The first image you may have in your head when you think of Samoa is white sand beaches and still, idyllic, aquamarine waters. That, or the insta-worthy emerald depths of the To Sua Ocean trench and THAT ladder. But despite the undeniable beauty of this island nation, that’s not always the first thing people come home raving about. While aesthetically, Samoa is definitely all your pacific paradise dreams come true, it’s the kind and generous spirit of the locals that seem to capture the heart of every visiting tourist.
It’s impossible not to fall in love with the laid-back fun-loving vibe of the Samoan population. They are warm, welcoming, and proud of their rich and colourful traditions which date back more than 3000 years. Fa’a Samoa - the Samoan way - is based around matai (chiefs), aiga (extended family) and the church. Many Samoans live in tight-knit villages, where family and taking care of others in your ‘tribe’ is everything. As a tourist entering this world, you instantly become another person to extend this care and generosity to.
Unlike some other islands where the gap between tourists and locals can be huge, visitors to Samoa are very soon included in the joy of daily life. If you stay in a family-owned fale you will be scooped up and treated like aiga, cooked for, chatted to, taken care of as if you were a local. People live simply but unlike those of us from more developed nations chasing the next new model car or bigger house they are grateful and extremely happy with what they have and want to share it all with visitors.
But be warned - this happiness is so infectious, and the hospitality that accompanies it is so warm and generous, you may never want to go back to reality. Once you’ve heard that distinctive joyful Samoan laugh, your life will be changed forever.