The islands of Western Samoa are one of the most beautiful places in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This country attracts tourists with its picturesque beaches, exotic underwater inhabitants and delightful landscapes. People of different nationalities live here, but all of them are very open, friendly and independent. Welcome to Samoa, the country is waiting for you!
Samoa on the map
Geographical location of the country
The archipelago of Samoa is located in the central part of the Pacific Ocean in the Southern Hemisphere. The distance to New Zealand is 2800 kilometres, to Australia – 5600 and to Hawaii – more than 4 thousand.
The nearest neighbours are Eastern Samoa, the islands of Tonga, Fiji and Tuvalu.
The archipelago consists of two large islands – Savaii and Upolu. It also includes 8 small islands, of which only two are inhabited.
The relief of the islands is predominantly mountainous, because they are of volcanic origin. The highest peak of the archipelago, Silisili, is located on the island of Savaii. Its height is 1857 metres.
The islands have many gorges and valleys, rivers and picturesque waterfalls. The coastline is narrow, fringed with coral reefs. The flora of the islands is very rich and diverse, but the fauna is relatively poor.
Safety for tourists
In the global index of peacefulness, which takes into account the calmness of the situation, attitude to tourists and many other factors, Western Samoa has not yet been included, but holidays here are considered very safe.
Crime on the archipelago is absent in principle. There are no pickpockets and no one will try to use your bank card or things left on the beach. You may be asked to pay to stay on the beach, but this is only because it is the property of a village and the money will not go into your pocket, but to the needs of the community.
Local men are not averse to flirting with beautiful female tourists, but without being pushy.
Car traffic on the islands is rather weak, there are not many cars. But it should be remembered that left-hand traffic is accepted here.
The main dangers for tourists are climate and fauna. Hot tropical sun can severely punish a careless tourist, causing serious burns or heat stroke. In the water, there is a risk of bumping into sharp shards of coral, and the waves are often very strong.
There are no dangerous animals on land, except that mosquitoes and mosquitoes can cause some discomfort to the tourist. Some of them are carriers of tropical fever.
In the ocean there may be sharks and poisonous fish, but they are few. Sea urchins and some fish hiding in the sand are dangerous.
Also, tourists are recommended to observe the rules of personal hygiene and sanitation: wash your hands and fruit, do not drink tap water, although here it is not bad quality, do not buy dubious local delicacies. And then your holiday in Samoa will remain wonderful and unforgettable.
Polynesians in general, and Samoans in particular, are very cheerful and good-natured people. They are extremely fond of various holidays, noisy parties, music and dancing.
The main holidays in the country are public holidays, which are divided into secular and church holidays. Among secular holidays, New Year and Mother’s and Father’s Days are honoured. Independence Day is also celebrated here.
Among the Christian holidays on the islands, the official holidays are Easter, Christmas and the following Gift-giving Day. The official Muslim holiday is Ramadan.
In between the official holidays, Samoans invent other holidays. The birthday of the reigning monarch is celebrated with great pomp, various competitions, fairs and festivals are held here.
For example, in August there is the Teuila Festival, the largest on the islands. It includes performances of dancers, musical groups, boat races and the selection of Miss Festival.
Any celebration in Samoa is theatrical and therefore always attracts the attention of tourists.
What fun things to do in Samoa
The islands can not please the sophisticated tourist with an abundance of diverse entertainment. There are no historical monuments, no large shopping centres and nightlife. But here is very beautiful tropical nature, there are mountain rivers and lakes, beaches and coral reefs.
- Beach holidays. Most of the beaches on the islands are wild and not organised. Only beaches of few hotels can boast at least some infrastructure and comfort. But the beauty of nature more than compensates for the wildness of the beaches. For example, the most beautiful beach on the islands is considered to be Lalomanu beach on Upolu.
- Diving. Coral reefs, which surround the islands of the archipelago from all sides, are a desired prey for divers. There are hundreds of species of coral and fish. The best diving spot is the strait between Upolu and Savaii islands.
- Snorkelling. Snorkelling is also very popular in Samoa. The coastal waters near the capital’s Faleolo Airport are considered a particularly convenient place for such a holiday. The coral reef wall creates a real open-air aquarium here, protected from wind and waves.
- Kayaking. The islanders are renowned as skilful sailors. They use boats like kayaks or canoes to travel between islands. Tourists get a chance to feel like an aborigine and swim off the shore on their own. Manono Island is considered the best place for such a holiday.
- Surfing. Located in the open ocean, the islands are accessible to all winds. Waves here are limited only by coral reefs, which are not found everywhere. Therefore, Samoa is a real mecca for lovers of surfing. They have even given names to their favourite types of waves found only here.
- Fishing. For long centuries, fishing has been one of the ways of survival of people on the archipelago. Not surprisingly, the locals know all the subtleties of this sport and willingly share their experience with tourists. The waters of the archipelago are home to tuna, pelamid and many other species of fish.
- Golf. Strange as it may seem, it is in Samoa that tourists can play this exceptionally gentlemanly sport right on the ocean shore. Many local hotels have luxurious golf courses, which rarely remain empty.
- Sightseeing. Architectural sights are of interest only in and around Apia. There are several colourful churches and cathedrals, a castle, and the Stevenson House Museum.
- Natural attractions. There are many very beautiful places on the islands, necessarily visited by tourists. Among them are the famous lava fields and geysers, a marine reserve and much more.
- Lake To Sua. We will say separately about this lake, which is located near the coast and communicates with the ocean. Its name translates as Big Hole, and it is a favourite among tourists. The clear water of the lake allows you to see the sand at the bottom.
What’s important to know about Samoa
If you are planning to visit Samoa, here are some of the most important things to know:
The official languages of the country are Samoan and English. The Samoan language is spoken by approximately 400,000 people. They live mostly in Western and Eastern Samoa, as well as communities in New Zealand.
The Samoan language does not have its own written language and uses Latin script.
There are currently just over 200,000 people living in the country. The majority of the population (96%) are ethnic Samoans. About 1.2% are descendants of mixed marriages between Europeans and Polynesians. About 2% of the archipelago’s inhabitants are Europeans.
Three-quarters of the population still lives in villages, with the majority on the island of Utopu, although it is smaller in area than Savai’i. Almost all the country’s inhabitants are concentrated on the narrow coastline, the interior of the islands being virtually deserted.
More facts about Samoans, their character and local colour can be found in this article.
The national currency of the country is the tala. It is divided into 100 senes.
The tala as a monetary unit appeared in 1967, replacing the Samoan pound. Now in circulation are banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 tala, as well as coins of 10, 20, 50 senes and 1 and 5 tala.
Tourists are advised to take dollars or euros with them. Dollars are traditionally well accepted in many places, and are easily exchanged for local currency at banks or hotels if desired.
Currently, 1 dollar is worth about 2.7 tala.
The majority of the population is Christian, with Congregationalist (Calvinist) and Catholic communities. They account for more than 50 per cent of the islands’ population. Adventists and Pentecostals are quite numerous in Samoa.
Other religions are poorly represented, the share of their followers does not exceed 8%. These are adherents of Islam and Bahaism, the local monotheistic religion.
Atheists on the archipelago are less than 0.2%.
The islands of Samoa are located in the tropical climate zone. This type of climate is characterised by a slight difference between temperatures throughout the year. The average temperature here is +26 degrees centigrade.
The year in Samoa is divided into two seasons: humid summer and dry winter. Summer in the archipelago falls in December-February, when the weather is determined by the north-west trade winds, which bring heavy rainfall. In winter (June-August), the islands receive cooler and drier south-easterly trade winds.
The average rainfall in the archipelago is 2000 millimetres per year, but it can be much higher in the mountains. There it rains almost every day. However, as elsewhere in the tropics, local showers, although heavy, are short-lived.
The average seawater temperature in Samoa remains comfortable and suitable for swimming all year round.
- Winter, December-January: +29 to +30 degrees Celsius.
- Spring water temperature, March to May: +28 to +29 degrees Celsius. The ocean warms up the most in April.
- Water temperature in summer, June-July: from +26 to +28 degrees Celsius. The coldest water is in July.
- Water temperature in autumn, September-November: from +27 in early autumn to +28 degrees in November.
The islands of Samoa lie in the path of tropical cyclones, and their destructive power is the main danger for the archipelago’s inhabitants and tourists. These islands are already characterised by strong, constant winds, but when cyclones pass, gusts can reach 200 kilometres per hour.
One of the most destructive hurricanes occurred in 1966 and was called the «Storm of the Century».
The islands of Samoa lie on a submarine volcanic ridge, which causes a fairly high tectonic activity of the region. Every year, dozens of small earthquakes are recorded here. But there are no major catastrophes capable of causing severe destruction here.
There has been no volcanic activity for a long time. Despite the fact that many mountains on the islands are not completely extinct craters, the last strong eruption here was recorded in 1700. Although even at the beginning of the 20th century, the islands experienced small eruptions.
You can read about the most devastating disasters in Samoa’s history in this article.
Samoa is a constitutional monarchy. The country is headed by a monarch, who is called O le Ao o le Malo, which roughly means «Chief of Government». In the hands of the chief is concentrated executive power.
The legislative power is represented by a unicameral parliament. The monarch has the right at any time to restrict the activities of Parliament or dissolve the Cabinet.
Administratively the country is divided into 11 itumalo (districts), each of which is headed by a chief of the main village.
The capital of the country is the city of Apia.
Apia is the capital of the country and its largest city. It is located on the island of Upolu and was founded in 1840. It is the only city in the country with just over 30 thousand inhabitants. Tourists are attracted by the colourful churches, the clock tower, and in the suburb of Vallimu – the estate of writer Stevenson.
Lava lava – a traditional men’s skirt, an indispensable attribute not only of holidays, but also of ordinary life.
Coconut palm – the national tree of the islanders, which is depicted even on the national emblem.
Tattoos are an indispensable piece of Samoan jewellery. By them you can judge his status and social position in society.
Oka is a dish of fish pieces in a marinade of lemon juice and coconut milk.
How to get to the islands of Western Samoa
Getting to Samoa is almost exclusively by aeroplane. This island nation is connected to the rest of the world by Faleolo International Airport, located near Apia. It is a small airport with only one runway and can accommodate almost any type of aircraft.
Mostly local airlines from New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii fly to Samoa. But you can also get to Apia from Europe, Asia, North and South America.
In addition, the islands have two ferry terminals, Mulifanua on Savai’i Island and Salelologa on Upolu. They provide connections between the two islands of Samoa and to Pago Pago. In addition, cruise ships can call here. By the way, a multi-day cruise in the Pacific Ocean with visits to all major archipelagos, including Samoa, will cost a tourist a minimum of 5 thousand dollars.
How much money to take with you
Prices for holidays can fluctuate in quite a wide range, depending on the claims of the most tourists and their goals. An ordinary beach holiday for two people will cost from $1300 per week. Prices for a cruise around the islands with fishing and various entertainment starts at $2000 for the same 7 days. And this is without taking into account the flight. Due to the fact that for a European archipelago is on the other side of the globe, the cost of a flight to Apia will start at $1000 per person.
In the country itself, the following costs await tourists:
- Food: prices for food can vary significantly. For street food, it is enough to plan 10–15 dollars per day per person. For lunch in a restaurant – already 30–50 dollars a day. For example: the cost of a cup of espresso coffee is $2, and a cheeseburger will cost $3.
- Sightseeing: there are no special architectural sights on the archipelago. Tourists visit national parks, lakes and waterfalls, dormant volcanoes and geysers. An excursion to the estate of writer Robert Lewis Stevenson also arouses interest. The price of excursion usually makes from 40 to 70 dollars per person.
- Beach holidays. Almost all beaches on the islands are completely free. You will have to pay only a token amount to the representatives of the local village administration. Beaches in hotels are included in the price of accommodation.
- Souvenirs: you can save a lot of money on this item. There is no special shopping on the islands. Mainly tourists buy here products of local craftsmen: woven bags, shells, original fabrics. You can spend on gifts and souvenirs 20–40 dollars, and you can buy a couple of hundreds.
- Transport: it is profitable to move around the cities by buses. The price of a trip from 1 dollar. In a taxi, you will be charged 1.3 dollars per kilometre. Most hotels offer tourists their own transport for excursions. Between the islands of Upolu and Savaii several times a day runs a ferry, the ticket price is about $30.
Thus, taking into account the reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, holiday in Samoa for two will cost from 1200 to 2500 thousand dollars for 7 days. And of course, the maximum holiday amount can be much higher.
If you have already visited this country, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words, what you liked most of all in the country, what moments remained in your memory forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. We will be very grateful for your recommendations!