The Islands of Samoa (pronounced Saaah-Moah) are located halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii and East of the International Dateline.
Samoa is comprised of 10 islands, of which Savaii and Upolu are the largest. The 8 smaller islands includes Apolima, Fanuatapu, Manono, Namua, Nuulopa, Nuulua, Nuusafee and Nuutele. The country’s capital of Apia and Faleolo International Airport are both located on the main island of Upolu.
| History of Samoa
The Fa’a Samoa culture (the Samoan Way) is over 3,000 years old and Samoan mythology and legends say they descended from the Gods and Heavens to inhabit these islands.
European whalers and traders started to arrive in the late 1700’s. The most important agents of change in Samoa were the Western missionaries, converting the people from belief in Gods for the sun, earth, heavens and sea to the one God.
In 1899 after years of civil war, the islands of the Samoan archipelago were divided – the Germans taking the islands to the west and the Americans taking the islands to the east, now known as American Samoa.
After the outbreak of World War I, New Zealand captured Western Samoa from the small German company stationed the islands and following the end of the war took administrative control on behalf of the United Nations from 1918 until independence on 1st January 1962. Western Samoa became the first Pacific nation to gain Independence.
From 1962 to 1997, the nation was known as Western Samoa, until it dropped the title ‘Western’ from its name to become the Independent State of Samoa.
|Diving in Samoa
Diving in Samoa offers something special for both the novice and the experienced diver. The islands are blessed with a rich marine life and the surrounding reefs are home to some 900 fish species including including anemone, rays, trevally, napoleon, tuna, barracuda, snapper, wrasse, grouper, butterfly fish, angel fish, spade fish, giant clams, morays, turtles and reef sharks.
There are more than 200 varieties of coral, as well as various swim throughs and tunnels to explore. The warm clear waters provide excellent visibility of between 15 and 50 metres and temperatures ranging from 25° to 30°C.
For Advanced and adventurous divers, much of the reef remains unexplored and there is the potential to discover brand new dive sites in the area.
On Upolu, two favourite dive sites are:
As you descend on this dive you generally drop into a school of barracuda. Dropping onto the plateau between 12-18 metres you feel as if you are floating in an aquarium. Hard corals and giant clams are surrounded by a variety of tropical fish, anemone, clown trigger fish, manta rays, trevally, napoleon, tuna and fusiliers often follow you around. The soft corals begin at 18 metres as you drop off the plateau to search for sharks.
The coral garden off Apolima Island begins at 8metres and drops to 40metres and is a wonderland of colour and life between 10 and 20 metres. Drift pass the large table corals which screen lobsters and rainbow runners. Unicorn fish, turtles, napoleon, reef sharks and blue fin trevally are a staple of this dive.
On the island of Savai'i, the wreck "Juno" is a nice, easy dive, only a 5 minute boat trip from shore. This was a 3 mast missionary sailing ship which sunk in Lelepa bay in 1881. This iron wreck is full of corals, where you can see trumpet fish, turtles and a wide variety of colourful reef fish, parrot fish, yellow snappers, big-eyes and much more. The maximum depth is 25 meters.
|How Do I Get There?
Polynesian Blue, Air New Zealand, Air Pacific and Polynesian Airlines all operate international flights from New Zealand, Australia, United States of America, Tonga, American Samoa and Fiji into Samoa. The main entry point into Samoa is Falelolo International Airport, 35 kms from Apia on the island of Upolu.
Visitors to Samoa are not required to obtain an entry permit for stays of less than 30 days, however you must have a return or onward ticket and your passport must be valid for six months of more at the time of entry into the country.
| Location Travel Tips
Getting You Started
Samoa is located in the heart of the South Pacific, just east of the International Dateline. Samoan culture is over 3000 years old and remains the basis for every day community and village life. The Samoa archipelago consists of two large and eight smaller islands. The main islands of Upolu and Savaii are made up of rugged, volcanic mountain peaks and rainforests with lush green valleys sweeping down to a coastline of sandy beaches.
The international country code for Samoa is 685. Samoa is 11 hours behind of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Entry & Visa Requirements (subject to change)
Most nationals visiting Samoa as a tourist will be granted a 60 day visa on arrival. Please check with the appropriate authorities for the most up to date entry requirements.
Medical & Health Requirements
The island are free from most tropical diseases. There is no Malaria however outbreaks of dengue fever have occurred on the rare occasion. There is no recompression chamber in Samoa. The closest chamber is located in Fiji. Remember that some medications can make you sun sensitive, so extra care must be taken to ensure that skin is protected from sun burn. Please check with your physician for the best precautions to be taken.
(For further details contact Travel Vax on 1300 360 164).
The currency of Samoa is Samoan Tala (dollar). Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards are accepted at most of the bigger hotels.
1 AUD = approximately 2.10Tala (October 2013)
Baggage (International flights Ex Australia)
Virgin Australia 23kg (except Saver Lite fares - Nil baggage)
Air New Zealand - 1 or 2 pieces max. 23kg per piece depending on airfare purchased (Subject to change without notice)
(Baggage policy subject to change without notice)
The allowance is 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco, 1 litre of alcohol, wine or spirits.
The climate in Samoa is warm and tropical all year round. Samoa experiences two seasons, the wet season is from November to April and the drier season is from May to October. Average temperatures 2 6°C to 29°C throughout the year.
The emphasis is on light and casual clothing but not too brief in public places. A sweater is recommended for the evenings as the weather can become cool. Swimwear is not permitted in the public areas of hotels. Remember to cover up with light cotton clothing at dusk and dawn to prevent mosquito bites. Sun protection is absolutely essential.
2 40 volts AC, Plug I – same as Australia.
(for further details refer to http://www.kropla.com/electric2.htm).
There are four banks in Samoa, ANZ Bank Samoa, the National Bank of Samoa, Samoa Commercial Bank and Westpac.
Banking hours are 9.00am to 3.00pm Monday to Friday. Some banks are open from 9.00am to 12noon on Saturday mornings. There are ATM facilities in Apia and some ATM facilities on Savaii.
Samoan is the national language. However English is the official language of business and is widely spoken throughout Samoa.
Traditional ceremonies are maintained in remote areas but Christian influence is predominant. Sunday is a day of rest and most Samoans will be found at church and spending time with family.
The urban water is safe to drink from the tap. It is recommended that you sterilise the water first. In the tropics it is important to drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to avoid dehydration.
Shops in the main area of Apia are open between 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday and 8:00am to 12:30pm on Saturday mornings, however many close for lunch. The village shops sell local items including tapa (made from mulberry bark and painted with native dyes), kava drinking bowls and shell jewellery. The local markets are open daily, although most markets and shops close on Sunday.
Tipping is not expected.
Much of the area around the north west tip of Upolu and off Apolima and Manono Islands remains unexplored. The surrounding reefs have over 200 varieties of coral and some 900 species of fish. Walls of hard and soft corals, canyons and caves can be found. During the months of September migrating whales can often be seen passing through the area. Average water temperature is 2 8°C. A 3-5mm suit is recommended.
Dive operators supply all scuba gear, tanks, weight belts and dive guide services.
There is currently no locally paid departure taxes for Western Samoa..
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