27 April, 2012     

Samoa Celebrates 50 Years of Independence with Reggae Royalty

Samoa’s 50th Independence Day Celebrations promises to kick off in true laid back style with renowned British reggae/pop group UB40.

The group will be performing at an outdoor concert in Apia Park, Samoa on the 1st of June.

One of the most successful reggae bands in the world with a career spanning 3 decades and over 70 million records sold worldwide, the UB40 concert will be one of the first official events of the 50th Independence celebrations for Samoa.

Samoa Tourism Authority believes the band and the destination is a match made in heaven.  “If Samoa was a song it would be a UB40 track.  UB40 epitomises laid back cool and really speaks to Samoans, many of which grew up with their music”, says Samoa Tourism Authority.

“Lonely Planet once wrote that if relaxation was an Olympic event, Samoa is where you would come to train.  What better soundtrack to have on while relaxing than UB40?” says Samoa Tourism Authority.

The concert is expected to be a sold out event.

  27 April, 2012     

Samoa Celebrates The Reopening Of Salani Surf Resort

In 2009 the devastating tsunami that struck Samoa wiped Salani Surf Resort off the face of the Earth. Operated by surfers for surfers, Salani was their retreat and its destruction dealt Samoa a cruel blow with the backpacker and surfing market losing one of its key drawcards.

Samoa Tourism Authority is proud to announce that Salani Surf Resort Samoa is nowback better than ever with better facilities sure to attract a new market – Flashpackers.

Situated on the idyllic South East coast of Upolu, Salani Surf Resort is made up of eight ventilated and elevated fales (bungalows), all with lagoon and river views.  

To maintain quality and guest experience the resort hosts no more than 12 surfers at a time, and with easy access to the best breaks in the region, it’s no wonder this is a gem the surfing community have guarded fiercely.

Owner Chris Donato says that apart from its location one of its key selling points is the ability to surf minus the crowds.

“You never really have a crowd here. The way the resort is set up we only have eight rooms and we won’t take more than twelve surfers at the resort at any given time so basically we can guarantee that you’ll never have a crowd out there”.

“The best thing here is you can stand on your porch, see a wave, you can be out there in a few minutes surfing that perfect wave”.

Samoa Tourism Authority says one of Samoa’s treasures is its challenging surf breaks.

“Waves are constant all year round and Samoa’s uncrowded surf spots are the best kept secret in the South Pacific region.  In Samoa, you can count on nobody unexpectedly dropping in on you”.

Officially reopening its doors earlier this year, Chris Donato says the resort is looking forward to welcome back its strong pre-tsunami guests.

“We are rebuilt, we are ready for you guys, come down, get barreled, come to Samoa, it’s a beautiful place, experience our world class surfing”.

Samoa Tourism Authority also says that Samoa offers the perfect combination of fascinating traditions and activities in a laid back setting.

“Just five hours from Australia and a less than four hours from New Zealand, Samoa is a beautiful mix of tradition and adventure. We have a 3,000 old culture called Fa’a Samoa and part of that means that we respect Sunday as a day of rest so no surfing is allowed on a Sunday.  But after 3,000 years of practice we’ve found that it’s good for people to slow down – if only for just one day!”

  26 April, 2012     

Le Penina Golf Course, Samoa to host SIFA Samoa open 2012

Care for a round of golf in paradise?

Le Penina Golf Course in Samoa will play host to the Pro-Am and SIFA Samoa Open in September - a sanctioned 3 round event of the Australian PGA.

The tournament begins with the Pro-Am event for sponsors, pros and all interested amateurs (including Aggie Grey’s Resort guests) on the 19th of September.

The SIFA Samoa Open (54 holes) then runs from the 19-22 September. Amateurs meaning to join the competition will require a registered handicap of 14 to be eligible to enter.

Le Penina Golf Course is an 18 hole par 72 championship golf course spread across 160 lush acres and is only five minutes away from Faleolo International Airport. The course is built on a former US military base used in World War 2 and features several historical landmarks including copra ovens built during the German occupation for making fuel.

The course is challenging enough to test professional golfers with total length of 7,136 yards. Following an upgrade, it now boasts a new driving range, new Club Car golf carts for hire and new premium Cobra rental clubs for men and women including right and left handed.

Further improvements are being made to Le Penina with the construction of a new fale style Club House which will also be available for functions.

Samoa Tourism Authority says that the SIFA Samoa Open is a fantastic way to round up the 50th Independence Celebrations.

“Many people are not aware of the world class sporting facilities Samoa has to offer.  Many of these facilities have been built or improved upon for the South Pacific Games in 2007, so what we have is on par with international facilities."

“Our golf courses are second to none, and with the amazing views that Samoa have to offer what better way to wrap up the golden year anniversary of our Independence and of course the Teuila festival than with a round of golf in paradise?” says Samoa Tourism Authority.

Only five hours from Australia and just over three hours from New Zealand across the South Pacific, Samoa is located in the heart of Polynesia and is best known for offering the most authentic of all Polynesian experiences.  The nation boasts a 3,000 year old culture called Fa’a Samoa also known as The Samoan Way and is a culture found nowhere else in the South Pacific.
  19 April, 2012     

Simply Samoa

By Melanie Dugan

On leaving for Samoa I would have thought the meaning of life (or my life anyway) was to get on a plane destined for an exotic tropical island to escape, with the help of equally exotic cocktails, my not-so-exotic existence. But as I left Samoa to return home I realised my visit had changed my perspective not just on my life but the meaning of life. The authentic beauty of the Samoan people and landscape were a revitalising tonic for my weary and cynical take on life.

Samoa is made up of two large islands and several small islands and is relatively new to tourism and so it has been isolated from commercialism and over-development. (I wished I could say that is why I chose to go but it wasn’t – it was because it was cheap!) The main island, Upolu, is the most developed island and it does have a few high-rise luxury resorts and of course the international airport. This is where I arrived but I soon found myself on a ferry (along with beer trucks and crates of piglets and chickens) to Savaii the largest but more remote island of Samoa (you pronounce it as you would Hawaii but with an ‘S’). Savaii is one of the largest islands in Polynesia but one of its least populated.

On the hour long ferry trip I began to feel something I hadn’t for some time (and it wasn’t seasickness luckily) it was an excitement and aliveness about life. My Samoan adventure had begun and as I drove my little hire car off the ferry I felt I bit like an explorer discovering a new world. I was advised to hire a car and I would definitely recommend it if you are staying on Savaii as the main town Salelologa is basic and there are few taxis and public transport is scarce. You will need to get a temporary Samoan driver’s licence which I got from the hire car company for a small fee. Also Samoans drive on the left hand side of the road which just adds to the adventure if you are used to driving on the right.

There is one main road that follows the coast of the entire island which made my exploring very carefree as I didn’t have to be concerned with navigating and I could just relax and absorb the wonder of what was before me. Savaii is truly an island of immense beauty and variety – it will astonish you with its stunning beaches and reefs with turquoise water which are perfect for snorkelling, lush rainforest, fresh water springs, dramatically rugged stretches of lava coast studded with caves and blowholes and the interior of the island is just as impressive because of its towering volcanic peaks. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Traditional villages line the coast and because Savaii is relatively untouched by western influences the people have maintained an innocence and happiness that is even more beautiful and impacting than the landscape. This is the true wonder of the island – its people and as I travelled through the villages with their great colour and simplicity I began to thaw out from my selfish and competitive mindset. As I absorbed the warmth and authenticity of the people and the children in particular and saw what is meaningful to them I began to reconnect to what is real and true in my life and the world – to the real meaning of life which I think is trying to look after our spiritual wellbeing rather than our financial wellbeing – to connect with a true sense of family and humanity. Normally for me to try and think about such a profound subject as the meaning of life would be very confronting and a no go zone but in this warm Samoan wonderland I could actually get some perspective which has been lasting and produced quite a transformation in my life. Thank you – or fa’afetai Samoa.

Source: Travelmag.co.uk
  19 April, 2012     

Samoa features in Royal Caribbean Cruises 2013/14 Australia Season

By Steve Jones

Royal Caribbean has released details of its 2013/14 Australia season with three liners to be positioned in local waters for the second consecutive season.

The cruise line’s commercial manager Adam Armstrong said Royal Caribbean will be the largest company operating from Sydney over the next two summers.

Rhapsody of the Seas will operate a 16-night Trans-Pacific Fiji and Samoa cruise from Honolulu to Sydney departing Hawaii on September 18 with the return leaving Sydney on April 18.

Also new for the Rhapsody is a 15-night Queensland and South Pacific New Year cruise.

Source: Travel Today
  11 April, 2012     

Beauty is the real deal

By Shirley Sinclair

SHE was not your average pageant contestant. Photogenic? Yes.

And her eyes sparkled in the spotlight.

But she was far more curvaceous than the Western beauty queens I was used to.

Vivacious and outgoing?

Definitely.

And she commanded the attention of the packed hall with every graceful movement.

But she remained humble, respectful and fiercely traditional.

She was a beautiful Samoan woman.

The winner of the 2011 Miss Samoa pageant, Olevia Ioane, was crowned on the final night of my visit to the South Pacific nation.

And for me, the 24-year-old teacher's beauty, dignity, creativity and cultural pride epitomised modern Samoa.

The pageant, which also showcases wearable art from some of the region's most innovative fashion designers as well as contestants' talents, is the final exclamation mark to Samoa's biggest celebration of the year, the Teuila Festival.

The Teuila Festival (pronounced te-wheel-a) is held in late August-early September each year when all of Samoa puts on its happy face and decks out shops, houses, fales and public areas in teuilas - the national torch-like red flowers flanked by bright green leaves that we more commonly associate with the ginger plant.

Festival Central is the lawn area in front of the government office building, spilling over to the neighbouring Samoan Tourism Authority cultural village where a number of cultural activities take place from mid-morning until late - everything from dancing, singing, and fire-twirling to markets and traditional customs such as weaving, tapa making, tattooing and cooking in the umu above-ground oven.

Samoans like to think of their country (Sa meaning "sacred" and moa meaning "place") as the heart of Polynesia and this festival is not only a big annual production for visitors but also an important celebration of their unique cultural and natural heritage.

Samoa comprises 10 islands in the archipelago but only four are inhabited.

While Savai'i (pronounced like Hawaii) is the largest island to the north, most people live on the second-biggest island, Upolu (pronounced oo-poh-loo), concentrated in the capital, Apia ("a-pee-a").

The rest of the 180,000 total population is found in more than 360 villages.

Samoa welcomes a total of 30,000 tourists a year but the main tourism focus is the Teuila Festival.

Last year's festival theme was "Beautiful Samoa".

And from the pristine turquoise lagoon to the great blue depths of the ocean reefs, from the dark green of the rainforest to the starkness of the black lava fields, from fronds of the coconut palm swaying outside a quaint beachfront fale to her mountainous peaks, Samoa's beauty is everywhere.

But just like the Miss Teuila Festival winner, Samoa's inner beauty - her friendliness and the wide smiles etched on the brown faces of her people - is what will really win you over.

The writer was a guest of Samoa Tourism Authority

Air Pacific, Air New Zealand and Polynesian Blue fly to Samoa weekly out of Brisbane and Sydney.

GOOD TO KNOW ABOUT SAMOA

Where to stay on Upolu Island:

Taufua Beach Fales
Le Manumea Hotel
Orator Hotel
Tanoa Tusitala Hotel

Where to eat:
Sails Restaurant and Bar, Apia: Exceptional food and great cocktails while dining al fresco by the water:

Sydney Side Cafe: Convent St, Apia: possibly Samoa's best-known coffee shop and a great place for tasty and healthy lunches.

What to do:
Palolo Deep Marine Reserve: snorkel only 3km from the Apia CBD, straight off the beach, for a small fee.

To Sua Trench: Overcome your fear of steep ladders and head down to the To Sua Ocean Trench, one of the ideallic sites in Lotofaga village, Upolu Island. To Sua translates as "big hole". A ladder is installed on site for visitors to access the 30-metre deep seawater pool. Water flows into the deep hole through a lava tube tunnel. The two sua are situated in a beautiful garden park, ideal for nature photography, overlooking the south-east coast of the island. A few scenic sites are in the same area, including blowholes, and an incredible small beach on the western side.

Piula Cave Pools in the Piula Theological College

The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in Vailima, Apia

Savalalo Flea Market and Fugalei "New" Market (fruit and vege)

Aggie Grey's Cultural Show

TEUILA FESTIVAL 2012
Sunday, September 2-Saturday, September 8

The Teuila Festival is one of Samoa's most celebrated annual events, and promises to be as exciting and entertaining this year as in the past. Many activities and shows will held particularly in Apia, Samoa's capital city.

Throughout the week, cultural activities will include the choir hymnal exhibition, a variety of traditional entertainment such as fire knife dancing, traditional sports with the fautasi race (the long boat used as a means of transport across the islands of Samoa in the olden days), plus wood carving, tattooing, and two nights of variety shows.

Source: Fraser Coast Chronicle
  04 April, 2012     

Samoa Sets Celebrate Samoa Program On Fire!

Turning up the heat for the Celebrate Samoa 2012 program will be the 11th International Siva Afi (Fire Knife Dancing) Competition, to be held in Apia from the 24th – 26th May.

Regarded as the world’s second longest running competition, the Siva Afi is an integral element of the Samoan culture.

Dating back hundreds of years, the Siva Afi is a Samoan warrior’s demonstration of his battle prowess through the artful twirling of his weapon, often a war club or a machete.  During night time performances of this ritual the ends of the poles and weapons are set to flame creating a spectacular and mesmerizing performance.

Dancers will twirl and do acrobatic stunts to the beat of Samoan drumbeats.  The complexity of the moves can often result in injury and many performers have been reported to have denied medical treatment for their injuries as a demonstration of their ferocity, strength and valour.

While fire twirling is practiced around parts of the South Pacific many historians claim that the original Siva Afi originated in Samoa, with the Samoan version being the most authentic.

To be held at Surfside, Matautu-tai in Upolu, the event promises to be quite a spectacle with representatives travelling from all over the world to compete.

“Siva Afi are often performed during Fia Fia nights in many resorts and properties in Samoa in designated nights, so make sure you find out when your property hosts theirs as it is an event not to be missed” says Samoa Tourism Authority.

“The show is quite breathtaking and an awesome display of an element of their 3,000 year old Fa’a Samoa tradition, which is found nowhere else in the South Pacific.

“Just don’t sit too close to the stage or you might just get your eyebrows singed!”
  03 April, 2012     

Forget five star ratings with a fale, you sleep under a billion!

In the heart of the South Pacific lies a world without walls.

Literally.

Samoan Fales, once a fiercely guarded secret by locals, surfers and intrepid travelers are quickly gaining popularity among the general leisure market as a low budget, convenient and unique accommodation experience.

With the water lapping on the white sandy beach only a few steps away, a fale is your typical Samoan beach hut.

The Samoan Tourism Authority says fales are the closest one can experience the traditional way of living in Samoa with the added benefit of being mere steps away from the glistening waters and surf breaks of the Pacific.

“In Samoa, there is no Samoan word for walls,” says the Samoa Tourism Authority.

“Walk into a hotel or motel and once you close the doors and draw the blinds you can be anywhere in the world. When you stay in a fale, where the closest you get to a wall is your woven blind, you know you’re in Samoa.

“This type of shelter and accommodation really is perfect for the Samoan climate and is found nowhere else in the world.”

Traditionally a thatched roof bore by wooden poles with open sides to the elements, you will find only the basics are supplied - bedding, mosquito net and woven mats over the windows that can be pulled down for privacy. The shared toilet/shower facility is located nearby.

These days coastal villages have developed modern variations of the fale, with some even offering private en suite bathroom facilities.

“Imagine being lulled to sleep by the sound of waves gently lapping the shore, the cool soft sea breeze blowing through your fale under a night sky lit by the twinkling of a billion stars – without the five star prices.”

Depending on the fale and the style of property, fales can cost as little as $40 per person per night which usually includes breakfast and dinner.

“Samoa is the best value destination in the South Pacific and it takes very little effort or money for one to become incredibly rich with unique experiences.

Staying in a fale is the best way to be close to Samoa’s stunningly beautiful and pristine surrounds. Add a warm and friendly village atmosphere and a 3,000 year-old culture called Fa’a Samoa and you’re as close to the authentic Polynesian experience.

“You can’t put a dollar value on that” says Samoa Tourism Authority.
  02 April, 2012     

Samoa a big climber in the House of Travel Top 10 for Travelling with Children

With school holidays just around the corner, House of Travel has released its Top 10 Destinations for Travelling with Children for 2012.

The spots, in general, are dominated by tried and true favourites. But it is the growth in some of these destinations that has surprised commentators within the group.

Samoa is the final big climber in the Top 10 for travelling with Children. Ever improving accommodation options are making Samoa an increasingly attractive alternative to Fiji.  Samoa has seen significant increase in bookings via the House of Travel group. “We can only see Samoa improving as a popular holiday destination, as new room and air capacity comes online,” comments Ms White.

“Every parent wants to maximise those 20 special days off with their family and create memories that they will cherish for a life time. With promoting all family destinations, it is about keeping the 4 S’s in mind – Sun, Sand, Shopping and Sightseeing.”

House of Travel’s Top 10 Destinations for Travelling with Kids, 2012:
1- Queensland, Australia
2- Fiji
3- United Kingdom
4- United States
5- Cook Islands
6- New South Wales, Australia
7- Samoa
8- Thailand
9- Victoria, Australia
10- France

Source: House of Travel