Samoa: Stevenson’s tropical paradise

By | Category: Travel destinations

Around the start of the year, Samoa hit worldwide headlines because they decided to lose a day and move their time zone. That was probably main people’s first introduction to the country. Interest in it grew, not least because many wondered why they would do it?
If it was for attracting visitors, then it certainly encouraged interest so what is there for the visitor?
Samoa (used to be called Western Samoa until about fifteen years ago) is a group of ten main islands the central Pacific Ocean. Its capital, Apia, is a busy destination for cruise ships either out of Australia and New Zealand, South East Asia or the USA. The two main islands are Savaii and Upolu and it is on Upulu that Apia is to be found. Here there are international air links to Australia, New Zealand, USA and other Pacific nations so you will have to connect from one of those countries to get there.
Traditionally the twin appeals for tourists have been the Polynesian culture, and the beach culture that those images from TV shows and films of lush forests, tropical beaches and endless sunshine with friendly, sarong-clad people show. It’s not far wrong in the case of Samoa.
The temperature hardly varies in Samoa remaining at about 30 degrees all year round. Avoid the rainy season and you are virtually guaranteed hot weather to explore the coral, the seas, the beaches and the sands.
For Britons, one attraction is that it was on Samoa that Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Kidnapped, Treasure Island and the man who created Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde lived. He spent the last few years of his life here in the house he built, Villa Vailima, and is buried on Mount Vaea overlooking Apia. Today, his house has been restored and some of his belongings are still to be seen such as the hammock he used to lounge in on the veranda. The walk up to his grave will also give a fantastic view of the island and if you became hot walking up the steep hill, dive into the pond nearby, the same one Stevenson used.
There are waterfalls to be found on both main islands, some have charges to visit them others do not. Visitors are catered for in some with the provision of toilets and changing rooms so you can jump in the pools at the foot of the falls. And many of these are found in national parks where walks have been created to see the wildlife and the plants and trees.
The country is largely volcanic in origin so there are extinct craters you can visit, (at Lalomanu there is a colony of flying foxes that you might see) caves to explore and lava tubes where the locals used to shelter. Don’t miss, I’m told by my sister, Tia Seu on Savaii. This pyramid structure is one of the most ancient in the Pacific yet it is probably less than 800 years old. What was it used for? The jury is still out but it gives good views of the island.
It is one of those countries that can be seen in that once-in-a-lifetime holiday. You can soak up the sun or be as active as you want secure in the fact that you’ll get sunshine, a great welcome and remember it for ever.

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image courtesy of Samoa Tourism Authority

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