SAMOA
TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION GUIDE
Samoan beauty

The Independent state of Samoa consists of two main islands, Savaii and Upolu and two small islands, Apolima and Manono, plus five uninhabited islands. Located on the westerly end of the Samoa Archipelago, it is halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand.

The famous writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, brought his family to live on Upolu in 1890 and built a large home in the foothills above Apia, where he spent the last five years of his life.

 CAPITAL MAJOR CENTRES

Although Savaii is the largest island of the Samoan archipelago, the capital Apia is on the more populated island of Upolu, which is also the seat of government centre for commerce.

Savaii is considerably less developed than Upolu, dotted with secluded beaches and crowned in the centre by the 609 feet Mount Matavanu, whose eruptions in 1905 caused the people to migrate to neighbouring Upolu.

           

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THE PEOPLE

Samoans are the largest group of full blooded Polynesians in the world and have retained much of their ancient tradition and culture.

Traditional tattooing is an intricate ancient art of Samoa and young Samoan males are tattooed with complex symbols designs, from the lower chest to the knees.

Samoan (Polynesian) is the native language, however English is widely spoken and is the official language.

samoa map

Click on the above map for a more detailed map.

HISTORY

These islands were first settled about 3,000 years ago and are accepted as the heart of the Polynesian culture.

In 1768, French navigator Louis de Bougainville sighted Samoa and called them “The Navigator Islands”, because of the many Samoans sailing small canoes far from the sight of land.

During the 18th century vast plantation producing copra and cotton were developed for export and Apia became a major commercial centre in the South Pacific. Annexed by Germany from 1899-1914, and then New Zealand from 1914 (after WW1) until independence in 1962, Western Samoa finally gained self-government in 1962.

NATURE

Beautiful fauna and flora are found on both islands. Sawaii particularly, has lush tropical rainforests housing many fascinating and exotic bird species.

Several Conservation Organizations in Sweden and the US have provided funding to ensure the rainforests of Tafua and Falealupo on Savaii are conserved.

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 THE SIGHTS

You can visit Robert Louis Stevenson’s home in Apia, now a magnificent museum, the Tiavi Ralls, the O Le Pupu Pu’e national park where bird watching is a pleasurable pastime and Papaseea, where mother nature has carved sliding rocks with pools beneath which are fun to slide down and swim in.

Also worth seeing is Piula Cave pool in the grounds of the Methodist Theological College. It’s an oval shaped natural pool filled with cool spring water flowing from a cave beneath the church.

Savaii Island is reached in a few minutes by plane or in one and a half hours by boat.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation ranges from international standard to traditional fales (bungalows), some of which offer cooking facilities and private facilities. Villagers will negotiate private rates and home accommodation for budget travellers.

 GETTING AROUND

The two large Samoan islands have more than 2,000 kilometres of highway. In Apia there are taxis and rental cars available and driving is on the right side of the road. The first traffic lights in Samoa were installed in 1995. There is a good bus service on the islands of Upolu and Savaii, and Polynesian Airlines internal service operates flights between Apia and Savaii.

FOOD AND ENTERTAINMENT

The main hotels have dining rooms and Samoan feasts or ‘Fiafia Nights’ are held at these hotels on a weekly basis. Entertainment includes traditional singing and dancing. There are also several bars, clubs and cocktail bars, and at the hotel Tusitala, Tisotala, Aggie Greys and the Beach Bar nightclub, there are live bands and a floor show every Saturday night. A recent addition to this paradise is McDonalds.

It is advisable to boil drinking water or buy bottled water available from stores throughout both islands at reasonable prices.

 ACTIVITIES

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Sporting facilities are mainly concentrated in Apia. They include the Apia Park Stadium, the Royal Samoa Gold Country Club, public tennis courts, squash, a fitness centre, lawn bowls, hockey, netball, rugby, soccer, and Samoan cricket. There are also numerous marine activities including swimming, snorkelling and diving..

SHOPPING GUIDE

A wide variety of artefacts made by Samoan families for their personal use are also sold to visitors because of the beauty and quality of the craftsmanship.

*Siapo and Tapa cloth made from the mulberry bark and painted with native dyes is made into mats, hats and baskets. Kava and food bowls are hand carved from native hardwood. Shell jewellery and printed fabrics are also available. Shopping hours are from 8 am to noon and 1.30 pm weekdays and 8 am to 12.30 Saturday.

*( You can check out an excellent Web site about Siapo at Siapo.com http://www.siapo.com )

DIVE

Samoa has proved to be one of the last undiscovered frontiers for wonderful uncrowded diving. With warm, clear waters offering visibility of between 15 and 50 metres and temperatures ranging from 25-30 degrees Celsius, a wet suit is not required.

Numerous sites including scenic walls, canyons and reefs are home to colourful tropical fish and schools of trevally, tuna, turtles and lion fish as well as a variety of hard and soft corals including brain, mushroom and plate corals.

Most diving at sites located inside and outside the reef is shore-based from boats. One interesting dive and snorkelling site is Palolo Deep Marine reserve at Vaiala Beach which is almost like an aquarium for free divers and is very safe, especially for inexperienced divers.

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Samoa is an excellent destination to learn to dive or advance your diving skills. There are two full dive operators, based on the island of Upolu. Pacific Quest Divers, based at Coconuts on the south side of the island, an active member of PADI, PIRA and DAN, offers a full range of certificates. Squama Divers, based in Apia, has a training program that includes PADI, IDEA  and DIA certification. Both operators have rental equipment and night diving is available on request.

ACCOMMODATION

 
Cool sea breeze in a garden setting

The Princess Tui Inn is a bed & breakfast perfectly located at Vaiala Beach, a short walk from Apia town and Samoa's Palolo Deep Marine Reserve. View map

The palm-fringed tropical garden faces the South Pacific Ocean - good for sun bathing or reading in the shade. Restaurants and bars, the local markets and the visitors information are only a few minutes away.

The Princess Tui Inn is a excellent base to explore Samoa and meet new people. Your hosts, Alesi and George Hadley, will arrange activities for you to make your stay in Samoa as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. They have a good network to tour and dive operators, cars rentals, etc. You are invited to find out about the packages and activities that your hosts offer.

Alesi and George Hadley, your hosts, will make sure that your stay will be pleasant and memorable.

E-mail: princesstui@samoa.ws

Website: http://www.princesstui.ws

 

The Samoan Outrigger Hotel

“A touch of class for budget travelers”

 “Best budget hotel in the South Pacific Region”

TSCP”S excellence in Tourism award.

 

“One of the best budget hotels in the South Pacific”

Frommer's South Pacific handbook.The Samoan Outrigger Hotel is without doubt the most popular budget hotel in Samoa. Why? Because the Samoan Outrigger Hotel has gained a reliable reputation for offering clean and affordable accommodation. A place where you can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere and have all the facilities needed by today’s discerning travelers.

The Samoan Outrigger hotel recently relocated (June 2002) to a completely renovated old historical colonial building on the Cross Island Road. However, we are still only about 10 minutes walk from downtown Apia.

The Samoan Outrigger Hotel can now offer a wider range of accommodation. At the Outrigger you will find single/double/triple rooms with ensuite and with shared facilities, depending on your choice. All rooms have high ceilings, fans and mosquito screening.

For the budget conscious traveler we also have traditional Samoan garden fales, overlooking the tropical garden and swimming pool. All fales are equipped with Samoan hand wowed mats, mosquito nets, mattress and linen. All fales have electricity installed.

If you are looking for more up market rooms we can offer single/double rooms with ensuite and air-conditioning. All rooms have private outside sitting area, internet socket and telephone.

Our facilities include:

·        Large tropical garden
·        Swimming pool
·        Kitchen facilities (fully equipped)
·        Laundry facilities
·        BBQ area
·        Hot water in all showers
·        A wide range of clean rooms which are serviced daily
·        Car hire
·        Free tropical breakfast
·        24 hr reception
·        Bar and Pool table lounge in an old colonial setting
·        Internet service
·        Television
·        Comprehensive tourism information desk
·        All major credit cards accepted
·        Car parking area
·        Free storage for your backpacks/suitcases as well as safe facilities

To get to the Samoan Outrigger Hotel ask for the Schuster airport bus when you arrive at the airport. The fare is ST. 10.00 per person. Taxis are another but more expensive option (approximately ST. 40.00). The international airport is located 35 kilometers from Apia.

For bookings please contact us on email: outrigger@samoa.ws or call us on telephone (685) 20042. Your are also welcome to visit our web page on:

www.samoahotels.ws/outrigger

Room categories:

Single/Double with ensuite and air-condition
Single/Double/Triple with shared facilities
Single/Double/Triple with ensuite
Single/Double/Triple with ensuite and A/C
Samoan garden fales.

 

SAMOA HOTEL ASSOCIATION WEBSITE

HOTEL KITANO TUSITALA

The sun sets later in Samoa than in any other part of the world. This was the place chosen by the author of ‘Treasure Island’, Robert Louis Stevenson, to spend the latter part of his life as ‘Tusitala’ (the Samoan word for ‘story teller’).

Hotel Kitano Tusitala, named in his honour, is located in the heart of Apia, overlooking the blue Pacific Ocean. With the unique giant fales built in the classic style of ancient Samoa, these stunning structures combine modern architecture with traditional building techniques in welcoming you to the island.

FAMOUS AUTHOR’S LEGENDARY LEGACY

The hotel offers 94 guest rooms with three views to choose from mountain, garden or pool. Rooms are of international standard with air-conditioning, refrigerators, ISD telephones, tea/coffee making facilities, private baths and showers, mini bars, TV and video in-house entertainment, alarm clocks and hairdryers.

Every day is a treat when dining or relaxing at Hotel Kitano Tusitala’s fine restaurants and bars. The hotel boasts four eating areas and two bars. Stevenson offers fine service six nights a week with an excellent selection of Western, European and authentic Japanese cuisine.

Apaula Terrace is open every day for breakfast and lunch only. Regular buffet features include a ‘Fiafia Night’, held every Thursday with traditional Samoan entertainment and spectacular fire knife dancing. Buffet luncheons take place very Friday from 12 noon to 2pm, and from 7 pm, one can experience ‘Asian Night’ at the Seaview Villa, overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. On Sundays, simply relax and enjoy a delicious brunch.

The Pool Bar which opens daily from 9am until late, serves great tasty snacks, and a superb range of delicious cocktails including their famous ‘Papaya Coca Colada’ guaranteed to quench the biggest thirst under the hot Samoan sun. The restaurant’s bar is only open during business hours.

Hotel Kitano Tusitala has the largest catering and show facilities offered by any venue in the country and is able to accommodate up to 600 guests under its huge traditional fale. The Colonial Vila on the Pacific Ocean front is superb for smaller conferences and deliciously different private dinners.

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Hotel facilities include a children pool, swimming pool, two floodlit artificial turf tennis courts, gift shops, hair salon, and more.

Whether you are on business, pleasure, or timeless leisure, Hotel Kitano Tusitala is the ideal place to stay with its friendly staff and legendary Samoan hospitality.

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AGGIE GREY’S HOTEL

In any conversation about travel in the South Pacific, sooner or later someone is bound to ask, “Have you stayed at Aggie’s?” Aggie Grey’s hotel has become a legend in the Pacific, renowned as a meeting place for visitors who enjoy a taste of the real Samoa. Film stars like Gary Cooper, William Holden, Marlon Brando, Royal Families, as well as your average tourist have stayed at the hotel, and all have been treated like royalty and made to feel like stars.

The hotel was founded in 1933 by the late Aggie Grey, daughter of Scottish chemist William Swan, and Pele, his Samoan wife. The original hotel was a wooden building that had been the International Hotel which became a renowned club for American servicemen stationed in Samoa during WW2. In about 1900 it was dismantled and rebuilt on its present site overlooking Apia Harbour. In 1987 it was again demolished, but this time to be expanded and updated into the new building which now houses reception, accommodation, a fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar.

LEGEND OF THE SOUTH SEAS

Aggie’s choice of accommodation styles includes 150 rooms, 2 suites with harbour views and 26 island style bungalows decorated with intricate woven interiors and true South Seas ambience. Each has a refrigerator, tea and coffee making facilities, direct dial telephones and ironing facilities.

Same day laundry and dry-cleaning, 24 hour consierge, valet and room service, child care, hairdresser, hotel gift and duty free shops, secretarial service and conference and meeting facilities are all available.

The hotel has three cocktail bars, where it is almost obligatory to sample a Bloody Mary, and the Marlon Brando coffee lounge. A la carte gourmet dining is offered at Le Tamarina Restaurant. Aggie’s Fale Restaurant, which is also licensed is by the swimming pool and is surrounded by a tropical garden. A highlight of any stay is the weekly ‘Fiafia Night’ (entertainment including a Samoan feast) and a guitar group serenading guests every night.

A meal plan offers three meals a day at very reasonable prices and picnic lunches are prepared for guests planning day trips.

The Hotel’s tour service can arrange activities such as helicopter sight seeing, water sports on Apia harbour, diving courses, airport transport, cultural demonstrations of Umu (Samoan oven) making, mat weaving and Samoan dancing, trekking and more. Palolo deep marine reserve is a five minute walk along the harbour front.

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Some new additions and changes at the Hotel include a new fitness centre, the introduction of complimentary golf for guests at Samoa’s 18 hole golf course, a kid’s playground and kids’, deep sea fishing, diving and complimentary water sports. There is also an extensive range of wedding packages.

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Aggie’s is a boutique family run international hotel with a unique history, one of the last of its kind. A stay here is a truly memorable experience. In a class of its own, the atmosphere is informal and Alan Grey (Aggie’s son), his wife Marina and daughter Tania carry on the traditions started by the late Aggie to ensure that the 300 staff and guests all feel part of the extended Grey family. So when it comes time to go, it is difficult to leave the genuine hospitality, to additional service and friendly atmosphere behind.

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SAVAII

 Just 20 kilometres north-west of Upolu across the Apolima Strait, Savaii has only 2/5 of the population of Upolu despie being 1/1/2 times the size. In fact Savaii is the largest island in Polynesia outside of Hawaii and New Zealand.

Much of the fertile land was buried in the eruptions of Mount Matavanu between 1905 and 1911 transforming the northern side of the island and causing the people to move to Upolu. However, the beautiful tropical rainforest are still home to many exotic birds.

Traditional Samoan villages line the coast of the island, but there is no main town like Apia and the pubic transport is scarce. There are very few taxis and rental cars need to be arranged in advance.

On the east coast, north of the Saleologa  wharf is the Rev. John Williams memorial, a tribute to the first Christian Missionary who arrived in 1830. The beautiful lagoon at Lano village is well worth a visit and there is great surfing on Lano’s beach and snorkelling at nearby Faga. Eight kilometres away in Letolo plantation is the Pulemelei stone pyramid, the largest remaining monument in Polynesia as well as an idealic waterfall and pool.

Along the southwest coast are a series of spectacular below holes just a short walk from Taga village. Deserted Fatele Beach lies in the vicinity of Faleaupu-tai where the villages can be seen woodcarving adjacent to the Catholic Church.

On the north coast is lovely Papa village and further east one should stop for a swim at Matavai’s frewater spring or at Safotu’s fresh water pools. Inland from Paia village is the “short people’s cave” where midgets are said to live. A two to three hour walk will bring you to Mount Matavanu, the source of the 1905-11 volvanic outbreak, which is well worth a visit as are the massive barren lava fields at Saleaula and Aopo.

Be aware that the ferry service between Upolu and Savaii is eratic, depending upon the weather and numbers of passengers, so although the trip is only 1.1/2 hours don’t plan to make it back for an International flight.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

SAMOA VISITORS BUREAU
BOX 2272
Apia
SAMOA
Tel: +63500 / 29669
Fax: +685 20886
E-mail: samoa@samoa.net

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CLIMATE Pleasant, tropical, approximately 32 deg.C. year round.
CLOTHING Casual, lava lava are ideal. On Sundays people wear white to church. No bathing suits in public places. Short shorts are frowned upon in the villages.
ELECTRICITY 220 volts AC/50 cycles.
TIME ZONE GMT minus 11 hours or AEST minus 21 hours.
CURRENCY Tala (SAT).
TIPPING Not compulsory, but you can give a gift for excellent service.
VISAS & HEALTH Visas not required for stays of less than 30 days if you have an onward ticket. Departure tax of SAT$30.
GETTING THERE International - Polynesian Airlines, Air Pacific and Air New Zealand. Samoa Air flies from American Samoa. Domestic - Polynesian Airlines.
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(E-mail: jane@janeresture.com -- Rev. 23rd January 2004)   

 

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