Sunday, March 24, 2013

Samoa, a Land of Colors

The East Coast of Samoa. 

Views like this is commonplace. 
Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevensom decided to settle here the last few years of his life, taking the name Tusitala which is Samoan for 'Teller of Tales.' 123 years later I am on a mission to visit all 198 countries of the world. Samoa was number 193 on the list. The ten islands that make up Samoa are among the first in the world to experience every new day and every new year, being just west of the international time line. But that is not the only reason to visit. And many have found out. The country is much more touristy than Marshall Islands, although that doesn't really take a lot. Samoa is splendid for surfing, diving, fishing and hiking. It is in fact so green that the people who live here do their uttermost to stand out from it all. Almost every house is painted in bright colours. Add the many white waterfalls, beige beaches, black rocks, blue ocean water and white waves and it all becomes a cheerful experience to travel around.
Colorful houses are everywhere in Samoa. 

I rented a car to explore the island. The 150 Tala (50USD) was a great investment, despite a number of rules I should stick to. The rental car manager listed them without blinking.

- Drive on the left, don't park under coconut trees, go slowl through villages, especially near churches and don't drink and drive.

I didn't think any of that should be a problem, although he soon contradicted himself when recommending where I should go.

Girl running in the Falefa. 
- You should definitely stop at Litia Sini Beach Resort for a swim and a couple of beers.

- But you said no drinking and driving?

- Don't worry, it's a Sunday. The police don't work today.

- Seriously? So if I want to rob someone, I should to it today?

- Hehe…any Sunday would be a good start, yes.

Falefa Waterfall from above.
Actually nothing happens on Sundays in Samoa. Except church. Everywhere. I have rarely seen as many churches as on my drive around half the country. And the sermons seemed to be well attended. That calls for respect. They expect you to pass you slowly. I did. Not that I had much choice with my banger of a rental car Honda, but that's a different story.

Samoa is a true natural paradise. There are trees and vegetation everywhere. I also saw dozens of different fish species on my 20 minute snorkeling off the beach. Do beware of stray pigs, chickens and dogs, though. They are also everywhere.

Nature always wins. 
You will find a decent choice of gourmet restaurants in Apia, the capital. There are also many resorts with superb restaurants around Upolu, the main island. They are primarily located on the west and south coasts.

There is a reason for all the green. Rain
comes sudden and in huge amounts. 
You may also want to visit Savaii by plane or boat. That is the second big island of Samoa, and less touristy. You will also find blowholes there, vertical tubes that go through the rocks down into the sea. When the waves are big, seawater is pressured through them, creating a geysir effect. I didn't go to Savaii, but I will have to leave something for my next visit.

The country is also relatively well connected thanks to several international airlines operating to and from Apia. Air New Zealand has a dialy flight to Auckland, whereas Virgin Samoa takes care of Australian destinations and Air Pacific will transports you from Fiji several times a week and from Honlulu once weekly. I flew in from Honolulu with a couple of dozen surfers. They all checked in surf boards. I now understand why. The waves battering the coastline even appealed to me, a true novice surfer.

More photos below. 

Presumably a well deserved rest. 

Nuutele Island. There used to be a leper colony there. 

The restaurant of Seabreeze Resort is strategically placed. 

Sleeping in a fale, or a beach hut, is popular
among surfers and backpackers visiting Samoa. 

I had a visitor during my lunch at Seabreeze.
Cat burger is not on the menu, so he/she
is likely to remain there also when you visit.

The view from the bar of
Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa. 

Papapapaitai Falls.