If you're eager to see the world through fresh eyes, look no further than the beautiful island nation of Samoa.
With crystal-clear turquoise waters, lush rainforest trails, pristine reefs abounding with marine life and a rich culture, it ticks all the boxes for those looking to satisfy their wanderlust.
Samoa is safe, secluded and only a six-hour flight from Sydney, And with borders set to reopen this year, now is the time to start planning for an experience-rich holiday filled with genuine human connection..
Here are some top activities to enjoy.
Nestled in a relaxing seaside village on the big island of Savai'i, Amoa Resort allows you to bask in the tranquility of Samoa at intimate bungalows and villas, including 15 newt garden rooms. Featuring a pool and the spectacular ocean practically on its doorstep, Amoa is the ultimate destination for those wanting to lounge the days away in the sun.
Offering three types of self-contained accommodation, you can opt for poolside living or large deluxe bungalows for a bit more privacy. Amoa is also a culinary adventure, boasting the freshest seafood and sweetest fruit, all locally grown in surrounding areas, helping to support local farmers.
The resort's restaurant menu has been co-designed by top chef Joe Lam of Scalinis Restaurant Apia, offering an experience guaranteed to tantalise the taste buds. Visitors have the opportunity to learn from the best of the best at Amoa's Samoan cooking classes.
Awarded the 2021 Traveller's Choice Award by Tripadvisor, Return to Paradise Resort was named after the 1953 film. Alongside its additional new villas, the resort's beach is a beauty, catching the eye of Hollywood location scouts that deemed it the perfect setting for the film, which has been beautifully preserved more than 67 years later.
Located on the main island of Upolu, the resort is locally owned and operated, boasting more than 60 villas that are the the perfect base for relishing in the beauty of Samoa; stunning coral reefs, lagoons and forest canopies surround the resort. You can embark on an adventure kayaking, reef fishing and or visiting a waterfall.
For some "me-time", enjoy an afternoon at the Sparadise Day Spa or indulge in the fresh locally caught seafood at Paradise Kitchen, Cabana Cafe or Rock Pool Bar. Wine and dine while sitting back to watch the Return to Paradise movie, while you experience the famous beach right at your doorstep.
For those looking to experience the authentic culture of Samoa, the Samoa Cultural Village is hard to beat.. It offers activities including tapa making, traditional tattooing (or tatau), artifact carving, preparation of the umu (earth oven) and much more. Take the time to learn something new and even bring home a range of exquisite and original souvenirs. Located in the heart of Apia, head to the village to experience the "Fa'a Samoa", or "Samoan way of life", for yourself.
Rest your feet and take in the stunning beauty of the island on Samoa's unique and colourfulpublic buses. You can board them at main terminals - located in Apia behind the produce market in Fugalei and behind the flea market at Savalalo.
For those staying on Savai'i the terminal is located at the market and main wharf in Salelologa. Make sure to wave to the bus as it approaches - they do have a schedule - but are known to run on "island time". In fact, it's not unheard of for them to wait for passengers at supermarkets while they do their shopping. Immerse yourself in Samoa's hospitality and live like a local on the country's one-of-a-kind transportation.
Shop 'til you drop at the local markets: Experience the heart of Samoan culture - food - across their abundant local markets, giving you the opportunity to truly connect with the community and the intricacies of daily life. Open daily, the Fugalei market offers a wide selection of fresh local fruit, vegetables and traditional Samoan cooked dishes and sweets. Try some of the exotic tropical fruit, an icy cold drinking coconut (niu) or the local chocolate drink, koko Samoa.
If you're on the hunt for something booming with culture and connectivity, the Waterfront Night Markets are a must-visit. Located at the Samoa Tourism Fale and Cultural Village grounds in Apia on the last Friday of each month, it features an array of delicious food as well as supports local organic growers and producers.
Take a dip in the Piula Cave Pool
This beautiful crystal-clear freshwater spring pool and cave originated from an old lava tube. On a hot day, the cool water is perfect for a refreshing dip. This spot is one of the top natural experiences in Samoa.. Take a picnic and make a day of it.
Jump into 30m deep swimming holes
Samoa is widely known for its breathtaking swimming holes. The To-Sua Ocean Trench is one of the world's most spectacular natural swimming pools. The 30-metre deep, symetrimmetrical swimming hole is surrounded by spectacular gardens and located on the picturesque coastline of the south coast of Upolu.
Revel in the beauty of Samoa's Volcanos
Samoa's volcanic activity has left behind many fascinating landforms, particularly on Savai'i, which has huge lava tubes and spectacularly rugged coastlines of black volcanic rock to explore. Upolu has a number of volcanic peaks too, notably the water-filled, bush-clad crater Lake Lanoto'o. The last three eruptions on this island are estimated to be a few hundred to a thousand years ago.
Eat your way through the island:
No trip to the Pacific Islands would be complete without attending a cultural show. You can head to Le Lagoto Resort on a Thursday evening to enjoy a themed buffet and traditional fiafia show. A culturally enriching experience, fiafia nights are filled with food, dancing, song and the visually-spectacular knife-fire dance. With a selection of traditional Samoan dishes on offer and a magnificent performance from a local village's fiafia group, it's sure to be a night to remember. Most resorts host their own fiafia shows during the week, and at Vailili Restaurant outside guests are also welcome. Be sure to reserve your spot so you don't miss out. It also offers a Polynesian barbecue on Sundays and happy hour at their poolside bar from 4-6pm daily.
Soak up stunning views on Savai'i
Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to dine on top of the ocean? Va-i-moana Seaside Lodge Restaurant & Bar offers just that. With stunning views across the water, Samoan delicacies and friendly staff, this is the one-stop shop for a guaranteed good time. Head here in the evening to sip a cocktail on the deck as you watch the gorgeous pinks and oranges of the sunset illuminate the sky.
Share an umu
If you're planning a trip here, trying a dish prepared in an umu is essential. Synonymous with "community", this is is an above-ground "earth oven" made up of hot volcanic stones that has been used for thousands of years throughout Samoa.
Samoa Tourism Authority's Fasitau Ula explains: "Firewood is piled on earth with rocks on top until the rocks are red hot. Prepared food will then be spread on the rocks and covered with leaves for about an hour".
"Any food can be cooked in the umu. Traditional ones are taro (root-like potatoes), palusami (coconut cream in young taro leaves), fresh fish (usually wrapped in banana or breadfruit leaves and coconut leaves), fresh free-range pigs, fresh free-range chickens etcetera."
A feast fit for a crowd, an umu infuses the natural smokey richness of the ove', while the quintessential tropical ingredient of fresh coconut helps to mellow out the flavour. If you're lucky, you may even be invited to experience this tradition in a Samoan village, though many hotels also offer umu buffet nights.