24 March, 2012

Good manners and an adventurous spirit make for great holiday in Samoa

By John Bilic

Lauiula Beach Fales, on Savaii, offer mattresses, communal facilities and a reef just metres away. Right: Robert Louis Stevenson Museum where the Scottish author lived his final years.

Lauiula Beach Fales, on Savaii, offer mattresses, communal facilities and a reef just metres away. Right: Robert Louis Stevenson Museum where the Scottish author lived his final years.

TO get the most out of your holiday to Samoa, take your spirit of adventure.

Resorts, some rebuilt after a devastating tsunami in 2009, are waiting to pamper you in their beachside spas, but also get out and about for a richer experience.

Some people who lament the decline of good manners in modern society might find the gracious people, who answer every thank you with a “you’re welcome”, as reason enough to flock to the Pacific Island nation.

Once there, how about a hike up the mountain trail from Robert Louis Stevenson Museum to see the tomb of the famous Scottish author, climb the rainforest canopy walkway or descend a 10m ladder to swim in a fresh water trench.

Surfers searching for a perfect, uncrowded wave already have Samoa on their travel plans and can arrange for a boat to take them beyond the reef.

And most definitely experience genuine Samoan hospitality by spending a night or two on a beach in a fale.

Fales (pronounced “far-lays”) are a dominant part of Samoan culture. They have no walls, just a roof, held up by sturdy poles, and a floor.

Travelling around Samoa, we saw village fales used for some classrooms, community gatherings, church groups, housing, shelter for washing and even over graves.

Some fale resorts offer accommodation with ensuites, others have communal facilities.

Some have beds, others provide a mattress on the floor, with sheets and pillows (bring a towel). All have mosquito nets which only add to the feeling of adventure. But it is so much fun and pretty cheap with dinner and breakfast often included in the charge.

Wake up each morning, stumble a metre, plunge into the warm Pacific and watch the sun rise. Swim a metre or two in crystal clear water and you’re over the reef - perfect for snorkelling - which shelters the islands from the Pacific.

The postcard-perfect islands of Samoa are a five-hour flight northeast from Sydney with Virgin Samoa.

The archipelago, consisting of 10 islands, has a definite still-waiting-to-be-discovered feel of a destination which hasn’t quite fallen to the tourist hordes.

Our tour started with a dip at the scenic Togitogiga waterfalls, and ended with a leap from a jetty at the Sinalei Reef Resort where a fresh water spring gushes into the Pacific.

On Savaii we had the chance to swim with turtles, cool off in a village sea pool, splash about in Afu Aau waterfalls and body surf on white sand beaches.

Samoa has been the location for three series of US reality show Survivor.

* The developing nation of Samoa has a can-do attitude.
* Samoa made world headlines at the end of 2011 when it moved the international dateline permanently moving clocks 60 minutes forward so it is now a friendly few hours ahead of * Sydney, rather than being almost a day behind us.
* In 2009 the nation changed traffic conditions overnight, moving from driving on the right side of the road to the left, like Pacific neighbours Australia and New Zealand.
* The power supply is the same as in Sydney, no need for an adaptor, just plug in your iPad, smartphone and digital camera chargers.
* An Australian dollar buys about 2.4 tala, making it a trip worth considering by the budget conscious. A stubby of the most agreeable local beer, Vailima, costs 6 tala.

Source: Northern District Times

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