The Guide to Staying in a Beach Fale for First-Timer Visitors to Samoa
Give up the comforts, standards and stresses of modern life and experience the breathtaking coastal beauty and the generosity of Samoan hospitality by staying in a beach fale in Samoa. While you may be looking to fulfil the “beach hut” dream, there are a few things you need to know about this unique accommodation experience.
“Fale” means “house” in Samoan. With that, beach fales are made in the most traditional sense. These open-sided structures raised on the beach with a partially tin and palm frond roof are just a step up from camping; more like beach “glamping” considering stays are the full Samoan experience complete with a substantial breakfast and dinner. If you truly want to experience “Fa’a Samoa” or “The Samoan Way”, then stay in a Samoan beach fale.
We’ll guide you through the experience, including 10 essential tips, in this complete guide to staying in a beach fale in Samoa.
10 Essential Tips for Staying in a Beach Fale in Samoa!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here are some tips for staying in a Samoan beach fale that will make your stay much smoother.
- Mind your head! Ceilings are low and doorways lower, so if you’re tall (or even if you’re not) be mindful of your bonce
- Electricity is usually not available in your individual fale; so take a torch/reading light/phone with plenty of battery
- Put your shoes and food inside so dogs don’t go wandering off with them into the night
- Earplugs are a good idea in case there’s heavy rain, barking dogs, noisy people, etc.
- Bring your own towel
- You are responsible for your belongings; keep passports, money, etc. in your day pack/on your person
- Let your hosts know if you have any dietary/medical issues before you arrive
- Have a supply of water (see tips in Is the Water Safe to Drink in Samoa?), snacks and even some toilet paper, in case the accommodation runs out
- Have a lavalava (sarong) at the ready; beach fales are in villages where modesty is important
- Pack a sense of adventure and keep an open mind!
For more tips for your island getaway, also don’t miss our Samoa Travel Tips: 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.
What’s it Like to Stay in a Beach Fale?
Staying in a beach fale is unlike any other accommodation; it’s not The Ritz, and it’s not even the same as resorts and other accommodations in Samoa. Expect a more laidback and “homestay” style of accommodation where you’re essentially staying with local families in villages and enjoying the beach.
Checking Into Your Beach Fale
Upon arrival, the beach fale’s host or staff will likely greet you. If not, have a look for someone to assist you, usually at the larger building of the establishment like a dining fale.
If you have booked a fale, one will be set up for you on arrival with woven mats on the floor and the appropriate number of foam mattresses and bedding with mosquito nets. There may also be traditionally woven blinds and/or a tarp around the fale, leaving an opening for you to get in and out. You should be able to fold down the remaining blind to fully enclose the fale if you wish.
If you haven’t booked your beach fale in advance, then ask if it’s Ok to stay the night and give your hosts time to prepare a fale for you. In the meantime, you can relax under the shade of the communal dining fale or on the beach.
How to Pay for a Beach Fale (and How Much Does it Cost?)
Payment is usually made on arrival. Pay with cash! Learn more money tips in What is the Currency of Samoa? Rates are typically ST$40-$50 per person per night for just the fale. A fale, breakfast and dinner are usually ST$70-$100 per person per night. That latter is highly recommended not only for the delicious food but because alternative dining options are scarce.
Activities at Your Fale
Once you’re settled in, the rest of your stay is up to you. Most travellers simply like to relax on the beach and go snorkelling.
Only some beach fales have snorkelling gear for hire, usually for a fee and they might not always be in the best condition. Therefore, we strongly recommend bringing your own snorkelling gear, as recommended in the 20 Essentials You Need to Pack for Samoa. Some beach fales also have kayak rentals, again, for an additional fee.
If you want to explore the island’s attractions, take a tour of the village or even reach the best snorkelling spots, it’s always worth asking if your beach fale offers any such tours. A limited few run paid tours and experiences. Although they will not try to sell these to you on arrival like a pushy resort, so it’s best to ask if you’re interested.
One activity that may happen at your beach fale is an impromptu fiafia night with cultural dancing, singing and fire dancing. There may be an additional fee or sometimes it’s fully included in your dinner rate.
Dinner at a Samoan Beach Fale
You should be told what time dinner will be served at the communal dining fale, or someone will come to get you when it’s ready. Food is usually served family-style, sharing a table with other guests. You do not get a choice of meals, but what you will get is a substantial portion!
Some beach fales do a different meal each night; such as crayfish (lobster) one night, a coconut cream curry the next, palusami with tropical root vegetables the next night, chop suey the next, and so on… Check out Traditional Samoan Food: 20 Foods to Try in Samoa for typical Samoan meals that you might get to try at a beach fale.
Other beach fales might present meals buffet-style so you can select your own food. There will usually be at least some vegetarian and gluten-free options – find out more in Samoa for Vegans & Vegetarians and The Gluten-Free Guide to Samoa.
Bathroom Facilities at Beach Fales
Beach fales have communal bathrooms. Usually, there is a separate male and female bathroom block. If soap is available, it’s usually in a hand soap dispenser or a bar of soap. As for the rest, you need to bring your own toiletries to clean yourself, as well as your own towel. Toilet paper is usually supplied but on rare occasions, it runs out so it’s a good idea to have a backup supply of your own.
Showers are usually pretty rudimentary; simply one lever to release cold water out of an open pipe from above. We told you this wasn’t The Ritz.
Sleeping in a Beach Fale
When it’s time to hit the hay, your beach fale may have woven blinds that you can fold down for privacy (if they are not down already). It is highly unlikely that you’ll have access to electricity in your fale, which also means no light, so you should have a torch or enough battery in your phone to use its torch if you need to make any midnight toilet runs or find something in your fale at night.
Although the sound of the waves is a beautiful sound to fall asleep to, you have no protection from sounds like dogs barking or roosters in the villages. Not to mention, if there’s rain, you’ll hear heavy thudding on any tin sections of the roof. Needless to say, earplugs are a good idea.
Breakfast at a Samoan Beach Fale
After, hopefully, a good night of sleep, you’ll meet your hosts in the dining fale for breakfast. Again, this is usually a substantial affair of tropical fruit, Samoan breakfast staples like koko rice, papaya soup, toast and coconut jam, cooked ham or sausages, eggs and sometimes cereals for kids. Take a look at the 20 Foods to Try in Samoa for typical Samoan breakfast food.
Note that hosts will usually provide you with more food than you can eat. Don’t worry, if you can’t eat it all, it usually doesn’t go to waste. Host families typically have plenty of mouths to feed in their family/community.
Checking Out of Your Beach Fale
As is the universal time for checking out of commercial accommodation, you’re expected to check out of your beach fale around 10 am. But in Samoa, you’re mostly on “island time” so if you want to check out a little later, just ask if it’s Ok with your hosts. Then, say your goodbyes, and head off to your next destination or accommodation in Samoa. How about another beach fale?
More About Staying in a Beach Fale in Samoa
Convinced to take the leap and enjoy the beautiful experience of staying in a beach fale in Samoa? Start selecting your dream fales from the following lists:
- 20 Best Beach Fale Accommodations in Samoa
- 10 Best Beach Fale Accommodations on Upolu
- 10 Best Beach Fale Accommodations on Savai’i
Finally, if you haven’t yet found the perfect place to stay, start from square one with Where to Stay in Samoa: The 50 Best Accommodations in Samoa.