Samoa

Samoa Beach

Cane & Able Travel can organise holiday packages to the South Pacific that include flights, accommodation, transfers and tours. We have first-hand experience of Samoa, know what is possible for the disabled traveller and we have the best prices as we have negotiated rates directly with the resorts. We are a licensed Australian travel agency and a member of the Travel Compensation Fund.

Talofa!  Welcome to Samoa…

I was sitting in Parenzo’s Bar at Siufaga Beach Resort on the north island of Savai’i, sipping on a Vailima beer, when I snapped the photo (right) – from memory there was lobster on the menu for $20, fresh from the ocean that day.

There is a saying in Samoa – “Why do anything unless it is absolutely necessary?” So I ordered another beer and put off sightseeing till later. Mind you, I did want to see the little church that has a lava flow right through it. When Scottish comedian Billy Connolly visited he exclaimed, “My God, a plague of licorice!”

Samoa is simply a fabulous tropical destination. Situated near the equator it is truly the heart of Polynesia. Here you will discover true white sand beaches, coconut palms, turquoise warm waters, stunning waterfalls and rainforest, a rich culture and the laid-back ‘fa’a Samoa’ (the Samoan way).

Tanu family SamoaThe locals are friendly and welcoming and everything is easily accessible. Those chaps may look a tad warrior like but they are from the Tanu family who live in Manase, on the northern coast of Savai’i.  The two main islands of Upolu and Savai’i are 90 minutes by ferry apart (or a ten minute flight) and it only takes 30 minutes to go from the north to south coast on Upolu. Apia is a delightful harbour city and village flows into village around the islands. Visitors can stay in the villages or choose quality accommodation from the number of fine resorts on offer. With direct flights from Australia and New Zealand it is easy to get to and inexpensive once you arrive.

Visitors to Samoa don’t need a visa for a stay of up to 30 days but do require a return or onward ticket and have six months validity on their passport.

Samoa Beach 2You don’t need vaccinations against exotic tropical diseases but you should take a small first aid kit containing hydrogen peroxide in case of coral cuts and take medical insurance (a link above). While there are doctors and hospitals, you shouldn’t travel anywhere without insurance. And you can take wood carvings and handicrafts like tapa home with you, as long as you present them at Customs for inspection.

The climate is hot and can be very humid. While historically November to March is the ‘wet’ season, over the last couple of years El Nino has sort of reversed the seasons. Yes, there can be cyclones but they come, they go and they are part of the tropics (even in Australia).

The currency is the tala (Samoan dollar) and the exchange rate is excellent. All major credit cards are accepted and there are ATM’s at the airport, outside the ANZ and Westpac banks and in other locations.

Samoa SunsetHere are a few things that may swing you to choosing Samoa over other Pacific destinations… The rich Polynesian culture (don’t miss a fia fia night!), the relaxed, laid-back nature of the Samoan people who give visitors the warmest of welcomes. ‘Island time’ is infectious – while things may happen slowly it’s this atmosphere that really makes you unwind… as they say, “the coconut will fall when it is ripe!” In Samoa you will find the whitest sand beaches next to that impossible-to-paint blue-green waters.

Apia has good restaurants and arguably the best nightlife in the Pacific. And it is inexpensive. There are great flight/accommodation packages and the exchange rate works in your favour. There’s great snorkelling, diving, surfing and deep-sea fishing close at hand and there are only the two islands to explore. Make sure you put the wonderful Robert Louis Stevenson Museum on your ‘must do’ list when in Apia. Fabulous!

Aggie Grey special cocktailOn the accommodation front, I can recommend Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa on the south coast of Upolu for couples and the two Aggie Grey properties – Aggie’s hotel in town has heaps of history and is right in the heart of town and Aggie Grey’s Lagoon Beach Resort and Spa (close to the airport) is a very good large resort with lots of facilities and an excellent day spa.  To name drop, I once had dinner with Aggie Grey Jnr and waded my way through an Aggie Grey special cocktail.  It is a secret recipe, probably because it could change ingredients.  The story goes that Aggie Senior (grandma) was working the bar pregnant when her waters broke – she went out back, had the baby, and returned to shout the bar – the patrons pretty much drank the bar dry and Aggie then mixed all the remaining spirits into one huge jug and the cocktail was born.  As you can see, there’s a fair bit of hooch!

I mentioned the Tanu family from Manase above – for a taste of the ‘real’ Samoa, the Tanu beach Fales are just wonderful.  The photo (right) is one of the fales and it is a delightful property, right on a white sand beach. It’s totally family run and super-friendly with a fun fia fia night. The open Samoan fales cost $50 (Samoan) per person per night including breakfast and dinner. You get a mattress, pillow, linen, mosquito net and an insight into fa’a Samoa.

Samoa is a safe place with few hassles – you won’t be badgered by souvenir or copy watch vendors beating down a price – there’s no haggling or tipping in Polynesian culture.