Visitors Guide G
In Samoan when you see a ‘g’ in a word, put ‘n’ in front of it for pronunciation – e.g. Lagoto is Langoto.
Tusiata Gallery is on Beach Road in Apia. The Pacific Gallery of Arts & Crafts and the Tiapapata Art Centre are at Tiapapata on Upolu (8km from Apia). Drop in to the majestic and impressive Baha’i House of Worship while you are there (open to all for prayer and meditation from 9:00am to 5:00pm).
Visitors will be impressed by the pride and care Samoans give to their gardens, especially considering the heat, humidity and the fact that being active is not high on the agenda for most Samoans.
Samoa is recognised as one of the world’s top ten sportsfishing destinations. Anglers can be rewarded with Blue and Black Marlin, Broadbill, Pacific Sail Fish, Yellowfin and Dogtooth Tuna, Albacore, Skipjack, Wahoo, Giant Trevally, Barracuda and Mahi Mahi. Professional operators like Troppo Fishing Adventures recommend the tag and release of all billfish species unless a SIGFA or IGFA record may be pending. SIGFA (Samoan International Game Fishing Association) holds its international tournament in May.
The fa’afafine (transvestite) culture is not actually a ‘gay scene’. The fa’afafine culture sees some men brought up as women – they live like women, dress and dance like women and consider themselves women. They look on a relationship with another man as being heterosexual even though they have genitalia in common. Gay couples looking for a romantic holiday may want to look to other Pacific destinations as some Samoans may consider them strange.
Samoa is made up of four inhabited and five uninhabited islands with most of the population on Upolu and Savai’i. The reefs surrounding the two large islands protect the calm coastlines. Savai’i is a lush volcanic island that saw its last eruption in 1905.
Getting around the two main islands is easy by road with local bus services, rental cars, tours and bicycles to choose from. There are two ferries connecting Upolu (Mulifanua Wharf) and Savai’i (Saleologa). Fares are $12 (tala) each way ($6 children).
The new 18-hole par 72 championship Penina Golf Course is now open at Faleolo. The course is built on a former US military base used in World War II and features several historical landmarks and is adjacent to the airport and Aggie Grey’s Resort. The course can play from 6300 to 7500 yards and will provide a challenge for all. The course is a genuine par 72 with real sand bunkers. Players enjoy beautiful views of the coastline, mountain, natural fauna, and Savaii island. The course features all modern conveniences: driving range, new Club Car golf carts, new Cobra rental clubs right and left handed men’s and women’s, toilet facilities on the course, and snacks on the course. After golf, the resort can supply all your dining and relaxation needs.
The government is a parliamentary democracy with the Prime Minister elected from the ranks. There is a 12-member Cabinet. The current ceremonial Head of State (O le Ao o le Malo) is Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Tufuga Efi. He was elected to a five-year term in 2007 and re-elected for further five-year term in July 2012.. Only matai (chiefs) may run for the 47 Samoan seats (2 seats are reserved for non-Samoans on a constituency basis). As in other parts of the Pacific, politics can revolve around personalities rather than policies and bribery and corruption has reared its head on more than one occasion. Visit the official website – www.govt.ws
The Grey family holds a lot of history and influence in Samoa. Aggie Grey’s Hotel has been the premier tourist hotel for over 60 years and the Sheraton Aggie’s Beach Resort is a tourism leader. The family owns 2% of Polynesian Blue airlines (Virgin Airlines and the Samoan Government each have 49% so the family gets the deciding vote). The family has interests in other businesses in Samoa and occupies seats on a number of boards. Family members are far from aloof however and you may well find yourself chatting to them if you stay at their resorts.
Moon Handbooks South Pacific, written by David Stanley, is an excellent publication but is not available in shops in Australia and New Zealand. Visit the Samoa section of David’s website, The South Pacific Organiser.
There are four fitness centres on Upolo – Genesis Fitness Centre 6:00am to 8:00pm (Ph 25 611); Health Attack 5:00am to 8:00pm (Ph 25 474); Heems Health & Fitness Centre 6:00am to 7:00pm (Ph 20 183) and Joe’s Fitness Centre at Lotopa. There is also an excellent air-conditioned fitness centre for guests staying at Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort & Spa.