I took my two children to Joelan's and had the pleasure and privilege of becoming a 'part of the family' for the 6 days we were there.
We travelled around both islands and yes, there are many beautiful beaches, lovely fales or lovely hosts - few have all three. Falesoa and Sione and wonderful hosts, the lovely girls, Moe, Joyce and Na'a - became firm and real friends... so gentle, kind and loving! It was school holidays when we were there, so there were always lots of lovely, cheeky, friendly children keen for a chat or kick around with a football - or a game of their all time favourite pass-time - volleyball!
The fales are simple, mattresses on the floor with sheets and mosquito netting. If you want an extra mattress, just ask, I did as I was a little uncomfortable the first night, and it was no problem!! I love that the fales are totally traditional (apart from a light bulb!) with thatched sides, unlike a lot of others you will find with tarps or heavier (ugly) coverings for the sides. The thatched sides give very welcome air flow in the fales at night, and are easily lifted to give as much privacy/openness that you want. We had one night of a fabulous tropical storm with lightening and torrential rain, the thatched sides were perfect (I had even kept one up a little and the cool rain was delicious!!!). The tide comes right up under the fales which is heaven - the only downside to that is during the day, you run out of beach in front of the fales. Seriously, not a big deal, it's too hot to be lying in the sun all day anyway, and the sea is always perfect!!
There is a shared toilet that flushes, and shower, of sorts, cold water, but that is all you need and an outdoor sink with tap for brushing teeth etc. (remember not to drink the water and I encouraged my kids to use bottled water to brush with, just in case).
The dining area is fantastic, incredibly simple, but super - the food is served buffet style, and there is always plenty. If you are fussy eaters, take crackers, as the food is very Samoan and traditional (which we absolutely LOVED!!) - altho they do serve lovely fresh bread, scrambled eggs etc as well.
Breakfast and Dinner is included in the price (WST$50 per night, if you can believe it!!!) - if you are around for lunch, you are always welcome to join, and one of the lovely ladies would even deliver it to us while we were lounging on the beach in the sun! Sometimes we were surprised with a chilled coconut, hole drilled and a straw, YUM!!! There are always plenty of DELICIOUS bananas and coconuts to eat - it really is just wonderful.
The family and friends were all working on the dining area while we were there, and I can't wait to go back and see the progress.
Buses run regularly from right outside and everyone is quick to offer a ride if they're heading in the same direction as you - I do insist that you experience the Samoan buses tho - they are just too cool!
We hired a car (very cheap) for a couple of days to leisurely check out the island and to hunt out the 'best' beaches and snorkelling spots. Everyone raves about Manase... I think it didn't hold a candle to Lano...way less people too. We would often be the only people in the water - which is where we spent most of out time!
Like I said before, there are definitely some gorgeous beaches on Savai'i depending on what you are looking for... but I loved Lano!!
The other thing that won me over too was the lack of 'tourists'. The other people who were staying there became part of the family also, so by the end, there were big hugs and teary farewells all round. I think Joelan's is unique and therefore entices like minded people. Do not stay here if you are looking for a 'resort' holiday, altho, I would recommend you try it if you are vaguely tempted by what you have read, as you may surprise yourself. It is the simplicity, the traditional, REAL everyday life (no put on smiles or serving flash cocktails) and everything given with love. I love this place and all the people and I can not wait to go back.
Must haves, sunblock - heaps of it in a mist sprayer that you can continually apply with no hassle, mosquito repellant, if you're like me and react badly to bites (altho this trip was fine!!)
your own snorkelling gear, including fins, you will enjoy your snorkelling much more and finally - take plenty of drinking water with you, the more the better! The process of having to boil and cool water was a pain. There is a shop a couple of minutes walk away, but they were sometimes out of water, and sometimes no one to be seen - which I loved as it was just so honest!!
If you love simplicity, no mirrors and want to totally relax in a healthy, happy environment - you have found the place. Enjoy and maybe I will see you there!
- Also Known As:
- Joelan Beach Fales Samoa