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Robert Louis Stevenson was a world famous author from Scotland. He is best known for his novel Treasure Planet. But, did you know that he spent the last four years of his life in Samoa? His home there is now a museum dedicated to him. Keep reading to see why you’ll love visiting the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.
Why did Robert Louis Stevenson move to Samoa?
Robert Louis Stevenson first set sail for the South Pacific in 1888. He arrived in Apia, Samoa in December, 1889. Upon arrival, he fell in love with everything about Samoa. The warm, tropical weather of the island was good for his health, which had been poor most of his life.
In January 1890, he bought a piece of property in Apia, Samoa called Villa Vailima. He lived here with his wife and children until his death in December 1894 at the age of 44.
During these last four years of his life, he did a good bit of writing. He also threw himself into Samoan culture and politics during this time. He was well-respected by the locals, who appreciated his storytelling abilities.
After his death, he was buried on the top of a mountain situation just behind Villa Vailima.
The house and grounds of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
In December 1994, exactly one hundred years after his death, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum opened at Villa Vailima.
The estate is 314 acres, but only about 8 acres of it was cleared. Sitting in the middle of the beautiful sweeping grounds is the mansion where the author and his family lived.
When Stevenson first moved here, there was only a small shack. But, he immediately got to work on creating the mansion that now exists.
Highlights of the house include five bedrooms, a library, and a ballroom. But the most unique aspect of the house is the fireplace. It is the only one in Samoa.
When you visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, you will be given a guided tour of the house, where you can marvel at the furnishings and splendor of the home. You can also see some of his works here as well.
After (or before) your tour, you can stroll the grounds and take photos of the beautiful landscaping.
You can also visit Stevenson’s gravesite. To do this, you must hike one of two trails: a steep path that will take about thirty minutes or a less strenuous trail which will take you about an hour to hike.
Why you will love this museum
Like the entire nation of Samoa, the museum grounds are just beautiful. The grass is meticulously manicured and is bordered by lush, tropical plants. There are tons of places around the house to take some amazing photos of your family.
Using photos, the museum directors restored and decorated the home to look exactly as it did when the famous author and his family lived there. Many of the family’s possessions are displayed in the home.
Walking through the house on the guided tour feels like stepping back in time. When we toured it, I almost expected the man himself to walk around a corner. Going through the estate gives you a unique glimpse into the life of this extraordinary author and his family.
Kids and adults alike will enjoy seeing how people lived back in the 1800’s.
This museum is one of the 1000 places to see before you die.
The logistics of visiting the museum
You will find the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum on Cross Island Road in Apia, Samoa.
The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and on Saturdays from 9:00 am until noon. It is closed on Sundays.
Admission prices are $20 Samoan dollars for adults and $12 Samoan dollars for children under twelve.
For more details on visiting this museum, see the Samoa Tourism Authority’s website.
Tips for visiting the museum
When visiting the museum, keep these tips in mind for the best experience:
- In keeping with Samoan culture, shoes are not allowed inside the museum. You will be asked to leave your shoes on the porch when your tour begins.
- Tours begin at set times, so you may have to wait a short bit of time before the next one begins. Use this time to enjoy the grounds around the home.
- Feel free to take photos during your tour.
- Because this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Apia, any taxi driver in the city will know where the museum is and can easily take you there.
- When the weather is nice, you can hike to Stevenson’s gravesite if you wish once your tour is over. Just consider how strenuous the hike is before staring. And remember that the hike is uphill!
- There is a gift shop at the end of the tour in case you want to buy a souvenir to take home with you.
The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum is one of the best attractions for families to visit in Apia, Samoa. Not only are the home and grounds beautiful, they give you an up close look into the life of the famous author. Definitely take time to visit this museum during your Samoan vacation.
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