- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Samoa offers visitors the chance to experience Polynesia at its most authentic. The capital, Apia, lies on the beautiful north coast of Upolu, the largest and most populous of the country's nine islands.
In the Aleipata district, waterfalls and white-sand beaches dominate the landscape. A 65km (40 mile) drive from Apia leads to the Falefa Falls, Mafa Pass and the Fuipisia Falls. Indeed, Samoa's natural attributes have an intoxicating effect on first-time visitors – islands' teeming jungles, mighty waterfalls and stunning sea have won many tourist's heart.
The fa'a Samoa (the Samoan way) is arguably the most vibrant living culture in Polynesia, with a heritage that dates back 2,000 years. Only a small nation, Samoa is nevertheless the heart of Polynesia both culturally and, indeed, geographically. Compared to almost any other Pacific island, its hangs on staunchly to the traditional Polynesian way of life.
Things to see and do in Samoa
Admire the beauty of the Aleipata region
Witness the most beautiful part of Samoa: the Aleipata district, which has a landscape dominated by waterfalls, white sandy beaches and traditional villages. From Apia, a 65km (40 mile) drive leads to the Falefa Falls, Fuipisia Falls and Mafa Pass.
Discover the rainforest
Discover some of Samoa's stretches of rainforest and conservation areas on an educational tour of Tanumapua, close to Apia. New species of wildlife are still being discovered including two new butterflies in 2009. Eco-tourism on the islands includes several ecological research programmes and eco-lodges.
Soak up the beautiful beaches
Bask on the many beautiful beaches Samoa has to offer. Excellent freshwater swimming is possible at Falefa Falls, Fogaafu Falls, Papase'ea Sliding Rock (a rock slide down a waterfall into a deep freshwater pool) and Puila Cave Pool. Boats can be hired for net, spear, deep-sea and snorkel fishing.
Take a swim with a turtle
Visit the Auala Green Turtle Conservation, where guides show you turtles before they are released back into the wild. If you’re lucky you could also get the chance to swim with these gentle giants under the supervision of guides. You can also find the turtles in their natural habitat in the sea around Nuutele Island.
See Samoa on the silver screen
See where Return to Paradise was filmed in 1952. The attractive Lefaga Village, on the southwest coast, can be reached by a cross-island road. Just off the coast of Upolu is Manono Island, which was the inspiration behind the WWII musical Tales of the South Pacific.
Test yourself on the trails
Hike the dozens of routes on the islands, ranging from coastal walks to mountain treks. Trails tend to grow over rapidly and can sometimes be difficult to get through. Visitors should ask for local advice and permission before heading off, and pack plenty of provisions.