When looking for a fast, fun island getaway most of us look to Hawaii or Fiji. These places have a lot to offer and are popular for a reason, but they’re not the only island cultures out there to explore. Samoa is a naturally beautiful, budget-friendly holiday destination with plenty to offer families, friends and couples. Here’s a quick guide to spending some time on the island.
Tips & Tricks
Before we get started, there’s a few details to keep in mind. Samoa may be a small place but it’s fairly spread out. Getting around is 10x easier if you have a car, so make sure to hire one before you arrive.
Also, Samoa is a religious place and Sundays are a sacred day of rest. Almost everything will be closed, except for tourist resorts and a handful of mainstays like McDonalds. If your trip covers a Sunday make sure you’re prepared. Plan a lazy day, find out where is open for you to eat or stock up on groceries the day before and enjoy a picnic on the sand.
For more information about getting around and planning an amazing holiday in Samoa, visit the official travel site.
What to see
Le To Sua Ocean Trench
If there’s only one thing you find time to leave your hotel pool for in Samoa, make it this.
It’s quite a way outside of Apia, the main town, so your car will come in handy. Surrounded by lush natural gardens and greenery, it’s a secluded swimming hole where you can easily spend your day.
There are a bunch of waterfalls and other cave pools between the trench and Apia so if you want to make a day of it, plan a road trip and see them all along the way.
Visit local markets
Fresh produce, seafood straight from the ocean and trinkets to remind you of your island getaway. Samoa’s markets are full of colour, tastes and smiling faces. Fill up on fruit and vegetables at the Fugalei produce markets, open every day of the week. Browse locally made jewellery, wood carvings and sarongs at the Savalalo Flea markets or cook up a freshly caught feast with catch of the day from the Apia fish market.
Go to a museum
In case the weather turns on you or you’re thinking a day out of the sun would be good; there’s two museums in Samoa worth a visit. The first is the Museum of Samoa where you’ll find cultural artefacts and historical information about the island.
The second is the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, dedicated to the famous Scottish author and poet who fell in love with the islands and made a home there. They’re small museums compared to other cities of the world but as with everything Samoan they’re full of heart.
Nothing at all!
Let’s be honest, the reason you’re here is to relax. Make sure you save yourself some time for lazing on a beach or by the hotel pool. On the main island there’s Lalomanu beach which has relaxing in paradise written all over it. It’s also a perfect spot for snorkelling with plenty of brightly coloured fish to spy.
If you want to explore somewhere other than Apia for the day, there’s always the other island of Savai’i. They have great beaches and you can get there by ferry in just 90 minutes.
Where to Eat
Stop in for a fresh squeezed juice or smoothie, or find yourself a vegan-friendly lunch at Krush. It’s a great spot if any of your travelling party is into clean eating with healthy options for food and drinks.
Nourish is like a Melbourne café in the heart of Samoa, with delicious food and relaxed vibes perfect brunch or lunch any day of the week. They’ve been open since 2016 with a focus on promoting local cuisine and organic farming.
The perfect sport for a casual fish and chips dinner. They’ve been serving up classic fried food and burgers on the main road since 1988.
Paddles is a more upmarket choice on the island with a mix of modern cuisines made with the Samoan flair. It’s vegetarian, vegan and gluten free friendly and has a fantastic view of the ocean. Bookings are recommended since it’s highly popular with everyone on the island.
There’s also plenty of hotel and bar dining options with reliably good food. Try the Taumeasina restaurant and bar, Le Manumea or The Edge Marina View which becomes a party venue later in the evening.
Must-Try Samoan Favourites
- Oka – raw fish in coconut cream
- Palusami – young taro leaves baked in coconut cream
- Taro – a tropical plant very similar to potato
- Banana or taro chips – find them in convenience stores or local grocers
- Niu – drinking coconuts; readily available from stores, cafes and even on the side of the road!
There’s no shortage of nightlife options in Apia. Most nightlife venues will close between midnight and 1am, depending on the evening. Fridays are actually a bigger night out for Samoans, as Saturday nights roll into Sundays which is their cultural and religious day of rest.
A common evening entertainment option is Fiafia, which is a buffet dinner and cultural show. Le Manumea has one every Thursday night featuring cheap cocktails (7 tala), cultural dances, demonstrations and amazing fire dancers. You’ll also get to meet the host with the most; Boo Boo (Dane) who’s there to keep the good times rolling.
The Edge Marina View is a restaurant and bar with ocean views that turns itself into one of the islands most popular nightlife venues after 9pm. The dance floor gets going around 9-10pm and the music will continue pumping until midnight or 1am when it’s closing time for the entire island.
Te Namo Bar
Te Namo, which is Tokelauan for ‘the lagoon’, is a tourist-friendly bar not too far from Paddles restaurant with DJs on 6 nights a week.
One of the locals’ favourite nightlife options. A huge venue with live bands, DJs and a massive dance floor.
Dress to impress
Complete your party outfit with a Samoan Sei, aka a flower in your hair. You can buy fake flowers at many spots on the island or pick a beautiful bloom off any nearby plant. Just make sure you know the rules of wearing a Sei – on your left side means you’re single (and ready to mingle), while the right side says you’re taken. They’re worn by both men and women with the same meanings.
Places to Stay
If you’re wanting a resort holiday, this one is highly popular and has all the amenities you could ask for. Amazing views, luxury rooms and access to the pool and ocean right outside your hotel.
Affordable apartment living only 5 minutes from the centre of town. With air-con, a generous kitchen and living room in each apartment. Hotel pool and free parking also on site.
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Julia is a freelance writer from Melbourne specialising in content marketing and lifestyle articles. She’s usually busy planning new travel adventures or writing on past ones. If she could bring any two things to a deserted island they’d be a plane and a pilot. Check out more articles for a sense of her style or get in touch to collaborate.