When we started our virtual travel blog series a few months back, the first place we took you to was Tuvalu in the South Pacific, followed by a range of interesting places around the world: Liechtenstein, Turkmenistan, Vatican City, Tywyn, Riga, Khovd, and Wulingyuan!
As we continue this series, inspired by The New York Times’ ’36 Hours’ travel column, we decided to go back to Oceania- this time to the tiny independent island-state of Samoa.
Believed by many to be the birthplace of tattoos (we had no idea, did you?), Samoa, is famous for its stunning beaches, beautiful waterfalls, friendly people, and freely-roaming piglets! It is also one of the last countries before the international dateline and rests halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. We browsed through Instagram, YouTube, and TripAdvisor uploads, to curate a 36-hour travel itinerary to feed your wanderlust.
36 Hours in Samoa
8:30 AM: Leap Into a Trench
Kickstart the day with a visit to the To-Sua Ocean Trench — one of the most amazing natural land formations in the world! Formed due to erosion of the lava fields around Lotofaga, which left the area pocketed with tide pools and blowholes, To Sua is the largest of and literally means “big hole”. A scenic swimming spot with clear water, a diving board, and surrounded by tropical landscaped gardens, this spot is paradise.
11.00 AM: Beach Time
Next, head to Lalomanu Beach — a white sand beach next to a blue lagoon, making it the perfect place to spend most part of the afternoon. The lagoon is rich with marine life and excellent for snorkeling — you can expect to spot fish, turtles, crabs, and if you’re lucky, even harmless sharks!
If you feel like a hike, head to the extinct volcano crater — lookout for flying foxes!
2:00 PM: Seafood Lunch
Binge on seafood and local cuisine at the highly-rated Paddles Restaurant — the seafood risotto, and calamari entree are recommended. Leave room for dessert!
3:30 PM: Revisiting Childhood Stories
Take a trip down memory lane with a visit to the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. This is the estate where the Scottish writer (most-known for his famous literary classics- Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and A Child’s Garden of Verses) spent the last few years of his life.
5:30 PM: Visit Magical Waterfalls
Visit the beautiful Papapapai-Tai Falls, more than 100m high, and gushing with crystal-clear water, it’s one of the most magical waterfalls in all of the South Pacific — not to be missed!
7:30 PM: Dinner Date by the Sea
Whether you’re traveling solo, with your significant other, or family, head to Taumeasina Restaurant for a relaxing dinner date by the sea. With a variety of dishes on offer, take your pick between Polynesian, Italian, and Mediterranean food, although the seafood, pasta, steaks, and pineapple curry come highly recommended.
9.00 AM: Witness a Blowhole
What’s a blowhole, you ask? Hop over to Alofaaga to find out!
Located in Savaii island, blowholes are volcanic plug openings that got decayed over a period of years framing a tube. As the water waves smash against the shore, the water discharges and goes hundreds of feet up into the air with much force through these blowholes — creating a magnificent sight, and definitely an experience to remember.
The Alofaaga blowholes, in particular, developed due to lava flows that gradually carved out underwater caves, which grew upwards towards the land, and became tunnels connecting the ocean to the rock face above.
11.30 AM: Visit Polynesia’s Oldest Structure
Make a visit to Polynesia’s biggest and oldest structure: the Pulemelei Mound. This fascinating, pyramidal structure dates back to sometime between AD 1100 to 1400 and provides thrilling views of the ocean.
1.00 PM: Lunch Break
Head to Kofe Haus for lunch. With a vintage decor and vibe, it’s sure to refresh you for the rest of the day, while being easy on the pocket.
2.30 PM: Dance & Culture
Finally, enjoy traditional folk dance at the Samoa Cultural Village. Open every day of the week, it’s a great place for tourists to understand more about Samoan culture, pick up some handicrafts and souvenirs, and enjoy traditional folk dance and music.
4.00 PM: Lava Fields
An excursion to the Saleaaula Lava Fields is sure to be interesting, as you walk through lava rocks and discover remnants of Saleaaula village, which was damaged by a volcanic eruption in 1905. Don’t forget to visit the Virgin’s Grave and LMS Church, most remembered for 2m of lava flowing through its door.
5.30 PM: Be a Beach Bum
What’s the point of visiting an island if you don’t keep enough time to laze by the beach? Make your way to Falealupo, a beautiful village located in the western region of Savai’i Island. Laze by the beach or walk through the stunning rainforest. Be sure to catch the sunset — as Falealupo is known to be the last village in the world to see the sunset each day!
7.00 PM: Yacht Club Supper
Enjoy the last supper of the trip at the Apia Yacht Club with delicious steak and drinks by the sea.
Based on all the content we found online, Samoa has far more to offer than what we could cover in this 36-hour itinerary. We hope to make it there for real someday, but until then, we hope you enjoyed this virtual travel experience.
How to get there
The main airport for international flights is the Faleolo International Airport in Faleolo, Samoa.
Where to stay
The Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa is a gorgeous resort and a great place to stay to live the luxurious island life. Lusia’s Lagoon Chalets is a good option for those into eco-tourism. Le Vasa is another mid-range hotel that has good reviews.
When to go
July to September is the best time to visit Samoa.
Samoa allows free-entry to international visitors for 60 days. However, visitors must hold a passport valid for 6 months, have a confirmed return ticket, copy of a bank statement, no record of deportation from other countries, no health problems that would pose a risk to Samoa, and no history of criminal charges. For longer stays, permission from relevant authorities needs to be sought.
The official currency in Samoa is the Tala. ATMs are not widely available, so make sure to stock up on adequate cash in Apia or Salelologa.
Samoan is the official language of Samoa, while English is the second most popular language and is widely understood by the locals.
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