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Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia Samoa Apia

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Introduction

The closest thing Samoa has to a city, Apia has the feel of a lively small town. Samoan pop music blares out from the bars and the brightly painted buses, and the pace of life is a step quicker than the languid stroll encountered in the rest of Samoa. Architecturally, the city is an interesting mix of colonial, Samoan and Western, together with some synthesis of the three. This synthesis is most clearly demonstrated by the shiny new Parliament Building which dominates the seafront, at 7 storeys easily the highest building in Apia, if not all Samoa.

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Sights and Activities

  • Robert Louis Stevenson Museum - 09.00-16.00 Mon-Fri; 09.00-12.00 Sat.. About 5 kilometres south of town in the village of Vailima. This was built by RLS during the final years of his life, which he spent in Apia. It is now a very well-kept museum with a good collection of items either originally from the home or equivalents.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's grave - Located at the top of Mt. Vaea overlooking the home, it is best visited in the early morning. As long as there has not been a lot of rain the longer and shallower path takes about an hour and is an easy walk. The steep path downhill is an option if it has been dry recently. Take water. From the grave, there are good views to the east and across the Pacific. There is no charge to climb to the grave.
  • Museum of Samoa - 10.00-16.30 Mon-Fri. Formerly located on the first floor of the courthouse building on Beach road, this museum has been temporarily relocated to the Ministry of Education, Sports & Culture Headquarters. Among other things it has Lapita pottery and stone adze heads, used by the early arrivals to the islands; a good selection of historical photos; information about tattoos, and examples of Samoan birds.
  • The fish market - 6:00am on Sunday morning. This is when the locals go to buy fish for the special meal of the week, Sunday tonai.
  • Mulinu'u peninsula - Holds the parliament house, the law and titles court, the historic observatory, and many important tombs.
  • Vailima Brewery Tour, Vailima, Upolu (10 minute drive west of Apia), ☎ +685 20 200. - Make reservations because tours are only given on certain days. Samples of the German style lager can be tasted straight from the vat.

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Events and Festivals

Apia Arts and Crafts Festival

The Apia Arts and Crafts Fair is a busy festival every March. It is located in the capital city of Samoa, and not only focuses on local artistic talent, but also traditional handicrafts from across the nine islands of Samoa. Visitors should head to the local markets in Apia to experience this event at its best.

Fautasi Outrigger Canoe

One of the best sporting events in the country is the Fautasi Outrigger Canoe competition. Occurring in the month of June, this outrigger race has become the most loved water race in Samoa. The competition begins at the north coast of Upolu, but then ends at Apia Harbor. Twelve long boats compete in the event each year.

Apia Jazz Festival

Jazz performers are drawn to Apia in September, as this is when the city hosts its annual Jazz Festival. Several different spots are home to the best in jazz music during this month. Even some of the more famous jazz musicians from across the globe love to make their way to Samoa for the event.

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Weather

Apia has a hot and humid tropical climate. Temperatures hoover around 30 °C throughout the year and never drop much lower than 23 °C or 24 °C at night. Temperatures are slightly higher during the wetter November to March period and slightly lower between April and October. This last period is the best season to visit as it rains less (but still significantly) and there is almost no chance of hurricanes, which can strik from December to March. There is always some relief of the heat by constant sea breezes.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max30.4 °C30.6 °C30.6 °C30.7 °C30.4 °C30 °C29.5 °C29.6 °C29.9 °C30.1 °C30.3 °C30.5 °C
Avg Min23.9 °C24.2 °C24 °C23.8 °C23.4 °C23.2 °C22.6 °C22.8 °C23.1 °C23.4 °C23.6 °C23.8 °C
Rainfall489 mm368 mm352.1 mm211.2 mm192.6 mm120.8 mm120.7 mm113.2 mm153.9 mm224.3 mm261.7 mm357.5 mm

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Getting There

By Plane

International
Most travellers arrive at Faleolo Airport (APW), about 30 km from the capital Apia. The national airine is Polynesian Airlines, with flights from Apia to Tonga, Niue and American Samoa. Also, Polynesian Blue serves Samoa, mainly to and from Auckland and Sydney.
There are many flights with Pacific Blue and Air New Zealand from Australia (mainly Sydney) and New Zealand (mainly Auckland).

Domestic
Polynesian Airlines flies between Apia on Upolu and the island of Savaii several times a day.

By Car

You can hire cars from Apia, sometimes for less than 50 Tala a day, mostly with local companies but Budget has cars as well.

By Bus

Old traditional buses are a must do. They are quite cheap, but can be uncomfortable. Buses leave from two locations in Apia: behind the flea market on the waterfront and next to the produce market "Marketi Fou". Ask the drivers for information on which buses to catch to your planned destination.

By Boat

The only option to get to Samoa by boat is taking the MV Lady Naomi. It operates between Apia and Pago Pago in American Samoa once a week departing Apia every Wednesday at midnight returning from Pago Pago every Thursday at 4 pm, taking around 7 hours to complete the journey. Expect rough rides now and then. Although it costs about half compared to a plane ticket, it is rather basic and takes much much longer of course.

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Getting Around

Much of Apia is within walking distance, although this may not be a comfortable experience on a hot and humid Samoan Day. Another thing to consider is the number of aggressive dogs towards dusk and in the evening. A walk from the suburbs into the centre is best avoided at any time for this reason. Most households have a dog, and even an innocent walk past their driveway could encourage an attack. Culling prior to the South Pacific Games (August 2007) reduced the numbers in the centre of town for a short period of time.

Taxis are cheap, safe and easy to hail down but single women are advised to sit in the back seat, particularly if wearing a short skirt.

Buses fan out to the whole of Upolu from downtown Apia. If you are staying at a hotel outside the immediate center of the town it may be possible to get downtown by bus. Ask at your hotel.

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Eat

Apia has several reasonable places to eat. Beer and soft drinks are available at most places.

There are numerous restaurants that cater for locals on a budget and will sell the sort of food that is eaten in the average household. The menu is likely to include chop suey, chicken curry, and mutton flaps. Umu or earth oven cooked local food include roast pig, and the great delicacy, palusami. Palusami is made of onions and coconut cream with possibly chicken or prawns, all wrapped in a new taro leaf and baked. This is a "must try" and goes well with taro.

Remember that restaurants tend to close early by Western standards and that, with a few exceptions, the restaurants in the big hotels are the only ones open on Sunday. There are no street numbers in Apia so you will have to ask for directions if you do not take a taxi. The town is divided into lots of smaller villages and the restaurant location is given by village, road (e.g. Beach Road, which is a couple of miles long), or the building, which is not of much use to foreigners.

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Drink

Alcohol can be bought at almost all restaurants. Soft drinks and bottled water are generally available and safe. While the purity of the tap water is questionable, all factory-bought ice is safe. It is only later handling that can contaminate it.

There is a mall (meaning a pedestrian street) in the centre of town with two coffee shops, the Sydney Side Cafe and Cappuccino Vineyard both offering a cafe atmosphere and a great place to sit and watch people passing by.

There is a string of bars in the centre of town between the fire station and the Australian High Commission. This is a good area to visit in the late afternoon and early evening but is best left before closing time when things can get a bit troublesome.

Le Well liquor store sells a good range of spirits and wines that are much cheaper than buying them by the glass from your hotel.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Bertie's B&BPO Box 1687 Vaitele-FouGUESTHOUSE-
Samoa Village Hostel101 Vini Fou Road PO Box 1951, Apia.HOSTEL80
Samoan Outrigger HotelCross Island Rd, Moto�otuaHOTEL76
Samoan Village Guesthouse1 Vini Fou Road PO Box 1951Guesthouse-
Valentines MotelP.O Box 395,Hostel-
Tatiana MotelApia FugaleiHostel77
Muatau LodgerToomatagiHostel-
Samoa Marina HotelBeach Road Matautu-taiHotel-
Pasefika InnPO Box 6114 Matautu-utaHotel-
Dave Parker Eco LodgeTapatapao Aleisa EastHOTEL-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Samoa.ws, ipasifika.net and Lesamoa are the Internet Service Providers. There are several public Internet access points in Apia, where fast, reliable access can be had for around 12 tala (4 US dollars) per hour.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Samoa's international telephone code is 685. Samoa has an adequate telephone system with international calling. Some villages have public phones available and require a pre-paid phone card.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: -13.83142
  • Longitude: -171.751801

Accommodation in Apia

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This is version 27. Last edited at 8:30 on May 10, 17 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

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