The Best Things to Do in Samoa for Foodies
Travelling is a treat for all of the senses, so be sure to include taste into the mix with some of Samoa‘s wonderful foodie experiences. From engaging plantation tours and interactive food demonstrations to more relaxed affairs where you kick back and taste the “umu”, there are all sorts of ways to work your palate in Samoa. Find out more in this foodie list!
Before we begin, don’t forget to browse our complete foodie guide, The Food Guide to the Samoa – your food bible to Samoa.
1. See an Umu Demonstration
The traditional Polynesian method of slow-cooking fish, tropical root vegetables and dishes like palusami with hot rocks is usually saved for special occasions in Samoan culture, but there are a couple of ways to experience this special meal for yourself in Samoa. The easiest way would be to join one of Samoa Cultural Village‘s free tours in Apia where guests are shown how to weave their own plates before watching the umu demonstration and, of course, dining on the result while enjoying a magnificent cultural performance. Alternatively, there’s also the opportunity to watch umu demonstrations at resorts such as Le Vasa Resort on Upolu and Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge on Savai’i.
Location: Samoa Cultural Village – Behind the Samoa Tourism Information Centre, Beach Road, Apia. Le Vasa Resort – Main West Coast Road, Apolima-uta, northwest coast of Upolu. Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge – Between Auala and Asau villages in Asau Bay on the northwest coast of Savai’i.
2. Learn About Koko Samoa, Taste it and See How it is Made!
The Samoan version of hot chocolate, “koko Samoa” is where cacao is turned into a paste and mixed with hot water and sugar, which has been part of the fabric of Samoan homes for generations. While resorts such as Amoa Resort offer a fantastic cultural insight with their Koko Samoa Demonstration, you can dive deeper into the drink with the Koko Plantation Tour at Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge. The tour has you seeing the koko cultivation process from seedlings to dried cocoa beans along with a demonstration on how to make koko Samoa with tastings! For more drinks to try on the islands, check out the 14 Drinks in Samoa You Have to Try.
Location: Amoa Resort – Faga village on the east coast of Savai’i. Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge, between Auala and Asau villages on the northwest coast of Savai’i.
3. Browse Local Produce and Street Food Markets
One of the unmissable foodie experiences in Samoa is its markets. Fugalei Market is the largest market in Samoa where, between the stalls with large mounds of tropical fruit and vegetables, are vendors selling traditional Samoan meals, such as palusami and fai’ai elegi. A similar experience with fewer stalls can be found at the Salelologa Market on Savai’i. On the other hand, there’s also Apia’s Samoa Women’s Association of Growers (SWAG) Market which is a cute Saturday gathering with organic produce and local Samoan food products for sale. Finally, a congregation of street food await at Apia’s monthly Night Market, happening on the last Friday of the month from around 4 pm. Dive into the details of each market in the 8 Best Markets in Samoa.
Location: Apia and Salelologa. See the link above for specific locations.
4. Take Part in an ‘Ava Ceremony
Like in many of the Polynesian islands of the South Pacific, ‘ava or kava is a popular drink used for ceremonial purposes. ‘Ava is made from the root of a pepper plant that has been ground up and mixed with water. It has narcotic/sedative properties, but the quantity usually consumed by tourists won’t have much effect. Experience ‘ava at attractions like Samoa Cultural Village, while some volunteers are chosen to try ‘ava at fiafia nights (more about the latter below). For more food-related activities on Samoa’s main island, check out 10 Best Foodie Experiences on Upolu.
Location: Samoa Cultural Village – Behind the Samoa Tourism Information Centre, Beach Road, Apia.
5. Do a Sightseeing Tour with Your Own Personal Chef
Combine sightseeing with gourmet island dining with one of Samoa’s guided sightseeing tours. For instance, Chef John Tours offers both a half-day and full-day tours of Upolu, visiting Apia’s markets where you’ll pick out your own produce to be cooked up at the refreshing swimming spot of the Piula Cave Pool.
Alternatively, get a personalised experience complete with a traditional Samoan lunch prepared right before your eyes with Tour Samoa. On the “Full-Day Island Tour of Apia, Upolu and Samoa“, enjoy a highlights tour of the capital Apia, before venturing across the Cross Island Road with a tour of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and the Baha’i Temple. You’ll stop by a number of waterfalls and the To Sua Ocean Trench if you’re keen. Additionally, relax at one of Upolu’s stunning south coast beaches where your private chef will prepare a Samoan lunch, which you’re welcome to observe. For more food tours and experiences starting in Apia, take a look at the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Apia.
Location: Both tours include accommodation transfers from Apia.
6. Tour a Plantation
Samoans heavily rely on the tropical produce of its inland plantations, much like the Ifiele’ele Plantation on Upolu. Either stay as a guest at the accommodation or book ahead if you’re a group with a minimum of four people to take a tour of this plantation famous across the island for its healthy dried fruit snacks, real fruit ice pops, as well as jams and chutneys.
Alternatively on Savai’i, stay at the unique B&B experience of Florence’s Place for the fascinating foodie experience of exploring a 300-acre farm awash in taro, coconuts, papaya, pineapple, limes, bananas and livestock. After learning about the Samoan way of life through your friendly hosts, you’ll indulge in the farm’s fare through home-cooked meals. Plus, also see Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge‘s koko plantation tour, as described above or in the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Savai’i.
Location: Ifiele’ele Plantation – Satui Road, Fasito’outa, northwest coast of Upolu. Florence’s Place – Fa’a’ala village (Palauli district), signposted off the main road on the southeast coast of Savai’i.
7. Experience a Fiafia Night!
Another way to sample authentic local cuisine is through a fiafia night. “Fiafia” means “happy” in Samoan, which follows an equation that can’t help but put a smile on the faces of locals and visitors alike. Many will start with an ‘ava welcoming ceremony before guests are treated to a buffet of Samoan staples, as well as some international favourites. Once your stomach is gleeful, the show can get underway with cultural Pacifika dancing and, usually the highlight of the show, siva afi which is Samoa’s very own knife fire-dancing in the homeland where Polynesian fire dancing originated!
Location: All over Samoa! Make your selections, as well as find out their locations, in the 10 Best Cultural Shows (Fiafia) in Samoa.
8. Take Part in a Samoan Cooking Class
Take home the knowledge of how to cook Samoan dishes by partaking in a Samoan cooking class; a pretty unique souvenir! This more hands-on foodie experience in Samoa can be experienced at resorts such as Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa and Taumeasina Island Resort. The Sinalei offering is certainly an immersive affair which starts with a “sunrise supply hunt” gathering ingredients from the local plantations and markets. After a break with a dip in a freshwater pool, you’ll get stuck into your “sunset cooking class” where the resort’s chefs will guide you through creating a Samoan dish for you to enjoy in a private overwater setting once your creation is complete.
Location: Sinalei Reef Resort – Signposted off Main South Coast Road between Mulivai and Si’umu villages on the south coast of Upolu. Taumeasina Island Resort – Taumeasina Road, Apia.
9. Experience Palolo Rising
An annual phenomenon and cultural event that you can almost set your alarm by, the rising of the palolo reef worm is an exciting time to be in Samoa. Just before dawn during the waning October or November moon (sometimes both), locals flock to the reefs with their nets, buckets and lanterns in paopao (canoes) or on foot to haul in the tails of these unique and incredibly tasty reef worms. If you’re in Samoa during or a few weeks after Palolo Rising, you’ll either find palolo being sold in its raw or cooked form at the local markets or on the specials boards of restaurants. Alternatively, attend the Palolo Festival which is held at a different village and venue each year, so keep an eye on this accommodation or on the Samoa Tourism events page for where the next festival is taking place. For more advice, check out How to Experience the Palolo Season in Samoa.
Location: All over Samoa!
10. Try a Sunday To’onai
To’onai is a traditional Sunday lunch in Samoa, which brings in family and friends not only to eat together but to prepare the meal with each family member having a different role to play. If you’re lucky (and friendly enough), resort staff may invite you to their church service and then to their family home for an authentic to’onai experience.
Alternatively, some hotels, resorts and beach fales also host Sunday to’onai. Try dishes like palusami and food that has likely been cooked in an umu at accommodations like Taufua Beach Fales, Taumeasina Island Resort, Lava Hotel, Leuaina Beach Resort, Insel Fehmarn Hotel, Orator Hotel Samoa, Faimafili Village Resort and more. To’onai buffets usually start at midday; be sure to book your spot.
Location: All over Samoa! See the links of the recommended accommodations above to see their locations.
More Foodie Experiences in Samoa
Now that you know the top foodie experiences in Samoa, discover more gastronomical experiences not so well-hidden within the guides below:
- The Food Guide to Samoa: Places to Eat & Food Tours
- The Food Guide to Upolu: Places to Eat & Food Tours
- The Food Guide to Apia: Places to Eat & Food Tours
- The Food Guide to Savai’i: Places to Eat & Food Tours
Finally, plan a trip around Samoa with food in mind using the following itineraries: Samoa Food Itinerary: 3 Days, Samoa Food Itinerary: 5 Days, Samoa Food Itinerary: 7 Days, Samoa Food Itinerary: 10 Days and Samoa Food Itinerary: 14 Days.