Why Samoa is my happy place
To celebrate our 40th birthdays, me and 4 friends decided to take a well-earned break to Samoa.
I'd read a lot of wonderful reviews about the Taumeasina Resort, an island resort connected to the mainland by a causeway, so we went ahead & booked a 3-bedroom villa... and boy oh boy, we were not disappointed! Our room was spacious and airy with two bathrooms and a full kitchen, as well as laundry facilities. The main reception opened up to majestic sea views, as well as not one but TWO decent sized pools.
As it was our first night in Samoa, we decided to have a quiet night at the resort and enjoy the restaurant and their happy hour cocktail of the day - Pina Coladas. The food was well priced and the local dishes hit the spot.
The next morning we woke early and hit the breakfast buffet, which was well balanced with a selection of fresh local fruits, bakery goods, hot cakes, deli meats, yogurt, bacon, spaghetti, hash browns, and an egg station.
After breakfast, we embarked on a local tour with Chef John - absolutely one of the highlights of our trip. Chef John is a local young man that has been born & bred on the island of Savai’i. Chef and his wife run tours across both the islands of Upolu and Savai’i, with him being the face of the company & Irlene driving the business behind the scenes.
We drove to the ferry terminal and took the 1-and-a-half-hour car ferry from Upolu to Savai’i, which Chef and I did not enjoy thanks to a rolling ocean crossing, but that the girls found hilarious.
Upon arrival on Savai’i, it was obvious that this was Chef's island and pride beamed from his smile. The first place we drove to was the famous Satoalepai Turtle Sanctuary. A family owned business, it had a rustic feel and I felt very fortunate to be up close and personal with these majestic reptiles.
From here, we drove to his family beach, parked our butts on the sand and were served a fresh, cold coconut to sip on whilst Chef cooked our lunch. It was also an opportunity to take a quick dip in the warm ocean waters. Now, my friends are a tough crowd when it comes to food and I was happy to say that this meal did not disappoint. It was fresh, local and well-cooked consisting of Mahi Mahi, Oka, a breadfruit hash brown, with the creamiest avocado and sweetest mango I have ever tasted. It was simple but well executed and our palates were beyond satisfied.
After lunch we were drove along the coast back toward our ferry and stopped at the Church ruins that sits amongst the volcanic rock of the 1905 Mt Matavanu volcano eruption. For me, this was the highlight of our day. What was so fascinating is that, although the earth is now covered in solid volcanic rock, there is new growth and vegetation... so the ultimate symbol of hope.
Our next 2 days were spent enjoying the sunshine at the resort & embracing the relaxed atmosphere of the local culture.
On our final day we hired a car and drove around Upolu as we were keen to check out the south-eastern side of the Island and the difference from where we had been staying. I was the driver and found it a very easy island to navigate as long as you respect the weather and road conditions.
Our ultimate goal was to visit Tu Sua Ocean Trench, a unique swimming hole accessed by a single ladder with lush vegetation covering the trench walls. Along the journey, we stopped at Robert Louis Stevenson Museum for our cultural fix, then a mandatory coffee stop at one of the resorts. We encountered lush rain-forests and often accidentally went off road and down a number of private roads that led to picturesque family beaches.
Upon arrival at Tu Sua, we climbed one by one down the slippery ladder into the depths of the trench and onto the wooden platform, and from there jumped into the turquoise waters. The trench is not for the faint-hearted and the steps can be precarious and busy... however, this experience was a dream fulfilled.
Ah, beautiful Samoa, you're such an island paradise and I'm sure I will return soon.
Currency: Samoan Tala
Language: Samoan / English
Seasons: Dry from May – October / Wet from November – April. Average temperature 29 degrees Celsius.
Family holiday option: Yes, most definitely. The girls I was traveling with have children ranging from 2yrs to 10yrs and all agreed that Samoa is a wonderful holiday destination for children.
Time to get there: Approximately 4 hours
My final tip...
Go with an open heart and a relaxed, island attitude.