Scotland’s 19th-century writer Robert Louis Stevenson was known as ‘Tusitala, the teller of tales’, but he couldn’t have been closer to the truth when he labelled Samoa ‘paradise’. In fact, the famous author was so enchanted by the South Pacific country – the cradle of Polynesia – he requested to be buried on Mount Vaea, a peak above his homestead, which has been refurbished as a museum.
Apart from the people, and the warm smiles that come with each greeting, there are the open air thatched roof fales (traditional homes) to visit, tantalising umus (underground oven feasts) to sample and a range of cultural celebrations to enjoy. Samoa is more than a beach or island holiday, it’s an experience. It is also a natural treasure, like the black pearls that are sprinkled throughout the Pacific.
Samoa consists of two relatively large islands, Upolu and Savaii and seven smaller islands, covering 2934 square kilometres in total. There is an exclusive marine economic zone covering around 130,000 square kilometres. Upolu, home to Apia and Stevenson’s grave site, is the bustling isle while Savaii, the big island reached by ferry, has a different type of charm that revolves around a rugged, volcanic landscape, scarred by massive lava flows and left with grassed craters, venues for games of kirikiti, Samoa’s version of cricket.