It's not difficult to convince Catriona Rowntree to visit a Pacific Island. This time her mission was to visit the Independent State of Samoa in the South Pacific. It covers the western part of the Samoan Islands archipelago and Savai'i and Upolu are the two large islands.
Manono is a small, sheltered island lying between the two large islands. It has just four fishing villages with traditional fale homes and is reached by boat. Locals are happy to mix with visitors and show them their way of life planting, weaving, fishing and relaxing.
There are no cars, dogs or even bicycles it's all about a quiet and simple lifestyle. Visitors unwind with lapping waves, millions of stars and wandering along the coast path. It takes about two hours to walk the length of the island and along the way are several palm-fringed beaches with good snorkelling.
An inland trail leads to interesting archaeological sites including an ancient star mound on top of Mt Tulimanuiva, the little island's highest point at 110m.
Vaotuua Beach Fales
The over-water fales
sit on a small secluded beach facing Upolu. They are elegant and have private verandahs, mosquito netting and steps leading into the turquoise lagoon. At high tide, you can hear the waves gently splashing beneath you. The lagoon provides wonderful swimming and views are stunning.
Each of the traditional Samoan dwellings is finely crafted. They are built on a stone platform or have timber floors and no fixed walls blinds are let down for privacy.
Fale Tele are round with a thatched, vaulted roof, open sides and floors of laid pebbles. Fale Afolau is similar but oblong in shape. Fale Oo is a small living house and Fale Umu is the cooking house.
All meals are provided and your hosts use fresh food and fruit from their large tropical garden. Staying there is like being in a traditional Samoan home, and if you wish, you can chip in and give Tauvela a hand with the cooking but that's not compulsory.
If it's relaxation you are wanting, this is the place. Not a lot happens and on Sundays very little is permitted except for attending church, after which everyone enjoys a large lunch cooked under hot, volcanic rocks. Prayers are said before each meal, and you shouldn't leave the table until you have finished all your food.
After a snooze you may like to join in a game if kirikiti, the local version of cricket.
Manono Island, 20 minutes from Samoa's main island, Upolu.
Vaotuua Beach Fales on cost $45 per person a night. Breakfast, dinner and boat transfers are included.
Pacific Blue, international airline of Virgin Blue has flights to Samoa.
One-way fares from
- Sydney and Brisbane $429
- Melbourne $469
- Adelaide and Canberra $479
- Perth $529
There are limited seats which may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares quoted are one-way booked on the Internet. 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 June 11, 2009 and are subject to change.
Prices correct at June 11, 2009.
For further information
Ph: 136 789
Vaotuua Beach Fales
Ph: +685 46077
Samoa Tourism Authority
PO Box 2272
Ph: +685 63500
Fax: +685 20886
Samoa Tourism Authority Office
PO Box 611
Ph/fax: (02) 4627 5926
Visas: Tourist visas of 60 days are granted on arrival to all visitors except Chinese nationals who must obtain a visa beforehand. A passport valid for at least six months and an onward ticket are required.
Electricity: 240V using Australian-style plugs.
Time zone: GMT -11.
Currency: Samoan tala.
International dialling code: +685.
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 or www.smartraveller.gov.au.