Samoa Holiday. Right there.
I’ve just returned (and I say returned but in my head I’m still there. Maybe a little bit too much. Bikini in the post office anyone?) from a gorgeous place called Samoa. Or Saaaaamoa as I’ve been corrected. A beautiful beautiful place 3.5 hours from Auckland. Two Islands both so different and so the same, I have to explain.
Island one Upolu (with the capital Apia- smaller but more populated) and two, Savaii (bigger but less people) set amongst reef, crystal clear water and a v.e.r.y. slow pace. I hadn’t had any time off in a while. So it was what the Doctor ordered. Or rather all my friends who said “Jane, go away and get off line”. So I listened. I’m pretty good like that.
Amongst all the toes-in-sand, beer drinking, island life is a country immersed in it’s culture. A devastating Tsunami in 2009 saw some of the island life wiped out and part of that island is still working on bringing people back (and me shouting “go there now it’s amazing”) but what is still so apparent is the amazing nature of these people. Smiling and waving EVERYWHERE. I swore to myself I would bring smiling and waving from my car back to Queenstown, even if I became known as the ‘crazy waving smiling lady’. It’s infectious and makes the whole experience so much more than it already is. I also like the pace. Nice and slow. Island time suits me just fine.
We spent 2 days in Apia, Upolu, then headed to Savaii on the boat for (should have been 4 turned into 9) days of laying around, swimming, seeing sights and generally relaxing and then hop, skip and a jump back on the boat to the South East coast of Upolu for the remaining 3 days.
I wanted (I had been told my friend’s in other words) to go away, be offline and relax. Two weeks off line is probably one of the best things about this holiday for me. There is wifi available but I didn’t turn on and I’m so glad I didn’t. I felt so relaxed getting back having not checked, double checked, edited, written a thing. Although now I have a million photos I want to share with you. Maybe I should invite everyone around for a slide show. It’ll only be 4 hours……
So some of my top things to do:
I did have some trouble finding information before I left. There isn’t an abundance of travel tips to be honest but as I didn’t want to plan too much this was fine. But if you’re a spreadsheet planner, you may have to go with the flow when you get there. And let yourself just be. It’s good for you. Trust me.
I would book on one of the tours on the island. We booked a half day (which turned into 8 hours!) but it was awesome. And our guide Sam explained about so much of the culture of the island. How people live, the way villages are run and what are must do’s. We visited the blow holes, a traditional family Fale, Lava fields, waterfalls, canopy walk, blowholes, market.
Do not miss a bus ride. Pumping music, babies and grannies and sitting on knees. Such an experience. Pay when you’re getting off, not on and flag down anywhere by waving your arm up and down. Most buses have where they’re going on the side.
We didn’t do the resort thing (until the last day) as we wanted to be right on the beach and also chat to people at meal times. We got great reviews about Tanu Beach Fales in Manase. There’s a main road with about 5 different places to choose from but here was just lovely. Right on the beach, hut by the sea, breakfast and dinner included in your price and lots of new friends to talk to if you wanted. We went for 4 nights and stayed 9. Tells you something.
To Sua Trench
This amazing natural hole in the ground completely stopped us in our tracks. Set in lush gardens the salt water hole pushes through into another hole and into the sea. Climb down a long steep ladder (hold your breath) and into the most beautiful green water. Photos snap snap snapping all the way.
To get from one island (Upolu) to the other (Savaii) you need to travel by boat. There’s the old one (takes about 1.30 and is smaller) and the new one (takes about 1.15 and is bigger) both leave from the same terminal and cost 12 Tala. Extra if you want to take the car across. They was a movin’ and a shakin’ on both so if you’re sea sick take some tablets well before. Also check times on the lists as many people told us times they go and they didn’t, meaning a long wait in the ferry terminal. And there’s not much to do. Ie. nothing.
Marine Reserve Apia
To get you in the mood, get amongst the marine reserve in Apia. A short walk from the centre there’s snorkelling and fishes and a little beach to rest your weary head on. Only 5 Tala for gear you can spend the whole day there and then walk to the bar that is right next door for a Vailima.
We found out when we got there, there was due to be a swim series on both islands. An achievable selection of distances over a few days in August. With lots of friends to make and three days to see both islands, I was gutted I didn’t bring my wetsuit. Or swimming arms. Next year.
We didn’t book much ahead of time and that gave us the ability to move around a bit, or in our case not much as we were so relaxed! But things are pretty quiet at most times (although check dates for any sporting events on as the accommodations around get pretty rammed) and the rainy season (which we weren’t in) apparently is VERY WET.
Further down the coast (to the North West of Manase) we stayed at Vaimoana which has the most amazing little beach and cove. Watch out for falling coconuts as you sip and relax in absolute bliss. Breakfast and dinner is included.
Heading back to Upolu on the boat we picked up a hire car and shot down to the South East coast to Lalomanu and we stayed at Taufua Beach Fales. Voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, it certainly does pack a punch. The drive down there is just as spectacular, with steep cliffs and beautiful lush green valleys to stare into.
Leaving for the airport we had the whole day back on Upolu. Wondering what to do, we popped into Le Vasa . A beautiful resort that we paid just 30 tala to stay by the pool, hang out and have a shower and just a short ten minute drive to the airport. Meaning I didn’t have to get on the plane with my hair full of sand. (Just my shorts, bag, sandals….you get the idea)
If you want to relax, unwind, go at ‘island time’ this is the place for you. If you want hustle bustle, lots of research and planning these are probably not the islands for you. I loved the smiling, the heat (and not much humidity) the white sandy beaches, the chatting with new friends and the take-each-day-as-it-comes. There’s wifi but believe me don’t take it.
Take cash, there’s not much credit card usage
Take food for lunches- we took salami, crackers, nuts, muesli bars (and yes you can take this over in your hold luggage)
Mozzie spray it up in the non-windy parts (South East of Upolu)
Go with the flow with accommodation
Eat at Paddles in Apia. Amazing Italian, NZ, Samoa fusion. Delicious
Just soak it up. Now where did I put my Pina Colada.
Check out more of my photos on my Instagram page.