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Heading to Samoa on your next holiday? The island nation is the perfect place to relax at a resort and soak up some well-deserved sunshine. When you’re ready for something more active, there’s plenty to explore, from historical and cultural sites to romantic beaches.

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To start your adventure, you’ll be interested to learn a few quick facts about this island republic. Inhabited by seafaring Polynesians about 3, 000 years ago, the islands are actively volcanic. The Independent State of Samoa makes up the western half of the island chain of the Samoan Islands, with U.S.-controlled American Samoa taking up the smaller islands to the east. Samoa was governed by New Zealand from 1914 until independence in 1962. The capital of Samoa is Apia, on the island of Upolu, where the international airport is also located. Looking for somewhere to stay while in Samoa? Find top Samoan resorts for your paradise vacation.

Robert Louis Stevenson Museum

Samoa gained worldwide fame as a beautiful location shortly after it was visited by Dutch and French explorers. It became even more famous when Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson settled near Apia in the village of Vailima in the 1890s. Stevenson travelled widely the South Pacific, having left Britain in search of a warmer climate that would make his poor health (which modern analysts think may have been tuberculosis or another obstructive lung disease) easier to bear.

Stevenson was widely admired by the Samoan people, which you can see expressed in the exhibits at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, housed in the building where Stevenson lived with his wife and family. Visitors can also pay homage to the poet and novelist by climbing the hill behind the museum to see Stevenson’s grave.

Papasee’a Sliding Rocks

Samoa boasts plenty of opportunities for water sports, including amazing scuba diving spots, sea kayaking excursions and excellent snorkelling. In addition to these salt-water activities, you’ll also find chances to bathe in the freshwater rivers. Visit some of the country’s picturesque waterfalls, and picnic by the soothing sounds of falling droplets before taking a dip in the pool beneath the cascade.

 

The country has several great waterfalls, but the Papasee’a Sliding Rocks on Upolu are more unique, and a must-see for any group that loves water sports. Instead of simply standing under the waterfalls at this site, you can interact with your environment by sliding down the chutes worn into the smooth rocks by many happy bathers before you.

Pulemelei Mound Archaeological Site

On Savai’i Island you can ponder the meaning of a mysterious ancient structure. The Pulemeilei Mound, also known as Tia Seu Ancient Mound, is the base of what was once an enormous pyramidal structure built out of native basalt rock. Now only 12 metres high (and about 60 metres wide and long), an archaeological excavation in the 1970s found evidence here of ovens and earthen pathways. More archaeological finds may exist in the area, but they would be covered by the thick jungle that surrounds the site.

This site is secluded, but is accessible by 4WD car.

Apia’s Flea Market

Fancy a bit of shopping and looking for something out of the ordinary? Apia’s flea market, near the waterfront makes an intriguing alternative to shopping for your souvenirs in a resort shop. Market stalls are covered, so it’s a good rainy-day alternative to some of the other sites. From unique hand-made local crafts such as carvings and woven items to those few beach necessities you may have forgotten to pack, such as flip-flops or T-shirts, you’ll find it at the flea market. There are also food and drink stalls in case you get the munchies during your day of shopping.

Lalomanu Beach

With average temperatures hovering around 28 degrees year around, you’ll be able to enjoy plenty of time on the beach while you’re in Samoa. Lalomanu Beach on Upolu Island is often ranked as one of the country’s best.  A white sand beach that gently slopes into clear water protected by a barrier reef, it’s perfect for sunbathers, snorkelers and anyone who loves the water. Rent a fale — a traditional, raised hut that’s open to the breeze — and spend all day on and near the sand.

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