Visitors to Samoa talk with a local fruit vendor at his stall on Savai'i
Fruit stall, Savai'i

Protocols

Samoan villages and families live according to modest, traditional values.

When visiting Samoa, please respect a number of everyday protocols.

Unsure? Ask a friendly local or your host for advice.

 

In the Village

 

Avoid walking through villages or crossing the road during the evening prayer curfew, called Sa (sacred), which is usually between 6-7pm for 10 to 20 minutes. The curfew is announced by a bell or blowing of a conch shell. Sa ends with the third bell.

Ask permission before taking photos in a Samoan village.

Lagoons, bays and beaches are usually the property of a village, so ask permission before you enter. Wait until a local comes along, and expect to pay a small entry fee.

 

 

In the Fale (Home)

 

Remove your shoes before entering a Samoan fale.

 

If elders are seated, you should sit as well - don't stand.

 

When sitting in a fale, avoid pointing your toes at others by crossing your legs or covering your toes with a lavalava (sarong) or mat.

 

 

Religious Protocol

 

Sunday is our day of rest. You can rest easy too, with quiet behaviour and by travelling slowly through villages. You’re welcome to join a congregation at one of the many local churches to experience Sunday church services Samoan-style.

If attending church, women should wear a dress or blouse and skirt, and men trousers and a shirt. Samoans often wear white to church.

 

 

Clothing

 

Samoa is a modest country, and we recommend that you dress appropriately in villages. Clothing can include a lavalava (sarong), trousers, skirt or shorts and a t-shirt.

 

Swimwear must be worn when you’re swimming or sunbathing. Modest one-piece swimsuits are suitable for bathing at public beaches - two-piece bikinis should only be worn at resorts.

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