Samoa – Upolu

Samoa exceeded our expectations. Consisting of the two main islands of Upolu and Savai’i, we planned to spend over a week on each one. However, Cyclone Donna delayed our arrival by 2 days and a detour to American Samoa cut into our schedule but we managed to make the most of our time at this lovely South Pacific nation. Our first week was spent on Upolu, the island which hosts all international flights. Highlights of Upolu include: Apia (do not miss the excellent Cultural Village tour), Piula cave pool, Matareva Beach, Lalomanu Beach and Taufua beach fale’s Fiafia night, countless waterfalls, and the To-Sua Ocean Trench. We quickly got introduced to the concept of beach fales, a quintessential Samoan experience and one that we highly recommend. Sleeping open air next to the beach is an unbeatable option and a budget one at that. Many beach fales include breakfast and dinner, making them a fantastic option for those on a shoestring budget. We found Samoans to be welcoming, friendly, devout and family oriented. They are fiercely proud of their Polynesian heritage and thrilled to share it with visitors. Two thumbs up for this amazing destination!

View of a Samoan island as we are about to land at Faleolo International Airport Faleolo International Airport Flip flops and lavalava skirts are typical Samoan attire! Crammed into a public bus from the airport to Apia for only 4 Tala Colorful outfits for sale at the flea market; Apia Siapo (tapa cloth) souvenirs for sale; Apia flea market Kava bowls and ceremonial weapons - bargain hard at the flea market Colorful food shack near the bus station; Apia School children waiting for a ride home; Apia bus station Public buses, Samoan style - we loved riding these around the island (cheap, cheesy and fun with music blaring) Yup, within the first few hours after arriving to Samoa, Becky is kissed by a random stranger while wandering around the bus station in Apia! Clock tower; Apia Samoan flag painted on this barber shop; Apia Rocky beach on the north coast of Upolu Slit drum at the entrance to Piula Cave Pool Swimming in the Piula Cave Pool is not to be missed...a real highlight of Upolu! Becky prepares to don her snorkel and mask; Piula Cave Pool Hungry fish looking for handouts; Piula Cave Pool Crystal clear water gives you the impression of floating through space; Piula Cave Pool Sauniatu Waterfall Becky enjoying Sauniatu Waterfall (free to visit) Stopping to check out this decorated church Church interior Fale with woven blinds - a common sight in Samoa One of dozens of waterfalls on Upolu island Le Mafa Pass is a scenic mountainous road linking the north side of Upolu to the south Le Mafa Pass Samoan license plate Too many waterfalls in Samoa to count Sopoaga Waterfall Togitogiga Waterfall Another view of Togitogiga Waterfall Robby posing on Ma Tree, a massive mape tree on the southern coast of Upolu Mothers and daughters "muumuu" performance at Matareva Beach Fales View of the beach from our fale (gorgeous despite the constant rain); Matareva Beach Fales Sleeping on the beach; Matareva Beach Fales Bird looking for handouts; To Sua Ocean Trench We had been warned that due to heavy rainfall, the To Sua Ocean Trench was muddy. This is what it looks like after a few hours of rain Seabreeze Resort Samoan flag proudly waving on this tiny island off Seabreeze Resort Upolu's southern coast Typical beach fale - notice the flip flop cut-outs on top of the roof! Waterfall flowing next to a taro field; near Lalomanu Beach Panorama of beach fales on Lalomanu Beach Our home for a few nights; Taufua Beach Fales Bathroom wall decor; Taufua Beach Fales It's Fiafia night as these Samoan beauties put on a show for us; Taufua Beach Fales Portrait of a Fiafia dancer The Samoan men slapped their chests a lot during their Fiafia dance One legged balance position The boys are invited to join in the Fiafia festivities The women are mesmerizing with their dance moves Yellow bird performance Well behaved Samoan girls watch eagerly from the sidelines Samoan fire dancer Balancing a fire stick on his feet Closing act of the Fiafia dance night; Taufua Beach Fales Waking up to a brilliant sunny day, the first in over a week! Becky getting ready to snorkel at Lalomanu Beach Snorkeling off Lalomanu beach is mediocre. There are some fish and coral beyond this sandy zone Sea view of Litia Sini Beach Fales; Lalomanu Beach Our hosts preparing the Sunday umu feast; Taufua Beach Fales The guest of honor gets to devour the entire pig's head; Sunday umu feast Beach fale number 9 - our home at Lalomanu Beach Visibility at the To Sua Ocean Trench has cleared up since the morning has been largely rain free Becky demonstrates how to climb down to the To Sua Ocean Trench Selfie at the To Sua Ocean Trench Another vantage point of the ocean trench Robby enjoying a few blissful moments in the ocean trench before the rain storm Cave view of the To Sua Ocean Trench A heavy rain storm hits and the water quickly turns murky; To Sua Ocean Trench Becky exploring a lava tunnel; To Sua Ocean Trench Rocky lava pools near the To Sua Ocean Trench Spectacular coastline near the To Sua Ocean Trench Pretty flowers in bloom; To Sua Ocean Trench garden The To Sua Ocean Trench garden is a relaxing place to enjoy a picnic with plenty of fales to hang out at View as we drive back to Lalomanu Beach in the late afternoon Panorama of Robby enjoying a sundowner at Lalomanu Beach Lalomanu Beach during sunset Papapai-uta Waterfall, the highest waterfall in Samoa Baha'i House of Worship Northern coast view on our bus ride from Apia to Mulifanua Wharf Entrance to Basilica of Saint Ann Girls smile as they try to sell fish by the roadside It feels like every village in Upolu has its own church A dozen fales around this massive field offer plenty of shade; Apia Apia Samoa Temple - the first temple built in Samoa and the third build in Polynesia Samoan statues guard the entrance to a hotel; Apia Robby relaxing with a Vailima beer at Talofa Inn, our central Apia hotel Breakfast served daily at Talofa Inn (an awesome place to stay in Apia) On board our tiny Polynesian Airline plane at the Fagali'i Airport; Apia View of Upolu on our flight to Pago Pago The tiny Fagalii airport - a domestic terminal for Polynesian Airlines Drenched upon arrival Apia fish market scene Eels for sale; Fish Market in Apia Fresh fish on display at the morning fish market Mulivai Catholic Cathedral - the prettiest church in Samoa Interior view of Mulivai Cathedral Ceiling dome of Mulivai Cathedral - notice the traditionally clad Samoans! Photo of Tony Tuitamai, our jovial host at the Samoa Cultural Village Kava ceremony at the Samoa Cultural Village Demonstrating how to husk a coconut It takes mere seconds for the coconut to be grated Demonstrating how to make "siapo" (tapa cloth). Step one is peeling the bark off a tree Step two is using a shell to flatten out and grate all the knots from the inner bark of the tree Next up is pounding the tree bark to flatten it further Viola! Our guide shows how wide the tapa cloth has become after all this manual labor - we had no idea how much work went into making siapo The final step is putting the finishing touches onto the tapa cloth using pre-set designs A wide assortment of tapa cloths for sale (prices starting as low as 20 Tala); Samoa Cultural Village A farewell dance concludes our visit to the Samoa Cultural Village - can you imagine this is all free? A must do if visiting Apia Fruit for sale at the Maketi Fou, Apia's main market Lavalavas and children outfits for sale Wooden carvings for sale. We found the souvenirs in Samoa to be of better workmanship than those in Fiji and Vanuatu An overturned bus accident on the way to the airport Goodbye beautiful Samoa...till next time! foto gallery lightboxby VisualLightBox.com v6.1

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