Travelling to Samoa is something you will always remeber. The exotic jungle trecks in humid rain forests, the refreshing freshwater lakes, dramatic waterfalls, hiking along deserted volcanic craters, heavenly beaches and last but not least, the traditional and friendly people. Welcome to paradise!
Samoa is one of the smallest countries in the Pacific, and unfortunately also one of the poorest. There are no fancy beach resorts in French Polynesia, but unpretentious small huts, and even the capital is a small town where residents still have the time to be friendly. They always tell you what you want to hear. So ask open questions! Trips to Samoa in many ways offer the same experiences as travelling to the Solomon Islands. Samoa's advantage is that the infrastructure is better and that the islands are easier to reach than the scattered Solomon Islands. The downside is that there are a bit more tourists on Samoa and less undiscovered islands.
The capital Apia on the island of Upolu is a good place to observe how the local Pacific Culture adjust to modern global influences. The city is not so charming; it's a little too dirty and cramped, but in Apia you will find the best cafes, restaurants and local nightlife with ass shakin’ R&B - a great place to make friends with the happy residents of Apia. Take the opportunity to watch a rugby match and join in cheering for the big local heroes.
Relax a few days in a small hut on one of Upolus many beautiful palm beaches, and enjoy the absence of Internet and other Western distractions. You completely forget the time because all days look the same with snorkelling trips, weaving palm mats, digesting coconut bread, coconut rice, coconut milk, coconut salad - coconut everything! A good local advise is to use coconut as mosquito repellent. If you rub yourself with coconut you’re your skin gets so smooth that the mosquitoes glide off whenever they try to bite you.
Savai'i is a volcanic island, the rugged lava landscape consists of 450 cone-shaped volcanoes. Mt Matavanu is responsible for much of the lava from the last major outbreak in 1905 to 1911. The volcano is well worth a visit for the spectacular lunar landscape of lava. Dwarf's Cave is a lava cave with sharp edges and small rivers, it can be explored with a reliable flashlight, good shoes and a local guide. The local dive centres organize snorkelling and diving trips in between the island in the bay. Avoid diving in Manase Lagoon, where the sewage has killed many corals. However, the water outside the reef have plenty of fish, colorful corals, sharks and turtles.You can also dive on the wreck within the reef, where barracudas hang out, so frighteningly large that you risk swallowing your regulator in panic! Savai'i has a myriad of fine white sand beaches where you can stay in primitive straw huts facing the sea, and just enjoy life and calm days that comes and goes.
Manono is one of the small islands in the 22 km strait between Upulo and Savai'i. Here you can stay at cheap hotels with food and snorkel trips included. The other small island in the bay, Apolima, raises inaccessible from the sea with its steep cliffs. But it is possible to go ashore on a small sandy beach at the bottom of a narrow ravine. It is a unique experience to stay overnight in a private home of one of the island's 80 residents.
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