Western Samoa

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Western Samoa.

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Vailima, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Home – Apia, Upolu, Western Samoa

The “Teller of Tales” Finds His Own Treasure Island

The 19th-century Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson loved Samoa, and the Samoans – themselves great orators and storytellers – loved him, calling him Tusitala, “the teller of tales.”

Samoa has barely acknowledged the arrival of modern times, so when visiting Stevenson’s Western-style mansion on the lush slopes of Mount Vaea, it’s easy to imagine him still here. As he saw it, Upolu was “beau­tiful beyond dreams,” a place that caused him to undergo a spiritual change during his five final years, and write that here, “My bones are sweeter to me.”

The obligatory pilgrimage up the winding trail to Stevenson’s grave on a secluded knoll is a challenging but rewarding half-hour climb, leading to a view that over­looks his home and the mountains and sea he had come to love. It’s one of the loveliest vistas in the South Pacific.

Stevenson wrote his own poignant epitaph, even though his death from a cerebral hemorrhage (and not the tuberculosis that plagued him all his life and caused him to leave Scotland) was sudden:

This be the verse you grave for me:

Here he lies where he longed to be;

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

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Safua Hotel – Savai’i, Western Samoa

Total Immersion in Fa’a Samoa

Travelers looking for the fa’a Samoa – the Samoan way of life – will find it at the Safua, where they’re likely to wind up lending a hand with the hotel’s daily shopping at the local market, helping the village kids with their homework, or attending rafter-ringing Sunday services with the host’s family.

The unspoiled volcanic island of Savai’i is one of the most “old Polynesia” islands of any in the Pacific, and the small, charming Safua Hotel is owned and operated by its most informative, knowledgeable, and charismatic character, Vaasili Moelagi Jackson.

Enveloping guests in Polynesian warmth, Moelagi, a female talking chief in her community’s otherwise male council, is a leading force in the island’s movement to preserve its indigenous culture and environment, which makes her an ideal guide to local customs.

At her hotel, every day is a chance to laze about, join an organized jaunt to gorgeous waterfalls or a nearby vil­lage ceremony, or even pick up a Samoan tattoo. A high point of the week is Safua’s leg­endary umu feast; beginning at dawn a suckling pig is steamed in a pit oven and the lavish results are enjoyed by Moelagi and her guests after church services.