Samoa is definitely not a let-down. But half way between New Zealand and Hawaii, it is still something of an unknown to most travellers even those with a bit of the South Pacific under their belts.
It's absolutely the quintessential South Pacific paradise, I honestly don't think I've been anywhere prettier. But, even better, it's also a place with a bunch of fascinating, historical quirks.
Pick up the Samoan phone directory and you'll see names like Schuster, Schwenker and Wendt - a legacy of colonisation by Germany in the early 20th century. If you're a literary buff you might know about Robert Louis Stevenson passing the final years of his life here. In 2009, Samoa announced that its cars would no longer drive on the right hand side of the road (another legacy of the Germans), switching instead to the left - a move that was met by protests from bus drivers furious that their doors would now open on the wrong side, a Red Cross blood donation campaign for the inevitable surge in accidents, and a three-day ban on alcohol sales, just in case.
And, if that's not enough pragmatism for you, in 2011, Samoa notified the world that it planned to move the International Date Line so that the islands would no longer lie to the east of the line. So on the night of Thursday, 29 December the line was moved, Friday disappeared altogether and - Hey presto! - all of a sudden it's Saturday, New Years Eve and time to party.
If you ever visit this place, I guarantee you'll wish you could fling the Date Line back to its original position and delay your return to reality by a day.
Now, rather than rambling on with syrupy descriptions of the shadows of fluttering palm fronds on golden sands fringing warm, aquamariney-tourquoise lagoons, and a proud, friendly people whose disarming smiles melt hearts like a ice creams in the sun, it's probably best just to let the pictures below simply wash over you. They'll tell the story much better than I ever could with words.
Oh, and one tip: When in Apia, visit a local tailor and get yourself fitted for a made-to-measure, hand-made floral shirt. A super fun experience. Bright, colourful and a perfect fit.
Just like Samoa.
|Sinalei Reef Resort|
|Working on this season's floral prints|
|Traditional Samoan cricket balls|
|Village kids on their way to school|
|Outdoor shower, Sa'Moana Resort|
|Ocean pool, Sa'Moana Resort|
|Local bus on the morning commute|
|The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Apia|
|Warming down after rugby training, Apia|
|Mighty big garden snails|
|Food stalls and the central market, Apia|
|Well-ventilated public transport|
|Nervous looking coconuts|
|Floating floral arrangements, Sinalei Reef Resort|
|There's incredible surf all around Samoa. This is a busy day.|
|Fresh water spring bubbling up through the reef and mixing with sea water at Sinalei Reef Resort|
|Visiting a local tailor to be fitted for a made-to-measure floral shirt is a must.|