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10 reasons to go to Samoa

South Pacific

There may never be a better time to head to Samoa, an island that offers a South Pacific paradise without the tourist glitz, as Joanna Tovia discovers.

Finding a tropical holiday destination that doesn’t make you feel like just another tourist is becoming increasingly difficult, and it’s even harder if you want your kids to have an authentic cultural experience while they’re there... But then there is Samoa.

On these South Pacific Islands the locals love kids and their laid-back attitude makes every visitor feel welcome, within the resorts and beyond. Samoa’s tourism offerings have developed in recent years to offer families a comfortable stay with plenty to do, yet these sleepy islands are also a great choice if you want to immerse yourself in traditional island life. Are you still not enticed to jump on the next flight to paradise? Here are 10 reasons you should put Samoa at the top of your family bucket list right now.

1. Nature-based adventures abound


The islands of Samoa are a nature-lover’s paradise. Just a 15-minute drive from Apia are the popular Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, where Mother Nature has created natural waterslides, including a mini slide for the littlies who will no doubt want to spend several hours here. Sua Ocean Trench is also a must-see and somewhat of an Instagram star. Accessed via a long ladder (or from a daring jump off the ladder), the turquoise waterhole/lava tube cave offers kids an out-of-this-world swimming experience.



2. Tourist-free zones aren’t far away


Although tourism is growing in Samoa, it’s still easy and safe to have an island experience outside the resorts. Hire a car and drive the coast road around Savai’i and you’re unlikely to see any other travellers.


3. Mingling with the locals is easy


Island life is changing throughout the Pacific Islands, but in Samoa most families pride themselves on preserving local traditions, and to really get a sense of island living, you must take a day trip to Manono Island. There are no cars, barking dogs or motorbikes here, and the friendly locals live pretty much as they’ve always done – in fishing villages with long-held family customs. To get a true taste of local life, take the two-hour walk around the island or stay overnight at one of the family-operated fales.


4. The underwater world is amazing


Whether you want to scuba dive or snorkel, Samoa has numerous underwater wonderlands to explore. Lalomanu Beach offers a protected marine reserve in a crystal clear lagoon where you can marvel at 900 species of fish or, for a treat the kids won’t soon forget, head to Namu’a Island to swim with endangered green turtles in a protected sanctuary.


5. Going to church with the locals is encouraged


A Sunday church service is a unique way to learn about local culture, and the singing will make your heart… well, sing! Dress up in your Sunday best and walk quietly to a local service in your nearest village – and don’t be surprised if you’re invited to join one of the village families afterwards for an earth-oven feast.


6. You really can get away from it all


For a relaxed holiday off the beaten track, head to Coconuts Beach Club Resort and Spa on Upolu’s south coast. The only resort in Samoa with overwater fales, this intimate hideaway has all the facilities with none of the crowds. It’s the place to unwind and watch the sunset without the distraction of TV or phone reception, but the kids will have more than enough to do snorkelling, kayaking and swimming. Visiting the neighbouring village is sure to be a highlight – we loved learning how to weave a basket and the finer points of coconut harvesting.

Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa, also on the south coast, is another out-of-the-way getaway worth considering. The family-friendly cottages by the beach are modern and comfortable, with air-conditioning and outdoor showers you’ll relish. There’s a day spa for parents and activity programmess for the kids, and a Fiafia night the whole family will love, complete with traditional singing, dancing and feasting.


7. It caters for families on a budget


There are several family-friendly hotels and resorts in Samoa that won’t break the bank while still offering a fabulous holiday experience. Le Uaina Beach Resort is in a prime waterfront position (be sure to go snorkelling in the nearby coral reef!) and Savai’i Lagoon Resort has comfortable beachfront bungalows and a delectable local seafood menu.

To really cut your costs and have an adventure while you’re at it, spend a night under the palm trees at one of the open air thatched huts at Vacations Beach Fales in Savai’i. Now that’s island living!


8. Luxury travellers are well looked after


Island favourite Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows is set to re-open in May after an extensive renovation by new owners Sheraton. The luxurious revamp manages to deliver all the five-star amenities discerning travellers are looking for without losing any of the hotel’s historic colonial charm. There are two swimming pools, a swim-up bar, and several dining options including the internationally renowned Flying Fish restaurant. Yoga and spa treatments will take your relaxation to the next level.

Taumeasina Island Resort, set to open in June, will offer families the option of oceanview hotel rooms or self-contained two- and three-bedroom waterfront villas. There will be three restaurants, a day spa, and plenty of activities on offer – tennis, water sports, cooking classes and cultural shows. And there’s even a chapel if you’d like to tie the knot or renew your vows during your family getaway.




9. You can visit the home of the author of Treasure Island


Adventure novelist Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last five years of his life in a colonial homestead near Apia which is now a fantastic museum, where he wrote 14 books including classics 'Treasure Island' and 'Kidnapped.'


10. All your souvenirs are in one place


One of the best things about Samoa is that there isn't a t-shirt shop on every corner, but who doesn't love a holiday souvenir? Kids can pick up a trinket or two at Apia's markets which sells lava-lavas (sarongs), dresses and jewellery galore. If you're a seafood connoisseur be sure to visit the fish market on Sunday morning and try something new - sea-cucumber gizzards, anyone?



***SAMOA REPORT CARD***



Information
www.samoa.travel

Getting There
Air New Zealand has flights from Sydney to Apia daily.
www.airnewzealand.com.au

Stay
Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows & Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Resort
www.starwoodhotels.com
Sa’moana Resort
www.samoanaresort.com
Return to Paradise Resort and Spa
www.returntoparadiseresort.com
Le Uaina Beach Resort
www.leuaina.com
Savai’i Lagoon Resort
www.savaiilagoon.co.nz
Vacations Beach Fales
www.samoa.travel/accommodation-site/vacations-beach-fales
Taumeasina Island Resort
www.taumeasinaislandresortsamoa.com

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