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Samoa is a holiday destination suited for couples and families within all budget ranges and is indeed ‘The Treasured Island of the South Pacific.’ Open arms and laughter are the first things you will notice about the Samoan way of life and when you´ll arrive, you´ll be greeted by a wide grin and the warming words ‘Talofa’ – hello in Samoan. Secondly you will notice the endless blue skies, crystal clear waters and the uncrowded beaches – this is why Samoa is known as the modern day paradise. In Samoa, life moves at a slower pace and the Samoan way is one of generosity and kindness. Every visitor to Samoa should experience a Fiafia, which in Samoan means celebration. This traditional form of entertainment incorporates song, dance and spectacular fire dancers twirling batons of fire on strings around their bodies while traditional foods are served in a feast style. Sundays are sacred days and the Samoans generally attend a church service. This is to be seen to be believed as their melodious singing echoes from the churches across the land.
Each of the islands offer a totally different experience – from dense rainforests to soaring cliffs and tranquil lagoons. The fishing is excellent, snorkelling and diving superb, hiking amazing and, for those that simply want to lie and do nothing, there’s deserted beaches and peaceful lodgings to let time pass you by. Samoa is also blessed with an abundance of beautiful waterfalls. On the island of Upolu you will find some of the most spectacular near the southern coast.
Food plays an important part in the Samoan culture with many festivities based on huge feasts. Traditional foods include Taro, pork, chicken, breadfruit and fresh fruit and the traditional way of cooking is in an earth oven called Uma, where the food is wrapped in banana leaves. No oils are used in this method of cooking, making it extremely healthy as well as flavoursome. Delicacies on the Samoan menu include palusami (young taro leaves baked in coconut cream) and oka, (raw fish in coconut cream), both are must try dishes on any holiday to Samoa. The ocean provides bountiful feasts of crayfish, snapper, masimasi, octopus and tuna to name just a few, but along with traditional dishes, there is a wide range of Western cuisines available!
The lines between the Western understanding of a "cafe" vs. "restaurant" are blurred in Samoa, and many local establishments may well easily fit into both categories. There are, however, a few places leaning more towards serving lighter foods and offering a selection of coffee varieties.
Nightlife in Samoa varies from bars and clubs to cultural shows and events. Watching the sun dip below the horizon, while sitting at one of the beach bars with a cocktail in hand – is, for many, a fine way to see the end of another day in paradise. For a lively night out, Apia is the place to go, featuring the main concentration of clubs and bars in Samoa. Few bars are open after midnight, though, and fewer still on Sundays, the day of worship. Fiafias is a spectacular Samoan dance accompanied by a buffet of traditional dishes that many hotels and resorts present as special entertainment for their guests. Kava is the traditional drink, but it is usually kept for special occasions.
When on Samoa, one should not expect to shop at a Harrods-style store. There are no pushy salesmen making quotas for their day, instead you will be lured by the quality of handmade crafts, colourful lava-lava prints, remarkable souvenirs and amazing artworks. Popular with many visitors is a sample of siapo, a bark cloth made from the beaten bark of the u’a, or paper mulberry tree, and the medium for many artworks from Samoa. Siapo’s are decorated with natural dyes and are considered one of the finest of artwork in the Pacific. On Savaii see Siapo being made at the village of Palauli. The Toga is a finely woven mat made from pandanus fibres. These can take years and years to make and when finished are the texture of silk or linen and are prized souvenirs to bring home. In March, each year, don´t miss Apia’s Arts and Crafts Fair – a great time to purchase fine art and craft works. There are also a few galleries on Ifiifi Street, where the contemporary Samoan painter Momeo von Reiche showcases not only exceptional examples of artworks, but often you will witness dance, poetry and other forms of readings.
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