Why Samoa

Why Samoa?

Expectations

Samoa is much more than just an excellent place to cycle or kayak. It has coral sand beaches with safe swimming as well as dramatic coral outcrops teeming with colourful tropical fish. Much of Savaii continues to be very traditional and it is one of the best places to experience traditional Polynesian culture. Fiafias or dance nights in the small villages are events not to be missed. There is a growing level of structured adventure tourism, but opportunities abound for those wanting to organise their own raw adventures from climbing, caving and tramping to coastal challenges and waterfall jumping. We can help you organise all of these and provide guides and equipment for most.

Cycling

The 200km ride around the coast of Savaii is a great way to see and experience traditional Samoan village life. Savaii is much less developed than Upolu and cycling provides a natural introduction. Stop and talk to villages, get involved in a game of kilikiti (local cricket), join a weaving group or just chat to locals in the fresh water pools or small village shops. Every night is on a sandy beach beside a calm lagoon with good, safe snorkelling. The coastal route is sealed with a few hills but little traffic and the road passes the main attractions of the Alofaaga blowholes and the Afu Aau waterfalls. Alternatively cycle the 160kms around Eastern and Southern Upolu. It's a little more developed but can be combined with kayaking, waterfall and coastering challenges to create as much excitement as you want. The route takes in To Sua Trench, Togitogiga Falls, the Coastal Walkway and the Giant Clams. At present there are no formal downhill mountain bike tracks. There are a few rough back roads and routes on Savaii and we are slowly negotiating and building routes on Upolu.

Kayaking

With 29 degree open water temperatures and extensive lagoons Samoa is a warm and exciting place to kayak. The offshore islands of Manono, Nuusafee and the Aleipatas provide a range of trips for all abilities. Manono is a very traditional Island that can be reached entirely with the reef system, Nuusafee is uninhabited, remote, spectacular and accessed via a sheltered trip over the reef. Namua is a classic island retreat with just the small fale resort on the sandy beach as the only habitation. Nuutele island is outside the reef and often involves negotiating large swells and a challenging surf landing. Kayakers will almost always see turtles, have opportunities to snorkel over the coral and will usually see a good variety of birdlife including frigate birds, gannets and shearwaters. We sometimes see whales, dolphins and eagle rays.

Swimming

It was the pristine white sand beaches with fale accommodation on the beaches that first attracted us to Samoa. Waking up with the waves lapping within a few feet of the fale and the sun streaming over the water and peaking through the matting walls is still a highlight. It's a few steps from bed to the sea for an early morning swim in warm, sheltered and safe water. There is no better place to learn to snorkel and when I work as a tour guide I spend at least an hour a day in the water. Look down and study the coral and colourful tropical fish or look across and search for turtles and manta rays, either way there is always lots to discover. The coral has suffered damage from bleaching and the 2009 tsunami but there is still some good coral to be found on Savaii.

Culture

Samoa is intensely proud of its traditional culture with the village still the centre of activity for most people living away from Apia. Most families in these villages still regularly cook on an umu and rely heavily on fishing from small boats and on crops of taro, yams, banana etc grown on their family plantations. Preparing an umu is a labour intensive and skilled activity that is well worth watching. Eating the palusami and other delicacies that emerge is a delight. A small pig is cooked in under 40 minutes in these very hot ovens made by covering hot rocks with banana leaves. Visiting a plantation and seeing cocoa and coconuts processed is also an activity not to be missed. Women in the villages tend to meet for at least one day a week to weave fine mats. We often stop at these and I suspect that while the mats are important, it is the gossiping and laughter that keeps the village together. There are also opportunities to see Tapa cloth (Siapo) being made. Fiafia (dances) are still an important part of life and often feature fire dancers. These dancers are in Lano, a small village that is the first night of the Savaii Tour.

Adventure

Besides the cycling and kayaking Samoa has plenty more to offer.  Our favourites are the Waterfall Tour (4 hours with as many and as high a waterfall jumps as you dare) and the Coastering Challenge (whole day of climbing, scrambling, bush bashing and swimming).   There are numerous lava tube caves to explore, some several kilometers long. The photo is exploring the back of Namua Island (only for the sure footed). Snorkelling among the giant clams is remarkable. Mt Silisili at 1,860m is reached via a very rough track through tropical rainforest. The return trip takes 2-3 days and is a rough tramp, not a smooth guided walk. But the views can be spectacular and the forest is remarkable. Our plans include developing waterfall abseils and some more challenging cave explorations. These are not yet developed to appropriate safety standards, but if it is your specialty - talk to us. Other attractions include: Sliding rocks  Diving (4 Padi places) Big game and regular sport fishing Surfing Kite surfing We can often arrange these as part of your tour.

Getting There

Samoa is less than 4 hours flying from Auckland. In pre Covid times there were several flights a day from Auckland and several flights a week from Sydney (5 hours) and Brisbane. Air New Zealand, Samoa Airways, Virgin and Fiji Airways all operated flights.

Samoa has announced it will reopen to tourists in August.    Whenever Samoa opens we are ready to go with staff and bikes.  For more details see our Covid Update.

This is a new version of the new Outdoor Samoa site.  We would love to hear your comments, corrections, suggestions and receive any images that you think would be better.  Email admin@outdoor.co.nz