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Aerial view of Samoa coast and beach

A Guide to Arriving in Samoa by Sea

The tropical Pacific paradise of Samoa is a popular destination for cruise ships and yachts from around the world.

The Port of Apia lies on the north coast of Samoa’s Upolu Island and is an important gateway for many visitors to Samoa. The Port of Apia is also vital to Samoa’s economy with many of the nation’s supplies and prized exports entering and leaving the port every single day.

 

Cruise ship passengers – arrival and things to do

All cruise ships will dock at the main entry port in Apia Harbor, Upolu, which is conveniently located for easy access into central Apia. It takes roughly 5-minutes to reach the city centre by taxi, or alternatively, you can walk into central Apia in around 20 minutes. You could spend hours in Apia exploring the many shops selling local crafts, traditional food markets, churches, museums, and enjoying the high-quality restaurants Apia is known for. 

Disembarking in the capital of Apia also gives you the chance to get more out of your time in Samoa by arranging one of the many shore excursions and tours departing the city every day. Upolu is home to tropical rainforests, beautiful waterfalls, coral reefs, and white sandy beaches – all of which are within easy reach of Apia and make for some exciting half and full-day trips and activities. 

While you might be able to organise your shore excursions on board your ship before you arrive, you can also book tours at the Samoa Tourism Authority Information Fale on Beach Road in Apia adjacent to the harbour. 

Arranging an organised tour will give you the benefit of a friendly local guide who will share their knowledge to make your experience extra-special, but there are also bike and vehicle hire providers in Apia should you wish to explore the sights independently.   

 

Sailing to Samoa

With the ability to reach some of the most remote and uninhabited parts of Samoa, freely exploring the islands by yacht is the type of travel experience dreams are made of. But before arriving in Samoa and starting your adventure, it’s important to note that Samoa’s only official port of entry for international yachts is the capital city Apia on Upolu island.

The Apia Marina has 60 floating berths designed for yachts and motorboats from 20ft upwards, with a small fee for daily anchorage. All berths have 24-hour security, fresh water, and electricity. The marina is located very close to the town centre and Samoa’s government buildings, making it a very convenient base for dealing with official entry requirements and exploring the rest of Samoa.

Entering the ferry terminal ports of Mulifanua and Salelologa is only allowed with special permission from the Ministry of Transport.

 

Pre- and post-arrival customs checks and preparations 

Before your arrival into Apia, make sure you contact the Samoa Port Authority with at least two days’ notice to arrange your immigration, customs, health, and quarantine clearance when you enter Apia Harbor. All visitors on board your vessel must have a passport which is valid for at least 6 months beyond their intended stay. 

Visiting yachts must also complete a Master’s Declaration Form at least 24 hours before arrival where you’ll be asked to declare any restricted or prohibited biosecurity risk items including food, plants and animal products. 

You can arrange clearances by emailing portmaster@spasamoa.ws or spa@spasamoa.ws. One or two hours before entering the harbour, you should also contact the Apia Harbour Master on VHF Ch 16.   

On weekends, clearance hours are normally only between 3pm and 5pm, and no clearance takes place in the evenings. There are also no fees for clearing into Samoa. You should keep in mind that if you’re approaching Samoa from American Samoa, you’ll be crossing the international date line meaning you’ll lose one day and could inadvertently arrive in Samoa on a weekend or public holiday.

 

You may be required to visit the Immigration office in Apia with your passport. Government offices are normally open on weekdays, 9am to 5pm. International visitors’ permits are 60 days (30 days for citizens of American Samoa).

 

Upon leaving Samoa, you’ll need to sail back to Apia to obtain outward clearance from the customs office in central Apia. 

 

 

Anchorage

To anchor anywhere off Samoa, you’ll need to obtain a Cruising Permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Apia. To apply for a permit in advance, you must write to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Secretary for Transport.

For further information, contact the Samoa Port Authority by phone +685 23552 or fax +685 25870.

 

Weather and navigation 

With steady south-east trade winds dominating, Samoa typically experiences calm weather between April and November. Between December and March however, north to westerly winds dominate, bringing Samoa’s hot and wet cyclone season. When sailing around the islands at any time of the year, it’s important to keep in mind that Samoa’s weather can sometimes be hard to predict.

Due to the reefs and limited passages around the islands, navigating around Savai’i and Upolu can be tricky, so you should always research weather and navigation before setting sail around Samoa. 

USEFUL RESOURCES

 

SAMOA PORT AUTHORITY

Tel:+685 64400 Fax:+685 25870 ,VHF Channel 16, 14

Email

Opening hours: Daily, 9am-5pm

 

SAMOA QUARANTINE OFFICE

Tel: +685 20924 Fax: +685 20104 

 

SAMOA IMMIGRATION OFFICE

Tel:+685 20291,+685 20292 or +685 21474 Fax:+685 22243 

Email

Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm Mon-Fri

 

SAMOA CUSTOMS

Email

 

SAMOA MINISTRY OF HEALTH

 

CLEARANCE AGENT

Super Yacht Services (Samoa) Ltd

Tel: +685 20628

Cell +685 757 1234

Fax: +685 26868 

Email

 

WEATHER AND NAVIGATION SITES

Samoan Meteorology Division

Passage Weather

Sea Seek 

Noonsite

Reference Chart: Approaches to Apia

Reference Chart: Apia Harbour