Overview

Samoa
Samoa © Andrew Moore

The island paradise of Samoa sits halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii. It comprises 10 islands that vary in terrain and character, with ecosystems ranging from rainforests and lush valleys to volcanic mountain peaks and miles of idyllic beaches.

Snorkellers and scuba divers are enticed by crystal-clear azure waters teeming with aquatic life and pristine coral reefs, while adventurers can explore fertile valleys where banyan trees tower over the rainforest canopy and cascading waterfalls.

Samoa is in many ways isolated from the busy, populated world outside its borders. Amid the beautiful scenery of the islands, Samoans live with their ancient traditions and culture largely intact despite the influx of more modern influences. Family, religion and hospitality are values central to Samoan identity, as is the laid-back approach to life and legendary warm hospitality.

Upolu is the main island and home to the fun and vibrant capital Apia, serving as an ideal gateway to the surrounding archipelago. Interestingly, Upolu was where the character of Robinson Crusoe was shipwrecked and this is commemorated in the Vailima botanical gardens and museum.

Other highlights on Upolu include the famous Malua Turtle feeding site; Lalomanu Beach, which adjoins a protected pristine lagoon perfect for snorkelling; and many splendid waterfalls all over the island. A visit to the Marketi Fou at Fugalei provides a wonderful insight into everyday life in Samoa, where visitors can sample local delicacies while watching a game of Samoan checkers.

Savai'i is the other large island, offering unparalleled raw beauty of volcanic craters and natural blowholes, towering waterfalls and mysterious archaeological sites. On the other hand, Manono Island is a slice of old Samoa with just a handful of fishing villages and little in the way of vehicles and electricity to disturb the peaceful way of life.

A holiday in Samoa presents a dilemma of whether to proactively explore the islands' many attractions and activities or to simply embrace the easy-going lifestyle by relaxing on heavenly beaches. Either way, a good time is guaranteed.