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10 reasons to visit Samoa

29th September 2009 Print

Samoa is located in the heart of Polynesia and is often referred to as 'The Treasured Islands of the South Pacific'. The Samoan islands offer lush green rugged landscapes, deserted beaches, pristine turquoise waters and a fascinating culture to explore.

A wealth of natural attractions ensure a varied and unforgettable experience for any visitor to the Samoan Islands. If the dramatic landscape of the ten islands is not tempting enough, there are plenty more reasons to visit for the active geography enthusiasts, divers, surfers, cyclists, hikers to the more passive seekers of pure rejuvenation and relaxation.

Here are just ten from the many reasons to visit Samoa:

Island hopping...Samoa consists of ten dramatically different unspoiled tropical islands, only four of which are inhabited. Upolu, where most visitors start their journey flying into the thriving capital Apia, which teems with tropical island life. Straying from Apia there are lush green valleys, natural wonders and welcoming remote villages to experience. Savaii, the largest of the Polynesian islands boasts equal beauty and is even more unspoiled. The only other two inhabited islands are Apolima, a magnificent volcanic tip jutting out of the ocean and Manono, a road-free haven of tranquility that sits between the two main islands of Upolu and Savaii. The remaining six are preserved in their natural flora and fauna and are home to an abundance of wildlife sealed with fringed coast lines of coral reef.

An underwater playground...The waters and lagoons surrounding Samoa have over 900 different species of fish. Samoa's snorkeling and scuba diving attractions are enviable and suit both the novice as well as the advanced diver. The waters that surroun the islands of Samoa are pristine and calm with entrancing coral reefs keeping the force of the Pacific at bay, ideal for snorkellers. Good spots for divers include 'Turtle Minefield' home to an abundance of green turtles nestling amongst the reef fish and soft coral as well as schools of bat fish, and 'Namua Garden' a haven of soft and hard wall coral home to starfish, eagle rays, white tip sharks and barracuda. For an adrenaline rush try shark spotting on the northern side of Nuulua Island.

Surf's up... hotspot beaches such as Siumu, Coconuts and Salani where waves can gather heights of up to 20 feet. December to February is the best time for Savaii to catch the northern swell, and the best breaks in the South Pacific. The shallow reefs close to the shore are surf free so surf guides are employed to take surf enthusiasts out to the surf hotspots to fine the best breaks.

Cycling and Hiking...A great way to experience both Upolu and Savaii is on two wheels with off the beaten track dirt roads for the more adventurous and over 1,800 kilometres of sealed roads drifting round the circumference of both islands for a more leisurely cycle. Explorations off the main roads will take you through National Parks, past waterfalls, secluded coves, deserted beaches and tropical rainforests. On foot, the National Parks of Samoa offer incredible hiking tracks that traverse dramatic waterfalls, cliff faces, volcanic craters, lava tubes and steep gorges. On Upolu the best hike is at O Le Pupu-Pu'e National Park. The trail begins opposite the Lava coast and heads up through the rainforest of the national park to Pe'ape'a Cave and for real walkers, on to the Ofa waterfall near the dizzy heights of Mount Fito.

Waterfall Crawl...The waterfall crawl is a half day trail that stops off at some of the best and most dramatic falls. The first stop is Papapapai-Tai Falls that has a bird's eye view 100metres high, accessible from Lanotoo road. Next is a refreshing dip at the pool of Togitogiga Waterfalls, which is in close proximity to Sopoaga Falls before heading north for the Fuipisia Falls and the Mu Pagoa Falls, where Samoa's largest river flows meet the open ocean.

Lava lava lava....All the islands of Samoa boast the natural traits of past volcanic activity. Savaii is a geography enthusiast's dream with a 50km expanse of the Saleaula lava fields, the remains of Mt Matavanu's eruption 100 years ago. The Lava Caves, a full day trip from the village of Paia are well worth exploring as is the Falealupo Lava Tube Trail, tubes that have formed from eruptions gone by and now form a natural shelter for nearby villages enduring passing cyclones.

Fa'a Samoa: The Samoan Way...Take away all the natural beauty and entrancing landscape of these islands and you will still be left with the most fascinating aspect of a trip to Samoa, the people. Samoans are rightfully proud of Fa'a Samoa, the Samoan life and culture, and the motto and centre piece of its existence is family. Above all, Samoans have natural world class hospitality, journeying into a Samoan village you will find yourself the object of much attention and you will likely be lavished with fine food and a great deal of inquisition.

Learn to Siva...The Siva is the national Samoan dance, an art that you cannot leave Samoa without endeavouring to master or understand. Samoans boast that the Siva, performed by young maidens 'is the most graceful dance you will ever see.' The Siva Afi is a fire knife dance performed by young boys, and the equally mesmerizing Fa'ataupati performed by the men. Artistic performances today mix tradition with contemporary influences, distinctive in its style the Samoan dance is an infectious entertaining art not to be missed.

Fall into a Fale...A fale is a wooden, often beach-side, hut that is open on two sides with posts and woven blinds that remain hidden but can be lowered at night or when it rains. Breathing natural air conditioning from the off shore breeze, a fale is a liberating experience and will leave you rejunvenated with one of the best sleeps you have ever experienced. A simple mattress and mosquito net, cocooned under a thatched roof caters to all your needs.

Relax and rejuvenate....island life is laid back and the ethos is to relax. Samoans have been practicing rejuvenation for the mind, body and soul before the word 'spa' was even invented. The tropical flora and fauna has been used organically for herbal remedies, oils and treatments for centuries gone by. Be sure to experience a Koko Samoa Scrub, take advantage of the serene and tranquil setting and lose yourself in island life.

...and if that's not enough, on a visit to Samoa, be sure to witness the final sunset of the day. The most westerly land point on earth sits at Cape Mulinu'u just off the Falealupo peninsula on Savaii, a reknowned spot for spectacular sunsets.

Air New Zealand fly direct to Apia via Los Angeles and Auckland daily from London Heathrow. Samoa is also well served by local airlines such as Air Pacific and Virgin Blue with frequent flights from Sydney and Auckland plus inter-island connection throughout the South Pacific.

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