Visitors Guide K


The Samoan spelling of kava is ‘ava’ (probably because the ‘k’ is an introduced letter to the language). Unlike Fiji where kava ceremonies happen all the time (at resorts or a visit to a village) or in Vanuatu where you drop into a nakamal, Samoan kava ceremonies are an important part of tradition and culture and usually reserved for special gatherings of the matai (head of the extended family). If you are invited to partake, it is worth remembering that kava shells are like breasts or martinis – one is too few, three too many. While not strictly an opiate it has a numbing, relaxing effect and some medicinal qualities. The Samoans you see sleeping through the day however are probably just having a rest, not the result of overdoing the kava. Over-exertion is not part of the Samoan way unless it is time to dance at a fia fia (Samoan feast).


The reefs surrounding Upolu and Savai’i protect the coast and kayaking is easy. Most resorts have kayaks (free for guests, a charge for visitors). Tours operate from Apia to Aleipata and Manono.


America Samoa has Imperial measurements (yards/miles etc) and in Samoa it is metric for weight, length, distance and area: millimetres, centimetres, metres, kilometres, Celsius etc. For US and UK visitors’ reference.

  • 1 mile = 1.609 kilometres
  • 1 pound (lb) = 2.21 kilograms
  • 1 gallon = 4.55 litres


This is the Samoan version of cricket and the structure is more like a backyard game than a test match at Lords. Rules are somewhat arbitrary – number of players may depend on who turns up and scoring may vary on the day (why not have over the fence is six and out?!). The game is played with a handmade ball (from rubber trees) and the bat is three-sided meaning that something aimed at gully could go flying over mid-on. The best rule of all – the home side automatically loses if they don’t provide enough food.


Kokoda (pronounced kokonda) is Fijian for Tahitian fish salad, aka coconut ceviche, aka ika mata in the Cooks and in Samoa it is called oka. For a recipe, see oka.

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