On Tuesday, April 15 we arrived in Apia (Samoa, the capital of Western Samoa) that is approximately 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, 2,700 miles north of Sydney, 1,800 miles northwest of Auckland and 80 miles from Pago Pago! At one time bananas, cocoa and coconut were the main exports of the island. But, they were unable to compete with the world market; Samoa lost the banana trade which it has replaced with the export of taro, coconuts (coconut oil, cream) and fisheries.
We had made previous arrangement to rent a vehicle and tour the island on our own as we have been to this island in the past and had taken one of the day tours offered by one of the local villagers. We found out afterwards, that we actually got a great deal as most of the ship passengers that took taxis or van trips to the beach paid much more than we did for the entire day ($100 for car and gas). We started out heading towards two beaches Coconut and Sinalei Beaches that were suggested to visit for the views and snorkeling. Along our drive we past many small villages (neighborhoods). It is very interesting to see how each village had their own churches, schools and local grocery markets. You will see from the photos that the Samoans’ bury their family members on their property (typically found in front of the home). Some of the homes are not traditional and are a covered porch where the families sit/lay on a straw mat as their chair or bed. Samoan people are known for their genuine warmth, politeness and generous hospitality. The village children are naturally curious and very friendly as they smile and want to talk with you. You will see a few photos that we took of children as they completed school and there are no school buses or local transportation to pick up them. They walk home! One of the photos is of two girls that posed for a photo and asked if we could drive them about 2 miles down the road to their home. They were so inquisitive to our visit, lifestyle, and names and very, very polite! They were so grateful for the ride; we were a little leery of giving them a ride as it would not be something you do in the US unless you know the children.
On our way, we happened to come across a unique sign that read “A Bed and Breakfast with a Twist” – a luxury tree house resort. We decided to drive to the location to check out this resort and we were so glad that we did as it was amazing! When we pulled up we were met by the owners, Jack and Carol (originally from Oregon, USA who decided to retire in Samoa); Carol so graciously offered to give us a tour of their two tree houses. We have to give you a little insight before viewing the photos - These two tree houses were built in trees that are approximately 300 years old and will live to reach 1,000. The two beautifully decorated luxury tree houses are about 4 stories high and built “inside” one of these ancient banyan trees. Each tree house comes with a bedroom (one had two bedrooms), a bathroom with running hot and cold water (check out the shower which is actually inside the tree – Greg is shown standing in it), a kitchenette, reading nook, lounge and balconies. The porches on these tree houses overlook the beautiful south coast of the island where you have a gorgeous view of the beaches from the side of the mountain where these trees are located! If you are looking for a peaceful, very relaxing and secluded resort – put this on your bucket list! You are only 10 minutes away from the beaches and falls! Jack and Carol are being nationally recognized for their tree house resort for its uniqueness and secluded piece of paradise! Recently Discovery Channel has come out as it is considered one of the most unique resorts available. Many writers, doctors, CEO’s and other executives stay at the resort as a unique getaway. Check out their website for more information at www.lupesinatreesort.com. We want to share our special thanks to Carol and Jack for providing us with a personal tour of their tree house resort and the recommendations they made on what to see/visit while we were touring their island. We hope to come back one day to stay to enjoy the resort, friendly Samoans, local cuisine and your beaches!
We had hoped to go to some of these beaches as they were once known for their great snorkeling - reefs, coral and fish but back in 2009 a Tsunami destroyed most of this. We continued our drive to view the Coconut and Sinalei beaches, Talofa Falls, the Tolesua Trench (giant swimming hole) and the many villages. We took many pictures as we circled the island and admired the beaches, waterfalls and other sights. It was a great drive watching all the children getting off of school and starting their long walk home. We got to see horses being used as a means of transportation for getting around the island the wild pigs and dogs just walking along the roadside. Our last stop was to the National Marine Reserve for snorkeling and this was within a few blocks of the cruise harbor. We were able to snorkel for about 1 hour before packing up to return the rental vehicle and return back to the cruise ship. The snorkeling was enjoyable but the currents were strong and the fish life was limited compared to other islands we have visited in the South Pacific.
Our next stop is Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango) on American Samoa where it will be Tuesday once again! Sharon is totally totally confused with crossing the International Date Line and having two Tuesdays but no Mondays! Greg thinks it doesn’t make any sense to put the International Date Line right between two sister islands. Greg is still frustrated that we didn’t have two Wednesdays instead so he could have had two birthdays as was originally scheduled on this cruise!
Greg and Sharon Conrad