Samoa is a beautiful island paradise in the South Pacific Ocean, roughly half way between Hawaii and New Zealand.
In February, my boyfriend and I decided to go to the island of Upolu in Samoa for a holiday. We have a good friend from there and when we heard she was home for the holidays, decided to visit her and have some fun in the sun.
What followed was 7 days of, well, as close to heaven as I’m probably ever going to get.
The first day we went snorkelling at Palolo Deep Marine Reserve, had gourmet fish burgers for lunch, then checked into our accommodation. We were pretty wrecked from the red-eye flight, so didn’t have the enterprise to do much other than laze around enjoying the heat.
Day two, a Sunday, meant that just about everyone in Apia was at church. We walked around town, went to the local market for fresh coconuts, and caught up with our friend Pai for lunch. At lunch she casually introduced us to the most delicious Samoan food EVER – luau (taro leaves, coconut cream and onion). I can’t even begin to describe how delicious luau is; freshly squeezed coconut cream, slow baked with onion and wrapped in taro leaves. Pretty sure it was the food highlight of my year…
Day three, Dave and I took a drive around the east coast of Upolu, stopping for swims along the way. We went to Piula Cave Pool, a natural freshwater pool by the sea (which is underneath a historic Methodist Chapel). We drove from the northern to the southern coast, through the Le Mafa Pass – a scenic route up through the mountains. That night we stayed at an Eco-Lodge in the highlands. Dave digs bird watching, so we usually try to stop somewhere quiet where he can do some. The accommodation was great; the views were spectacular, the rainforest was humid and lush and there were lots of beautiful birds. The owners were really nice too; they sat with us on the veranda that night and made delicious dessert – baked bananas with coconut cream.
On day four, we drove down from the highlands into Apia; stopping for a quick waterfall dip on the way. In the afternoon we stopped at the Malua Turtle Feeding Site and got to pat some turtles! A very special experience.
I really didn’t think our holiday could get any dreamier at this point; the weather was hot, the locals super friendly, the beaches gorgeous and the food was divine. Day five proved me wrong. We started with delicious brekkie at the Eco-Lodge; I think every item we ate was from the garden out the back. God, I wish I could grow fruit like that. After brekkie, we drove to the Papapapaitai Falls and the Sopoaga Waterfall on the way to the southern coast. We stopped at To Sua Ocean Trench, which could well be in my top three favourite natural landscapes of all time. We spent hours there (alone!) snorkelling and following neon blue fish around.
After the ocean trench we decided to check into our accommodation, the beautiful Seabreeze Resort. Where we proceeded to swim in the infinity pool all afternoon. Now I just sound like a princess huh? Well, here’s the deal. Usually when we’re travelling we stay in budget accommodation for the duration and save up enough to splurge on just one night. And this was the one night, so I’m unashamedly boasting about this resort. It was A-freaking-MAZING. Anyway, while I’m tempted to write a whole blog on what happened next, I won’t. Suffice to say, Dave asked me to marry him! On the beach, just before dinner, no one around, kneeling in the sand, tears were involved (mine, not his)… you get the gist. It was so beautiful. Then we proceeded to have delicious dinner! He had a fresh tuna steak and I had a piña colada (with fresh pineapple and coconut cream) and delicious, delicious, delicious chicken. I can definitely say it was the best day I have had in my life thus far. Which is quite the statement, because there have been some real humdingers.
Day 6 – we checked out of heaven (Seabreeze Resort) after watching the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. No, I’m not just exaggerating. I really did have a lot of ‘bests’ that trip. Funny though, it was the trip I talked about the least with my friends and family. Perhaps because I hold it so close to my heart? I don’t know. Anyway, we drove back towards Apia and checked out the Fuipisia Falls (spectacular!). That night, we were invited to our friend Pai’s place to meet her folks and partake in a Samoan umu (a hot-rock-roasted feast of home grown fruits, veges and meat). For more about that deliciousness, check out my post on Samoan Umu. The umu was a real highlight of our trip; being invited to share a dinner with Pai’s family was a truly special experience.
On our last day we returned the car, walked around Apia and cleaned up some last minute souvenir shopping. That night Pai organised for us to go see a Fiafia (‘happy’) – a celebration or get-together. It was a fantastic performance involving local dancers, music and singing. At the end of the Fiafia, we also watched some fire-twirlers do their thing. They were seriously amazing, especially since they were all teenagers (the youngest was 6!). After that we went to a hole-in-the-wall takeaway joint, where they serve delicious local curries and rice.
All-in-all, it was a pretty successful holiday. I came home with a new fiancé, baskets, loads of photos, a new beach towel, a real burn to make my own laua (which I hear is near-impossible outside of Samoa) and a semi-respectable tan.
For more photos of our trip, click on the gallery below.