A Holiday in Samoa
A year after our wedding and 5 years after we'd visited the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, we decided to return to the Pacific at the start of the New Zealand summer and attempt to soak up some rays in Samoa. As we left exactly a year to the day after our wedding, we decided to make the holiday double up as our Honeymoon, after we hadn't really had one straight after our wedding.
The hotel we chose was a bit of a bargain. We got our room half price. This was mainly due to the rooms being under construction and only being scheduled to be finished the week before we'd get there. However, given that the room was an over-the-water Fale and that it made the promise of a free, daily restocked mini-bar, we thought why the hell not!
The main reasons to head to the Pacific again were that we hadn't had a 'relaxing' type of holiday since our previous trip to Vanuatu and we thought that we'd earned a relaxing break on the beach somewhere with the added benefit of evading a week of Wellington Winter weather. As such, we didn't exactly plan to get up to much. We went on no organised trips, instead satisfying ourselves with a bus trip into the capital, Apia and hiring a car for 48 hours and having a drive round the South coast of the main island, Upolu. On our drive round, we stopped at various waterfalls - some of a huge height, others small but providing natural swimming holes at the bottom - and also the incredible Lalomanu Beach. There can't be many more beautiful beaches than Lalomanu, and it's a perfect place for snorkelling. Unfortunately, a lot of the coral around Lalomanu had been killed by the tsunami. One can only imagine how incredible the swimming was when all the coral was alive! Still, well worth a stop if you ever find yourself in Samoa.
The island was still recovering from a major tropical storm which hit in December 2012, plus some areas you could still see damage suffered in the tsunami of September 2009 (resulting from an earthquake measured as 8.1 on the Richter Scale). These were two of the reasons that our hotel was building new rooms as their previous over-the-water fales had been destroyed in the tsunami. This damage meant the island was still a little bit messy, with rubbish a common sight. Some of the roads were still inaccessible, cutting off some of the island's more famous tourist spots such as the "Return to Paradise" beach - featured in the film of the same name and the Aganoa Black Sand beach.
However, despite these problems for the island, it was a great place for a holiday. The locals were all really nice, which always helps, and we enjoyed a boat based snorkelling trip as well as some cultural activities, such as local Fiafia dancing and a tour of a local village.
The only drawback was that it rained a bit more than expected, but we still got the holiday that we needed. Here's some photos!
varied photos from Samoa
Top Left: The brand new over-the-water fales at the Coconuts Beach Resort in Samoa, where we stayed. We were in the fale nearest the shore, on the right hand side of the picture. The over-the-water fale was great, but when the sea was rough (as it was a couple of nights) then it was like sleeping on top of a washing machine.
Top Right: Another sunset from the fale.
Right: It's probably a little hard to make out, but this is a photograph of the Southern Cross. The white and blue dots on the left hand side are Alpha and Beta Centauri. Then, follow the line between them to the right hand side of the picture and you should see a much smaller dot. This is Gamma Crux, the top of the Southern Cross. Alpha, Beta and Delta Crux are also just about visible. Alpha at the bottom of the cross, Beta on the left and Delta on the right (tiny red dot).
Bottom Left: Villa Vailima, or the villa where Robert Louis Stevenson lived out his final days. An impressive pile, it actually looked in a little bit of disrepair with some of the wood of the building appearing to be rotting.
Bottom Right: The Togitogiga Waterfall. Not exactly high in the grand scheme of things, but a great spot for a swim and a high jump into deep pools. In this photo, Andy is sitting at the edge of the top pool, contemplating jumping into the lower pool.
Sopo'aga Falls, a more impressively sized waterfall also around the
South Coast of Upolu. The viewpoint is basically part of the back yard
/ garden of a local. There's a little donation box that you stick a
small fee in and then you can walk around the little gardens and watch
the waterfalls from the viewpoint.
Bottom Left: To Sua Ocean Trench - basically a huge tidal swimming hole, located further along the South Coast road. Again, a small fee to get in and the swimming hole is within some tidy gardens. Climb down the rickety ladder and find yourself on the slippery pier from where you can jump in. The current is quite strong and as the waves roll in and out, the depth of the water changes quite markedly. Definitely don't jump in until the water is at a high point, which is easy to spot as there's a rock which sticks out of the water unless the water is at a high point. Quite good fun to try and swim against the current, though equally exhausting as fun!
Bottom Right: The day starting to come to a close at Lalomanu Beach.