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Samoa, Ultimate Travel Guide to the Land of Fa’aaloalo

The Cradle of Polynesia and the land of the ancient people of Lapita, Samoa is one of a thousand islands making up Oceania. Nestled with its neighboring islands in the center and south of the Pacific Ocean, the island country of Samoa, has its roots deep down through history and its culture is one of the most unique cultures in both, Polynesia and the world.

I remember watching the action movie Hobbs and Shaw, where the last part of the story took place in Samoa, and even though the movie was actually shot in Hawaii, I was captivated by the represented culture. So, here’s everything you’d like to know about Samoa, before heading over there.

A little History about Samoa

Ancestors of the Samoans are the people of Lapita, who were believed to have settled in Samoa around 3,500 years ago. However, the earlier human remains found in Samoa date about between 2,900 years ago and 3,500 years ago. An ongoing theory states that Samoans are Austronesians who arrived in the island, during the period between 2,500 BCE and 1,500 BCE.

There are many prominent historical figures in ancient Samoan history, that also indicate strong ties with fellow islands such as Fiji and Tonga. These figures include the powerful Queen Salamasina, the King Fonoti, the four tama-a-aiga or titles, Malietoa, Mata’afa, Tupua Tamasese and Tuimalealiifano, the powerful warrior and Queen Nafanua, who was later considered a deity in Polynesian religion.

Foreign explorers and ships began to observe and contact Samoa in the 18th century, when the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, in 1722, became the first to sight the Samoan islands. In 1768, the French explorer Louise-Antoine Bougainville, named the islands the Navigator Islands.

American contact was mainly through whaling vessels. The first two whaling ships that contacted and stepped foot on the islands, were Captain Benjamin Vanderford of Roscoe, and Captain Richard Macy of Maro. The captains had initially asked for supplies, fresh water and firewood, later they started recruiting local men to work as craftsmen on their ships.

During the 19th century, there were several foreign powers battling for control over Samoa, these being the United States, Britain and Germany, which helped fuel the political battles within the Samoan factions. Resulting in first Samoan Civil War that went on for 8 years under their sponsorship.

The Second Civil War of Samoa reached its peak when again, the United States, Germany and Britain battled over control over the Samoan Islands. The fierce battling, the Siege of Apia and the shelling of Apia were some of the gruesome war incidents. The three forces later resolved the issue politically, where the US obtained Tutuila Islands, known now as American Samoa, Germany obtained the remaining islands, once Western Samoa. Britain forged its stake in Samoa for gains in other countries.

The Germans ruled in Western Samoa with an iron fist, banishing any opposing parties into exile. During the first month of WWI, forces from New Zealand, landed in Upolu and seized power from the Germans. Samoa remained under the control of New Zealand until it became the first independent island country in the Pacific, through the Western Samoa Act of 1961, effective on January 1st, 1962.

After amendment of the constitution in 1997, Western Samoa officially changed its name to Samoa. On September 7th, 2009, Samoa changed the Rule of the Road, whereby driving became on the left side of the road. In December 2011, Samoa changed its time zone from UTC-11 to UTC+13. Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa became Samoa’s first female Prime Minister, after winning the elections in May 2021.

Samoa is comprised of two main islands, the bigger islands, Upolu and Savai’i and 8 small islets. Upolu has five administrative districts while there are six in Savai’i. The capital of Samoa is Apia, located in Upolu island.

Samoan Culture

Samoan culture withstood against years of occupation and foreign intervention, as it remains active and very much alive today. Samoans live by the Fa’a Samoa, which literally means “The Samoan Way”. The Samoans have held onto their customs, language, political and tribal systems and traditions. Some of these preserved traditions include important rituals such as the Samoa ‘ava Ceremony.

1.    Fa’aaloalo:

Even though about 98% of Samoan adopted Christianity, this is within the principles of “vāfealoa’i”; deep connection and relationship between people, that is in turn based on “fa’aaloalo” or respect. Many Samoans live a communal life, being a part of the community, where they take part in daily life events together, living in fales, which have no walls, rather coconut palm fronds used as blinds.

2.    Samoan Tattooing:

Tattooing in Samoa is an integral part of someone’s identity, where the tattoos are used to express one’s faith and family ties. Some tattoos are expressive of social status and deem respect in the community. In this regard, getting the tatau is done using the traditional tools of needle and wood, making the painful process a journey of reflection on one’s communal devotion.

There are different sets of tattoos for men and women. The men get Pe’a, which is a set of tattoos from the knees up to the ribs. While the women get a Malu, which is a set of tattoos from just below the knees up to the thighs.

3.    Fa’amatai:

A great part of Samoan culture is represented in the governing system of Fa’amatai, where community leaders; family and village leaders, show their dedication to their respective societies by being selfless and putting the interests of these communities above their own. On the other hand, the village leaders, called matais, are deeply respected.

This is reflected in the great spirit of Samoans, as they are known to have warm smiles and the friendliest of personalities, and they are very welcoming and accepting. This is why you’ll find values as respect, cooperation, hospitality and consensus deeply rooted in Samoan culture.

4.    Samoan Cuisine:

Cuisine is an integral way of how Samoans express themselves, with many aspects of daily life revolving around good food. One essential ingredient in Samoan Cuisine is coconut milk and coconut cream, making for delicious creamy dishes. Many families cook using an umu on Sundays, which is a ground stone oven, adding remarkable flavors to the food.

5.    Weddings:

Samoan weddings are the first step where a couple is establishing themselves as a new family. Expressed by the couple giving gifts to their guests according to the guests’ social status, rather than accepting gifts from their guests.

6.    Entertainment:

Singing, dancing and definitely food, are always the main events of entertainment in Samoa, where the locals gather, go fishing, diving, surfing, playing volleyball or rugby. These are some forms of Samoan Entertainment:

  • Kilikiti – Samoa’s Cricket:

This is Samoa’s national sport, that was taken from cricket after it was introduced by missionaries in the 19th century. Tools used in the sport are made using local tools, where hibiscus or breadfruit tree is used in making the bat or “pate”, while rubber tree is used to make the rubber ball.

  • Coconut Husking:

A fun and communal activity for everyone to enjoy, this is where locals use sticks to break open the coconuts, or sometimes they can use their teeth! It’s no wonder, coconut husking competitions are held by the communities.

  • Siva Afi – Fire Knife Dancing:

Once the dance of powerful warriors, Sifa Afi is a traditional dance where the dancers twirls a flaming knife as he performs several aerobatic stunt moves. Back in the day, the dance was used to express fearsomeness and power.

Things to Do in Samoa

The two islands of Upolu and Savai’i represent the majority of landmass of Samoa, while there are two other islands, inhabited, called Manono and Apolima. There are also other four smaller and uninhabited islands.


While Upolu is smaller than Savai’i, the majority of the population lives there. Upolu is home to the Samoan capital Apia, as well as Samoa’s international airport; Faleolo International Airport. Although Upolu was formed by volcanic eruptions, only three have been recorded so far, that go back to some hundreds or thousands years ago. According to Samoan Polynesian Mythology, Upolu was the first woman to live on the island, hence the name.

Things to do in Upolu

Historical Buildings

1.    Robert Louis Stevenson Museum:

The world famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson was an avid traveler, he began a tour of the South Pacific with his family in 1888, finally arriving in Samoa and chose to settle there. Stevenson had a deep affection towards the Samoans and they appreciated him in return as well. He supported the Samoan independent movement, during the colonial period.

The building of the museum was the house Stevenson built for himself, it was named Villa Vailima after the village nearby. After Stevenson died in 1849, he was buried on the top of Mount Vaea. The house was used as the home of the German Governor, later the home of the administrator of the New Zealand Mandatory Authority.

American businessmen and Mormon missionaries founded the museum and it opened its doors in 1994. On display inside are artefacts and belongings pertaining to Stevenson’s life such as books, shells, ethnographic items and guns, despite that most of the photographs of Stevenson’s life in Samoa are on display in the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh.

Cost: Adults $10, $5 for children under 12 years old.

Opening Times: Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. Closed on Sundays.

2.    Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral:

The first church on this site was commissioned by Bishop Bataillon, back in 1852, and his brother Jacques, began the construction of the church. The bishop blessed the first stone in 1852, however, due to natural disasters, and endemics, construction was delayed and only finished in 1857.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Apia, Samoa

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral or the Apia Cathedral, suffered great damage after an earthquake in 2009. Restoration and rebuilding works took several years until the church was finished again. The new church opened its doors to the public in 2014. Today, the church stands on the exact same spot of the old church, with the parish house located near Mulivai.

3.    Baha’i House of Worship:

The Baha’i Temple in Samoa is a worship place for prayer and meditation for people of all religions, ethnicities, backgrounds and beliefs. Baha’is stopped in Samoa by chance, while on their way to Australia in 1920. In 1954, another Baha’i set on their way to Samoa from Australia.

Garden and Entrance of Baha’i Temple in Samoa

The Baha’i House of Worship in Samoa is the first in the Pacific Islands and is one only 8 places in the world. The building consists of nine symmetrical entrances and sides, where you can enter from any door. Its dome rises at 28 meters and the house is decorated by mirrored glass.

The gardens in which the house is built are decorated with different flowers, trees and plants, that are all native to the island country. The gardens are perfect for strolls and meditation, through the different paths in it. Every Sunday at 10:00 am, there’s a public interfaith service, that is open to everyone, where there are prayers and reciting from world religions in Samoan, English and sometimes other languages.

Opening Hours: Every day from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

4.    EFKS Fine Art Museum:

Samoa’s largest museum has the statue of the Samoan goddess Nafanua welcoming you at the entrance. Nafanua had a prophecy which told her that Christianity will come to Samoa, one she shared with Malietoa Vainuup. The prophecy came to life when John Williams arrived in Savai’i, in 1830, with the gospel.

The building itself is in the form of a fale with a high ceiling and glass walls, with works of art and carvings along the pathways, all telling unique Samoan myths. An important artefact in the museum is the hull of the ship rode by John Williams, upon which he arrived in Samoa.

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children between 5 and 18.

Opening Hours: Through website.

5.    Apia Town Clock Tower:

Dedicated to the Samoans who fought for the British in New Zealand back during WWI as part of the ANZAC troops and lost their lives, the clock tower is ideally located in a roundabout on the Beach Road. Dating back to the time of Western Samoa, when it was under the administration of New Zealand.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: All day, every day.

6.    Museum of Samoa:

Also known as Falemata’aga or Samoa’s National Museum, this museum takes an old German school as its home, dating back to over 100 years ago. With a wide collection aiming to reflect the true Fa’a Samoa, the museum’s main goal is to maintain and explain both Samoan culture and intangible findings pertaining to its history. Pottery works dating back to 3,000 years ago and stone azde that were found in Samoa are on display here.

In addition to explaining the rich and vibrant culture of Samoa over the years, the museum also displays many artefacts pertaining to the culture of the Pacific Islands in general, and the similarities between this culture and that of Samoa.

Cost: Free, donations welcome.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, closes on Saturday and Sunday.

7.    The Vanya Taule’alo Gallery:

Opened in 2010, this gallery specializes in showcasing the beautiful artwork by Vanya Taule’alo and highly promotes modern art in today’s Samoa. The gallery showcases different works of art by many Pacific Islands’ artists, typical Samoan arts such as tapa, carved items and jewelry for the Pacific Islands as well.

There are many Samoan works of art, as well as from the Pacific Islands that are on sale in the gallery, such as artworks, jewelry and gifts, carved works, weaving a siapo as part of heritage arts. Legends Café is right next to the gallery, where you can enjoy something to eat and drink.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Closes on Sundays and Mondays.

8.    Malietoa Monument:

When most look at the history of Samoa, they often date back only to the times of European reign on the islands. However, if you travel further back to 950 or 900 AD, over a 1000 years ago, you will find that Samoan islands were once under Tongan control, and remained so for more than 300 years.

It was in 1250, when the local Samoan warriors began to fight for their freedom. The fighting was so intense, Samoans forced Tongans out of the islands and into their ships. The Tongan chief at the time, Talakaifaiki, conceded and announced his defeat, after which he addressed the mighty Samoan warrior by his famous address “Malie To`a, Malie tau! Ou te le toe sau i le auliuli tau. Ae o le a ou sau i le auliuli folau.” Which meant “You have fought bravely you brave warrior, I shall not return to Samoa as a warrior, but as your guest.”

The name Malietoa is the name bestowed upon the chief who united the Samoans and led them to victory. Malietoa Monument was built to commemorate this historical event, when Samoans bravely ended the centuries’ old Tongan rule and earned their freedom back. The monument is located in the ground of the Le Vasa Resort, and the staff are always happy to welcome visitors.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: Every day.

Culture in Upolu

1.    Samoa Cultural Village:

If you’d like to dive deep into Samoan culture, with its main pillars, which revolve around Fa’a Samoa or the Samoan Way, head over to the Samoa Cultural Village. The tour of the village takes you through different vital aspects of Samoan traditions, over a series of interactive activities with the guests, ones you’ll certainly love.

The first step through the cultural tour is the Tatau or Samoan Tattooing, where you’ll get to see how tattoos are done in Samoa. Then using an umu or traditional earth oven, you can help your guides cook something delicious, which you will eat at the end. The workshop of precise and beautiful woodworking follows next, and you get to see how they hand carve all unique pieces of wood.

You will get to learn more about the art of making Tapa and traditional weaving. Then at the end you are invited for a dance show, which you will get to enjoy while eating the delicious food cooked earlier in the umu. This experience is one that will soak you in Samoan culture.

Cost: Free, you can donate at the end if you like.

Opening Hours: Currently closed.

2.    Tiapapata Art Centre:

This art school was established in 1989 by Wendy and Steven Percival, as Wendy started taking up pottery and ceramics during her time in Samoa. What started as a hobby is now an entire art school that welcomes many artists from different backgrounds and talents to express themselves. There are different artistic projects every now and then, some of which are available to participate in for free, and others are available to view virtually through their website.

Sometimes there are movie screenings at the art centre, which you can book through their Facebook page. There’s also a nice café at the centre, where you can have something to drink and try some of the best vegetarian food you’ll eat in your life, even if you aren’t a vegetarian.

Cost: Free, unless booking a workshop or event.

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed on Mondays.

3.    Samoa Culture Centre:

This is another great place to learn about important elements in the Samoan culture, with certified instructors to guide you, you can take a private lesson in any of the centre’s classes. The centre consists of nine fales for classes and a faletele for gatherings and meetings.

Samoa Culture Centre offers classes in these Samoan activities:

  • Samoan culture and language.
  • Siapo making.
  • Weaving.
  • Earth oven.
  • How to make fresh coconut milk.
  • How to roast cocoa Samoa to make chocolate drinks.
  • Making sinnet or afa.

Each class lasts for an hour and it’s important you book beforehand.

Cost: Around $8 per activity and refreshments, around $20 per activity for an adult and a child.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.

4.    Manamea Art Studio:

With the artwork of the two owners, Nikki Mariner and Lalovai Peseta, on display, as well as those of the three artists working with them, William Mauola, Pele Loi and Louis Poutasi, this art studio specializes in painting, carving and tattooing. In addition to hosting exhibitions of original contemporary artwork several times a year, you can even order customized artwork on their website, and they will ship it to you, wherever you are.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Nature in Upolu

1.    Palolo Deep Marine Reserve:

The perfect spot for snorkeling and marveling upon the distinguished Samoan coral reefs and sea life. The best time to visit the reserve is at high tide, as you can then enjoy your time best without risking causing any damage to the coral reef or cutting yourself. Beside snorkeling, you can simply go for a swim, relax or go for a picnic.

There are many facilities for hire at the reserve, including snorkeling gear, toilets, changing rooms and showers. You can also bring your own snorkeling gear and towels, if you like. Palolo Deep Marine Reserve is just minutes away from Apia’s centre, at Vaiala Beach.

Cost: $3 for adults, $2 for kids.

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, high tide recommended.

2.    Papapapaitai Falls:

A journey through the deep nature of Samoa, with one of the most photographed waterfalls in the island country. Heading through Cross Island Road, by Upolu’s southern coast, you’ll find the 100 meters high waterfalls. You are recommended to stay behind the security railings installed, for your safety.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: Anytime.

3.    Giant Clam Sanctuary:

On the south coast of Upolu, in Savaia, you will find the Giant Clam Sanctuary as part of a marine village. Here, you get to slip into your swimming suit, put on your mask and discover Samoa’s giant clams. Beware as they close their lids very fast and might hurt you. The best time to head for this journey is at high tide, when the clams are fully soaked in ocean water.

Cost: About $8.

Opening Hours: High tide preferred.

4.    Coastal Lava Cliff Walk:

The coastal lava cliff is part of the national park of O le Pupu-Pue, where you get to walk for about an hour, if you’re accustomed to hiking, over a path shaped over time by cooled lava. You can reach the cliffs by walking through the Pandanus forest, and as you reach the magnificent over water cliffs, you can see Nu’usafe’e and Nu’utele.

Since this walk is similar to a hike, it’s recommended you bring good hiking and comfortable shoes. It’s also better if you don’t go on this walk alone, as the track can be slippery and dangerous at some points. The O le Pupu-Pue National Park is under the management of Environment and Conservation unit of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: Changes over website.

5.    Fuipisia Waterfall:

Located in a jungle that is 55 meters high, this waterfall combines great views, green surroundings while giving you an adrenaline rush. You can have your pick between watching the magnificent cascading waterfall or daring to take a quick dip into the landing point. Fuipisia Waterfall is a perfect spot for relaxing, bird-watching and taking amazing photos.

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for kids between 10 and 12 years old, $2 for kids under 10 years old.

Opening Hours: Every day.

6.    Waterfall Sauniatu:

Head on the main East Road of Upolu and turn off at Saoluafata village, to enjoy a seven-kilometer ride of beautiful scenic views of nature in Samoa, until you end up at Sauniatu Waterfall. Get to the compound of the LDS Church by crossing a bridge, and park on the left. You will reach a spectacular swimming and freshwater waterfall in the middle of the rainforest. You can bird-watch, have a picnic in addition to swimming.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Cooling-off in Uplou

1.    To Sua Ocean Trench:

The village of Lotofaga is home to one of Samoa’s historical and magical swimming spots. This giant swimming hole, literally the meaning of “To Sua” is 30-meters deep and can be accessed by climbing down a ladder that leads to a board over the pool. At the pool you will find a cave, that’s a favorite spot for skilled divers to access the ocean from.

The Fagaoneone beach awaits you over the ocean, while the other side is home to many blowholes, mini pools and fishing spots. You might even see some whales swimming nearby if you’re visiting during the mid-September to November season.

The beautiful gardens in the area are a popular spot for taking photos especially for wedding photoshoots. Of the facilities available are fales, toilets, showers and a small eatery.

Cost: $6 for adults, $2 for children between 6 and 11 years old. Children under 6 are free to enter.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Sundays from 12:30 pm to 5:00 pm.

2.    Piula Cave Pool:

An old lava tube resulted in the formation of this freshwater pool and cave known as Fatumea. The pool and cave are located within Lufilufi Village, in the Piula Theological College. Tourists particularly love the spot for swimming for its fresh and clear water, despite the cave’s proximity to the beach.

There are many facilities available at the spot, including toilets and day fales. Visitors are advised to follow these rules when visiting:

  • Everyone must pay the entrance fee.
  • Follow the main walking road and not to walk over the cricket field.
  • The college says it isn’t responsible for personal items, hence make sure to secure them properly.
  • Alcohol, drugs and nudity are strictly prohibited.
  • Wearing swimwear is only allowed in the pool area.
  • Fishing in the pool and the conservation area are not allowed.
  • Diving and jumping into the pool are not allowed.
  • Beware there isn’t a lifeguard on the site.
  • Do not feed the fish.
  • Throw all trash into their bins.

Cost: $5 for adults, $3 for children. Parking by the pool is $10.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

3.    Papaseea Sliding Rocks (Fun but dangerous):

Eroded by running water through thousands of years, these sliding rocks are located at the Faleata District at Se’ese’e. There are two groups of rocks, one for adults and the other for children. There’s the main five-meter slide, as well as three smaller ones at the base perfect for swimming and cooling off.

You are advised to make sure your belongings are stored safely in your vehicle or are kept in safe with the on-duty Women’s Community, before heading over to the pool. Facilities such as toilets and changing rooms are available at the car parking.

Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for kids under 12 years old.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.

4.    Lalomanu Beach:

Lonely Planet put Lalomanu Beach on their list of the top ten amazing beaches in the world. This beach is the embodiment of the photos you see of Samoa on the internet; what you see in the photos is what you’ll get here. Located on Upolu’s south coast, you will get amazing view of the smaller islands of Samoa.

There are different traditional beach fales lining the beach, all painted in different colors. This is because the fales are owned by different local families and the difference in color is used to distinguish ownership. It’s important to know when paying the parking fee nearby, to which family you’re paying it, as this money is used to support the owner family of the beach fale you’re staying at.

5.    Lefaga Beach:

Located on the southwest coast of Upolu, Lefaga Beach is a great spot to enjoy the ocean water, the sandy beach, relax and sunbath as well. The beach is famous for being the set of the Gary Cooper 2004 film, Return to Paradise. Back in 2009, the entire area was devastated by a tsunami and is now fully recovered.

Lefaga Beach is characterized by its white sandy beach and black rocks, the water is also shallow which allows for great swimming, snorkeling and searching for giant clams or even go kayaking. The beach is most beautiful at sunset, when rays of deep yellow and orange are reflected on the ocean surface.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: Every day, preferred during daylight.

6.    Tafa Tafa Beach:

This secluded white sandy beach on the South Coastal road of Upolu is ideal for spending a day swimming, snorkeling and enjoying the beautiful weather. You can also go paddle boarding and surfing in the ocean. The beach is lined with fales, which you can rent to spend the night by the ocean.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: every day.

7.    Sopoaga Falls:

Get to Lotofaga Village and live a beautiful experience by these amazing waterfalls, surrounded by gardens with different types of plants and trees native to Samoa. You will also find specialized areas where the making and use of umu is demonstrated, as well as coconut husking.

Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for children under 10 years old.

Opening Hours: Anytime.

8.    Falefa Falls:

A picnic by the river, in a day fales, in addition to relaxation and swimming in the river water. At Falefa Falls, you can relax and enjoy the company of nature, where the bay once served as a harbor for crops-transferring ships at the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s. From the Falefa Bridge, you can get a closer look at the waterfalls.

Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for children between 5 and 10 years old.

Opening Hours: Sunday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

9.    Togitogiga Waterfall:

Once a swimming spot for Samoa’s greatest warriors, this waterfall is close to the O Le Pupu Pue National Park. There are many things to do here beside swimming, you can go for a picnic, simply linger and enjoy your time, even play volleyball and rugby if you’re brought your equipment along. Of the available facilities there are bathrooms and changing rooms.

Vibrant Togitogiga falls with swimming hole on Upolu, Samoa

Unlike many spots in Samoa, the best way to enjoy swimming at Togitogiga Waterfall, is during the wet season from November to April.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Shopping in Upolu

1.    Old Apia Market:

About 10 minutes away walking from the food market, here you will find everything you might think of. From kava bowls, jewelry, baskets, lava-lavas or the Samoan sarong, to many souvenirs to take back home. At the Old Apia Market, you will get closer to the Samoan culture by also hearing some authentic Samoan music.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm. Closed on Sundays.

2.    Fugalei Market:

Only the freshest local produce of all tropical fruits and vegetables, as well as the most famous Samoan coconuts, taro and bananas, of all sizes and colors. You will also find some traditional Samoan dishes which you can snack on, all at the family-owned and run stalls. Get yourself an iced coconut or Niu to drink and go on a deep trip into Samoan food culture.

Cost: Free.

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, best visit during daylight.

3.    Plantation House Samoa:

If you’re looking to head back home with a unique and custom made souvenir, you can get one of the hand-locked vibrant designed items from Plantation House Samoa. You will also find homeware, jewelry and bags with Pacific designs.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, closes on Sundays.

4.    Janet’s:

This group of artists and dreamers from Samoa and the Pacific created one of the best known cultural retailers in Samoa. Founded in 1989, with their online store beginning in 2012, they are the specialists in the Made in Samoa products as well as Made in the Pacific products. They sell products for the whole family, clothing, jewelry, crafts, arts and cultural products.

Their store is located at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel. You can order whichever products you like through their website and they’ll ship it right to your door.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. Closes on Sundays.

5.    Mailelani Samoa:

The best hand cold-pressed coconut oil you can find in Samoa, to provide love and freshness to your skin can be found here at Mailelani. The name means “from Heaven” in Samoan, and their line of skincare and body care is crafted in line with sustainable development and all from local ingredients only. Mailelani ships to many countries around the world through their website.

A great advantage is that you get to head to the Mailelani shop to refill your old Mailelani coconut oil bottles. There’s also a small café by the shop in Samoa, where you get to sit and drink something after your shopping.

6.    Eveni Carruthers:

What once started as a cocoa and copra business, is now a modern department store that is run by the fourth generation in the family. Irving Eveni Carruthers, the founder, was the son of Robert Louis Stevenson’s lawyer, Richard Irving Hetherington Carruthers. The business grew by servicing several trading stations in different Samoan islands.

Today, Eveni Carruthers has branches in Upolu, Savai’i, Faleolo Airport and American Samoa. You can also shop through their official website.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Tours in Upolu

1.    Manoa Tours, Watersports Day Tours:

This adventure business on Upolu’s south coast, offers you all the different outdoor activities you can enjoy in Samoa. From hiking, surfing, snorkeling, diving and turtle-watching, they work with all resorts in Samoa and offer great deals. You can contact them to book your next adventure in Samoa.

Opening Hours: Sunday to Saturday from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am.

2.    Outdoor Samoa Limited:

Also known as Bike Samoa, Outdoor Samoa specializes in biking and kayaking tours, with the best prices to suit both backpackers and large groups. Outdoor Samoa has a great location near the airport and the ferry headed to Savai’i, they are ready to serve you with their fleet of 90 cycles and 22 kayaks, they offer great trips of kayaking, biking and snorkeling among turtles.

 Opening Hours: Sunday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

3.    Samoan Highland Adventure:

Get to see everything you need to see and do around Upolu, through the tours and activities offered by the Samoan Highland Adventure. They will simply take the wheel and let you soak in and enjoy the captivating nature and deep culture of Samoa. Sightseeing, hiking, sliding and definitely swimming are some of the many tours offered here.

4.    Pure Ocean Dive & Water Sports:

With their setting at the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort, scuba diving instructors Rob Small and Bruno Kinross offer world-class scuba diving classes, in addition to snorkeling classes and different watersports that will help you enjoy the beauty of the Pacific in Samoa.

Opening Hours: Sunday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

5.    Chef John Tours Samoa:

This tour is one of its kind, John is a chef who is passionate about Samoan culture as much as he is passionate about food. Through the tours he offers, you will get to explore the local markets, where he will tell you more about Samoan cuisine, then you get to choose what you’d like Chef John to cook for you, in one of the beautiful spots you will visit together.

Chef John offers both half day and full day tours, on both islands of Upolu and Savai’i.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 12:00 am to 12:00 pm.

6.    Rainforest Runaway Ecotours:

Experience some of the hidden spots and secluded magical beaches, waterfalls and swimming spots with Rainforest Runaway Ecotours. They also offer you a tour deep into the Samoan culture and village life, as well as exploring the local arts, the traditional and the contemporary. There are half day, full day and hiking tours, on all Samoan islands.

Opening Hours: Sunday to Saturday from 12:00 am to 12:00 pm.

7.    Tai’s Native Experience:

Explore Samoan history, culture and customs in depth with Chief Tai, in both islands of Samoa. The knowledge Tai has makes the tours more enjoyable, with hidden secrets revealed and his choice of some of the best places to head to in Samoa, your time will definitely be unforgettable.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm, Sunday from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

8.    Samoa Scenic:

Day tours, half day tours in both Samoa and American Samoa, or even tours organized according to your interests, such as art, cuisine, crafts, cultural tours, garden or ecotours, are all available here at Samoa Scenic. Even if you have a certain budget, they will organize a tour tailored to your needs. There are guides speaking English, French and German.

Relaxation in Upolu

1.    Yoga Samoa:

Rachel LaUlu is a yoga instructor who settled in Samoa in 2015, after years of going back and forth between her hometown of Melbourne. She offers yoga classes across a variety of great locations in Samoa, not just that, Rachel can bring the yoga class to your, at your resort. Yoga Samoa also offers great tours around Samoa, with some hidden nooks and spots you’ll enjoy. You can book a session with Rachel to put your adventure schedule together.

The main venue where Rachel offers her yoga classes is Taumeasina Island Resort.

Cost: $6 for the yoga session at Taumeasina Island Resort.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday at 7:30 am, Tuesday and Thursday at 6:00 pm.

2.    A Touch of Samoa:

After all the exploration around Samoa, a relaxing massage is the perfect treatment to relieve those sore muscles. A Touch of Samoa combines foreign massage techniques with Samoan touches to give you the best experience. As happy as they are to cater for walk-in visitors, they do prefer, for your comfort, that you call beforehand and reserve your spot.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, Sunday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Where to eat in Upolu

1.    Paddles Restaurant:

This family-run restaurant serves the best Italian and Mediterranean cuisine in Upolu. They offer vegetarian friendly, vegan and gluten free options as well. The place is loved by both tourists and locals for the amazing food and great hospitality.

Price Range: Between $6 and $23.

Opening Hours: Every day from 5:00 pm to 10:30 pm, closes on Sundays.

2.    Nourish Café:

Think a Polynesian menu with fusion from other countries, fresh ingredients as well as a café and you’ll have Nourish Café. With vegetarian friendly, vegan and gluten free options, you are welcome at any time of the day for any meal, or even for drinks. TYheir Oka dish is loved by many and the tuna used in it is just perfect.

Price Range: Starting at $10.

Opening Hours: Weekdays from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm. Saturdays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm and Sunday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

3.    Pacific Jewell’s Garden Café:

Yummy, healthy and light sandwiches and snacks, with some European infusion await you here. You can have breakfast, brunch and lunch at the beautiful gardens of the café, and perhaps do some shopping in the souvenir shop they have, there is jewelry, clothes for all the family, home wear, accessories and Samoan artefacts to take home. Everything is homemade here and you can shop through their website as well.

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm.

4.    Giordanos Wood-Fire Pizza & Garden Restaurant – Est 1990:

Offering you some of the most delicious pizzas you’ll ever have, with a wide selection of toppings that you’re surely going to enjoy. There are different options of salads and sides as well, and the great cozy seating area is just perfect. They even make your favorite pizza, which you can take to either freeze or cook at your accommodation.

Price Range: Between $10 to $21.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.

5.    Amanaki Resturant:

The Amanaki Restaurant is a part of the Amanaki Hotel, which have their own fishing boats, bringing in the freshest fish every day. They offer a variety of local dishes as well as some European dishes, even the good old fish and chips, Samoan version. If you’re a vegetarian or following a certain food diet, you can ask them to cater the food according to it as well.

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 7:30 am to 9:30 pm. Sunday from 7:30 am to 10:30 am, and from 5:00 pm to 9:30 pm.

6.    KokoBanana Bar & Grill:

Enjoy some of the best steak you’ll ever have, as well as with some seafood and Polynesian and New Zealand dishes here at KokoBanana. There’s a great atmosphere when you combine outdoor seating, live music and delicious food. An experience you’ll fully enjoy.

Opening Hours: Mondays to Saturdays from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. These times are until May 3rd, 2022.

7.    The Edge Marina:

With a great view over the harbor, you can enjoy many light meals and sandwiches here, as well as a variety of drinks as well. This diner is highly praised for the hospitality of the staff, the perfectly cooked meals and the affordable Happy Hour drinks.

Price Range: Between $11 and $31.

Opening Hours: Saturday to Tuesday from 8:00 am to 12:00 am, Wednesday to Friday from 8:00 am to 1:00 am. Closed on Sundays.

8.    Coffeebean Café:

Where you can get some of the best coffee in Samoa and enjoy a hearty and fluffy dessert on the side as well. The Coffeebean also offers various meals for lunch and dinner, not to mention their fresh and refreshing juices. The café is well rated for the hospitality and services of its staff and value for money.

Price Range: Between $6 and $16.

Opening Hours: Every day from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm, closed on Sundays.

Where to stay in Upolu

1.    Le Uaina Beach Resort:

This family owned and run resort is where your Pacific vacation can begin. You can

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Samoa, Ultimate Travel Guide to the Land of Fa’aaloalo


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