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Samoa is a small island nation in the South Pacific. While it may be difficult to find on a map, you will never forget your time here. This beautiful tropical paradise is surrounded by clear blue water. And the Samoan people are as warm and welcoming as the temperature. My friend Lei grew up in Samoa and goes back frequently to visit family. I asked her how a local would plan a trip to this dream destination. To get the most out of your trip, use this local’s guide to find the best of Samoa, from dining to lodging to attractions. It will make your trip better than you could ever imagine!
The Best of Samoa: Dining
Food is a great way to experience a culture and get a feel for a place. Eating plays a big part in the Samoan culture. Not only can you find delicious food here, but it usually comes in large portions. So, you can be guaranteed that you will not walk away hungry.
A Fiafia Night
Fiafia (fee-ah fee-ah) means happy or celebration. Lei says a fiafia night is the best way to experience the culture and food of Samoa. This celebration combines a buffet of traditional Samoan food with a full slate of entertainment that showcases the music and dance of this Polynesian culture. Authentic Samoan food uses many tropical ingredients commonly found throughout the islands, such as coconut, banana, and taro. The highlight of the entertainment is the fire knife dance. Many resorts around Samoa hosts fiafia nights weekly.
Fish Market Fish & Chips
Love seafood? Want a true Samoan food experience? If so, you have to take Lei’s suggestion and try the fish and chips at the fish market in downtown Apia. It is the freshest fish you can find anywhere. The fish comes straight from the ocean to the market. This is how the locals eat seafood in Samoa!
For a fresh take on Samoan food, Lei recommends Bistro Tatau, which she describes as Samoan food with a fusion twist. For example, they serve palusami (baked taro leaves and coconut cream) ravioli. This restaurant in downtown Apia rotates its menu regularly in order to feature fresh seasonal dishes. The restaurant is decorated with Polynesian art. Here, you can experience a modern version of traditional food. Visit Bistro Tatau’s website for more details.
Paddles is a delicious Italian restaurant in Apia, Samoa. Lei and I agree that a trip to Samoa is not complete without a meal at Paddles! It is one of the best food experiences you will ever have! The owner is from Italy, so the food is true Italian. The restaurant delivers yummy pasta dishes in a relaxed island environment that just works. For more details, see my post on Paddles.
The Best of Samoa: Lodging
A trip to Samoa is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for most people, so you should feel good about your lodging choice. Samoa offers a wide variety of accommodation styles, from family-friendly all-inclusive resorts to traditional hotels. Therefore, I asked Lei for her suggestions on the best of Samoa lodging. And she gave us her picks in a variety of accommodation types.
According to Lei, if you are taking a romantic, adults only trip to Samoa, then you need to stay at Seabreeze Resort. It is a quiet resort with a romantic feel and great service. Take a nap in a double hammock. Enjoy a special dinner at the water’s edge. Relax with a massage in your villa. Or take a walk on the beach. This resort offers everything you think of when you think of a tropical paradise. Just remember that no kids are allowed here! To book your stay, visit Seabreeze Resort.
Beach fale in Lalomanu
If your trip to Samoa is all about the beach, then consider staying in a beach fale in Lalomanu. Fale (fah-lay) means house in Samoan. These traditional Samoan houses are located right on the beach. While there are beach fales all over Samoa, Lei recommends staying in one in Lalomanu because that’s where some of the best beaches are located. Beach fales are a fun way to experience another aspect of the Samoan culture. They are also really cheap, and most include dinner and breakfast for the price. You can choose from basic fales, which are open air and only have a floor and ceiling, or you can choose an enclosed one with walls. Some even have air conditioning.
Saoletoga Sands Resort
If you prefer an all-inclusive resort, Saoletoga Sands Resort is Lei’s choice. This resort is kid-friendly and has more free activities for your family to enjoy than you could possibly do in one trip. They offer a kids’ club, a variety of water sports, beach volleyball, a spa, a swim-up bar, and a fiafia night! Visit their website for more details.
The Best of Samoa: Attractions
Now, knowing where to stay and what to eat while on vacation is great, but the main focus of a vacation is what to see and do. So, what is there to do in Samoa besides lay on the beach and eat? Lei has you covered there too! Here are her ideas on the best of Samoa’s activities. Some of these can be considered tourist attractions, while others will give you a glimpse of Samoa from a local’s perspective.
Piula Cave Pool
About 45 minutes outside of Apia, at Piula Theological College, you will find the Piula Cave Pool. This is a beautiful freshwater spring pool created from a lava tube. The underwater cave connects to another cave further down. Your kids will love this unique swimming experience. This is a favorite among locals and tourists alike!
Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
The Papase’ea Sliding Rocks are nature’s water slides. These are basically waterfalls that you can slide down. It is only about 10-15 minutes outside of Apia. There are separate slides for adults and kids. How fun!
Attend a Samoan Church
Many Samoans have wonderful singing voices. When they sing together as a group, you will be blown away! To experience one of the best parts of the culture, attend a Samoan church on a Sunday. Regardless of whether you are a religious person or not, you will appreciate the beauty of the singing.
Visit the Markets
If you want to visit Apia like a local, you have to go to one or more of their markets. There are three of them around the city. The fish and flea markets are located next to each other in the downtown area. The produce market is located a few blocks away. These are great places to find some authentic souvenirs.
Samoa is an amazing Polynesian nation in the South Pacific. It has an abundance of warm, welcoming people and natural beauty. This local’s guide to the best of Samoa’s dining, lodging, and attractions will help you to have a trip better than you could ever imagine. For more information on any of the items listed here, see Samoa Travel. For even more ideas on where to stay or things to do, see my posts on the To Sua Ocean Trench and the Aggie Grey. Happy Travels!