Packing Essentials for Samoa
What are the things you can’t forget to pack for Samoa? You already know you need some sunglasses and probably a few pieces of undies, but what else are absolute essentials? Although we have a complete packing list in What to Pack for Samoa: A Full Samoa Packing List (which you absolutely need to browse through, by the way), there are some handy items and essentials that are worth talking about in detail. We go through them all in this list of the essentials to pack for Samoa!
1. Passport and Departure Flight Information
It’s kind of obvious, but a passport is certainly essential to enjoy a trip to Samoa! Make sure your passport is up-to-date and that it’s not going to expire within six months of your intended departure day – find out why in our Samoa Tourist Visa Guide. One thing that’s not quite so obvious is that one of the entry requirements for Samoa is having a flight booked out of Samoa, whose details like the flight number and departure date you’ll need to provide on the Passenger Arrival Declaration Card. Oh, and you’ll need to also know the name of at least one of the accommodations you’ll be staying at while in Samoa, as you’ll need to supply that too. You’ll be surprised to find out how many people don’t know the name of where they’re staying!
More details on this can be found in What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Samoa? which also lists any other essential documents you need to prepare.
2. Swimwear (and a Lavalava)
Samoa is all about enjoying the beaches, freshwater swimming holes and lagoons! With snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, turtle swimming, surfing, boat trips, scuba diving and more, there are plenty of reasons to get in the water on your holiday. Bikinis and one-piece swimsuits are fine for ladies, while men tend to wear boardshorts in Samoa rather than “Speedos”. Note, however, that wearing swimwear anywhere other than the beach, your resort or for swimming is a no-no in Samoa. Be sure to cover up, such as with a lavalava (sarong) when you’re not swimming. If you don’t have one, there are some beautiful lavalava available to purchase at local markets and gift shops in Samoa.
3. Rashies (Rash Vest)
As mentioned, you’ll likely be spending a lot of time on the water, which is, quite frankly, hell to manage sun protection! Sunscreen needs to be reapplied pretty regularly (more on that below) and we’d rather spend more time snorkelling than getting out of the water for a sunscreen top-up. And your kids agree! We strongly recommend adding a rash vest/rash guard/rashie to your packing list. We like Sharkskin for their rapid-dry rashies which have SPF 50+ protection, come in fully recyclable packaging and are saltwater, chlorine and UV-resistant so can be used for many more holidays to come.
4. Snorkelling Gear
Trust us, you’re going to want to snorkel in Samoa. However, you almost always have to pay to hire snorkelling gear, whether it’s for a snorkelling tour or at your resort. What’s more, they are often of questionable quality and a faulty mask or snorkel can really ruin the experience. Therefore, we highly recommend bringing your own mask and snorkel to Samoa. Our favourites are by TUSA Sport, as they are made with high-grade pure silicone and have a high-flow purge valve that makes clearing your snorkel a breeze. They also do kids’ masks too!
5. Samoan Tala (Or Cash to Exchange for Samoan Tala)
The official currency of Samoa, Samoan Tala is essential to have available while visiting Samoa. Cash is by far the most accepted form of payment in Samoa. Meanwhile, any vendors that do accept credit/debit cards usually charge 3-5% on the transaction! Therefore, you may want to bring some cash with you to exchange on arrival, then withdraw as much Samoan Tala from local ATM machines as you’re comfortable with throughout your trip.
For much more of a deep dive into the subject, check out What is the Best Way to Pay in Samoa?
6. Reef-Safe Sunscreen
With high to extreme UV ratings all year round, it is essential that you add sunscreen to the packing list! Not just any old sunscreen, though. Samoa is surrounded by a fragile ecosystem of coral that is highly susceptible to sunscreen-induced bleaching – see The Best Sunscreens for Samoa + Sun Protection Tips for more details. Make sure your sunscreen is no less than SPF 30+ if you want to be genuinely protected. We recommend one full bottle per person for a 10 to 14-day holiday, as reef-safe sunscreen is rarely available to purchase in Samoa should you run out.
7. Mosquito Repellent
In a country that’s prone to Dengue Fever and Chikungunya, having some mosquito repellent is absolutely essential for your trip to Samoa. Although some resorts have mosquito control in place and there are some areas like the beaches along Lalomanu where mosquitos aren’t quite as bad, it’s always a good idea to have some repellent with you. You’re bound to come across those annoying little buzzies sooner or later!
8. Purification Water Bottle
It’s hot and humid in Samoa, so you’ll feel the need to drink a lot of water. While old-school travellers will find that continuously buying bottled water is the safest way to avoid any water-borne diseases in Samoa, reusable purification water bottles like Lifestraw are actually much more convenient and will end up saving you money in the long run. That way, you can refill your water bottle at any tap in Samoa and have peace of mind knowing that there’s an effective purification filter inside. We have used them in all of the South Pacific Islands without fault!
Learn more about the water quality in Samoa in our guide, Is the Water Safe to Drink in Samoa?
9. Your Medication
Don’t forget your meds! Although there is a small selection of pharmacies in Samoa, you can’t guarantee that they’ll have what you need. For prescription medication, make sure you have a copy of your prescription, just in case they ask you about it at the border. As for everything else, get prepared with What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Samoa.
10. Digital Copies of Your Travel Documents
And just in case you forget your flight bookings, lose your passport, or can’t remember the place where you are staying; make sure you have everything also as a digital copy that you can access even without the internet.
With tropical temperatures, endless stretches of sand and probably a lot of time on your feet, you bet that flip-flops (or “jandals” if you’re Kiwi or “thongs” if you’re Australian) are going to be the first thing you throw in your suitcase. Make sure you bring a pair that’s comfortable.
12. Walking Shoes
Speaking of being on your feet, walking shoes are certainly essential if you plan on doing any of the amazing island walks (which you totally should)! You might even find walking shoes are more comfortable for your flights to/from Samoa, as well as for long days shopping in Apia and the markets.
13. Some More Modest Clothing
With temperatures of 24-30°C (75-86°F) and high humidity all year round, it can be pretty tempting to just pack a singlet and a pair of short-shorts and be done with it. However, Samoa is a religious country where modest clothing is quite important to the locals. With that in mind, be sure to respect the local customs by not wearing anything way too revealing as you’re out and about in villages (which is pretty much everywhere outside of your resort). We recommend light fabrics such as sustainable bamboo by Moso Morrow that provide a good cover-up while keeping you cool (and looking great).
For more outfit advice, take a look at What to Wear in Samoa: Clothes Packing List.
Not Really Essentials But Highly Recommended …
14. Driver’s License
Planning on hiring a car or a scooter? You absolutely need your overseas driver’s license. Driver’s licenses are needed to apply for the Samoa Temporary Driver’s License and therefore hire a vehicle. Learn more about the requirements for renting vehicles in What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa.
15. Reef Shoes or Water Shoes
If you have them, they’re great to have in Samoa. Although the beaches are mainly sandy, there are broken bits of coral and lava rock that you will not want to stand on with exposed feet! A good pair to have are the unisex Mishansha Water Shoes while Speedo Kid’s and Toddler’s Water Shoes are great for little ones.
16. Quick-Dry Travel Towel
Sure, many accommodations provide beach towels. But if you’re staying at a beach fale or you don’t want to take your resort‘s bulky beach towels around the island with you, then we suggest taking a much better beach towel: a quick-dry travel towel! You can find these microfibre towels at any outdoor store, but we like 4Monster Camping Towels that fold up nice and tight.
17. Sea Sickness Tablets
Sea sickness tablets are only essential if you’re taking the ferry between Upolu and Savai’i (and/or are perhaps doing a boat tour). It can be pretty bumpy out there, so you’ll be glad to have your “Sea Legs” with you.
Are you a light sleeper? If you are, then you’re going to want to bring some earplugs (or noise-cancelling earphones) as the enthusiastic calls of the morning roosters are probably going to spoil your holiday sleep-in. There are also sometimes dogs barking in the night, while there are no walls to help cancel the noise in beach fales. In short, get those ears prepped!
19. Travel Adapter
If you’re coming from a country that doesn’t use a Type 1 electrical socket then you’re going to need the appropriate travel adapter – not an essential for all but certainly an essential for some! Check out the 5 Best Travel Adapters for Samoa for recommendations and our guide, Samoa Electrical Outlets & Power Plugs to learn more about charging your devices on the islands.
With whales swimming offshore in the whale season, bats returning to roost at sunrise, and rare birds to spot in the forests, any nature-lover will be stoked to have a good pair of binoculars. Go for something lightweight and travel-friendly, though; you don’t want to be lugging weighty lenses around. Occer has always been our go-to for high-quality travel binoculars.
More Essentials to Pack for Samoa
That’s it for our list of essentials to pack for Samoa. For more on the packing list, make sure you scroll through the following guides:
- What to Pack for Samoa: A Full Samoa Packing List
- What to Wear in Samoa: Clothes Packing List
- 5 Best Travel Adapters for Samoa
Finally, get more essential tips for your holiday using the 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.