Visitors Guide P
Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
This delightful spot is only five minutes walk from the centre of Apia (head east to Vaiala Beach). There’s a blue hole surrounded by walls of coral and tropical fish so it’s great for snorkelling, diving and swimming or just relaxing with a picnic. There are toilets, showers and changing rooms and snorkel gear can be hired.
Twice a year the palolo reef worm rises from the coral and releases a ‘tail’ that contains eggs and sperm – and twice a year Samoans are waiting before dawn with their lanterns and their nets to catch this delicacy called ‘the caviar of the Pacific’. It’s not only prized for its culinary delights, it also sells for a high price. Some will eat it straight from the sea, others prefer the fried alternative. I haven’t tried it personally but I’m thinking an elongated oyster with more wriggling. The actual date for the rising is governed by the moon but it always happens late October and late November. It also happens in Fiji.
Also known as ‘Tiavi Falls’, this spectacular 100m waterfall is 2.3km past Lanotoo Road on the right heading south on the road across the island from Apia. There is a viewing area but the cliff edge is unstable.
Papasa’ea Sliding Rocks
This natural (and fun) attraction is only 6km from Apia (bus or taxi). You can slide down three rocks into deep freshwater pools – very refreshing after the hike up from the bus stop. This is also one attraction that is open Sunday. Pay $2 fee at the entrance (to an adult).
Check that you have six months validity on your passport before travelling. Apart from a valid passport you need a return or onward ticket to enter Samoa.
This cave is in the north of Savai’i. You’ll need a torch or headlamp, water and some fitness or hiking experience to explore this lava tube. Enlist the services of a guide. If you are there in mango season, ripe ones are a bargain at $2 for about five! There’s also a Peapea Cave on Upolo. The track begins at the Togitogiga Falls carpark and can be difficult to find so, again, enlist the services of a guide. Entrance is $5 per person.
There are three pharmacies in Apia. Apia Pharmacy’s phone number is 22 703.
Popular picnic spots include the stunning Togitogiga Falls. There are excellent swimming holes, toilets and changing rooms here and admission is free. Also Piula Cave Pool (below) and Paolo Deep Marine Reserve (above). If you would like to know about private beach picnics for two, email here.
Piula Cave Pool
The entrance to this wonderful pool is through the gates to the Methodist Theological College just east of Saoluafata Beach. Swim, snorkel, picnic, relax… the water is exceptionally clear. The first cave for swimming is just below the church. The second cave is long, dark and deep and is good for snorkelling. There’s a fee of $2 (closed Sunday)
There’s probably fewer police per head of population than in other parts of the world because Samoan society has the matai (head of family) to keep people in line. The police station in Apia is just behind the courthouse off Beach Road – phone ‘many twos’ – 22 222.
Polynesia is more water than land covering a fifth of the world’s surface from Hawaii to Easter Island to New Zealand. In between are dotted the tropical destinations of Samoa, Tonga, French Polynesian and the Cook Islands. Melanesia is ‘next door’ (Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, New Guinea).
About 175,000 people live in Samoa with approximately the same number of Samoans living in the United States, New Zealand and Australia. About half the population lives in the northwest of Upolu in the villages that line the main road from Apia to the Airport (35km).
This is a big no-no in Samoan culture. Don’t even think of taking pornographic material into the country.
The office is in the main SamoaTel building on Beach Road, behind the main lobby. If you want an address in Samoa you can use:
Chief Post Office
Underline the surname when addressing.
The post office is now part of SamoaTel, located on Beach Road in Apia (Monday to Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm. You can purchase phone cards to use in payphones here.
Public toilets are located behind the clock tower in the centre of Apia and, as mentioned in other parts of this guide, McDonalds keeps its restrooms to a high standard of cleanliness. Bars are stricter in only having toilets for patrons but that’s a good excuse for a Vailima…
- paepae: the stone foundation for a fale
- palagi: a non-Samoan
- paopao: canoe
- pe fia?: how much?
- pisupo: canned corned beef
- pule: power, authority
- pulenu’u: village mayor
- puletasi: traditional women’s dress
- pupu: blowhole