Published on March 25th, 2016 | by adventuremag
Samoa is about 4 hours from New Zealand by plane making it one of our closest neighbours. Its population is around 185,000 but many more Samoans live outside the country, particularly in New Zealand, Australia and California.
The islands have narrow coastal plains with volcanic, rocky, rugged mountains in the interior. The two main islands are Upolu and Savaii. The capital, Apia, and the international airport are on Upolu.
Like many of the South Pacific islands the main islands are the result of countless volcanic eruptions, leaving easily visible volcanic cones all over both islands. None of the volcanoes are currently active, but small earthquakes often rock the island.
The last volcanic eruption was in 1911, on Savaii. The eerie, lifeless lava fields that remain from this event can be visited easily, since the only sealed road on Savai’i goes right through the middle.
Both islands are almost entirely covered by lush vegetation, although almost none of it is the original rainforest that covered the island before humans arrived. Most of the land area is given over to farms or semi-cultivated forest, providing food and cash crops for the locals.
Samoans originally arrived from Southeast Asia around 1500-1000 BC. The oldest known site of human occupation dates back to that time and is at Mulifanua on Upolu Island.
In 1830 missionaries from the London Missionary Society, notably John Williams, arrived and Samoa rapidly embraced Christianity. More recently, Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints) have constructed several sizeable churches.
An important arrival was Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish author, who travelled to the South Pacific for his health and settled in Samoa in the early 1890s. His house at Vailima in Upolu and his grave on the hill above it can be visited.
Blowholes. Savaii has some spectacular blowholes caused by the sea forcing water up through tubes in volcanic rocks.
National Parks. There are several national parks in both Upolu and Savaii. These offer tropical vegetation, numerous birds and some interesting lakes. Falealupo Rainforest Preserve on Savaii has a short canopy walkway and you can sleep in the trees. Lake Lanoto’o National Park on Upolu has a fascinating lake where introduced goldfish thrive and grow to amazing sizes.
Museums. Samoa was home to the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson for the last five years of his life. His home, just outside Apia, is now a museum. The Museum of Samoa in Apia is also well worth a visit.
Surfing Samoa has a host of waves with a variety of set ups to choose from and quality can get world class if the conditions are right. The many reef passes dotting the Samoan coastline present opportunities to those that dare explore the region looking for waves.
Diving. Scuba diving is a relatively new activity in Samoa. Both Upolu and Savai’i have great dive spots with around 900 fish species and 200 types of coral. There are dive companies operating on both islands.
Fishing. Samoa is a popular fishing destination. Fish in the local waters include blue and black marlin, sailfish, yellowfin, and the giant trevally. Most charter companies operate out of Apia harbour.
Kilikiti. This is the local version of cricket and is very popular in Samoan villages among both men and women. The principle of the game is the same as cricket but the rules vary considerably and there seems to be considerable flexibility in their interpretation. The most obvious differences are the bat and the fact that balls are bowled from each end alternately rather than employing the six-ball overs of cricket. Kilikiti is played on concrete pitches on village greens, and is accompanied by lots of noise and considerable enthusiasm.