Travel to Samoa
Samoa is a postcard of natural beauty consisting of 10 islands, each offering very distinct and different environments to explore. From the rainforest covered volcanic mountain peaks of the two main islands to the vast valleys leading to a coastline by with a necklace of white sandy beaches.
Cascading waterfalls drop into rivers that cut jagged lines through valley floors making their way to the ocean. The coastline is a wonder in itself, with sparkling white sand beaches in some places stretching for miles and walls of sheer cliffs that drop straight into the Pacific. Beyond the beaches out into the blue lagoons, lie the remaining islands that make up the Samoa archipelago. Some are inhabited, others with only natures wildlife, protected by the fringing coral reef that keep the powerful force of the Pacific Ocean at bay.
Amongst all this natural beauty and picturesque valleys and coastline you will find nu’u or villages with their churches, meeting houses and open fale or homes encircling the malae or village green. Home to people proud of their strong Fa’a Samoa - cultural heritage, that live alongside these natural wonders.
For it’s the people, culture and nature that give life to these islands.
Fa’a Samoa (The Samoan Way) has three key elements to it – the matai (chiefs), aiga (the extended family) and the church.
Matai are the heads of the extended family unit and their role is very complex covering family, civic and political duties in the village.
There are 362 nu’u or villages found throughout the islands with a total of 18,000 matai.
The aiga or extended family is made up of parents, brothers and sisters, children, grandparents, cousins, nephews and nieces living together within the village. When family members marry partners in other villages, the in-laws too become part of the extended family unit and in times of happiness or sadness all come together to pitch in. It is ones duty as a Samoan to be of service to our aiga for life.
Christianity has been one of the few western influences that has been accepted into Fa’a Samoa.
John Williams from the London Missionary Society arrived in Savaii in 1830 with eight Tahitian and Rarotongan teachers to spread the word. Today the motto on Samoa’s crest reads, Fa’avae I Le Atua Samoa – Samoa is founded on God, and found in every village are churches of various denominations. Samoans are devote Christians and Sunday is a day of worship and spending time with family and no physical work is done.
Fa’a Samoa culture has a strong focus on welcoming visitors, however it is important that visitors follow protocol when entering villages and family homes as well as using and accessing village resources.
The official languages of Samoa are Samoan and English.
Samoans, along with Tongans and Fijians, were the superpowers of the Pacific before the arrival of the Europeans. These connections amongst the three nations remain strong, today, through each nation’s royal lines.
European whalers and traders started to arrive in the area during the late 1700’s. By far the most important agents of change in Samoa were the western missionaries, converting the people from belief in gods for the sun, earth, heavens and sea to the one God.
In 1899 after years of civil war, the islands of the Samoan archipelago were divided – the Germans taking the islands to the west and the Americans taking the islands to the east, now known as American Samoa.
After the outbreak of World War I, New Zealand captured Western Samoa from the small German company stationed on the islands and following the end of the war took administrative control on behalf of the United Nations from 1918 until independence on January 1, 1962. Western Samoa became the first Pacific nation to gain independence.
From 1962 to 1997, the nation was known as Western Samoa, until it dropped the title ‘Western’ from its name to become the Independent State of Samoa.
The Samoa decimal currency is the Tala (T).
Samoa’s climate is tropical all year round, with two distinct seasons – the dry season running from May to October and the wet season from November to April. Average daily temperature is 84 degrees Fahrenheit and ocean temperature in the in the upper 60s.
No vaccinations are required to enter Samoa unless you are arriving from, or transiting through, an area infected with yellow fever within six days. It is still recommend that you consult a travel doctor prior to arriving in Samoa to discuss your health needs.
Visitors to Samoa are not required to obtain an entry permit for stays of less than 60 days, however you must have a return or onward ticket and your passport must be valid for six months of more at the time of entry into the country.
Tipping & Porterage
Tipping is not practiced or expected in Samoa. However, if a guest wishes to leave a gift for good service then you are welcome to do so directly with the employee or the hotel reception.
Major credit cards are widely accepted in the major hotels, restaurants and stores. Travelers’ checks are also widely accepted at major banks and hotels.
The Tali is divided into 100 Sene
Coins: 10s, 20s, 50s, 1T, 2T
Notes: 2T, 5T, 10T, 20T, 50T, 100T
Voltage is 220AC/50 cycle. If you are traveling from a part of the world where your appliances are 110v you will need a voltage transformer and a plug convertor.
The water in Samoa is generally safe to drink, although it is recommend that travelers purchase bottled water, which is widely available. Ice used at most eating spots, nightclubs and bars is generally prepared from treated water, and is therefore usually safe to drink - but if in doubt, ask your waiter first.
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