The ‘fa’a Samoa’ or traditional Samoan way is a central part of life in this South Pacific country. It means Samoa has maintained many of its customs, political systems and language over the centuries, despite foreign influences. For the traveller, this means a visit to the islands is a rich cultural experience.

The people

A proud yet friendly race, interacting with the locals is one of the highlights of a trip to Samoa. There’s every chance you’ll be invited to join in with music or dancing, taking part in a traditional umu dinner or a game of Samoan cricket.

Traditional dance

The main traditional Samoan dance is the siva — reminiscent of the Hawaiian hula, it is a mesmerising dance with gentle movements and music.


Samoa is chock-full of postcard-perfect beaches, fully laden palm trees swaying dreamily in
the breeze, valleys and hinterland waterfalls to take the plunge off, lava tubes and flows to explore, lush rainforest, rugged sea cliffs and idyllic swimming holes.


With such pristine waters, the diving on Samoa is world class. The islands are famous for being home to spectacular soft coral with an incredible diversity of fish and invertebrates. You’ll also spot reef sharks, turtles and rays.


Regular swells from May to August strike Samoa from depressions off the coast of New Zealand and Australia as well as tropical storms, creating perfect waves for intrepid surfers who travel from all corners of the globe. Surf resorts are springing up but the waves remain largely uncrowded.

The capital

Apia is a bustling but laid-back capital, built around a port and a good place to spend a day or two exploring. Attractions include Villa Vailima and the Baha’i Temple, both a short distance from the town centre, and Aggie Grey’s Hotel for a cuppa or cold beer.

The food markets in the town centre are a fascinating taste of Samoan life, adjacent to the bus station — a riot of colour as rainbow buses pull in and depart.

Chilling out

While there is plenty to do and see, many visitors come to Samoa to simply do nothing. There can be few pleasures short of lounging around on a pristine beach, taking dips in the crystal-clear ocean to cool off, sipping cocktails or reading a good book and unwinding from the hectic pace of everyday life.