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SAMOAINFOByWayneRyan

Discover Line Up Surf Samoa

The Samoas are situated at the heart of Polynesia, an archipelago of 13 volcanic islands, but two political states. The Independent State of Samoa, known simply as Samoa, comprises 8 islands and the USA territory of American Samoa is 5 islands, where Pago Pago is the main centre and port. Independent Samoa's population of about 168,000 lives principally on the island of Upolu, with 35,000 residing in Apia. Savai'i, the largest of all the Samoan Islands, is home to 45,000 people. The other inhabited islands are Manono and Apolima, which lie in the 18km strait between the two bigger islands.

Samoa was the first Pacific Island nation to gain independence in 1962. The Head of State, currently His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili, holds office for life and is chosen from one of the four Samoan royal families.

The matai system stems from ancient Polynesian culture. A village comprises a group of extended families, aiga. Each family is led by a matai who represents the family on the fono, or village council. There are over 362 villages in Samoa and 18,000 matais. Matais can be male or female and are elected by family members, or inherit this office. The village council comprised of all matais in the village is headed by the highest chief or ali'i. Each village also has an orator chief - tulafale who conducts ceremonial and oratory duties and is seen carrying a fue - sennit mop, when on offical business.

Fa'a Samoa

Samoa is a land where unspoiled customs, cultures and courtesies still exist. Fa'a Samoa - the Samoan way is steeped in tradition and operates within a set of traditional Samoan protocols that vary between villages. Visitors are not expected to know the intricacies of Samoan life, but any attempt to understand and appreciate in fa'a Samoa is appreciated.

Sunday is a special day of rest and prayer in Samoa and some beaches and scenic spots are closed. The majority of citizens are committed Christians and numerous religions are represented here. Renowned for their churches and beautiful singing, experiencing a Sunday service is a highlight for many visitors and you will be most welcome. However dress appropriately and it is customary to make a small donation.

Village Protocols

Samoans are very warm and generous with hospitality and smiles. If you are travelling around the islands you're sure to be welcomed by the friendly villagers so an introduction to their ways will make your visit even more enjoyable. If you have any doubts about protocols ask your host or a village member. Always ask permission before taking photos in a village.

Wear bathing suits for swimming and sunbathing, but cover up in the streets of Apia and the villages. Skimpy clothing isn't recommended in Samoa and for church a light coloured dress or lavalava is appropriate. Sa (or curfew for evening prayers) usually takes place between 6pm and 7pm, lasts 10 to 20 minutes and is often marked by a bell or the blowing of a conch shell. Avoid walking or driving through villages during Sa. If you are invited into a Samoan house or fale, leave shoes outside and sit cross-legged on the floor, tuck your legs under yourself or cover them with a mat and don't point your feet at others. Never stand inside a fale when elders are seated.

The Islands of Samoa

Samoa lies neat the equator so has a pleasantly tropical climate with a year round average temperature of 28 degrees Celcius. The warmest months are December to April, the southeast trades making May to November cooler and drier. The surrounding waters remain warm all year round, thus there is little or no necessity to bring any type of wetsuit. The beaches and reefs all around Samoa are home to brilliant tropical fish and colourful coral. The beaches also provide a picture perfect view of a tropical paradise with fine white sand on coconut tree lined beaches all along the coast.

Samoa is a country of natural, unspoiled beauty with so much to offer its visitors. You can 'do your own thing' or there are several tour companies who will help you experience Samoan customs and show you the sights. Picture postcard, white sandy beaches, rugged mountains, virgin rainforest and plantations, sparkling waterfalls, lava fields and blowholes; there's something for everyone and a wide range of activities to enjoy.

The Island of Upolu

Upolu is home to Apia the business centre, most of the residents and the major hotels and resorts. Traditional open beach fales, operated by families or villages, dot the coast and give the visitor a chance to enjoy their own piece of paradise.

Some points of interest on Upolu include the Robert Louis Stevenson museum, Vailima, the Botanical Gardens and Mt Vaea reserve where he is buried; Falefa Falls and the Piula Freshwater Cave Pool an ideal swimming, snorkelling and picnic spot is open 6 days.

The road over the Le Mafa Pass takes you to the Aleipata district on the southeast coast and the white sandy beaches and coves of Lalomanu, Vavau, Fagatele and Tafatafa; and numerous waterfalls including the Togitogiga cascade and freshwater pool. For a change of pace visit Manona Island, see the Visitors Bureau for information.

Discover famous Lefaga, or 'Return to Paradise' beach and Salamumu on the island's southwest coast via the Cross Island Road. Just 6km from Apia, slide down a waterfall into a deep freshwater pool at the popular Papase'ea Sliding Rocks.

For water sport enthusiasts Palolo Deep Marine Reserve, just minutes from Apia is a deep, blue pool with coral and colourful fish; ideal for snorkelling, diving and swimming. In the evening relax and be entertained by the colour, excitement and movement of the Samoan people at a traditional fiafia night.

The Island of Savai'i

Savai'i is the third largest island in Polynesia, behind New Zealand and Tahiti. Largely unpopulated Savai'i is scattered with ancient archeological sites many covered by jungle and dramatic lava landscapes. Since the coast is more exposed with fewer reefs than Upolu, there are some good surfing spots. There's world class diving at Lalomalava and Savai'i has numerous sandy beaches with fales for picnicing or overnighting and freshwater pools and springs. Savai'i is dotted with conservation areas and boasts two rainforest reserves that have earned Samoa a place on the ecotourist's map. Tafua is Samoa's most accessible rainforest and is home to a colony of flying foxes and the rare Samoan tooth-billed pigeon believed to be the closest living relative of the dodo.

On the northwestern peninsula is the Falealupo Rainforest Preserve with a spectacular canopy walk, an eco-experience for everyone. A 24m swing bridge spans the forest floor 9m below and culminates in the top of a banyan tree where is unique experiences are your thing you can stay the night.

The Taga Blowholes are said to be the most powerful in the world and most spectacular of the natural phenomena in Samoa.

Savai'i is a fascinating island, with many points of interest and the local people live life at an easy and gentle pace. It's easy to get there with Polynesian Airelines and various tours are available or stay and discover this special place for yourself.

Surfing Conditions

Samoa is endowed with some of the most powerful and hollow surf in the South Pacific. Solid ocean sweels rush out of the deep Pacific waters and explode onto the shallow coral reefs that surround the islands.

Year round, but especially from March to December, southern swells originating from deep Antarctic lows send consistant solid breaks along the South Coast. During the cyclone season (late November to April), huge cyclonic swells frequently roll unhindered to the coastline. Also, from December to February the same northern swell which lashes Hawaii unleashes its' power on the Northern Coast of Samoa. Numerous surf spots provide opportunities for great surfing at both high and low tide in this tropical paradise.



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