General Information about Samoa

Samoa is considered the heart of Polynesia. It has a 3000 year-old way of life called Fa’a Samoa that underpins a memorable visitor experience.

Samoa is a postcard of natural beauty consisting of ten islands, each offering very distinct and different environments to explore. Blessed with stunning land and seascapes, and friendly people who are proud of their country, there are many versions of paradise to discover. Drive around in a day, or take a leisurely trip over a few days, or even tour by cycle over a week, or just base yourself at a resort and relax.

From the rainforest covered rugged volcanic mountain peaks of Savai’i, to the vast valleys leading down to Upolu’s coastline ringed with a necklace of white sandy beaches.

Explore Samoa’s lush green fertile valleys where banyan trees tower above the tropical rainforest canopy. Take time to cool down at a watering hole next to one of Samoa’s many cascading waterfalls that drop into rivers cutting jagged lines through the valley floor as they make their way to the ocean.

The coastline is a wonder in itself, with sparkling white sand beaches, in some places stretching for miles, and here and there are walls of sheer cliffs that drop straight into the Pacific.

Beyond the beaches out into the blue lagoons are scattered the rest of the islands that make up the Samoa archipelago, some inhabited, others with only  wildlife, protected by the fringing coral reef that keep the powerful force of the Pacific Ocean at bay.

And amongst all this natural beauty and picturesque valleys and coastline you will find nu’u or villages with their churches, meeting houses and open fale or homes encircling the malae or village green.

Home to people proud of their strong Fa’a Samoa – cultural heritage – that live alongside these natural wonders.

For it’s the people, culture and nature that give life to these islands.


Guided by the stars, the Polynesian ancestors made their way across the Pacific in ocean-faring canoes thousands of years ago.

Samoa’s oldest known site of human occupation is Mulifanua on the island of Upolu, which dates back to about 1000 BC (about 3000 years ago). Stonework ‘pyramids’ and mounds in star formation found throughout the islands have inspired various theories from archaeologists about this stage of Samoan history.

Over the millennia, the Samoan people engaged in trade, battles and intermarriage of nobility with the neighbouring islands of Fiji and Tonga. The interweaving of the cultures and bloodlines has helped strengthen the ties of these South Pacific nations.

European whalers and traders started to arrive in the late 1700s. By far the most important agents of change in Samoa were the western missionaries, converting the people from belief in Gods for the sun, earth, heavens and sea to the one God.

Dutchman, Jacob Roggeveen was the first European to sight the islands in 1722, but it wasn’t until 1830 when the Reverend John Williams arrived in Savai’i, that the Christian gospel had an impact on Samoan life. Visitors to Samoa may be shown the monuments to John Williams on both main islands. Samoans are now a devoutly religious people with much time devoted to church activities. For many Samoans, Christianity and Fa‘a Samoa (Samoan culture) are inextricably interwoven.

In 1899 after years of civil war, the islands of the Samoan archipelago were divided – the Germans taking the islands to the west and the Americans taking the islands to the east, now known as American Samoa.

After the outbreak of the First World War, New Zealand captured Western Samoa from the small German company stationed on the islands, and following the end of the war took administrative control on behalf of the United Nations from 1918 until independence on 1st January 1962. Western Samoa became the first Pacific nation to gain Independence.

From 1962 to 1997, the nation was known as Western Samoa, until it dropped the title ‘Western’ from its name to become the Independent State of Samoa. Samoa celebrates its independence each June.


Samoa’s weather is warm and tropical all year round, with two distinct seasons – the dry season running from May to October and the wet season from November to April.

Samoa’s climate is hot and humid with an average daily temperature of 29 degrees Celsius and ocean temperature in the low 20s. In the eastern and south-eastern parts of Samoa, trade winds will year-round bring cooling breezes late afternoon and early evening.

Lightweight summer clothing is appropriate for year round wear, cooler evenings could require a light cotton sweater. Smart casual evening-wear is appropriate for hotels and restaurants in Samoa.

The most popular time of year to visit Samoa is during the dry season, but if you visit during the wet season, a light raincoat is definitely an essential item of clothing.

Visitors to Samoa are requested not to wear bathing suits in Apia or in the villages. Nude or topless (for women) swimming or sunbathing is discouraged a as it is against Samoa’s cultural protocol. If women attend church, they are recommended to wear a lavalava (sarong) or dress, rather than shorts or trousers.

No matter where you go, be prepared for high temperatures and humidity. Many Samoans will carry handmade fans with them – a lavalava, some jandals and a fan are possibly the most useful souvenirs to buy during your time in Samoa!


Samoan and English

Time zone

In 2011, Samoa changed time zone, moving west of the dateline. This puts Samoa 12 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Departure Tax

The departure tax for Samoa is included in airfares.

Doctors and Health

There are many medical clinics in Apia should you require a doctor and the Tupua Tamasese Meaole II National Hospital is located in Apia. In 2015, the Tupua Tamasese Memorial Hospital completed the first stage of redevelopment with all-new air-conditioned facilities, including an onsite pharmacy. A second stage of development will see a training and teaching facility for the Oceania University of Medicine.

There are private dental clinics and pharmacies mostly located in Apia. For other queries on health, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions.

Tupua Tamasese Memorial Hospital
Mootootua, Apia, Samoa
Phone : 21 212
Fax: 22 905

For an emergency in Samoa, dial the following numbers:
Medical: 996
Police: 995
Fire: 994

Duty Free Allowance

Passengers aged 21-years and over may import up to 2.25 litres of alcohol and 200g of cigarettes free of duty.

Airlines and Airports

The main entry point into Samoa is Faleolo International Airport, 35km from Apia on the island of Upolu. See Getting To & Around Samoa.


Samoa has two breweries, Vailima Breweries and Samoa Beverage Company.Vailima is Samoa’s local brew and can be found almost everywhere. Originally set up by the Germans, Vailima now produces one of the finest lagers in the South Pacific. Samoa Beverage Company is a new manufacturing beverage company locally producing and marketing a range of beverages.

Beer can be purchased almost anywhere on the islands throughout the week, although on Sundays alcohol is strictly prohibited for sale except for in hotels and restaurants.

Bars & Nightclubs

There are many bars and nightclubs to provide a good night out and are mostly in and around Apia. Doors close at 12am.

Currency and Credit cards

The Samoa decimal currency is the Tala (dollar) and Sene (cent): 100 Sene = ST$1 (Tala). All major foreign currencies are exchangeable in Samoa.

Samoan Tala can also be purchased outside the country from a few selected banks, however you will need to check with your bank if you can order some before you depart.

Credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners & JCB) are widely accepted in the major hotels, restaurants and stores. Travellers’ cheques are also widely accepted at major banks and hotels.

Eftpos machines are found throughout Upolu and Savai’i in major hotels, resorts and supermarkets and accept the following cards – Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Amex, JCB & Plus Cards and Access International Debit Card.

Try this online currency converter.


Tipping is not practised or expected in Samoa. However, if a guest wishes to leave a gift for good service then you are welcome to do so directly with the employee or the hotel reception.


Just like its Pacific neighbours, Samoa’s climate is tropical and warm all year round. Light summer clothing is appropriate all year round. As Samoa has a strong cultural structure and Christian faith, tourists are asked not to wear bathing suits in Apia or in villages. For more information on dressing appropriately, read about visitor protocol in Samoa.

Mobile Phones

There are two main telecommunications providers in Samoa: Digicel and Bluesky Samoa. Both providers offer extensive coverage. Prepaid SIM cards are available at Faleolo International Airport and at outlets in Apia.

Post Office

The main Samoa Post branch is located in the Central Business District in Apia, across from the main branch of the ANZ Bank.


Electricity is 240 volts (the same as in the UK, Australia and New Zealand). If you come from the US you will need a convertor. Sockets are three pronged, the upper two prongs are angled and flat, the lower prong is vertical and flat.

Visa & Entry

Most visitors to Samoa are granted a 31-day tourist visa upon presentation of an onward ticket and a passport with at least six months’ validity.


Samoa is a Christian nation and the main denominations are – Congregational, Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Assembly of God, Seven Day Adventist, Bahai, Latter Day Saints and Jehovah’s Witness. Visitors are welcome to attend church.  Check with your hotel reception for service times. Read more information about Samoan culture and visitor protocol in Samoa.

For further information:

Please contact Mrs. Reena Suliana, PPA Secretariat on Tel: (679) 3306 022; Fax: (679) 3302 038 or send an email to: