If you have ever watched rugby, the WWE or caught a glimpse of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, you may have noticed these captivating black patterns adorning their bodies.
Some will call these tribal tattoos but they are in fact Polynesian tattoos. And when it comes to Polynesian tatttos, the Samoan “tatau” is one of the most sought after.
So you’ve booked your flights to Samoa, chosen accommodation and rented a vehicle? Now, all that remains is to decide what to see in Samoa – and what to save for next time. But there’s so much to see – where to start? Here’s a list of 10 awesome things to do in Samoa to set you off on your tropical island experience. Once you get going, you’ll probably find another 10 to do along the way!
1. Fiafia night
Super popular with visitors, most resorts and hotels have their own weekly fiafia nights, as do tours and cultural centres. This is a great way to experience Samoa’s colourful, ancient culture through traditional dances – including the not-to-be-missed fire knife dance – and delicious umu-cooked food.Check out a fiafia night near you…
It seems obvious, but a must-do tropical island experience has got to be seeing the vivid fish and corals within the reefs. Some of the most recommended snorkelling spots are Lalomanu Beach, Matereva Beach, the Aleipata coastline, and Falealupo on Savai’i. Are you short on time? Don’t miss out, just take a quick dip of the coastline of Samoa’s capital Apia, in the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve (only at high tide). What other capital city in the world has a coral reef right on its doorstep?
3. Saleaula Lava Fields
Have you ever seen a church that’s had lava flow straight through it? Visit Savai’i’s Saleaula Lava Fields and that’s exactly what you’ll see. The lava fields were formed when Mt Matavanu erupted between 1905 to 1911, destroying five entire villages but killing no one. The skeletal remains of the church remains, a sea of volcanic rock mounted up inside and out showing exactly where the lava flowed past, and through. The lava fields also has the mysterious “virgin’s grave” and interesting imprints of trees and other formations.
4. Alofaaga Blowholes
These spectacular blowholes, formed in the rocky coastline of Taga, Savai’i, force seawater many metres high into the air. As if that’s not dramatic enough, locals often throw coconuts into the blowholes to watch them shoot out as well.
5. Waterfall crawl
Technically more than one attraction, taking a day (or two) to do a tour of Samoa’s waterfalls is a day well spent. Because of its mountainous landscape, Samoa has plenty of waterfalls, particularly along the south coasts of Upolu and Savai’i islands, and they’re all amazing in different ways. From rock slides to 100m cascades, you’ll be impressed each and every time. If you just get to one waterfall, Fuipisia at the eastern end of Upolu is seriously impressive to see. Or if you LOVE wet adventures, head to the Falease’ela River Walk for an exhilarating river trek in the Samoan wilderness, complete with countless waterfall jumps that get bigger the further you go – an unmissable wilderness adventure where you’re guaranteed to get wet!
6. Head to the Markets
There are a few more local experiences than visiting the food and craft markets. The fish market, in particular, is worth a look, whether you’re buying fish, octopus, sea cucumber gizzards, or nothing at all. Early on Sunday morning is the most popular time at the market as Samoans turn out in force to prepare for their weekly post-church feast. The Fugalei fresh produce market is the place to shop like a local, score some delicious fruit for your lunch or enjoy a traditional market snack. You can’t go past the Savalalo Flea Market for souvenirs and gifts to take home. The market is an explosion of colour, with beautiful handcrafted goods at affordable prices.
7. Swim with turtles
If you haven’t been lucky enough to spot a turtle while out snorkelling, then don’t worry – there are tours that can take you swimming with turtles who frequent Samoa’s lagoons.
8. To-Sua Ocean Trench
You may have seen To-Sua Ocean Trench once or twice on social media, and for good reason. This azure-blue hole in the sea, accessible by a steep ladder that leads to a wooden platform, is as stunning in real life as it appears on screen. The hole is actually two holes that are joined by an ancient lava tube cave.
9. Ride a local bus
Yes you read that right – one of our top 10 tips is to ride a Samoan bus. Why? When you see one of the colourful vehicles for the first time, you’ll know exactly why. Catching one may be a bit tricky if you’re on a schedule because the buses are certainly not. It’s not unheard of for buses to stop at supermarkets and wait while locals do their shop. If you do manage to spot one passing by, simply wave it down and sit down if you can. If all the seats are taken, don’t be taken aback if someone invites you to sit on their lap for the journey, because that’s just what Samoans on a bus do. And most buses have booming music, to add to the experience.
10. Listen to a local church choir
Whatever your religious beliefs, listening to the enchanting sounds of a Samoan church choir is bound to impress, if not inspire. Samoa is a Christian country, and most people faithfully attend Sunday services. Visitors are welcome to join church services, or perhaps you will be lucky enough to encounter the choir singing at a religious event on a different day of the week, or practising in one of the many churches.