay ten Samoan Talas ($5).
Note: Children under the age of six get in free.
To-Sua is a must-see for first-time Pacific visitors in Samoa.
Consider the blowholes at Alofaaga
Savai’i, larger and less populated than Upolu, is home to Samoa’s most spectacular natural treasures, including the world-famous Blue Lagoon.
On Savai’i, the Alofaaga blowholes, located on the island’s southwest coast, are a must-see sight among the numerous other attractions and activities offered.
A ferry service operates twice or three times every day between the two islands, with a journey length of around two hours.
Note: Each swell generates a magnificent show of vertical fountains that can be seen for miles.
Afu Aau Waterfall is a Great Place to Cool Off
While pristine sand beaches and turquoise lagoons are always enticing, they are not Samoa’s sole natural treasures.
After witnessing the Alofaaga blowholes at Savai’i, visit the stunning Afu Aau waterfall. This spot, amidst lush jungle, is great for escaping Samoa’s tropical heat.
Diving into the crystal clear pool and cooling down beneath the tumbling waterfall is a must.
Participate in a Fia Fia celebration
Inquire with your hotel about hosting a Fia Fia night during your stay (or if one will be held nearby).
Dancers, musicians, storytellers, and Samoan warrior performances will keep you entertained all night. A traditional Samoan feast is also served on most Fia Fia nights.
On all Fia Fia nights, the magnificent Siva Afi is a must-see (fire knife dance). Locals are embracing Fia Fia, which translates as “happy gathering,” as a fun way to share and celebrate the 3000-year history of Samoan culture.
Surf Samoa’s best waves
A surfer’s paradise awaits beyond Samoa’s turquoise lagoons.
Surfing in Samoa is for skilled surfers only, as most waves break onto reefs and currents can be deadly. Both Savai’i and Upolu have lots of surfable breakers.
To get the most out of Samoa’s waves, hire a native surf guide who will get you and your board where you want to go.
Learn about Fa’a Samoa
In Samoa, tradition is alive and well, and visitors are frequently encouraged to participate in Fa’a Samoa – the Samoan Way. Here are a couple of ways to do that:
- Immerse yourself in local culture by visiting the Samoan Cultural Community in Apia, on the island of Upolu, to see what life is like in a local village.
- Watch the village men prepare an umu, make fresh coconut milk with their bare hands, and prepare traditional Samoan foods such as Taro and Palusami.
- You may also witness how traditional arts and crafts, including carving and fabric manufacturing, continue to be vital in Samoan society.
Dive into some thrilling dives
Whether you’re new to diving or have years of experience, Samoa has an underwater world waiting to be discovered.
Both Upolo and Savai’i have beautiful dive sites and a variety of marine reserves.
Snorkeling is also a popular activity, as many of Samoa’s favorite beaches are home to coral and rainbow-colored fish.
Personal Note: With luck, just like I was, you’ll be able also to see an endangered green turtle.
Visit Sale’aula’s lava fields
This is one of the island’s most popular sights and a unique natural wonder, formed by molten lava from Mt Matavanu’s 1905-1911 eruption, the flow of which destroyed five settlements.
It’s a geological marvel, and the lava’s power has to be seen to be believed.
Go to the virgin’s Cemetery
When visiting the Saleaula Lava Fields, keep to the left to reach the Virgin’s Grave.
Locals believe that this is where the village chief’s daughter was buried after dying of disease as a teen and that her spirit was so pure that the lava flowed around her tomb rather than enveloping her.
Check out the Alofa’aga Blowholes
Visit the Alofaaga Blowholes in Palauli while taking in the natural beauty of Samoa.
Previous lava flows carved tubes within the volcanic rock, resulting in these natural wonders.
When the waves hit, the water rushes up the tubes with such force that it shoots upwards. Furthermore, if you have an old coconut lying around, try tossing it in just as the wave arrives and seeing it fly into the sky!
TIP: Don’t get too close — you don’t want to fall in or get hit by a coconut projected into the sky.
Walkthrough the canopy of the Falealupo rainforest
The Falealupo Rainforest Walkway is a suspension bridge that hangs 40 meters above the canopy floor and measures 30 meters in width.
It leads to a massive Banyan tree from which passengers may overlook the Rainforest’s top. It’s a must-see for travelers to Savai’i.
NOTE: Don’t forget to pack bug spray when trekking through the rainforest.
At the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, Slide into a Rockpool
There are one 5m slide and three smaller 3m slides, all of which lead to natural rock pools that have become slippy and slick due to years of water pouring over them.
The sliding rocks are accessible through 100 steps that can be readily walked in flip-flops.
However, if you plan to slide to the bottom of the rocks from there, I recommend wearing waterproof shoes with a firm grip, as you’ll have to struggle up the rocks to get back to the foot of the steps.
Go to One of the Multiple Churches
Christianity is one of the few Western influences that Samoan society has accepted, and nearly every village has a church.
Apia’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral, situated across the street from the Samoan Cultural Village, is one of the most stunning.
Before entering any house of worship, dress modestly (knees and shoulders covered), just as you would while visiting any other religious location.
At the Pulemelei mound, take a step back in time
The Pulemelei Mound, which dates from AD 1100 to 1400, is the greatest archaeological site in Samoa and in Polynesia.
NOTE: Don’t expect any information about the site, as no one knows why it’s there!
Pulemelei Mound, a base measurement of 65 meters by 60 meters (213 feet by 197 feet), is made out of a foundational platform of volcanic rock supported by many layers of natural basalt stone heaped on top to a height of 12 meters (23 feet).
NOTE: The pyramidal structure has a flat top. You’ll have to travel 40 minutes into the bush to get here – a truly off-the-beaten-path adventure!
I believe you will agree that, for a small island, Samoa has a lot to offer travelers considering a vacation in this lovely country, and I hope this guide has helped you get started with your critical trip planning.