Allyson McGinnis, a Goway Islands Expert, returned from a FAM trip to Samoa sponsored by Samoa Tourism and Fiji Airways. Allyson had the opportunity to visit a variety of resorts on the Islands of Upolu & Savaii. Here, Allyson will shares some of her memorable experiences, tips and reasons why you should recommend Samoa as a great destination with lots of history and culture along with untouched beauty located in the South Pacific.
Where is Samoa and how does one get there?
Located, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, Samoa mainly consists of the two large islands, Upolu and Savai’I, which account for 99% of the total land area. Additionally, Samoa is home to eight small uninhabited islets, which offer the perfect getaway for nature and wildlife lovers.
The international airport is Apia, and is about 3 hours by plane from Fiji and 6 hours from Hawaii. To get to Samoa, most North Americans will fly with Fiji Airways from Los Angeles to Apia, via Nadi, which operates 4 days a week, or fly via Hawaii direct to Apia once a week.
What did you see and do in Samoa?
I was fortunate to travel around both Upolu and Savaii during my stay. While exploring the island of Savaii, I went to the Afu A’au Waterfalls and went swimming the crystal clear water surrounded by trees. It was very remote and scenic and I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere! I also visited the Alofa aga Blow holes which propel a roaring jet of water hundreds of feet up into the air. It’s a picturesque moment to watch, especially when the locals put coconuts over the blow holes to shoot up in the air!
On the Island of Upolu I went to the iconic To Sua Trench, a giant swimming hole and unique land formation: the trench consists of two giant holes join by ancient lava tube caves. We also did some touring around the island going through the local villages, stopping at Laloman Beach. This postcard-worthy beach has fales (traditional thatched bungalows) lined up along the beach with golden sand and bath-water temperatures in the sea. I also had the privilege of witnessing a few traditional Polynesian “Fiafia” shows with some amazing fire dancers.
Any favorite accommodations?
Two of my favorite accommodations were Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa and Sea Breeze Resort.
Saletoga Sands Resort offers luxury and comfort with the natural beauty the island of Upolu has to offer. With its white sand beaches and breathtaking blue water it is truly a tropical retreat. This property is a great option for both families as well as couples looking for a romantic getaway with its Oceanview and Beachfront villas and Maitai Suites. The resort is located an hour from the international airport on the southeast Coast of Upolu and just minutes from some of Samoa’ best attractions.
Sea Breeze Resort is an intimate property with a focus on the outdoors. Relax, unwind and reconnect in this tropical oasis. Explore the culture and soft adventure Sea Breeze has to offer. I found the food to be outstanding here, making it a great option for foodies. Thinking of a destination wedding, Sea Breeze can accommodate with great seasonal specials.
Since you’re an islands expert, how does Samoa compare to other South Pacific islands like Fiji, Tahiti, and Cook Islands?
Samoa is an island that has an untouched rugged appeal with South Pacific charm. The islands have a diverse landscape which means it is easy to get around and explore by car, moped or a private driver. It’s a smaller destination and feel then Fiji, or Tahiti (with various islands to explore) however more diverse but still offering the simplicity of the Cook Islands. Samoa offers a great local experience as the hotels and resorts are located right in the villages giving you the opportunity to immerse yourselves with the locals. Samoa is still growing and developing and is truly a piece of untouched paradise!
What tips can you recommend for travel agents in recommending this destination?
If you have clients looking for something different and untouched, Samoa is a great option for them as it will provide them opportunity to experience the true culture of the people which hasn’t been exposed to ‘mass tourism’ one might find in other destinations.
Samoa is a hot and tropical destination with the average temperature at 29 degrees Celsius/ 84 Fahrenheit, I would recommend the southeast side as it gets cool breezy nights. The south side of the island also typically has the most sunshine! So even in wet season (November to April) there will be lots of sunshine with short rain showers here and there.
What was your favourite experience in Samoa?
One of my favorite experiences in Samoa was the To Sua Trench – It’s in the village of Lotofaga on the South Coast. This 30-metre deep crater is filled with sea water and to reach its clear waters you must scramble down a long step ladder. An underwater tunnel (lava tube) offers a great diving experience at low tide. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a great place to relax in a fala or walk down and around the rocks watching the waves crash.
Please feel free to contact me for any questions or assistance you may need to help create the perfect vacation package for your clients.
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