Trish Griffiths on 25 December 2012
From Fiji we moved onto Samoa via a short flight to Apia. Samoa is actually made up of ten islands with the main ones being Upolu and Savaii. Upolu is the more developed of the islands. That said the pace of life on either island is relaxed!

Last year Samoa crossed the date line to move closer to its main trading partners in New Zealand and Australia, as a result we had to contend with a +13hour time difference to the UK! You certainly need to give yourself time to adjust with a trip here!

Samoa had been badly affected by cyclone Evan but you couldn’t tell from the smiling locals we encountered everywhere! There is a very strong culture of family and religion in Samoa and this is reflected in the warm welcome that you get, even in the local shops, and always in English. That said the local greeting of “Talofa” is always welcomed!

We stayed on the south coast and had an Ocean View Suite, literally metres from the beach. Once again it really is a challenge leaving the resort but in the interests of research we went on a tour of the east coast.

Upolu is quite a small island so the distances aren’t that challenging and we managed to see the highlights in about five hours. That said, if you want to stop on one of the best beaches in the world (according to Lonely Planet) you may want to take longer! The beach at Lalumanu is simply stunning and the snorkelling is excellent. Add to this, small beach fale’s and you may not want to leave! Also recommended is the To Sua Ocean Trench swimming pool, although the (very) steep ladder into it may deter the more nervous amongst you!

We also visited Apia town and it’s colourful flea market before heading to the famous and historic Aggie Grey’s resort for a local Vailima beer before heading back on the Cross Island Road seeing several waterfalls and some stunning viewpoints in the Island’s central hills.

We didn’t have time to visit Savaii but it is only a one hour ferry trip from Apia and, if it’s possible, it is even more laid back and relaxed than Upolu. Definitely one for us to try on our next trip this way! With Samoa, you are on a small island which has naturally maintained its laid back and friendly feel. The resorts here aren’t as well developed as somewhere like Fiji but they maintain a rustic and natural charm.

Whichever you choose, you will come back with fantastic memories of warm and friendly people, beautiful islands and you will be refreshingly chilled out. Just make sure you give yourself time to wind back up again before going back to work!