12 Sep The island of Upolu, Samoa (formally Western Samoa)
We spent about 2 weeks in Apia, on Upolu. Apia is the capital of Samoa. We stayed in the Apia marina (which we understand the officials prefer versus the anchorage). The Apia marina is really just a small dock, within a 5 minute stroll, a bathroom and shower are available. Apia is a large city and downtown is about a 20 minute walk. (Taxi is 5 tala, about $2 US 🙂
On our first day walking around town, we got scammed twice for about $36. We have found that at first the scammers befriend you, “Hi, my name is Johnny, whats yours?” Or “I met you at Customs yesterday”‘ yada yada yada. Then the come in for the kill, “My kids school is raising money” or “I am coaching a rugby team and we are doing a fundraiser”. Throughout our travels a street sense has been important everywhere we have been! Maybe this time we have learned the lesson better? Now onto our more positive experiences.
The Samoan tourist office offers a free Cultural show that we very much enjoyed. It is about a 3 hour event where they have authentic music, cultural demonstrations (wood carving; open fire cooking; Tatau-tattooing using handmade tools of bone, tusk, turtle shell and wood; Tapa making-the cloth is made from peeling the inner bark of a paper mulberry tree branch, pounding and scraping it out to flatten it so the designs can be hand painted on; a traditional Samoan feast (that was yummy); dancing and they even taught us basket weaving. (Donations were fully optional).
We decided to do some site seeing while we were in Samoa. Lot’s of other Yachties ferried over to Savai’i, “the big island” and spent time enjoying it’s “pristine” scenery and white sand beaches. We chose to tour around Upolu. We rented a car with “Samoan” car rental, it was about $80 US a day, which also included insurance and a Samoan drivers license. Within our couple days we were able to drive most of the way around the island. If someone wanted to see more of the Island, it would be best to plan additional days.
Our first day we decided to drive across to the South-West coast. Our first stop was to visit the Baha’i temple and gardens in Taipatata. It is one of 7 Baha’i temples worldwide. The 22 acre tropical gardens were peaceful and beautiful. We spoke with the volunteer at the visitors center. I mentioned I was familiar with the Baha’i temple in Wilmette, Illinois and low and behold his wife had just sent him a picture of her standing in front of the temple, that very day! (Our small world.)
The rest of that afternoon we drove through the lush mountainous interior, observing the small villages, checking out a few of the beaches and resorts. We ended up driving back into the bustling city of Apia from the west. We enjoyed a romantic dinner at Giordanos Italian restaurant, who offer gluten free pizza and pasta!
Our second day we toured with friends Laurel and Leo from sv Summer. We decided to start the drive on the North-East coast and stopped at Falefa, a lovely small waterfall. As you walk down to the river you meander through beautifully manicured gardens. Once down at the water there are views along the river of the waterfall.
When we left the waterfall we decided to take the road closest to the ocean and continue South. When we rented the car we asked if we could drive on the roads marked 4-wheel drive. We were given the ok, however, after about a 45 minute drive through beautiful, tropical scenery with lovely ocean views we drove through a small village, came upon a Mormon church, at which point the road turned into grass! Whoops! (Looks like another communication misunderstanding.)
We made our way back to the main road and traveled to the South coast where we had a wonderful lunch in an spectacular setting at the Seabreeze resort. Next, the highlight of the day was the Sua Ocean Trench, which translates as “big hole”. A 30 metre deep hole with seawater at the bottom, which is accessed by a steep ladder. It is surrounded by lush vines and other greenery. The water was clear and very refreshing. The grounds of the site are stunning, as you are on a plateau looking out on crashing surf along the Ocean’s edge. There were Fale’s (wooden structures with woven roofs) scattered about the grounds where you could relax before and after your swim in the trench.
It is interesting that most of the land is owned by individual families, who have had the land for generations. They charge a small fee to use their land, whether it be a beach or waterfall or swimming hole. The families beautifully maintain these natural wonders.
Our final morning with the car we started with a lovely breakfast at Nourish Cafe, visited the Piula Cave pool and finished with a quick stop at “Crush Juice bar” a vegan restaurant. I got vegetarian sushi, it was an awesome treat!
As Leo (sv Summer) is a professional rigger, we decided to have him check over our running and standing rigging. We spent the majority of one day going over everything and now have a list of new boat projects. Leo did a fabulous job meticulously looking over our rig and expertly explaining the problems and solutions. There were a couple things he found that were in desperate need of a fix. We are very grateful for his services.
We spent one night at Aggie Grey’s Sheraton hotel, which was a real luxury. I loved hanging by the pool, swimming, sunning and sipping on coconut water. Dick took advantage of air conditioning and internet and we got all our devices updated! Laurel and Leo joined us at the hotel, we enjoyed our time hanging by the pool and sharing meals together. With the reasonably priced hotel room, you received a complementary 3 course breakfast. It was impressive and unexpected!
The internet is awesome at the hotel, if you stop by for coffee, tea or a meal they have complimentary internet (no password). We also had good internet aboard Maia, with Digicell sim cards (which had cheaper pricing than Pago Pago).
We enjoyed several other nice restaurants in Apia; Paddles and Tifaimoana, Indian Restaurant. Our favorite was the Nourish Cafe.
Unfortunately, while we were in Apia, there was lots of drama. Boats in the anchorage were searched and one boat was found to have a small amount of cannabis and paraphernalia aboard. This prompted an in depth search of boats in the anchorage (fortunately we were in the marina and were spared the ordeal of a search), but we had police hanging on our dock overnight guarding the offender’s boat. The single-hander was in jail for about a week while they did an intensive search of his boat. As we understand it, he is out of jail and awaiting a court date. This was a deplorable and unfortunate situation.