Samoa from above
Firstly we’d like to start by saying that we hope everybody had a great Christmas and celebrating going into 2011 without too much of a hangover (yes Turnip we’re talking to you!)
And Secondly we’d like to apologise for being a bit behind on the travel blog front, the festive period took over! So without further ado I give you our Second South Pacific Edition....
It was a cold rainy day back in August; we were in Christchurch perusing the internet to pass a bit of time. Now anybody that knows me knows I love a bargain, if I didn’t get it off ebay I got it in the sale! So when I saw the Slogan “Samoa For Lowa”, I’d booked the tickets before Cerri had even realised what I was doing! After doing a bit more research we discovered that during December it’s the wet season and that the country can at times get battered by tropical cyclones etc, hence the cheap ticket prices! But we thought whilst we we’re over this side of the world, it would be rude not to pay a cheeky visit to the Islands of Samoa.
We flew out in the early
One hand in the air and one to hold the nose!
hours of the morning, once again crossing the International Date Line and therefore arriving the previous day! We landed on the island of Upolu which is the larger of the two main islands in Samoa. After picking up our backpacks we managed to blag a lift with a nice Scottish man we meet in the check in queue called George into the Capital of Samoa, the town of Apia. This is where we based ourselves for the first couple of days enabling us to sort out what we were going to do during our time out in the middle of the South Pacific. During these first couple of days we visited the famous Aggie Greys Hotel which acted as a base for the Americans during World War 2 for a few beer’s and cocktails. We strolled around Apia town centre which isn’t really set up for tourists, it’s more of a working town for the locals. As we were in town we thought we sort out renting a car for a few days to do some exploring, which we’d pick up the next day. In the evening we found a nice little restaurant on the harbour and watching the dramatic
Fia Fia show
sunset, which looked like the sky was essentially on fire.
After picking up the rental car, which they upgraded us from a Getz to a Matrix (not sure if you can really call it an upgrade!) we headed up to the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. The Museum turned out to be the home that Mr Stevenson lived in during his time in Samoa, it housed some first editions of his most famous books including Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. From there we went to pay a visit to the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, a group of small waterfall s which were covered in a slippery moss like substance. So you could slide on your behind and slide your way down the 6/7 metre waterfall in the deep plunge pool below. Now 6 or 7 metres might not sound like a high as far as heights go but trust me it was quite unnerving standing at the top of the waterfall but once we’d overcome our fears we had great fun making a lot of big splashes! Luckily it was a particularly hot day and we dried off in no time making our way along the cross island
Virgin Cove Beach
road, stopping off at the spectacular 100m high Papapapai-tai waterfall before we arrived at our accommodation for the next few nights, the Taufau Beach Fales in the Village of Lalomanu; the hosts treat you like family and every evening and morning you sit down to dinner and breakfast altogether even with the other guests; so we made quite a few new friends and listened to different stories about the village. Back in September 2009 a tsunami hit the south east coast of Upolu destroying many homes and in some cases entire villages, the devastation was still very evident as we were driving along the coastal road, as there is still a lot of work to be done to make the place look like a village again. Our first night at Taufau we were treated to a cultural show and fire dance or Fia Fia as they are more commonly known where a few local very drunk policemen joined in and treated us to dressing up as drag queens! Cerri even had a boogie on the dance floor after the show with the chief of police . . . after he dragged her up!
The following day we spent relaxing
on the beach whilst cooling off in the blue waters of the surrounding lagoon every now and again. With a day of relaxation under our belts we decided to go and do some exploring the next day. First stop of the day was the Piula Cave Pool, which was secreted beneath a Methodist college. It actually consisted of two enchanted fish filled fresh water grottoes side by side only connected by a small, dark underwater passage which the brave can swim through and I did! From here we ventured onto our second stop of the day, another spectacular waterfall the Fuipisia Waterfall. This waterfall was surrounded by an array of Samoan flora and forna, and you could actually walk to the edge of the 54 metre drop. Third stop took us to the To Sua Ocean Trench, which is not so much a trench but a large sunken waterhole, after ascending down the rickety twenty metre wooden ladder to the crystal clear water we found ourselves in an enchanted world surrounded by sheer rock faces all around and the clear blue sky up above us. As we were leaving the Trench the heavens decided to open in a horrendous downpour
Couples combo at Virgin Cove
and our first taste of the Samoan wet season, we took shelter underneath a couple of trees at the lookout point. Whilst we were standing on what seemed to be the edge of the world looking at the ocean all around us, we spotted three dolphins swimming in the ever increasing waves catching fish, the perfect end to the perfect day of sightseeing.
The next day we left the Taufau Beach Fales our destination was our new accommodation called Virgin Cove Resort. Firstly we had to drop the hire car back to Apia, as we were driving back on the cross island road through the Samoan jungle we could hear a bit of a noise, we checked all the doors were shut properly and carried on our way. The noise gradually got worse so we pulled over only to find that one of our tyres was not only flat but the rim had penetrated the rubber! I struggled with the jack for a while as the heat was stifling and after a bit of strength from some local truckers who stopped on the roadside to help us, it took ten minutes to change the tyre in which Cerri literally
got eaten alive by the ravenous mosquitoes! With the car dropped back we boarded a bus to take us to Virgin Cove, it took us along a bumpy, sandy road which seemed to go on for miles along the coast line. Virgin Cove itself was nestled in between a secluded beach and a mangrove swamp. Alongside the Hotel guests were an army of Crabs that called the beach its home, at dusk you could see the dark outlines of the crabs which if you didn’t know they were crabs you would have thought you were in a scene from “Arachnophobia.” Aside from the crabs, some of which looked like aliens this place was tranquil and peaceful and we spent the next three days here once again relaxing in the sun and snorkelling in the beautiful blue reef. We were joined by our new friend Patrick from Switzerland who had also been staying at the Taufau Beach Fales with us. Whilst here we discovered that you were able to swim with sea turtles off the coast, with this discovery we jumped at the opportunity. After a twenty minute paddle out to the outer reef in a traditional Outrigger Canoe we’d arrived,
Red Sky at Night
now in our excitement we accidentally forgot to seal our camera’s underwater housing which as you can imagine after being submerged under ten metres of sea water decided not to work, although one photo came out! But it didn’t put a dampener on the amazing experience as we got within centimetres of several sea turtles as they majestically and gracefully swam passed us, we even got close up with a three metre stingray, a huge grouper fish and once again the cast of Finding Nemo! Luckily we had packed Cerri’s trusty old digital camera, so we were able to continue to capture our Samoan moments.
With a great week in the island of Upolu behind us we decided to head over the Island of Savai’i, the bus took us back to Apia where we nipped into the local market to pick up a traditional Lava Lava for Cerri which is the Samoan equivalent of a sarong. Enroute to the ferry terminal our taxi driver stopped off at a church where they nurse sea turtles that have been caught in fisherman’s nets back to health before releasing they back to the wild, so after camera incident during our snorkelling session
we were able to get some more photo’s of the turtles! We arrived at the ferry port and bumped into Alex and Ella who we’d also met during our time in Taufau, the ferry took an hour which was long enough due to the fact that it was a particularly choppy ride . . . even I felt sick! Once on the dry land of Savai’i all four of us bartered for a taxi which took us all of 500 metres down the road to Luisa’s Lagoon Chalets, this was where we would base ourselves for the rest of our stay. The Chalets were picturesque standing on wooden stilts with the turquoise lagoon below which you could dive right into from our chalet balcony, just like something off a postcard. We met “Tui” the Manager, who made us feel right at home telling us all about the history of the place. For the duration of our stay at Luisa’s we spent the majority of our time chilling out, reading our books, playing cards, topping up the tans and feeding the fish in the lagoon. After a few days of relaxing we opted to once again hire a car and do
some exploring. So on another road trip we went around the Island of Savai’i, driving passed the beaches of Lano, through the lava fields to our initial destination a tree top canopy walkway which was attached to a 230 year old banyan tree and offered cracking views out to the ocean and to the surrounding jungle landscape. From here we took a short drive to Moso’s footprint which was a bit of a letdown apart from the legend that surrounds it, the story goes that the giant Moso made the footprint when he stepped from Fiji to Samoa. Next stop on our road trip was the remains of a Church that was struck by a cyclone in 1991 before moving onto a cluster of rocks where if you look out to the horizon you can apparently see into tomorrow as you are on the edge of the world. We then drove on to a cliff edge called Lovers Leap where the story of a Mother and daughter leaping off the cliff into the ocean below surrounds it, locals say that upon entering the water one turned into a shark the other a turtle and this is the reason for the
vast amount of sea life around Samoa. After that we headed to the Alofaaga Blowholes, where we watched an impressive amount of water get vented up through lava chasms. Last stop on our epic road trip was another waterfall the Afu-A-Au falls, we cooled off after a hard days driving in the cold pool collecting at the bottom of the fall before heading back to our Lagoon Chalet for the evening. Our final day on Savai’i we decided to make the most of the free kayaks on offer at Luisas and spent the day paddling around the lagoon and also jumping off the end of the jetty in the water!
The next morning we did the dreaded packing of bags and headed for the ferry back to Upolu, we turned up for the Midday ferry but unfortunately we’d picked up an incorrect timetable as the ferry didn’t arrive till two hours later! After another nauseous sea journey we arrived back in Upolu where we spent the evening at the Airport Hotel, where we thought it was only right we watched the Film “Australia” as this would be our next destination on our trip. We caught a flight the next
How to drink from a waterfall!
morning back to New Zealand, here we headed back to our old flat in Auckland for one night to catch up with the old Trusty Milkman before leaving in the early hours to head to the land downunder!
Tip of the Fortnight – When visiting Samoa remember to pack industrial strength mosquito repellent and an underwater camera!
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