A happy island idyll

The treasured islands of Samoa inspire smiles, relaxation and getting back to nature

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Samoa.Indian Link
The people of Samoa, a tiny nation in the South Pacific, are always happy. When in 2011 the nation jumped over the international dateline, they lost 24 hours of their lives, but didn’t lose any glee.
Rather they burst into celebrations at midnight on Thursday 29 December as the calendar bypassed Friday and flipped over to Saturday due to their switchover from the US time zone to that of Australasia. They were elated to be, since then, the first nation in the world to welcome a new year.
Visitors are thrilled at the thought of being in a land where each new day on earth begins, particularly at sunrise when enjoying the glorious crack of dawn while the rest of the world is still in bed.
Samoa.Indian Link
Positioned in the heart of Polynesia, somewhere midway between Australia and Hawaii, Samoa comprises of ten islands, which were formed many millenniums ago as result of massive basaltic shield volcanoes rising from the seafloor of the western Pacific Ocean. Upolu and Savai’i are the two main islands where the majority of the nation’s 194,000 people live.
Samoa’s international image is that of a tropical paradise, surrounded by turquoise blue water, filled with sprawling coconut plantations and inhabited by visitor-friendly, flower-wreathed people, attired in colourful floral tops and dark skirt-like bottoms with various tattoo designs marking their bodies.
Samoa.Indian Link
The history of the place spans more than 3000 years. According to legend, Samoans believe their ancestors descended from the heaven and made their way across the Pacific in canoes thousands of years ago. European and American whalers and traders began arriving on its shores soon after Dutchman Jacob Roggeveen discovered the islands in 1722.The Americans and European colonisers – Dutch, British and German – fought many battles among themselves to lay claim to the territory.
In 1899, after years of civil war, the islands of the Samoan archipelago were divided – the Germans taking the islands to the west and the Americans taking the ones to the east. After WWI, New Zealand became the administrator of German Samoa in a military occupation driven by Britain and held power until 1962 when Samoa became the first Pacific nation to gain independence. The other part, called American Samoa, is still under the US regime.
Samoa.Indian Link
Today Samoa is a destination where outsiders arrive to seize from welcoming locals some of their endless happiness and to dip into the “Samoan way” a lifestyle focused on activities that relax, unwind and soothe urbanised souls.
Enchanting Upolu is the epicentre of Samoa, home to the nation’s capital Apia. Dotted on a natural harbour, this coastal township is 40km away from Faleolo International Airport where annually around 120,000 visitors, mainly from Australia, New Zealand, US and neighbouring Pacific nations, arrive for a blissful vacation.
Apia, as expected, is not a big place, its length and breadth can easily be explored by foot, though a journey in one of the colourful local buses can be fascinating. Old world and new collide here with traditional Samoan houses standing side by side with colonial churches, buildings and some 21st century additions. The central clock tower is surrounded by shops, markets, bars, restaurants and nightclubs adding some urban touches to Samoa, it is a a good place to get acclimatised to the island’s flair.
Samoa.Indian Link
The best way to experience this introduction is at the lively local markets, abuzz with hordes of stalls selling almost everything from local produce to handicrafts.
Culture is undoubtedly central to Polynesian life. Samoa’s styles of music, dance, and visual art have gained renown throughout the Pacific islands and the world. A visit to the Samoa Cultural Village provides a worthy understanding of how Samoans lead their lives by celebrating and embracing traditional values, culture and environment. For history buffs a visit to the Museum of Samoa is a must to gather knowledge about the land’s heritage.
However, people rarely travel to a Pacific utopia to hang around in city sprawl; the appeal for visitors to Samoa is intimate engagement with nature and, in this respect, the rewards are endless.
Samoa.Indian Link
Samoa is a place of great natural beauty hosting some of the South Pacific’s most stunning landscapes from rainforest-covered volcanic mountains, vast valleys, cascading waterfalls and steep cliffs to spectacular white-sand coastlines. The riot of colour in nature displayed by the flowers, leaves and fruits bestow a feast for the eyes. An ideal holiday here involves a mixture of easy-going relaxation and activities catering to one’s adventurous appetite.
Samoa.Indian Link
Being an island destination, opportunities for surfing, fishing and sunbathing at a white sandy stretch are in abundance, alongside snorkelling and diving in one of the iridescent lagoons to discover spectacular underwater scenery.
When finished with the water, many go inland for a walk through lush green rainforest, try horseback rides, treat themselves to a jungle river kayaking safari, jump into a luscious waterfall for a cool dip or sit inside a chopper for a bird’s eye view of the islands.
Samoa.Indian Link
Many catch the ferry to explore Savai’i Island which has become physically bigger in size than Upolo after gushing lava from a volcanic explosion in the early 20th century pushed the ocean away.
Villages dominate Samoa, its social governance and way of life. Most rural settlements are very clean and tidy and dotted with typical Samoan houses called “fales”. Every village has a church where experiencing mass and choir on a Sunday is invigorating. Villagers on Sundays are generally attired in white, perhaps reflecting their love for peace and purity of minds on the day of communion with divinity.
Fresh air, warm water, lush green surroundings and engulfing serenity make Samoa an ideal destination to live a healthy life.
This inspired famous Scottish author Robert Louis’s Stevenson to spend the final years of his life in this paradise. His home in Apia is now a museum where the first edition copy of his epical Treasure Island can be seen. He wrote this with an imaginary island in mind, but after arriving in Samoa maybe he thought this is the treasured land. He lived there till his last breath and had his mortal remains rested in its grounds
The healing effect of the destination can be sensed in a short time by visitors as well. When leaving Samoa, you feel energised with mind, body and soul soothed and filled with feelings of bliss.

Fact File: Samoa

Getting There
Fiji Airways (www.fijiairways.com) offers full service flights to Apia via Nadi.
There are plenty of hotel and resort style accommodation options of varying standards, located in Upolo and Savai’i.  Millenia, Saletoga Sands, Seabreeze, Savai’i Lagoon, Coconuts Beach Club, Tanoa Tusitala and Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey near the airport are a few from the long list.
Expert Tour Operator
Contact Sina World Travel (www.sinaworldtravel.com) for tailor made tours to Samoa
Samoan Tala, 1 AUD = 1.90 Tala
Australian passport holders don’t require visa to enter Samoa
More Info
Check out www.samoa.travel

Sandip Hor
Sandip Hor
Writing is a passion for this culturally enthused and historically minded globe trotting freelancer

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