SAMOA TRAVEL GUIDE
Samoa is about one-half of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand. The islands have narrow coastal plains with volcanic, rocky, rugged mountains in the interior. The two main islands are Upolu and Savaii. The capital, Apia, and the international airport are on Upolu.
Both islands are almost entirely covered by lush vegetation, although almost none of it is the original rainforest that covered the island before humans arrived. Most of the land area is given over to farms or semi-cultivated forest, providing food and cash crops for the locals. Since Samoa has been inhabited for over three thousand years, the cultivated lands around villages can often seem like the deepest, darkest jungle.
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SAMOA QUICK FACTS
Currency: Tala (WST)
Area: 2,944 sq km
Population: 196 130 (2018)
Language: Samoan (Polynesian), English
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SAMOA PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 14 March, National Heroes’ Day
- 1 August, Emancipation Day
- 27 October, Independence Day
- 26 December, Boxing Day
Also, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whit Monday, and Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
FESTIVALS IN SAMOA
BEST TIME TO VISIT SAMOA
Samoa has two distinct seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
- The dry season is typically between May and October, and the weather during this time is generally sunny and warm. This is the most popular time for tourists to visit Samoa, as the weather is ideal for activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and hiking.
- The rainy season, which runs from November to April, can bring heavy rainfall and storms. This season can make some outdoor activities difficult, and the weather can be less pleasant than during the dry season. However, this season also brings lush green vegetation and colorful flowers, making it a great time to appreciate the natural beauty of Samoa.
The best time to visit Samoa is typically between May and October, during the dry season. The weather is generally sunny and warm during this time, making it ideal for activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and hiking. The rainy season, which runs from November to April, can bring heavy rainfall and storms, which can make some outdoor activities difficult.
It's important to note that Samoa is a tropical country, so it can be hot and humid year-round. Additionally, the weather can be unpredictable, so visitors should be prepared for a range of conditions.
SAMOA WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Samoa’s climate is typical of that associated with small tropical islands. Samoa has two seasons, rainy and warm (November-April), and dry and cool (May-October), which are marked by significant differences in rainfall. The rainfall and humidity are typically high with the average annual rainfall reaching around 3,000 mm with approximately 66% of this happening in the wet season. The temperature is typically tropical (ranging from 24-32°C daily) and generally constant during the entire year with little seasonal variation due to Samoa’s near-equatorial location. Observations from the Meteorological Office at Mulinu’u have revealed that the highest mean temperature of 27.1°C occurs between December and March, while the lowest mean temperature of 26.0°C occurs between July and September. Weather patterns are vulnerable to anomalously long dry spells that coincide with the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Samoa experiences southeast trade winds all year round. However, severe tropical cyclones occur during the southern hemisphere summer months of December to February.
SAMOA TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN SAMOA
HIKING & CYCLING IN SAMOA
The perfect time for hiking in Samoa, is from May to October, during the dry season when there is plenty of sunshine with only the occasional downpour and it is generally less humid.
BEACH OPTIONS IN SAMOA
Samoa's beaches receive the best conditions during the peak season from July to September which is also the dry season and brings sunny days, calmer seas, milder temperatures and less humidity.
SURFING IN SAMOA
Samoa has surf all year round. The two different seasons bring changes in wind and swell directions. The dry season from May to October has big south swells and mainly south-east trade winds. The north swells during the wet season from November to April aren't generally as big. Most of the waves in Samoa break over coral reef and surfing in Samoa is best left to the experienced surfer.
KITESURF IN SAMOA
The best time for wind and kite surfing in Samoa is from May to September due to strong trades that kick up at about midday each day.
For more details on kite surfing in Samoa expand this section!
HEALTH RISKS IN SAMOA
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
SAMOA TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Samoa can vary depending on factors such as the time of year, your mode of transportation, and your travel itinerary.
- Airfare to Samoa can be expensive, especially during peak tourist season. Prices will vary depending on your departure city and the airline you choose, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,500 or more for a round-trip ticket from the United States.
- Accommodations in Samoa can range from budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels to luxury resorts. Prices will vary depending on the type of accommodation you choose and the time of year, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $300 or more per night for a room.
- Food and transportation costs in Samoa are generally low. You can find budget-friendly meals at local markets and street food stalls for a few dollars, and public transportation is inexpensive.
- Other costs to consider include activities and excursions, such as snorkeling, hiking, and cultural tours, which can range from $20 to $100 or more. Travel insurance is also highly recommended, which can cost anywhere from a few dollars a day to a few hundred dollars depending on the coverage you choose.
Overall, you should expect to spend a minimum of $1,000 to $1,500 per person per week, depending on your travel style and the level of comfort you're looking for. However, you can easily spend more if you're looking for luxury or you want to do more activities.
Here are some sample costs for visiting Samoa to give you an idea of what to expect:
- Airfare: Round-trip airfare from the United States can cost anywhere from $800 to $1,500 or more.
- Accommodations: A budget-friendly guesthouse or hostel can cost around $50 to $100 per night, while a mid-range hotel or resort can cost around $150 to $200 per night. Luxury resorts can cost $300 or more per night.
- Food: Meals at local markets and street food stalls can cost around $5 to $10, while meals at restaurants can cost around $15 to $30.
- Transportation: Public transportation, such as buses and taxis, is inexpensive and can cost around $1 to $5 per trip.
- Activities: Popular activities such as snorkeling, hiking, and cultural tours can cost around $20 to $100 or more.
- Travel Insurance: Travel insurance can cost anywhere from a few dollars a day to a few hundred dollars depending on the coverage you choose.
Please keep in mind that these are just estimates and costs may vary depending on the season and other factors.
SAMOA TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips for Samoa:
- Pack for the weather: Samoa is a tropical country and it can be hot and humid year-round. Bring lightweight, breathable clothing, and be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
- Be aware of cultural customs: Samoa is a culturally rich country, and it's important to be respectful of local customs and traditions. For example, dress modestly when visiting villages and churches and be mindful of local etiquette.
- Be prepared for power outages: Power outages are common in Samoa, so it's a good idea to bring a flashlight and extra batteries.
- Bring insect repellent: Mosquitoes and other insects can be prevalent in Samoa, especially during the rainy season, so bring insect repellent to protect yourself from bites.
- Plan your itinerary in advance: Samoa is a small country, but there's still a lot to see and do. Plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your time and to ensure that you don't miss out on any must-see sights or activities.
- Don't forget your passport: Visitors to Samoa must have a valid passport and a return or onward ticket.
- Get Travel insurance: This is always a good idea while traveling. It will protect you against unexpected events such as illness, injury, or trip cancellation.
- Learn a few Samoan words: It's always appreciated when travelers make an effort to speak the local language. A few basic words and phrases will help you navigate and communicate more easily.
- Be respectful of the ocean: Be mindful of the currents and waves, and always swim with a buddy. Learn about the ocean and its inhabitants before entering it, as there are some areas that are better to avoid.
- Use cash: Many places in Samoa do not accept credit or debit cards, so it's best to have cash on hand for purchases.
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF SAMOA
Samoa is made up of two main islands: Upolu and Savaii. Each island offers a unique set of experiences and highlights for visitors to explore.
Upolu: This is the smaller of the two main islands, but it is home to the country's capital city, Apia, as well as several other towns and villages. Upolu is known for its stunning beaches, waterfalls, and natural pools, as well as its rich cultural heritage. Some highlights of Upolu include:
- Robert Louis Stevenson Museum: This museum is located in the former home of the famous author and is dedicated to his life and works.
- To-Sua Ocean Trench: A unique natural swimming hole with crystal clear waters, surrounded by lush vegetation and volcanic rocks
- Falealupo Rainforest Reserve: A protected area of rainforest home to a wide variety of plant and animal life.
- Papase'ea Sliding Rocks: A popular spot for swimming and sliding down natural rock slides into a pool below.
Savaii: This is the larger of the two main islands and is known for its rugged landscapes, volcanic craters, and traditional villages. Some highlights of Savaii include:
- Saleaula Lava Field: A volcanic field filled with black lava rocks and ancient lava tubes, which are a unique feature in Samoa
- Alofaaga Blowholes: A series of natural blowholes that shoot water high into the air when waves hit the shore
- Tafua Peninsula Rainforest Reserve: A protected area of rainforest home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, as well as ancient Samoa's archeological sites.
- Manono Island: A small island that is known for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs and an ancient fortified village.
- Afu Aau Waterfall: a picturesque waterfall that flows into a natural swimming hole surrounded by lush vegetation.
Both islands offer an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in Samoa's unique culture, history and natural beauty.
Samoa offers a wide range of activities and sights for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Samoa:
- Visit a traditional village: Samoa is known for its rich cultural heritage, and visiting a traditional village is a great way to learn about the country's customs and traditions. Visitors can observe traditional practices such as tatau (tattooing), weaving, and fale construction.
- Swim in the natural pools and waterfalls: Samoa is home to many beautiful natural swimming holes and waterfalls, such as To-Sua Ocean Trench, Papase'ea Sliding Rocks and Afu Aau Waterfall.
- Experience the local cuisine: Samoa's cuisine is a blend of traditional and modern dishes, and visitors can try a wide range of local specialties such as palusami (taro leaves wrapped in coconut cream), oka (raw fish marinated in coconut cream), and koko Samoa (chocolate made from roasted cocoa beans).
- Visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum: Located in Apia, the museum is dedicated to the life and works of the famous author, who lived in Samoa for several years.
- Explore the natural beauty: Samoa is home to a wide range of natural landscapes, from lush rainforests to rugged volcanic fields. Visitors can hike, swim and snorkel on the scenic beaches, and explore the natural reserves such as Falealupo Rainforest Reserve and Tafua Peninsula Rainforest Reserve.
- Take a cultural tour: Samoa offers a variety of cultural tours that take visitors to the historical sites, traditional villages and beautiful landscapes.
- Visit the Alofaaga Blowholes: This natural wonder is a series of blowholes that shoot water high into the air when waves hit the shore, it's a unique and spectacular site.
- Go to the Manono island: A small island that is known for its beautiful beaches, coral reefs and an ancient fortified village.
- Get a traditional tattoo: Samoa is famous for its traditional tatau, which is a tattoo that is not only a decorative art, but also carries symbolic and cultural meanings.
- Relax on the beach: Samoa is home to many beautiful beaches, such as Lalomanu Beach and Sauniatu Beach, where visitors can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy the tropical climate.
WHAT TO EAT IN SAMOA
Samoa's cuisine is a blend of traditional and modern dishes, featuring fresh seafood, fruits, and vegetables. Here are some of the best local dishes to try when visiting Samoa:
- Palusami: This is a traditional dish made of taro leaves wrapped with coconut cream and usually fish or meat.
- Oka: This is a raw fish dish that is marinated in coconut cream, lemon juice, and onions.
- Fa'i: This is a traditional dish made of mashed taro or banana mixed with coconut cream and cooked in an underground oven.
- Taro: Taro is a staple food in Samoa and it is cooked in various ways such as steamed, boiled or fried, it's a very versatile vegetable that can be eaten with different toppings.
- Koko Samoa: This is a traditional drink made from roasted cocoa beans, mixed with water and sugar. it's a delicious and refreshing drink.
- Popo: This is a dish that is made of breadfruit mixed with coconut cream and sugar, it's a popular breakfast dish.
- Taro chips: These are similar to potato chips, but made from taro, they are a popular snack in Samoa.
- Fish: Samoa is surrounded by ocean, so seafood is very common in the local cuisine, it's definitely worth trying the freshly caught fish from the local fisherman.
- Lu'au: This is a traditional Samoan dish made from young taro leaves cooked with coconut cream, it's a healthy and delicious dish.
- Fresh fruits: Samoa has a great variety of tropical fruits such as papaya, pineapple, mango and many more, they are delicious and very healthy.
LGBTQ IN SAMOA
WHERE TO STAY IN SAMOA
When visiting Samoa for the first time, there are several options for accommodations depending on your budget and preferences. Here are a few options to consider:
- Apia: If you're looking to be close to the action, Apia is the best place to stay. It's the capital city of Samoa and it's home to the majority of the country's hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. There are many accommodation options in Apia, ranging from budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels to mid-range and luxury hotels.
- Beachside Resorts: If you're looking for a more relaxed and tropical experience, beachside resorts are a great option. Samoa has many beautiful beaches, and staying at a beachside resort will allow you to enjoy the sun, sand and sea. There are several beach resorts in Samoa, some of them are luxurious and some are more affordable.
- Traditional Fales: If you want to immerse yourself in Samoa's culture, staying in a traditional fale (Samoan house) is a great option. These are open-air houses that are traditionally built using natural materials such as palm fronds and wooden poles. Many fales are located on the beach and are often run by local families who can provide a unique and authentic Samoan experience.
- Eco-Lodges: Samoa is a country with a great variety of natural wonders, and if you're looking for an eco-friendly option, there are several eco-lodges in Samoa that offer comfortable accommodation with minimal impact on the environment.
- Off the beaten path: If you're looking for a more adventurous and off-the-beaten-path experience, there are some remote villages in Samoa that offer homestays. This is a great opportunity to experience the local culture and customs, and to get to know the local people.
Ultimately, it depends on your interests, budget and travel style, but there's a place for everyone in Samoa. It's always a good idea to check the reviews and ratings of the accommodation options before booking.
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