Choose Your Own Samoan Adventure


by Astral Sligo

There's a reason why Samoa has been the location for the TV series Survivor no less than four times; the ten islands provide ample opportunity for adventure and pushing yourself to the limit.

What will your Samoan adventure be? Simply select (click on) your hero from this list, and choose your own Samoan adventure:
EDDY MERCKX/LANCE ARMSTRONG | GREG NORMAN/MICHAEL CAMPBELL | JACQUES COUSTEAU | HOMER SIMPSON | TANA UMAGA | INDIANA JONES | KELLY SLATER/MAZ QUINN

EDDY MERCKX LANCE ARMSTRONG’s Tour d’Savaii*
In his dreams, Lance Eddy probably fantasises about Savaii’s 200kms of sealed coastal roads, with turquoise, sheltered lagoons perfect for a long and languid dip or snorkel after a morning’s ride.  Although it is the largest of the treasured islands, it is the least populated with few vehicles on the road, but keep an eye out for the colourful buses, friendly locals who may wave you down for a chat, and roadside dogs (more interested in lazing in the sun than chasing cyclists). Bunches of bananas – free for the taking to all who need them – ripen in the shade of bus shelters painted in electric hues.
* this article was written before Lance Armstrong was stripped of his championship. Eddy Merckx now stands as the most accomplished cyclist of all time.

Live like a millionaire – for minimal cost and maximum enjoyment

Beachfront fales are the way to stay as they offer a warm welcome, plenty of bike-parking space, and you can get a fale, tasty dinner and a hearty breakfast for as little as sixty Tala (about $NZ32) each.

Having had my own adventures in Savaii, I can highly recommend Lauiula Beach Fales (there was a party of cyclists when I arrived), and Tailua Beach Fales in the drop-dead-gorgeous village of Manase, where I was introduced to the Samoan way (Fa'a Samoa) and treated to the tastiest, nutritious meals. At both places my fale was right at the water's edge, the mattresses were comfortable, the mosquito nets were great, and the staff friendly and helpful. Time your stay at Lauiula to get a kava welcoming ceremony, and ask the cheerful chef at Tailua to show you how to husk a coconut!

GREG NORMAN/MICHAEL CAMPBELL – golf pro in Upolu
If you are a guest at the iconic Aggie Grey’s hotel in Apia, you’ll be invited to tee off at the 18-hole Royal Samoan Country Club in Apia. While, near Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort in Mulifanua, the South Pacific Trade winds tussle the green turf of Penina Golf Course – home to the Samoa Incorporated Masters – a course designed to challenge the best golfers. It has an intriguing history; founded during the Second World War by US Marines and incorporates an old amphibious aircraft landing strip and a blue lagoon. In the south of Upolu island you can extend your swing on a fairway fringed with coconut palms at Sinalei Reef Resort. Although the 2009 tsunami struck this coast, the reef and the region are regenerating as welcoming as ever.

Make like INDIANA JONESclimb a volcano, explore lava tubes and search for 3000-year-old stone monuments on Savaii
Take the ferry to Savaii, hire a 4WD, make friends with the locals and make your own adventure. Find Crater-Man (watch the video here). He’s the self-appointed caretaker of the volcano and guru of Mt Matavanu mountain, he's never left Savaii because the whole world comes to him! (If you have trouble finding him, the good folk at The Savaiian Hotel will put you on the right track). 
Search for ancient archaeological sites like the Pulemelei Mound; an ancient stone 'pyramid' of about 12m high and 50m wide. (Despite its size, I still couldn't find it as the road and signage pointing to it had been damaged since the 2009 tsunami. Take a local guide, and plenty of water, and you may have more luck.) There are other ancient monuments all around Samoa, get a copy of the Samoa Visitor's Guide to read up on them.
Intrepid explorers may also like to investigate lava tubes, climb to the canopy of a Banyan tree, swim beneath waterfalls, swim with turtles (not ninjas) and explore flying-fox inhabited caves.


TANA UMAGA – take part in a legendary event
Yes, he's one of Samoa's most-loved exports and the former All Blacks captain epitomises Samoan friendliness and all-round-good-at-everything nature. Rugby and rugby sevens are big in Samoa, and the players are bigger! Rugby and the local version of cricket (kirikiti) are often played on the village greens after school and work, and visitors are welcome to join in.
We reckon Tana also enjoys some sweet Samoan sounds, so keep an ear out for the Teuila Festival in September. It brings together a variety of traditional entertainment including fire knife dancing, traditional sports including fautasi (long boat) racing, wood carving, tattooing, and the Miss Samoa pageant. It now also incorporates the Raggamuffin event, where the likes of Savage, Spawnbreezie, and local Samoan bands will pump out the beats on Apia's waterfront. And Riggamuffin (the out-rigger canoe regatta) finishes celebrations off with a beach party at a secret location.

Take the bus – it'll get you where you want to go and get you in the party vibe!

If you miss out on Raggamuffin, don't worry, you can still hear some prime beats coming from the back of Samoa's iconic and vivid buses. Many of the vividly-painted primo public transport vehicles come with subwoofers under the back seat – pushing out sweet sweet sounds (sometimes the windows are trimmed with fairy lights for that extra easy-breezy cruisey party atmosphere)

JACQUES COUSTEAU – take to the high seas!
The islands of Samoa with their perfect year-round ocean temperatures are the ideal dive destination. And with the nutrient-rich, pristine waters the marine-life will be tugging at your fishing line in no time. The 2013 Samoan International Game Fishing Tournament is held in early May. Or, perhaps a local can teach you to fish the Samoan way – with a net, rather than a rod.


KELLY SLATER/MAZ QUINN – Them's the breaks (to surf)
Samoa’s powerful surf and offshore breaks can be challenging and are best suited for experienced surfers. A surf resort specifically catering to those who want to find the best spots, and those who want to learn how to surf is your best bet. Get together a group of mates and make use of the special all-inclusive deals. 

HOMER SIMPSON – sit back, relax and enjoy beer and pizza!
Samoa Breweries crafts the very refreshing lager beer, Vailima (the name roughly translates to 'water in hand'). The brewery produces approximately 8,500,000 litres of beer annually. There are no formal tours, but call them to arrange a tour and tasting.
Giordano's pizza has al-fresco dining and some of the tastiest pizzas in the Pacific, with servings that will satisfy even Homer's appetite!

The best drink in Samoa

The coconut palm naturally filters water through its roots and trunk, and the result is a purified, slightly effervescent water with almost the same electrolyte balance as we have in our blood. It’s the perfect way to rehydrate and the best natural isotonic beverage you will ever taste.

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