10 (Different) Things to do on a Samoa Holiday

DestinationSnorkelling in Samoa

We all have Top 10 listicles floating about the internet and Samoa has its own share. But Hideaway Holidays’ South Pacific Specialists have gone the extra bit and made a choice Top 10 List of all the things that a traveller must check off their list. This applies to all travellers – new and old – so have a read, you never know when you’ve missed a gem!

Island Hopping

Although Savai’i is the bigger island, people land in Apia, the capital which is set on Upolu. Which is, as you can figure out, not the bigger island. So, keep it in your holiday schedule to take the ferry and go explore Savai’i, which the locals and experienced travellers say is the ‘real Samoa’. In fact, there are plenty of islands to go exploring – there is Apolima, Manono, the Aleipata group of islands and so on. Some are not even inhabited, but can be explored with charters. Go play Robinson Crusoe in real life (but do return in time for dinner and drinks!).

Keep a day for Samoa’s myriad waterfalls

Waterfalls near Sinalei Resort in Samoa.
Do remember to go for a day of sliding down Samoa’s waterfalls. Pic Credit: Sinalei Reef Resort.

Besides the famous sliding rocks of Papapapaitai, Samoa has a-plenty of waterfalls. To put a change in the daily routine of snorkelling and scuba-diving, we recommend visiting the Sopo’aga Falls and Togitogiga. You can do both in a day, but why not take it slow and explore one a day? Take a picnic hamper with you, chill out with a refreshing swim and unwind?

Check out the lava ‘fields’

Yes, you read that right. Lava fields. Your transit around the island will also take you across roads cutting the frozen liquid-like state of these lava stretches. This happened back in 1911, so no worries there – at most a few tremors here and there. It’s a good reminder for everyone that Samoa, and most islands, popped up because Mother Earth felt frisky one day. There is also a church in Sale’aula which has been cut lengthwise because it was in the molten lava’s path.

Stay overnight at a fale

Although the island’s overwater bungalows and villas can run the gamut from very pricey to affordable, there is a certain charm of staying a night on the beach in a semi-permanent structure made of woven leaves and sun-dried wood. Call it … answering the call of the wild. Waking up to the sound of waves, fresh breeze and perhaps a little sand between the toes is not an experience to be scoffed at.

Get inventive with a coconut at Alo’faaga

When you’re in Savai’i, do make it a point to spend an evening on the frozen lava beachfront of Alo’faaga. Here, the seawater has moulded lava ‘tubes’ from which the waves force themselves into visually arresting spouts very regularly. Local kids (and adults too, who are we kidding here?) have come up with a new sport of throwing coconuts down the blowholes and … kablooey! It’s very, very fun and we were engrossed for hours!

Blow-holes of Alo’faaga, Samoa.
The magnificent blow-holes of Alo’faaga, Samoa.

Visit the flea markets

Savalolo is the place where bargain-hunters can go berserk with local arts and crafts. Samoan woodworking, intricately woven leaf doodads, junk jewellery and semi-precious work – it’s all there in a riotous mishmash of colour and babble! Also, when you’re feeling hungry, have a couple of the island’s famous kekepuaa – fresh-baked pork-stuffed buns. And while snacking on them buns, pick a ripe coconut to drink its water afterwards. Travellers can also check out the flea market of Salelologa Market nearby. Like Savalolo, this market also has many stalls and shops with handicrafts, jewellery, curios and the like.

Go local and try out palolo

Yes, everyone goes on about oka and how’s it’s a South Pacific gem known by different names, but we’re going for something genuinely Samoan here. Take no prisoner! So… palolo!

Like sprats and whitebait, palolo is a seasonal Samoan delicacy. These marine worms bloom once between October and November and it’s quite the night-time event catching them. Fried, blanched or even baked into bread, these have quite a distinctive taste. Google ‘palolo blooms’ and read up on the catching event – you’ll want to join in immediately!

Check out one of the island’s Fiafia nights

If you want to soak in the whole Fa’a Samoa vibe, there’s very little than can top a Fiafia night! An evening filled with dance, songs, folk takes, impromptu audience participation and good Samoan-style dinner – what more can you ask for? Do pay attention to how the traditional umu dinner is made. As far as oven-baked meals go, this will make any traveller’s top 10 list of unique experiences.

Gary Cooper and Roberta Haynes in Return To Paradise (1953)
Gary Cooper and Roberta Haynes in Return To Paradise (1953), shown weekly at Return to Paradise Resort. Also, that’s not a filter, it’s how movies were shot… back then.

Attend the movie screening of ‘Return to Paradise’

So even if the movie we’re taking about was released in … 1953, it’s an epic ‘thing to do’ to watch the movie exactly where it was shot! Now that we have your attention for wow-worthiness, on with the details. The movie was shot in Samoa and you’ll be seeing the movie at a resort named… yes, Return to Paradise Resort. They do a short talk about the movie trivia and it’s a fantastic blast to be a part of the evening. Plus, the movie is a genuine masterpiece of cinema so win win, we say. And if retro is not your flavour, then remember Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s rippling Polynesian ink and his ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)’? But… since the movie was technically never shot in Samoa (it was Hawaii, would you know), we can give it a pass!

Swimming, snorkelling and scuba-diving

Yes, these points have been covered to infinity by hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs. But we’re not going to let it go without a short note because it is genuinely beautiful and memorable. We’ll do ‘a deep dive’ into the best scuba-diving sites in and around Samoa! But since we we’re going the extra distance here, check out the Piula Cave pools in Apia.

Fiafia nights at Return to Paradise Resort, Upolu.

Ride a bus in Samoa

Riding a bus is as ho-hum an experience as it gets. Unless it’s in a country like Samoa, that is. These trundling people-carriers are so colourful that they must probably be painted under influence of acid. But it’s just the island charm, everything’s more than real life here. These buses are extremely easy on the pocket and will stop to pick up passengers on the drop of a hat. Which, of course, makes them very slow, very relaxed and very crowded. If at times, you don’t get a seat and are standing, don’t get startled when someone politely offers you a seat… on their lap! They’re just being friendly. Suck it up and take a …er, seat!

Think we’ve missed an activity or a spot that deserves to be highlighted? Comment here or tag us on Instagram & Facebook. Also, if this has whetted your appetite for Samoa holiday deals, you can check the season’s hottest deals here – happy holidaying!

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