About a year ago AK and I went on a little adventure to Samoa with my family and had the time of our lives. We drank cocktails, swam at beautiful beaches, met wonderful people, hung out with turtles and of course, got engaged. And no, that’s not a stock image above, it’s an actual real place that exists outside dreams and story books.
We arrived at the airport late at night, but were still greeted by a Samoan band, all smiles and floral shirts and beautiful music, welcoming us to their home. We got a bus transfer to our hotel Aggie Greys, which was in Apia – the capital of Samoa. It is the biggest hotel on the island and we had booked in as part of a package deal.
Apia doesn’t actually have sandy beaches though – in fact most of the best beaches are on the south coast so it’s worth renting a car like we did and traveling around at your own pace. We had intended on getting a minivan for the seven of us but there were none available so we were told to simply get a dual cab ute and put two people in the tray. This was hence dubbed ‘tray time’. Tray time was great when you had a beer, but got a bit annoying when it rained.Having the ute meant we were able to pull over at little coves and villages as we pleased and really get a feel for the beautiful place. The first day we were there we went to Black Sand Beach, where that first photo was taken. So many of the must-see sights on the island required a bit of bush-bashing in the ute, but with our fair share of eager drivers, we did not have a problem.
Arriving at the absolutely picturesque beach was when I had that first ‘oh my goodness, we’re in paradise’ moment. The water was freakishly blue, there was no one else in sight and the sun was high in the sky. We were free to swim and snorkel and sunbathe at our leisure and we did that for a good few hours.
But as it had taken a few hours to drive to the south coast, we decided to make the most of it and visit the Sua Ocean Trench – a hidden paradise that has to be seen to be believed. Before leaving for the trip, this was the one thing I had earmarked as a place I needed to visit. Down a rickety ladder was this little water hole that fed out into the ocean and was surrounded by walls and caves.
We met some hilarious local kids at one of the beaches we stopped at to swim, who at first tried to charge us for stopping there, but soon were entranced by my brother’s bodyboard. They were also playing a game of rugby with a plastic bottle as a ball so the boys joined in while my mum and I collected shells and found a starfish.
Cocktails by the pool were a daily occurrence and that fish bowl-sized drink you see there is something AK just had to order – it was called Aggie’s Big Bowl. I actually think it took a couple of these for him to work up the courage to pop the question. Thanks Aggie!
Samoa is made up of two main islands – Upolu, where we stayed and Savaii. We took a day trip on a very bumpy barge to Savaii to check out the lava fields (incredible) and swim with some turtles. At first it was a bit unsettling jumping into a lagoon full of snappy little turtles, especially because they were mighty curious about bright colored swimwear. But as soon as they realized we were armed with chunks of paw paw, we were friends for life. Any holiday that involves close encounters with wildlife is a winner in my books.
Following a couple of hectic days that were go-go-go from start to finish, we spent a more relaxing day in Apia. We booked in for massages, checked out the local markets and went to visit the home of Robert Louis Stevenson. Putting aside the breathtaking scenery, welcoming people and beautiful beaches for a moment, this was the one tourist attraction I desperately needed to see.
Samoa is the final resting place of the Scottish author, who wrote Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and he resided in this beautiful home on 400 acres. He had a strong connection with the local people (even taking on the Samoan name Tusitala, meaning Teller of Tales) and when he died, they carried his body on their shoulders to the top of Mount Vaea, where they buried him on a spot overlooking the sea. The hike to the top of the mountain is well worth the 45 minutes it takes.
There were many delicious meals enjoyed, drinks drunk and stories told on our trip. We finished it all off with an overnight stay in a traditional fale – which is basically a little hut on the beach with tarps that you can pull down for walls and fall asleep listening to waves crashing. It couldn’t have been a better ending to a trip of a lifetime. If you are able to, I would recommend Samoa to everyone as a stunning place to visit, minus all the usual tourist traps and with such a beautiful atmosphere. Take me back!