Samoa - By Janine Costa
By Janine Costa - Travel Broker, World Travellers, Opotiki
SAMOA – WOW!!!
I must admit my expectations of Samoa before arriving was that it was just going to be another island in the South Pacific – boy was I wrong!
Day one - Without knowing it, the relaxation started with a short 3 ½ hour flight from Auckland to Apia on board Air New Zealand, departing Auckland at 9:30am and arriving 2:20pm local time (one hour ahead of New Zealand). Stepping off the plane you instantly felt the warmth of the 30 degree temperature comfort you, and proceeding through the arrivals terminal local musicians are playing beautiful island music - a lovely relaxing experience. Just a short 5-10 minute drive from the airport was our first stop for the night at Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort and Spa. With all the amenities, such as white sandy beach with its own Lagoon, and the generous size swimming pool with swim-up bar, this is a great place for the whole family to stay. Being so close to the airport is a bonus.
Day two - Day two was time for us to venture out and explore this beautiful place. Again just minutes down the road from Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort and Spa is the wharf where we boarded the Lady Samoa 3 for our 1 hour and 15 minute journey across to the largest island of Samoa – Savai’i. We visited places like Afu Aau Waterfall with its beautiful clear blue waters to swim in. Also feeding and touching the turtles was an experience not to be missed on Savai’i. The Saleaula Lava fields are also an amazing place to visit with its historical appeal. Our site inspections here were at Siufaga Beach Resort and Stevensons, then we spent a truly amazing night in beach fales at Tanu Beach Fales. This for me this was one of the best experiences I had in Samoa - socialising amongst the local people eating traditional food and enjoying cultural dances at our Fia Fia night and sleeping in traditional Fales.
Day three - After a delicious and traditional breakfast at Tanu Beach Fales we continued around Savaii with site inspections at Savaii Lagoon Resort and Le Lagoto Resort, before making our way back to the wharf for our ferry back to Upolu. From the Ferry terminal we drove to Apia, approximately a 30 minute drive, and checked in at Aggie Greys Hotel. This hotel is Samoa’s largest and has a lot of history. It was founded by Aggie Grey in 1933 offering all the amenities needed for an enjoyable and relaxing stay. After dining in the hotel restaurant we ventured out to experience the night life and conveniently found a local club just a short 5 minute walk from the hotel.
Day Four - Breakfast and site inspection at Aggie Greys Hotel then off to explore more of what Samoa has to offer. Going to the local Flea Markets was a joy. All undercover, we found many bargains and the friendly service was amazing, - if you have trouble finding exactly what you are after, you needn’t worry, as before long word will spread through the market and someone will have what you are looking for - great service! Next stop was a tour at Samoa’s Cultural Centre with coconut shredding and tree climbing demonstrations, also witnessing the traditional tattooing of Samoa. Leaving Apia we drove inland to the South Coast, stopping at Robert Louis Stevenson Museum along the way. We had site inspections at Coconuts Beach Resort, which was completely rebuilt in 2010, and Sinalei Reef Resort - its beautifully manicured garden a very relaxing environment. We progressed on to the Togitogiga Waterfalls with a relaxing nature walk before the stunning waterfalls emerged. Our final stop was at Seabreeze Resort. I was very grateful for the warm hospitality received here at Seabreeze with a Fia Fia night of traditional fire dancing and performances by the staff. Everything that Seabreeze had to offer made this a very relaxing and enjoyable place to stay.
Day Five - Our final day in Samoa started off with Champagne Breakfast at Seabreeze then off to the To Sua Trench and cave pools, followed by site inspections of Litia Sini Beach Fales and Le Uaina Resort. It was then time to head back to Apia to relax at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel while we waited for our flight, which was departing Apia at 1:50am the following day. Tanoa Tusitala Hotel is a great place to stop and soak up the amazing time spent in Samoa. I enjoyed a wonderful complementary foot massage here at the Spa and found it a very convenient walk to the local flea markets for getting those last minute gifts.
All in all my trip to Samoa was an eye opener, and my perception of all islands in the South Pacific being the same were changed dramatically. Samoa’s unique culture is simply reason alone to visit this stunning country. This is definitely one of the hidden treasures of the South Pacific and a great place to escape to, whether you choose to just simply relax and soak up the wonderful atmosphere or whether you choose to explore the un-spoilt islands of Samoa and their beauty. I loved Samoa and will certainly be back for more of what Samoa has to offer. As the locals are often heard to say “If relaxing was an Olympic sport Samoa is where you would come to train.”
Thank you Samoa for simply being you…