SAMOA: WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Possibly the most beautiful place on earth, Samoa is all about contradictions. It is wild but also extremely tidy. It is proud of it’s traditional way of life, but 99% Christian. The island is calm and soothing, but below lies a rumbling volcano… What isn’t a contradiction is the warm, friendly and humble nature of the Samoan people, who are pleased to welcome you and share their azure shallow seas, sparkling waterfalls and mountain crater lakes. If you’re heading to this emerald isle and want to learn more about your epic destination, then read on…
SAMOAN CHEAT SHEET
Samoa is located in the Polynesian area of the south pacific. Polynesia is made up of over 1,000 islands located between the points of Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. It covers a VAST part of the planet.. .but is mostly water. As noted by Captain James Cook, Polynesia is 'certainly by far the most extensive nation upon earth'.
The nation of Samoa itself consists of two main large islands called Upolu and Savai'i, and eight additional islets. Importantly 'American Samoa' is a separate state and not recognised as part of "Samoa" (so we’re not covering it here). The Island of Upolu has the international airport and the capital city of Apia.
HISTORY OF SAMOA
Samoa was discovered and populated by the sea-faring Polynesians 3,000 years ago, in their millennia long conquest of the Pacific ocean. It is believed that the Polynesian people originated in Taiwan and New Guinea. A deeply complex matrileanial and ocean-focused network society evolved and thrived between the islands of Samoa, Fiji and Tonga for thousands of years. First contact with European explorers happened in 1722 and English missionaries and traders began to arrive in the 1830s. The islands were named the Navigator Islands due to being an important waypoint for European Pacific voyagers.
In 1900 the islands were officially annexed by western powers; the western islands by the German empire and the east island by the United States. After WW1, New Zealand took control of the west islands, and governed until independence in 1962.
In 1911 Samoa chose to move west across the International Date Line to support trade with New Zealand and Australia. As a result they became the first country in the world to welcome in the new year. Despite being so close, American Samoa did not move, and so is actually an entire day behind the western islands. You can travel between today & yesterday relatively quickly!
CLIMATE IN SAMOA:
Samoa is a tropical island paradise, this means that for 12 months of the year it experiences a constant idyllic temperature of 27-30 degrees. Rainfall is heaviest between December and March and the driest months are April to September. The odd tropical storm will always creep up, and Samoan rain is that kind that is really really wet, those big fat raindrops. Broadly speaking, we find this type a lot more fun, and a lot less disheartening versus the damp-grey drizzle we enjoy in the UK. So if you do get a quick storm pass through - enjoy it!
The main language is Samoan, but almost everybody in town on the two main islands speak English. Popping into cafes, shopping in the markets and hopping on buses is all possible with English. The further away from Town you get, the less English is spoken.
The Samoan Tala has some incredibly bright and colourful notes fitting for cheerful island nature. ATMs are found in Apia only and a few on Savai’i. Best plan would be to take out a bit of cash when outside on the main towns. The bigger shops and cafes will take cards.
There two options to get around Samoa;
1) Jump on the local buses that circulate the island, they’re fun but be prepared to be sat between two of the largest men you’ve ever seen in 30 degree heat.
2) We decided to book a rental car to allow us to get around without a tour, which gave us lots of freedom to see Samoa’s best bits. If you want to do the same then book your car now using Rental Cars
More on Samoa
We hope that helps set the tone for however long you choose to spend in paradise. If you need more hints and tips, we’re always adding more about Samoa. Check out the below.