|Samoa Visitors Bureau
|This should be your first stop when you are in Apia. They
have details of all activities taking place in Samoa, as well as information about hotels,
restaraunts, bars and various attractions. They are located near the Government Building,
tel: (685) 20878, fax: (685) 20886.
| This market and the fish
market, used to be the only markets in Apia but when the marketi fou was built they turned
this into a craft market. This is the place to buy your gifts and souvenirs as well as any
items of clothing you might have forgotten to pack.
There are a large number
of stores selling tee-shirts and lavalava's, and a number selling traditional hand
carved wooden objects such as kava bowls and animals as well as the kava to go in the
bowl. Another item that is perculiar to the Pacific is tapa cloth. This is made from the
bark of the mulberry tree which is treated and beaten until it forms a substance that
resembles a cross between cotton and crêpe paper. This is then painted with natural
pigments to create geometric patterns. Other items you may come across are based on woven
coconut fronds such as the ili a small fan that is used for keeping you cool and
flies off the food.
In either of the markets you might come across a stall
selling panikeki, a spherical deep fried pancake made with banana or sometimes
pineapple. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
|This is the new market in Apia. It is the place
where a large number of Samoans go to either buy or sell fresh produce. All the fruit you
would expect to see on sale is available; mangos, pawpaw, pineapples, coconuts, bananas
(four or five types), breadfruit (which is eaten like a vegetable), etc. You may also see
a smallish round green fruit called vi. These are generally eaten hard and have a
sharp refreshing sort of taste, that might not be to many peoples liking. Of the
vegetables that are sold most common are the taro and ta'amú. Taro is
traditionally the staple food in the islands, but because of a virus called taro blight it has become
quite scarce. Ta'amú, a large tuberous vegetable about a meter in length has
become a popular substitute.
Other Samoan produce
such as kava, koko samoa, samoan tobacco and se'a (sea slug, generally
served in coke bottles and drunk out of the bottle). This is one of the few things you
should be cautious about trying, as well as the alu'alu, jellyfish. Alu
means go, and I have been told that this really does make some people want to go.
This modern edifice funded by Chinese money and sporting token acknowledgement to samoan
culture by the late adition of a fale to it's roof is the new samoan government building.
Every weekday morning at 7:50 the Apia police force band marches from its police station
to the front of the building where there is a flag raising ceremony.
| Opened in 1972, this is the new
Samoan Fono (Parliament). It's design is loosely based on that of the traditional samoan
fale, although frequently likened to a beehive, by those who are not familiar with
Wellingtons new parliament buildings in New Zealand.
|Found just outside Apia, this is a mountain that any
visitor to Samoa should climb. There is an easy footpath up the mountain, although in the
hot and humid tropical conditions it can be quite a climb if you have not yet aclimatised.
At the top of the mountain is
Robert Louis Stevenson's grave, bearing the inscription.
Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie:
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse that you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
| Vailima is the house that Robert Louis
Stevenson and his family lived in up until his death. Robert Louis Stevenson has become
synonomous with Samoa and is important to Samoa, where he is known as tusitala, the
teller of tales. A large celebration was held in 1994 to mark the aniversary of his death
and people travelled from all over the world to take part. His house, a collonial building
has been beautifully restored and turned into a museum by the Government of Western Samoa.
Access is only available as part of a guided tour which lasts about an hour, and Samoans
pay a reduced entry fee.
The musuem is surrounded by well maintained gardens, containing a wide range
of idigenous and tropical plants. As you get further away from the house the grounds
become less formal and start to resemble the tropical rainforest that makes up much of the
interior of the islands. If you are not familiar with the flora of this region, I strongly
recommend wandering through the gardens.
|Piula Cave Pool
| The pool at
Piula is very unusual. It is located on a rocky beach, seperated from the sea by about two
meters of beach. This is pool a fresh water pool which stretches back into a cave that
goes some way under a cliff. Swimming is permitted, although it is requested that you make
a small contribution.
|These pools at the bottom of a waterfall are a short
detour from Alafaalava Rd, on the outskirts of Apia. You can get then on the bus to Seesee.
|This is the beach that
was featured in the 1952 film, Return to Paradise Beach, starring Gary Cooper.
As with most beaches in Samoa you will not find many Samoans there.
The idea of having free time which you can use to relax and enjoy yourself is not part of fa'a
samoa (the Samoan way.) Children will always have fe'au (chores) to do, and if
they ta'a (run around enjoying themselves) it will be disapproved of. Most people
work in their own plantations during the day, and Sunday is the day when Samoa goes to
church, apart from the Seventh Day Adventists, who go on Saturday. However, as more people
gain employment in Apia working in offices, there will probably be a change in attitudes
towards the use of free time.
There are a large number of beaches around Upolu. The
problem is deciding which of them to recommend. The following beaches are ones that are
most frequently mentioned or one that we think are worthy of mention: Aleipata, Solosolo,
Saluafata, Lalomanu, Aufaga, Vavau Tafatafa, Aganoa, Mulivai, Saanapu, Salamumu and
|Located just off the Cross Island road, is the
Papapapaitai waterfall. A spectacular sight as the water plummets 500ft into an old
volcanic crater, amidst verdant tropical rain forest.
|Bars & Nightclubs
|Because of recently introduced legislation all bars and
nightclubs in Samoa have to close by midnight. Because there is no public transport in the
evenings Samoan's were drinking and driving in the small hours of the morning and
apparently accidents were going unreported. This means that to make the most of an evening
out in Samoa you have to start early.
The night clubs
can also get a bit unruly. The last time we went to the Tusitala, the disco was stopped
three times during the course of the evening while bouncers removed people involved in
Taga Blow Holes
| One of the phenomena associated with volcanoes are lava
tubes. These are formed when a fluid lava cools on the outside but continues flowing in
the inside. Eventually when the lava stops flowing a hollow tube is left. West of the
wharf on Savai'i lava tubes have formed down, to what is now the coastline. As the waves
crash into the shore massive plumes of water, resembling geyers, are forced through the
lava tubes to form the most spectacular blow holes anywhere in the Pacific.
|Falealupo was the most remote village in Samoa, deep in
the choirbacks of Savai'i, until the cyclone of 1991 destroyed it. When we were last there
in December 1995 the devastation was still visible. It is also the place where 'the sun
sets' in Samoa, and is place around which many legends revolve.
Mosso's footprint is an indentation in the ground that resembles an oversized and horribly
deformed foot. It is supposedly the point in Samoa from which the giant Mosso took his
departing step on his way across the Pacific to Fiji. There will be someone beside the
small walled enclosure, that hides Mosso's footprint, who will open a door for a small fee
so that you can look and take photographs.
|A short distance from Falealupo, a little way off the
road, buried in the undergrowth is the most unusual structure in Samoa. It is now totally
overgrown and in ruins, and very difficult to make out, but it is apparently a pyramid
built in the shape of a five pointed star. I understand that there has been one attempted
excavation which failed to come up with an explanation of either it's origin or purpose. A
guide will show you around both the mound and various other points of interest in Samoan
folklore. You may well need a translator, who is knowledgable about both Samoan folklore
and the matai form of speech.
consists of two languages, both sharing the same vocabulary but having very different
rules of sentence construction. A large number of Samoans never master the matai form of
speech which is used for ceremonial and oratorical purposes.
|In 1905 Matavanu, a volcano on Savai'i, errupted
resulting in a huge expanse of lava spreading across a significant proportion of the
island. In the path of this lava flow was a small church and graveyard. The church and
graveyard were overrun with lava, but the grave of a, reportedly, virgin nun was left