Top 10 things to do in Samoa
Samoa is the beating heart of Polynesia, where ancient traditions meet the modern world. Small wonder that Robert Louis Stevenson of Treasure Island fame chose to make Upolu his final home. You'll find that contemporary Samoa still holds the same magical pulling-power today. This is a destination ideal for active holidays and lazy beach breaks, with a wide range of adventures and serene resorts to tempt all types of traveller.
1. Lounge around at Lalomanu Beach
It's easy to understand why Lalomanu Beach on Upolu is a favourite with tourists and locals alike. Bright-coloured fales and palm trees line the shore of this idyllic spot, where you can bask in the sun, play a game of beach cricket and cool off in the azure ocean. Snorkellers and divers are in for a treat, because the surrounding lagoon is a protected marine reserve and home to an array of tropical marine creatures. It's a difficult spot to leave so why not live like a local and spend a night in an open-air fale – the gentle swoosh of the waves will lull you to sleep.
2. Marvel at the Alofaaga blowholes
Larger and less populated than the mainland of Upolu, the island of Savai'i is home to some of Samoa's best natural attractions. A ferry between the two islands runs two to three times a day and takes a couple of hours to reach its destination. There are many things to see and do on Savai'i, but number one is seeing the Alofaaga blowholes on the south-west coast every swell delivers a massive display of vertical fountains.
3. Cool down under Afu Aau Waterfall
While white sand beaches and azure lagoons are always tempting, beaches aren't the only natural attraction worth discovering in Samoa. After visiting Savai'i's Alofaaga blowholes, make your way to breathtaking Afu Aau waterfall. Surrounded by lush rainforest, this is the perfect spot to seek respite from Samoa's tropical heat. Dive into the crystal-clear pool and cool down under the cascading waterfall.
4. Swim in the To Sua Ocean Trench
One of Upolu's most unforgettable attractions was created when land slipped away after an ancient lava eruption. While the eruption created two deep holes, only the To Sua Ocean Trench is connected to the ocean by an underwater cave. The ultramarine swimming hole is accessible by a steep ladder - the descent can be a little nerve-wracking, but it leads to an unforgettable dip at this one-of-a-kind spot. Once you've clambered back up, explore the surrounding tropical gardens.
5. Sample the local cuisine
It's not a true Samoan escape if you don't indulge in the delectable local fare that's on offer, especially the seafood. Be sure to try oka, a Samoan raw fish dish that's marinated with citrus and coconut milk. Also try Palusami, a moreish dish of baby taro leaves and coconut milk that's cooked in the traditional way using an umu oven.
6. Ride Samoa's best waves
Out beyond Samoa's turquoise lagoons waits a surfer's paradise. Rookies beware: Samoa's surfing is for experienced riders, as most waves break onto reefs and currents can be dangerous. You'll find plenty of surfable breaks on both Savai'i and Upolu. To get the most out of Samoa's waves, it's best to enlist the help of a local surf guide who will get you and your board where you want to be.
7. Discover Fa'a Samoa
Tradition is alive and thriving in Samoa, and visitors will often be invited to participate in Fa'a Samoa – the Samoan Way. Immerse yourself in the local culture by taking a trip to the Samoan Cultural Village in Apia on the island of Upolu to experience what life is like in a local village. Watch the men of the village prepare an umu, make fresh coconut milk with their bare hands and cook traditional Samoan dishes, including taro and Palusami. You can also see how traditional arts and crafts, such as carving and cloth making, are still important to everyday Samoan life.
8. Dip into some exciting dives
Whether you're new to diving or have years of experience under your dive belt, there's an underwater world waiting to be discovered in Samoa. Both Upolo and Savai'i are home to pristine dive spots, including a number of marine reserves. Snorkelling is also one of the top things to do – many of Samoa's favourite beaches come complete with coral and rainbow-coloured fish. With any luck you might also spot an endangered green turtle.
9. Be part of a Fiafia night
Celebration, song and dance are strongly ingrained in Fa'a Samoa, so make sure you find a Fiafia night - without a doubt it's one of the best things to do in Samoa. Most resorts hold their own Fiafia evenings once or twice a week, where local villagers come out to share songs and dance with their guests while traditional food is served. You'll be wowed by the daring Siva Afi – a fire knife dance – and if you're lucky you might be invited to join in the Taualuga, the final dance of the night.
10. Just relax…
Samoa is a tropical destination that caters to all desires. While there's plenty to keep the even the most thrill-seeking holidaymaker occupied, if it's rest and relaxation that you're in need of you won't need to look too far. Bask in the sun on one of Samoa's unspoilt white sand beaches, laze poolside with a cocktail in hand or treat yourself to a beachside spa treatment at one of the island's luxurious resorts.