Bad things always come in threes
As mentioned in our previous post, our holiday did not have the best start. And unfortunately, bad things always come in threes. On the night of our arrival, we were so exhausted, that we forgot, that starting from the next morning, the country will be on a lock-down.
Our first morning is Samoa started with hunger. The country was on a lock-down and all the shops and cafés were closed. Nobody (except some public sector services) were allowed to drive and even taxi and bus service was banned.
Our holiday felt more like being in a quarantine. After a bit of research we discovered that our accommodation is only 900 meters from Sheraton Resort. We decided to take our chances and walk to the resort. Should someone stop us, we would just say that we don’t know anything about the lock-down law.
Looks like apocalypse
Our 9 minute walk went without any disruptions. The only other sign of human life was a passing van with Australian Government logo on the side. The streets were empty of people and even street dogs and cats were no were to see. It was like apocalyptic playground.
We got to the Sheraton around 10:30 am and just missed the breakfast buffet. Luckily they had a little lounge area to buy sandwiches and cakes as well as the “Nectar of the Gods” coffee 😛
After breakfast we decided that, because our first walk went without any hustle and we both love playing poker, we will try our luck again by taking another walk to a nearby Palolo Deep Marine Reserve and check out whether it’s opened. I mean, we knew that the country was on a lock down but maybe, just maybe this place is opened. Besides, what else were we suppose to do? Sit in our accommodation and wait for everything to open at 6pm? Estralians always Carpe Diem and go head first into all the challenges along the way, where’s the fun without it 🙂
As we were approaching the marine reserve, we saw a red flag waving. It was mandatory for everyone in Samoa, who hasn’t vaccinated within the last 3 months, to put out a red flag. This way the medical staff knew where to stop and where not, instead of knocking on every door in the country.
Anyway, once we saw the flag we assumed that it’s closed. Despite that, we still decided to enter and see if anyone is around. (Our vaccination was on point). To our surprise the place was fully operating and there were couple of more tourists already in the water.
This marine reserve is a great snorkeling, swimming and chilling spot in Apia.
They have basic toilets, showers, changing rooms as well as snorkel gear for hire. Plan your snorkel trip for high tide as you don’t want to damage coral and scar yourself. At the time of our visit the entry fee was 5 WST and it was well worth it.
On that evening, our host invited us to join a yoga class that she was holding in Taumeasina Resort. We both had some previous experience with yoga and thought to give it a go. The yoga session took place in an amazing modern Samoan fale just a few steps from the ocean.
The scenery and sea breeze while stretching and bending was breath taking. Quite literally, Simon nearly passed out 😀 . Rachel, the yoga teacher is very knowledgeable and will help you to push to new limits. It was an amazing experience and something we encourage everyone to try and incrorporate into their daily routine.
3.Enjoy “Siva Afi” aka “Fire Show”
Once we got back from the yoga class it was already past 8 PM (the lockdown hours were Thursday and Friday from 6 AM – 6 PM). As there was no lock-down, we decided to use the rest of the day to experience the famous fiafia night. Our host informed us that every Thursday, Le Manumea Hotel in Apia has a show. Even better, she added that their shows are one of the best ones in Samoa.
As it was already past 8pm (the show starts at 8pm) we quickly changed out from our yoga clothes into our evening wear and took a taxi to Le Manumea. Although we arrived late, we were there just on time for the show. Everything in Samoa and other polynesian islands are in “island time”, which basically means that it’s never on time.
The show was approximately 1 hour-long and consisted of traditional dances, demonstrations and other entertainment. According to the showman several dancers who performed that night were champions for Siva Afi.
Day two of lock-down in Samoa
For our second day in Samoa we planned to discover Apia on foot until the end of lockdown and then after 6pm try to rent a car. That unfortunately did not work out as the weather had its own plans and it was raining all day. When it rains on a tropical island, then it pours. I mean it was raining cats and dogs.
While chilling at our accommodation we noticed a white Toyota Hilux, driving to the property. Because we knew that basically nobody was allowed to drive we assumed that this is one of the cars, carrying a nurse, and arrived to give everyone their vaccination shot. Few minutes later our assumptions got backed up. It was interesting to see how the “operation vaccination” occurred. The people who needed vaccination got their shots straight out of the vehicles. Nobody had time to come in. It all happened on the street out of a van.
Anyway, fast forward 3 hours, it was 6pm and the 2 day lock-down was over. We rushed into Samoana car rentals and organised ourself a car. The process of renting a car in Samoa is easy. You tell them what is your budget and how long you want the car for and they then present their options. You then pay what ever the amount plus 20 WST for Samoan temporary driving licence and off you go.
Once we had the set of wheels we visited a drive-through fruit and vege market to get some coconuts. After the markets we drove to the top of a mountain to get a better view of the island. Now, unfortunately the weather was still pretty sticky and the view wasn’t as good as we would have hoped. That said, we still recommend to try to visit at least one of the mountain tops on the island.
The next morning we woke up bright and early. The plan was to drive down to south-east coast and spend few days in a traditional beach fale as well as discover some amazing places in Samoa.
As we started our drive out from Apia we began seeing some amazing views. The whole drive ( via Richardson Rd) was just mind blowing. We could not put our cameras down as everything seemed picture worthy.
By the afternoon we reached our fist destination – Sopo’aga Falls. It is a gorgeous waterfall, surrounded with rainforest and 180 degree views.
The whole area is well maintained, with picnic tables, fales, toilets as well as an area for umu demonstration. At the time of our visit entre was 10 WST.
Our next stop was – To Sua Ocean Trench. What an amazing place. This swimming hole is 100% one of the most amazing places to swim on our planet. The 30-metres deep ocean trench is surrounded by lush vegetation and tropical garden. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Samoa.
Read more about To Sua Ocen Trench from one of our previous blog post.
After swimming in To Sua Ocean Trench we decided to head to Lalomanu and check-in to our fale. Based on hundreds of reviews we chose to stay in Taufua Beach Fales.
These fales are located in one of the most famous Lalomanu beach and are so cute that it would be hard not to enjoy your stay. We chose an enclosed fale with breakfast and dinner buffet and did not have to disappoint. The fales were right on the beach, the crystal clear water was warm and filled with tropical fishes.
We stayed there over the weekend and thus were lucky to also experience their Saturdays fiafia night and complimentary Sundays umu lunch. It was such a great experience and we made so many friends and memories there.
While staying in Lalomanu we also managed to do Island Hoping. We had done some research and found out that, there is an island called Namua, where you could see huge turtles. We shared our knowledge with some other Taufu fale guest and gathered a group of 6 people to visit the Island.
Namua Island, is about 10 minute drive east from Taufua Beach fales. When driving there, look out for a big sign and a blue shop on the right hand side. A boat ride from the shore to the Island takes around 15 minutes.
Although all the locals say that there is heaps of turtles, most of us didn’t see any on our way there. Despite that, we still had great time on this secluded island. We wondered around, snorkeled a bit and played volleyball with some local guys. Some of us also hiked up to a viewpoint that apperently wasn’t that good. Estralians decided to snorkel instead 🙂
On our way back everyone were bit disappointed that they hadn’t seen any turtles. That said, when one finally appeared, something crazy happened. One of the young local Samoan guys, dived to the water, jumped on top of the turtle and lifted it up for us to see. Say whaaaaaat 😀 😀 Have a look at the video if you don’t belive me 😀
A return trip, plus an open fale for a picnic or some shade will set you back 40 WST pp.
PS: On that night, or actually early morning around 5am when we went to the bathroom we saw a huge turtle laying eggs under one of the fale’s. What a champ. Sry for the bad quality.
8. Discover O’Le Pupu-Pue National Park and Lava Fields
The next morning was time to check out from Taufua Beach fale and continue our trip. We wanted to do the Coastal Walk at O’Le Pupu-Pue National Park and discover Togitogiga falls. Unfortunately, when we woke up it was raining. We thought that instead of waiting for the rain to stop we will go and check out the Baha’i House of Worship.
It was a nice establishment, with lushious and well maintained gardens. They also have services every Sunday for those who want to experience Sunday Church in Samoa.
After visiting the Baha’i House, the rain had stopped and we drove to the National Park. We first did the Coastal Walk witch took us about 50 min return. We walked to the lava fields on the very end and just sat down and enjoyed the waves crushing against the lava fields. Trip worth taking, for anyone in the area.
After taking in all the beauty from the coastal walk we drove to the nearby Togitogiga falls for a refreshing tip.
9. Snorkel in Giant Clam Sanctuary
On our last full day, we woke up in the beautiful Saletoga Sand Resort. Had breakfast, snorkeled a bit and did some last-minute kayaking.
Our main goal on that day was to reach the Giant Clam Sanctuary. A sanctuary filled with clams as big as 1 meter, it is definitely a great spot to visit while in Samoa.
After leaving the Clam Sanctuary, we started driving back to Apia. As we had the rental car for another 4 hours, we decided to take the long way back. The long way, unfortunately meant driving on roads with massive wholes as well as driving through some heavy streams of water.
At one point the road became so bad that the only way through seemed carrying the car over. Luckily we are quite skilled and have pretty good team work, so we managed to come out in one piece. Teamwork makes the dream work!
10. Visit Flea Market
We arrived back to Apia around 4:30 pm and thus missed the opportunity to visit the Flea Market and Fugale Fresh Produce Market. Both of these places were on our things to do in Samoa list but unfortunately by the time we got back to Apia these places were already closing. As these places were already closing we spend our last hours in Samoa just wandered around in Apia.
PS! If you are looking for a great place to eat in Apia, then we strongly recommend to visit Tifaimoana Indian Restaurant. They serve mouth-watering curry over there.
Why did we only visit Upolu
Our original plan was to stay in Samoa for 2 weeks to have enough time to visit both, Upolu and Savai’i. Unfortunately we had to shorten our holiday to just one week and therefore had to settle with either one or the other island. We made our choice based on the things we wanted to do and places we definitely wanted to see. Therefore, we chose Upolu with the amazing To Sua Ocean Trench and Namua island.
Things to know
In most of the waterfalls, beaches and other touristic spots you need to pay a small entry fee (usually WST 5-20 ). To be honest, it’s not that much and it keeps the island clean. (We did not see a single beach or village with a rubbish problem.)
Also Sunday is a Church day in Samoa and most of the places stay closed and streets are empty. In some areas it’s even forbidden to swim.
If you are in Samoa on Sunday we recommend to take this day off from all the sightseeing and instead just relax 😛
Other places to visit in Upolu
- Samoa Cultural Village
- Apia Town Clock Tower
- Immaculate Conseption Cathedral
- Piula Cave Pool
- Fuipisia Waterfall
- Papaseea Sliding Rocks
- Papapapaitai Falls
- Tafatafa Beach
- Salamumu Beach
- Matareva Beach
Click here to see our “Things to do in Samoa (part 1)” video.
Stop postponing your #dreamdestinations, #startpacking and go #discover #Polynesia