American and Western Samoa are a series of Polynesian islands. American Samoa, a US territory since 1900, has six islands. Western Samoa, known as the Independent State of Samoa, has two main islands and many smaller ones. It became independent in 1961. The islands have been inhabited for at least 2400 years.
Each island has distinct environments to explore. Rainforest covers the rugged volcanic peaks, vast valleys lead to coastlines ringed with white sandy beaches, cascading waterfalls drop into rivers and there is glorious tropical vegetation.
Amongst all the natural beauty are nu'u or villages with white churches, meeting houses and open fale, or homes, encircling the malae or village green. Traditional Samoan dwellings don't offer much in the way of privacy there are no walls but there are blinds. They are usually built on a stone platform which is covered with mats.
In the blue lagoons beyond the beaches are the islands making up the Samoa archipelago, some inhabited, others with only nature's wildlife, protected by the fringing coral reefs keeping the powerful force of the Pacific Ocean at bay.
Savai'i is one of Polynesia's biggest islands and remains virtually untouched. It is wild and beautiful. A good way to explore it is by car but you need to be brave and confident to get behind the wheel in Samoa. Once you've mastered the art of driving here, you need to watch out for pigs, dogs and chickens, not to mention pedestrians and other vehicles.
If this hasn't put you off renting a car while you're visiting Savai'i, driving around the island will be a beautifully rewarding experience. Most of Savai'i's population lives in villages along the unspoilt coastline. You will see small fales along the way where women meet and weave mats for sale.
Le Lagoto Resort is on a beautiful beach at Fagamalo village and has just four well-equipped fales with hot water, shower, toilet, fans and kitchen and a beach house with two apartments. There is even a pool the only one on the island if you don't fancy getting sand between your toes! It has an excellent seafront restaurant and is well worth a stop on your drive.
Le Lagoto is Samoan for ''sunset'' and it lives up to its name. Nothing like an evening cocktail as the sun disappears for the day.
Falealupo Rainforest Reserve is considered sacred by villagers. The 1200-hectare lowland rainforest on the northern side of the peninsula became a conservation area in 1989. The natural beauty of the area hides the dark significance the peninsula holds for Samoans, who believe the gateway to the underworld of the spirits is found there.
The prime attraction is the Canopy Walkway on Falealupo Road. There you can scale a stately 225-year-old banyan tree and even sleep.
The walkway is a 24-metre swing bridge hoisted nine metres above the rainforest floor and a 20-metre stairway ending in the upper reaches of the banyan tree. The treehouse is actually a platform with no roof, but it has magnificent views and is a magical place to spend the night. It sleeps up to six with mattresses and mosquito nets provided. Breakfast and dinner are included and served at ground level. Keep in mind it's a long climb down to the toilet, so watch your fluid intake!
As you travel south you see lots of evidence of the island's volcanic history and the powerful Alofaaga Blowholes are quite surreal. Best seen at high tide, preferably when a storm is whipping up the ocean, watch as locals toss a coconut into the blowhole at just the right moment and see it fly 60 metres into the air.
For something more peaceful, Afu Aau Falls on the Letolo Plantation is a beautiful highlight. The jungle waterfall plunges into the crystal-clear water of a three-metre pool, a perfect escape on a hot day.
Siufaga is the most up-market resort on Savai'i. It is on a breathtaking blue lagoon with white sandy beach and overlooks lush gardens. Rooms are large with sitting area and have an outdoor but private Polynesian coral shower.
The owners are Italian and Samoan and the food is excellent. Fresh fish, lobster, sashimi, pizza, pasta, fresh salads and tropical fruits are winners.
Savai'i, two hours by boat from Apia
Le Lagoto accommodation is around $220 a night. Reservations can be made through a travel agent or direct with the property.
Falealupo Rainforest entry is around $10 per person and a night in the banyan tree is around $35 per person. Breakfast and dinner are included. The entry fee also covers the Rock House and Moso's Footprint and is payable at the kiosk next to the school.
Siufaga accommodation starts at around $110 a night. Book direct with the property.
Funway Rentals vehicles start at around $60 a day.
Polynesian Blue has flights to Apia.
- Sydney $449
- Melbourne, Brisbane Adelaide $489
- Perth $539
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one-way on the Net. An extra $15 will be charged for phone bookings. A credit card surcharge of an additional $2 per person per one-way flight is applicable. Fares are correct at April 10, 2008, and are subject to change.
Prices correct at 10.04.2008
For further information:
Le Lagoto Resort
Ph: 00685 58 189
Fax: 00685 58 249
The Canopy Walkway
Siufaga Beach Resort
PO Box 8002,
Ph: 685 53518
Fax: 685 53535
Main Coastal Road
Ph: 685 22045
Fax: 685 25008
Samoa Tourism Authority
PO Box 2272
Ph: 685 63500
Fax: 685 20886
Samoa Tourism Authority Office Australia
PO Box 611
Ph/Fax: (02) 4627 5926
Ph: 13 6789
: It is recommended travellers to Samoa see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended and are best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit www.welltogo.com.au
Check out our new celebrity Getaway blog