Dreaming of Samoa

By Steve Anderson

‘Damn good idea’ was my response to a neighbour’s suggestion of going to sunny Samoa for a holiday.

Any chance to get into warm and clear tropical water during our winter is a fantastic opportunity. As good ideas often do, news spread and we soon had three families which included 12 people going to Tafua Beach Fales on the South Eastern side of  Upolu for a 10 day holiday.

Tafua is a family run business on Lalomanu beach, arguably the most beautiful beach in Samoa. This area was hard hit by the Tsunami of 2009 and the Tafua family lost several members so it was great to support them and see this friendly business was  thriving.

Within metres of our fale it was slip, slop, snorkel, mask and fins and we were exploring the lagoon. Beautiful warm, clear water but I was initially struck by the effect the tsunami had on the coral. There were plenty of fish about but the broken and dead coral reminded me to appreciate any dive which looks remotely pristine. In no time we found patches of colourful living coral and then the marine animals popped into our radar.

The largest hermit crab I have ever seen, heaps of photogenic pipefish, leaf fish and the most patient turtle swam with me for over 15 minutes. We all came back buzzing with stories of fish, octopus, crustaceans or just how relaxing it is swimming in warm water and soaking up those precious sun rays.

‘Lets explore the island’ rang out from the troups so we piled into the van like chickens after a manuka beetle and headed for the marine reserve just east of Apia. You could hear the oohs and aahhs underwater as our dozen strong contingent splashed into our aquarium-like world of beautiful colour, hard coral and fish. Aha, more converts to our special underwater world! This was the best snorkelling we found on Upolu and well worth a visit.

Ever tried jumping 30 metres into a blue hole, yea, not for me either but it served to fulfill the testosterone filled bodies of our teenagers and To Sua Trench was great swimming. This deep cobalt blue hole also had the best gardens around, blow holes and a beautiful rocky coastline. Most of the houses had well kept gardens and we were blown away by the colourful foliage.If you like turtles and have a hard time finding them when you are diving ask to be taken to feed the turtles at Malua. Turtles climb over each other to eat papaya. Adventure seekers would love Papasees’a sliding rocks and we slid down waterfalls and splashed in the warm pools below.

As in most trips to the islands, the locals make it special and the Samoans were extra special! We were greeted with smiles, hugs, and even given a gift when we left. Our boys were invited to play rugby in the evenings at the local school and they seemed proud and went out of their way to show us some special places like the ‘gorge’, a deep crater filled with fruit bats.

We felt good about reciprocating and giving away rugby boots, clothes and reading glasses.

Seems to me some dive promoters miss out on half their business by not providing options for non-diving family members.

Samoa catered for the wide interest of our three families and any holiday when the kids are happy, adults are happy and friendships made stronger is a great success.