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Pacific Island

About Samoa

Samoa is a postcard of natural beauty consisting of ten islands, each offering very distinct and different environments to explore. From the rainforest covered rugged volcanic mountain peaks of the two main islands to the vast valleys leading down to a coastline ringed with a necklace of white sandy beaches. Within these lush green fertile valleys, grow banyan trees towering above the rainforest canopy which is full of tropical blooms and numerous varieties of vegetation. Cascading waterfalls dropping into rivers that cut jagged lines through the valley floor as they make there way to the ocean. The coastline is a wonder in itself, with sparkling white sand beaches, in some places stretching for miles, and here and there are walls of sheer cliffs that drop straight into the Pacific. And beyond the beaches out into the blue lagoons are scattered the rest of the islands that make up the Samoa archipelago, some inhabited, others with only natures wildlife, protected by the fringing coral reef that keep the powerful force of the Pacific Ocean at bay. And amongst all this natural beauty and picturesque valleys and coastline you will find nu’u or villages with their churches, meeting houses and open fale or homes encircling the malae or village green. Home to people proud of their strong Fa’a Samoa - cultural heritage, that lives along side these natural wonders. For it’s the people, culture and nature that give life to these islands.


The main entry point into Samoa is Falelolo International Airport, 35 kms from Apia on the island of Upolu. Upon arrival currency exchanges are open for all international flight arrivals and departures for converting your currency. Duty free allowances are one litre of spirits and 200 cigarettes per person. Airport shuttles are provided to the major hotels which can be booked prior to arrival or organised when you arrive after clearing Customs. One way fares start from ST$12 per person. Taxis are also available and a ride to Apia will cost you about ST$45 and it’s recommended you confirm the price with the driver before you depart. If your flight is arriving during the day, then you can catch a local bus into Apia from the main gate of the airport. There are no set timetables and the fare will cost you about ST$5 one way.

Entry requirements

Visitors to Samoa are not required to obtain an entry permit for stays of less than 30 days, however you must have a return or onward ticket and your passport must be valid for six months of more at the time of entry into the country. If your visit is for more then 60 days then you must apply for a permit to enter the country from the nearest Samoa Consulate General, High Commission or Embassy to you in New Zealand, Australia, United States of America and Belgium. The following foreign diplomatic offices are represented in Samoa – Australia, Chile, China, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, United States of America and Sweden.


Samoa’ climate is tropical all year round, with two distinct seasons – the dry season running from May to October and the wet season from November to April. Average daily temperature is 29 degrees Celsius and ocean temperature in the in the low 20’s.


The Samoa decimal currency is the Tala (dollar) and Sene (cent): 100 Sene = ST$1 (Tala). All major foreign currencies are exchangeable in Samoa. Samoa Tala can also be purchased outside the country from a few selected banks, however you will need to check with your bank if you can order some before you depart. Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners & JCB) are widely accepted in the major hotels, restaurants and stores. Travellers’ cheques are also widely accepted at major banks and hotels. Eftpos machines are found throughout Upolu and Savaii in major hotels, resorts and supermarkets and accept the following cards – Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Amex, JCB & Plus Cards and Access International Debit Card.

Departure Tax

Departure tax of ST$40 applies to all travellers over the age of 12 years.


Light summer clothing is appropriate all year round and packing a light sweater for the cooler evenings is recommended. As Samoa has a strong cultural structure and Christian faith, tourists are asked not to wear bathing suits in Apia or in villages. Nude and topless (for women) swimming or sunbathing is prohibited and when leaving the beach to venture into the villages, guests are asked to wear a lavalava (sarong) pants or shorts and t-shirt. If attending church on Sunday, women are asked to wear a dress or blouse and skirt and men trousers and shirt


Samoa is a Christian nation and the min denominations are – Congregational, Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Assembly of God, Seven Days Adventist, Bahai, Latter Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witness. Tourists are welcome to attend church and check with your hotel reception for service times.


Tipping is not practiced or expected in Samoa. However, if a guest wishes to leave a gift for good service then you are welcome to do so directly with the employee or the hotel reception


ANZ and Westpac are the two international banks found in Samoa. Both have branches at the international airport, in Apia and at Salelologa on Savaii. ATMs are located in and around Apia and one on the island of Savaii. Travellers can use credit cards in the machines but you are required to have a PIN number to withdraw cash.

Getting Around

To drive in Samoa you need to validate your foreign driver’s license by taking it to the Ministry of Works Transport & Infrastructure in Apia, across the road from the flea market or to the Transport Control Board office in Vaitele near the Vailima factory. Cost for validation is ST$12, and some rental car companies will also assist in getting your license endorsed but the cost can be significantly higher. There are several rental car companies to choose from and you can hire everything from sedans and soft top 4WDs to 12 seater vans if you have a big group. All vehicles are right hand drive, and currently they drive on the right hand side. This is set to change during 2009 Another fun way to explore the islands is to take a map and board a local bus. Buses come in a variety of colour schemes and all the seating is wooden. If the bus is full when you board locals will sit on a persons lap, and the locals will carry their produce on board to the markets. The are no bus stops around the islands, so just wave down a bus if you want to get on, and when you want to get off simply pull the cord to ring the buzzer. You pay your fare as you leave bus. The Samoa Shipping Corporation runs the passenger/vehicle ferry between the mains islands of Upolu and Savaii. The ferry departs from the Mulifanua Wharf on Upolu near the international airport, so if you coming from Apia, allow 45 minutes for the journey. The ferry departs from the Salelologa Wharf on Savaii for the return journey. The trip takes one hour each way and it pays to arrive early at the wharf to purchase your tickets. Check with your hotel for sailing times and one way passenger fares are ST$5 for child 2-12 years and adults ST$9. Vehicle charges (depending on the size of the vehicle) are between ST$50 – ST$100 each way. To get the Manono Island, boats operate from the Manono-uta at the western end of Upolu, just down the road from Mulifanua Wharf. One way fares cost around ST$1 for children and ST$3 for adults one way.

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