...I spent nearly one, fantastic month in Samoa and before I took off I met a lot of useful info from TT travellers and it would be selfish if I didn't share my experiences with those who are about to start out to Samoa. Thank you all who helped me.
I flew with Polynesian Blue. Both flights went smooth but unfortunately the return flight back Sydneybound was accompanied by a small incident which left me with a bitter taste on my tongue. More below.
I wasn't on a tight budget but didn't want blow my money either. Therefore during my whole stay I tried to either get off beaten tracks or while on routine tourist spots look to less known accomodation and blend with locals. I wasn't always possible all the time, mind you meeting other travellers (Kiwis and Ozies prevail) was absolutely beneficial for trading info on where to go and other recommendations. This way I learned about a few places that I otherwise wouldn't have visted. One of the good hostels in Apia where you can share your travel tips is Seaside Inn which is located on Main beach road. Cost: cheap 39 Tala for a dorm. Dorms are actually really nice rooms not looking like a budget accommodation (no bunk beds of course). Breakfeast included. This hostel was for me like a base where I always returned for one night to stock up before heading to a next destination. You can leave here some of your stuff there if you have got some what you don't need.
I like Apia! Luckily, my arrival coincided with final stages of South pacific games and the beginning of Teuila festival so I watched many wonderful dance, musical, theatrical performances in streets. Well, even after everything finished I found out that other preformances continued (usually on friday morning) to take place on a stage at the main bus station next to fruit market called "Maketi Fou". Interesting almost all "white tourist" wandered chiefly on Main beach road and didn't usually get to the "a bit more seedy" and inner parts of Apia where, for instance, Maketi Fou is.
Note, Apia have got two main bus stations - one is in Maketi Fou and the other one is accros Flea market on Main beach road and moreover some of the buses go to their destination through the other bus station, some of them do not. Bus transport in Samoa is an absolutely amazing expericence and I think everybody should try it at least once.
Taxi on both Upolu and Savai'i without doubts were one of the biggest suprises that awaited me in Samoa. Ok, on my arrival I was ripped off by a driver who gave me ride from the airport to Mulifanua wharf for 15 Tala (I had agreed on the price - my fault). However, in rest of my my stay I got independently stunned by a few taxi drivers who, although did not have any deal with me and I had refused their ride, ran after me (literally!) only to warn me I was boarding a wrong bus or to advise me which bus to board. I really happened to me a few times and further more all cab drivers I rode were jolly helpful and genuinely friendly.
Even though I alwas dined out Im not an expert on food delicacy or restaurants generally. I tried Skippy's near Flea Market (hidden in subway), an Australian cafe on the only mall in Apia also near Flea market, an Italian pizzeria on Main beach road and ate in different food courts in markets, where you can taste more local food and find the cheapest prices.
Shopping: I had seemed prices of goods and souvenirs in Apia were on very similar level like there was no real competition until I came across CCK shop in the inner part of Apia. I thought prices there were lower along with a great variety of products.
From Apia as everone else I made some side trips. Robert L.Stevenson museum in the garden and his tomb which is on the peak of Mt.Vaea. It takes 15 mins to get to the bottom. Two buses go to the place - "Siumu" or "Vaola". One little tip on the hike trip: If you want a slow not so exhausting hike take the longer trail. If you wanna climb steep sometimes slippery hill to be there asap go take the shorter trail.
Papaseea sliding rocks. Definite must while in Apia. One tip: You needn't take a taxi to get there. Take the bus name "Seesee" (departs every hour from Flea market), it takes only 15-20 mins. The bus' final stop is just by the sliding rocks. The bus then turns around heading back to Apia and all round....Pay 3 tala as an entry fee. Slide rocks, have fun. On your way back take a nice walk down the same way you arrived with the bus through a beautiful area and villages. You can interact with locals there. Don't worry about transport you are gonna meet the same bus on its way back to Papaseea...
Another day I hired a small motobike from Discovery rentals (100 tala per day) and explored whole Upolu in two days. If you on your own I highly recommend to hire a motobike. Driving motobike on Savai'i and Upolu was for me probably the best experience in Samoa and highlight of my trip. That company is not the only subject that you can rent a motobike from as I found out in last 10 days of my stay in Samoa as you'll find out later in this report.
Anyway on Upolu I visited Piula cave pool - relaxing, 3 tala fee I think;
Falefa waterfalls - quite scenic with Le Mafa Pass in background;
Fagaloa bay - the most spectacular area saw in Samoa;
village Lona at Fagaloa bay - three high beautiful waterfalls on hills behind and actually you can easily get to one of them - indeed amazing - ask locals (I paid 5 tala fee); I stayed there for 3 night in a fale accomodation;
Uafato - a remote village with friendly people and fale accommodation;
Le Mafa Pass - well worth at least stoping by and looking around;
Laomanu beach - quite disappointment, not so pristine - rather crowded, scenic though;
Namua island - another highlight for me, you can walk up the hill or around the island (the later in low tide though), spot big turtles and othe vreatures of nature or just chill out one of the best beach in Samoa;
Faofao - friendly people plus a pretty beach;
Fuipisia waterfall - big and spectacular, 3 tala fee;
Togitogiga waterfalls - nice but small, no charge;
Matareva beach - friendly and helpful people there, good beach and snorkeling but at weekends it may be crowded with drinking outfits of Apia...
plus other places.
If you wanna transfer your motobike to Savai'i use the regular ferry, of course. Cost 30 tala one way incl. you. You don't have to call them in advance - you will allways squeeze the bike between cars.
Buses on Savai'i are less frekvent than in Upolu and links are somehow uncomfortable and incovenient for someone who wants to do a trip around the island. Although I did travel on Savai'i by bus and must say all people involved were wonderful everybody helping each other and giving up seats for the others...
Regardless of that above I hired again a motobike (Suzuki 250, for 80 tala per day) from a samoan guy who can provide a motobike also to you. He can accompany you with his bike (Yamaha 850) or give you a guidance or you can just drive by yourself or whatever. If interested contact me. By coincidence later on I bumped into another samoan guy who abstractedly offered me a motobike as well (90 tala a day) so that I have got two contact on guys who rent motobikes out in Samoa. As I have implied driving the motobike, feeling wind in my hair and lastly meeting locals this way was the greatest experience in Samoa.
On Savai'i apart from other places I saw Saleologa - where the ferry arrives, in my opinion nothing to see or do there except for shopping, its an important hub though;
village Lano - the whitest sandy beach I saw in Samoa, friendly people there, but the "resort" is pretty untidy (after a small flood); Manase - great spot in Savai'i even though much more commercial and really busy for my taste as is the whole zone Satolepai - Fagamalo - Lelepa - Manase, having said this I still believe the best spot in this area is in Titi & Nina's - best part of the beach is there, best fales - seven in total (not lockable though) are there, great people in their families, outstanding food (Titi worked as a chef in Vacations) and I can go on and on - send me a mesage for more details;
Aopo - village in the middle of nowhere where I punctured by accident a tyre of my motobike while driving:-);
Canopy Walkway - the biggest tourist trap in Samoa in my opinion, 20 tala fee;
Cape Mulinuu - the westernmost point on Earth;
village Tufutafoe in Cape Mulinuu - met there some locals, go there as long as you desire to get to know the real Samoa;
Lovers leap - a huge bay with steep slopes, worth stoping by;
Satuiatua - fale accomodation suitable for surfers too, it can be a base for discovering the south coast of Savai'i if you are there by bus, otherwise beach is quite poor, good snorkeling, friendly owners though;
Taga blowholes - must for those who haven't seen it somewhere else, you pay 5(?) Tala as an admission fee, then 5 Tala for parking and other 10 Tala for a guy throwing coconut peels to the blows for you;
Nuu Black sand beach - its ok, liked it there, someone might want 5 tala from you as fee;
Mu Pagao waterfalls - waterfalls flowing directly to the ocean - quite a lot of rubbish around them;
Afu Au waterfalls - 5 tala fee, well worth it, the pool on the bottom is deep - you can swim or jump in, the place is fully accesible by car...
Flew back to Sydney with Polynesian Blue. Before customs in Sydney found one of pockets of my backpack was open. I checked it quickly found nothing was missing at that time, but to my bad luck only 30 mins later sudenly realized that one of my connection USB cables was missing and some other etceteras. I went back to claim a loss but negative. It was sure vain to take any actions but my suspicions have been growing since then especially realizing that pockets' zipper of my backpack is dificult to open and close and takes me sometimes a time to open and close let alone it opened itself.
To conclude my trip to Samoa. I had a suberb time! Truly, met there lots of friendly people not only locals but also among other travellers.
Some of information I had taken into concideration didn't come true. For instance dogs. Absolutely no problem at all, vice versa, 99% of them were friendly to me, maybe because I love dogs and own one. On the other hand just beacause I wasn't bitten I doesn't mean they do not have teeth. What's more, I didn't like to see some of them be in such a bad shape and condition a wonder about the saomoans' attitude to them.
Now I think I would have slaped myself for leaving my sfuff everywhere in open fales but I was just careless (or stupid?). With one exception: my valuables which I had always with me. In this case I didn't try my good luck....
Shyness: I didn't find Samoans so extremely shy but it varies I guess
Apia: worth staying 2-3 night or more, lots of to see and do - go out of the main streets!
Highlight of my trip:
driving the motobike on Upolu's and Savai'i's coast roads in clear sunny days with chilling breeze;
Samoan people (including taxi drivers:-)
Uafato area and Fagaloa bay;
Apia's dance performances;
Manase village and beach;
buses and many more
Downsides of my trip (or else disappointments):
Canopy walkway on Savai'i
little time to discover inlands of Savai'i
Sydney's airport ordeal;-)
Some pictures of mine shot in Samoa: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jirikoo
Some videos of mine shot in Samoa: http://www.youtube.com/jirikoo
Well that's pretty all it for today, all opinions are in my report are humbly personal only and thats how you are supposed to take them. I welcome all responses and reactions (even those negative, of course) as well as requests for suggestions on your trip to Samoa. Feel free to ask me anything. Believe me I absorbed Samoa more than just described in this short report.