The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]
The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2024]

© SamoaPocketGuide.com

The Complete Travel Guide to Samoa for Luxury Travellers

Elevate an already heavenly holiday destination by planning a luxury trip to Samoa. With endless stretches of white sand, lava cliffs, turquoise waters and lush jungles climbing volcanic peaks; Samoa certainly looks the part. The vibe here, however, has more of an emphasis on casual holidays that are more off the beaten track than five-star resorts and elaborate helicopter excursions. Nevertheless, among the humble fales lining the beaches is a sprinkling of more upmarket resorts you’ll be thankful to discover if seeking a “treat yourself” getaway. Discover the most lavish accommodations, the most indulgent experiences, and the finest eateries in this complete luxury guide to Samoa.

What “Luxury” Means in Samoa

One thing to note before we bring you this luxury guide to Samoa is that “five-star” luxury simply does not exist here. It’s best to leave expectations of your every whim and want will be seen back home. The real luxury, however, is that this is a part of the South Pacific that is much less developed than some of its counterparts; resulting in a more authentic and fun Pacific getaway, as opposed to spoiled and touristy…

An Intro to Samoa

Location: Samoa is a small archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean in between American Samoa, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna, Fiji, Tonga and Niue. It is approximately 3,000 km (1,864 mi) northeast of New Zealand and 3,700 km (2,300 mi) southwest of Hawaii. Find out more in Where is Samoa Located?

Size: Samoa’s land area is 2,934 km² (1,133 mi²) with Savai’i being the largest island at around 1,700 km2 (1,056 mi²) followed by the most populated island, Upolu, at 1,115 km2 (693 mi2).

Climate: Temperature – 24-30°C (86-75°F), yearly average rainfall – 2,800 mm/110 in, and year-round high humidity.
Find out more in our guide to Samoa Weather, Seasons & Climate.

Time zone: UTC/GMT +13.
Find out more in What is the Samoa Time Zone?

Population: 206,150.
Find out more in Who are the People of Samoa?

Languages: Samoan and English.
Find out more in What is the Samoa Language?

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

How to Get to Samoa

What is the best way to get to Samoa? Samoa can be accessed by flight, cruise ship or private sailing yachts. The most popular way to get to Samoa is by international flight, so let’s start with that.

Flying to Samoa

Direct international flights to Samoa come from New ZealandAustralia, FijiFrench Polynesia and Hawaii. If you’re coming from further afield, the most connecting flights can be made in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and French Polynesia. See our guide, Which Airlines Fly Directly to Samoa? for more advice.

All international arrivals land at Faleolo International Airport on the island of Upolu, approximately 45 minutes from the nation’s capital, Apia. Find out more about the airport and what to expect in Which Airport to Fly into Samoa.

Cruises to Samoa

Samoa is on the itinerary of several South Pacific cruises from New ZealandAustralia, the US and French Polynesia as well as round-the-world cruises from the UK and Europe. There is one port of call in Samoa, Apia, where tours of the greater Upolu island are easy to organise. Find out about which cruise liners have Samoa on their itinerary, as well as what to do at each port of call in the 10 Best Cruises that Go to Samoa.

Sailing to Samoa

Samoa is situated on the Transpacific journey between the US and New Zealand. The yachting season is between May and October. Learn about the sailing formalities and the port of entry in our Sailing Guide to Samoa.

A Note on Customs Declarations

Samoa has strict biosecurity measures at the border to stop unwanted pests and diseases from entering the country. Therefore, anyone arriving in Samoa has to declare any “risk items” they have packed in their luggage – even common items like food and sports gear. Be sure to read up on Arriving in Samoa: Airport Customs, Biosecurity & Arrival Process so you are prepared.

Check out our complete guide on How to Get to Samoa for even more tips on making your way to the islands.

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

When to Visit Samoa

Samoa is a tropical country and experiences consistently warm temperatures throughout the year, as well as high humidity. It has two distinct seasons, a dry season which is drier and less humid, and a wet season which is hotter and more humid. Learn more about the climate in our guide, Samoa Weather, Seasons & Climate + Samoa Weather by Month.

Dry Season (May to October)

The dry season is the most popular time to visit Samoa, not only for the temperatures of around 23-29°C (73-84°F) but the lower (but not exactly low) rainfall per month at an average of 133-257 mm (5.2-10.1 in). The dry season is also the time for surfingclearer scuba diving conditions, catching the Teuila Festival, seeing the occasional whale and catching wahoo.

Wet Season (November to April)

The wet season is hotter and more humid, with temperatures around 24-30°C (75-86°F) and an average monthly rainfall of 270-419 mm (10.6-16.5 in). This is also the South Pacific’s cyclone season, which means there’s a risk of cyclones (but only a risk, which you can learn more about in A Guide to Cyclone Safety in Samoa). The wet season is also the best time for catching Marlin and Yellowfin Tuna, experiencing some popular events, getting cheaper travel deals and avoiding other tourists.

Still can’t decide when the best time is to travel to the islands? Check out our complete guide, The Best Time to Visit Samoa, which dives much deeper into the subject.

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

What to Pack for Samoa

The main thing you need to keep in mind when packing for Samoa is having a tropical wardrobe that includes some more modest items of clothing for going out in villages. A packing list for Samoa might look a little something like this:

  • 4 Singlets/T-Shirts
  • 2 Blouses/Shirts to cover the shoulders for church, visiting villages and exploring
  • 2 Shorts/Skirts which are not too short so you can enjoy wearing them at both your resort and when out exploring
  • 1 Light evening dress to impress at dinner
  • 1 Dress/Skirt below the knee for church, going to town or villages, etc. We recommend light fabrics such as the sustainable bamboo dresses and skirts by Moso Morrow
  • 1 Sarong (Lavalava) will be your best friend for hitting the beach and covering your swimwear in between swimming. You can bring your own or there are plenty for sale once you arrive in Samoa
  • 1 or 2 Light sleepwear if you’re against sleeping in your undies
  • 1 Light Cardigan/Pashmina/Poncho for windy/rainy days
  • 1 Sports shorts/Leggings for hiking/active activities
  • 1 Sports T-shirt/Singlet for hiking/active activities
  • 1 Outfit to travel between Samoa and home
  • 3 Bras including strapless, sports and comfortable bras
  • 6 Underwear
  • 4 Socks
  • 1 Bikini for resort beach/pool
  • 1 One-piece for swimming tours/public beaches
  • 2 Boardshorts for guys
  • 1 Rash vest (we like sustainable Sharkskin rashies)
  • Sunhat
  • Sunglasses
  • Light shirt to cover arms and back
  • Light rain jacket
  • Flip-flops/Sandals
  • Walking shoes/Sneakers
  • Reef shoes/Water shoes.

And that’s just the clothes! For a full packing list of everything to take, including accessories and toiletries, check out What to Pack for Samoa: A Full Samoa Packing List.

Health Products

With high UV levels and the presence of mosquitos, certain health products are essential to take to Samoa. Samoa also has a fragile marine ecosystem so reef-safe sunscreens and repellents are a must. On a similar note, a reusable water purification bottle is preferable to buying bottled water for obvious environmental reasons. See our health essentials packing list in What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Samoa, as well as tips for protecting the health of the environment in the 31 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in Samoa.

Currency

The currency in Samoa is Samoan Tala. Cash is king in Samoa and is the most accepted form of payment, so having enough with you while exploring the islands is essential. Some vendors accept Visa and MasterCard while others also accept other credit card brands. ATMs are scarce outside of Apia, Faleolo Airport, Salelologa and Fagamalo. Get more money tips in What is the Best Way to Pay in Samoa?

Travel Documents and Paperwork

Visitors to Samoa do not need a visa but do need a passport that is valid for no less than six months after the intended date of departure. There may be other current entry requirements, which we keep up to date in What Documents Do I Need to Travel to Samoa?

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

How Long to Spend in Samoa

Samoa might make for an idyllic resort getaway to simply relax for a few days and that’s fine; we all need to R&R from time to time. More intrepid travellers, however, will find that Samoa is an excellent country not only for some minor island-hopping but mostly for road-tripping around its two main islands.

We’d recommend the minimum number of days to spend in Samoa is seven days if just visiting Upolu. However, 10 to 14 days are the recommended number of days for a satisfying trip to Samoa, especially if you include both Upolu and Savai’i.

For those of you who want to explore, here’s what you can achieve in certain timeframes… (And don’t worry, we’ll get onto the destinations in the next few sections).

3 Days / A Long Weekend in Samoa

Over three days or a long weekend, you have enough time to visit Samoa’s capital, Apia, and perhaps one side of Upolu. Check out Samoa Luxury Itinerary: 3 Days for an indulgent weekend getaway.

5 Days in Samoa

Five days give you just enough time to fully explore the main island of Upolu and its capital, Apia, but not Savai’i. See Samoa Luxury Itinerary: 5 Days for our recommended trip idea.

7 Days / 1 Week in Samoa

Some travellers will find that seven days is ideal for a mix of adventure and relaxation on Upolu, while more intrepid travellers might want to squeeze in a trip to Savai’i. Get some inspiration on what to do and where to go from Samoa Luxury Itinerary: 7 Days.

10 Days in Samoa

10 days is a comfortable amount of time to enjoy both of Samoa’s largest islands, Upolu and Savai’i. Check out Samoa Luxury Itinerary: 10 Days for a complete holiday plan.

14 Days / 2 Weeks in Samoa

Find the perfect balance of sightseeing, adventure and relaxation or simply enjoy Upolu and Savai’i for longer – there’s plenty to do! You could even easily add an overnight stay at the lesser-visited Manono island on a 14-day trip. See Samoa Luxury Itinerary: 14 Days for a whole holiday agenda.

How Long Can You Stay in Samoa?

Visitors to Samoa can stay up to three months (90 days)! Visitor extensions are available, however, which you can learn more about in our guide, How Long Can You Stay in Samoa on a Visitor Visa?

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

Which Island to Visit in Samoa

Samoa is made up of around 10 closely compacted islands with two large main islands, Upolu and Savai’i. The most-visited island, most populated and the easiest to get to is Upolu, while Savai’i sits some 20 km (12 mi) away and is the largest island.

Compare the most popular islands to visit, as well as how to experience some of Samoa’s smaller islands in The Best Islands to Visit in Samoa and Which is Better, Upolu or Savai’i? Otherwise, here’s a quick rundown of each destination.

Upolu

Home to Samoa’s only international airport, as well as the capital, Apia, which is also the country’s only port of entry, Upolu is everyone’s arrival island in Samoa. As the most populated of Samoa’s islands, Upolu has an established tourism scene of beachside resorts and fales while Apia is an urbanised hub of restaurants, markets, shops and hotels. The island is also home to some of Samoa’s most iconic attractions, particularly To Sua Ocean Trench.

Find out all you need to know about planning a trip to Upolu in The Luxury Guide to Upolu, as well as to Apia, which is a destination of its own, in The Complete Travel Guide to Apia.

Savai’i

Just a 60-90 minutes ferry journey from Upolu, Savai’i is Samoa’s largest island yet much less populated and developed, which could be an endearing prospect for more adventurous travellers. With the majority of accommodations here being beach fales, and only an exclusive handful of resorts, authentic island culture is easy to come by. The landscape is characterised by volcanic activity, which makes the island home to some of the country’s best cave and blowhole attractions. Learn more about the “big island” in The Luxury Guide to Savai’i.

Again, be sure to check out The Best Islands to Visit in Samoa for more of a comparison, as well as to check out some of Samoa’s smaller islands.

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

How to Get Around Samoa

The distances between islands in Samoa are relatively short, making island-hopping by boat a very viable option. Once you have arrived on your island of choice, getting around is also made extremely easy between the abundance of taxis and vehicle rentals available.

Ferries and Boat Transport

Ferries (with a VIP lounge available) sail back and forth between Upolu and Savai’i one to three times per day, the only way to travel between the islands, while boat transport to some of the smaller islands like Manono and Numu’a is easy to arrange. Learn more in our Samoa Ferry Guide: How to Use the Ferry for Interisland Travel in Samoa.

Car Rental

Renting a car is the most popular way for travellers to get around each of the islands, where premium vehicles are also available. A Samoa Temporary Driver’s License is essential for drivers but easy to obtain. Find out everything you need to know about hiring in What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa.

Cycle Touring

If you ever wanted to do some tropical “bikepacking”, Samoa makes an ideal destination to try. Multi-day touring bicycles and e-bikes are available to hire, with guides and support vehicles if preferred. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Cycling in Samoa for more details.

Taxis and Private Drivers

Taxis are also in abundance on both the main islands of Samoa, offering cheap rides for short distances, while fares can be negotiated for longer journeys. Ask about driver daily rates for sightseeing. See Taxis in Samoa: Taxi Fares, How to Use & More and How to Hire a Driver in Samoa for more useful advice.

While those are the main ways to get around Samoa, you can dive into all of your options, including sightseeing tours and airport transfers, in the Samoa Transport Guide: 14 Best Ways to Get Around Samoa.

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

Where to Stay: Luxury Accommodation in Samoa

Samoa has holiday accommodation experiences across the spectrum; from familiar-feeling resorts to uniquely Samoan beach fales. As Samoa is a developing country, accommodation standards might not be as high as you’re used to for the price, especially for a 3-4-star resort. Note that there are no true five-star resorts in Samoa.

Take a look at accommodation styles across Samoa in Where to Stay in Samoa: The Best Accommodations in Samoa or choose from the most luxurious in our 10 Best Luxury Accommodations & Resorts in Samoa.

Luxury Resorts (4 Stars and Adults-Only)

Luxury resorts in Samoa provide the complete holiday experience with various grades of rooms/bungalows usually containing an ensuite and basic hotel-like facilities, such as air-conditioning, drink-making facilities and sometimes a TV. There are usually communal facilities, such as a swimming pool, restaurant (often providing the only dining options outside of Apia) and watersport equipment rental. Some resorts also arrange entertainment like fiafia nights, while a rare few are exclusively adults-only.

Compare resorts in our ultimate list of The Top 25 Resorts in Samoa and learn more about the resort experience in How to Choose the Best Resort in Samoa for You.

Hotels (4 Stars)

Primarily limited to Apia, there is a tiny selection of 4-star hotels. Most provide the international experience with added facilities like a swimming pool and restaurant. You can also find the odd hotel in Salelologa on Savai’i, but the standards are much lower.

Check out the 30 Best Hotels in Samoa for examples.

Boutique Accommodations

Although most of Samoa’s resorts can be classed as “boutique”, there is the odd accommodation like Kuki’s by the Harbour on Savai’i that provide a more contemporary stay than what is otherwise available in Salelologa. We list this one in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodations on Savai’i, while more small-scale stays can be found in the 10 Best Boutique Resorts & Accommodations in Samoa.

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

Luxury Experiences in Samoa

Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to do in Samoa than drink cocktails and sit by the pool – although, that’s a worthy way to spend your time too! Samoa also exceeds in adventure, sightseeing, culture and relaxation, providing a generous mix of water and inland experiences. There’s so much to do that we could hardly fit it all into our 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa!

When it comes to experiences that add a special touch to your Samoa getaway, you can grace your itinerary with the following:

  • Spa treatments – Visit a day spa or get a massage in your resort bungalow
  • Fine dining – Elevate your meals at reputable restaurants
  • Scuba diving – Choose from tens of dives sites, from drop-offs to wreck dives
  • Game fishing – The South Pacific’s largest pelagics can be caught
  • Private day tours – See the sights with a local with ease
  • Shopping – Apia provides the opportunity to buy all sorts of amazing crafts
  • Golf – Tee off at three different courses on Upolu
  • Yoga – Experience wellness in paradise…

… And there’s more where those came from in the 10 Most Luxurious Experiences in Samoa.

More Activities in Samoa

For those experiences that don’t necessarily fall under the “luxury” category but may be worthy of your bucket list…

Again, start making your bucket list with the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa. Or, if you’re just visiting Upolu, check out the 50 Best Things to Do on Upolu.

The Complete Luxury Guide to Samoa 🍸 [2023]© SamoaPocketGuide.com

Food in Samoa

Food is an integral part of the Samoan culture. Despite there being limited dining options outside of main centres like Apia and Salelologa, accommodation hosts will ensure you won’t go hungry by either providing homecooked meals of Samoan fare or boasting their own restaurant with an international menu. Everything you need to know about food in Samoa can be found in The Food Guide to Samoa: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

Restaurants and Cafes

Restaurants and cafes come with plenty of choices in Apia, serving up international favourites including Asian, European, American and Samoan dishes. Outside of the capital, however, restaurants can almost only be found at resorts, which are fortunately open to casual visitors but charge the usual premium for meals. The odd hidden gem is listed in The Food Guide to Upolu and The Food Guide to Savai’i, while the most upscale options are listed in the 5 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Samoa.

Private Dining

Celebrate a special occasion or “just ’cause” with a private dining experience with your own personal butler. Indulge in a three-course dinner with bubbles either on your room’s balcony or by the beach at Taumeasina Island Resort or Le Lagoto Resort, choose a private decorated setting at Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa or have a candlelit dinner with personal waiting service on the deck of your luxury villa at Seabreeze Resort.

Self-Catering

Self-catering is totally viable in Apia but much less available outside of the capital. Although there are well-stocked convenience stores across the country, it is the lack of accommodations with kitchen facilities that’s a real issue for self-catering. Nevertheless, take a look at the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Samoa for your options.

As self-catering is such a big topic to cover, we have a separate guide in A Guide to Supermarkets & Food Shopping in Samoa. You also might like to know about bringing food to Samoa, which you can read up on in our guide, Taking Food to Samoa: What You Need to Know.

Special Diets

With tropical vegetables and coconut cream being staple ingredients in Samoa, vegans and gluten-intolerant diners are usually easy to cater for but you may struggle to find “creative” dishes outside of Apia. Nevertheless, as long as you let your accommodation hosts know about any dietary requirements before you arrive, you’re sure to get a delightful dining experience. Check out Samoa for Vegans & Vegetarians + 10 Best Restaurants, as well as The Gluten-Free Guide to Samoa for more advice.

What Food to Try

And what are the foods worth trying in Samoa? With a huge range of homegrown snacks, dishes and beverages, from rich and creamy palusami to comforting koko Samoa, trying the local staples is one of the best things about visiting Samoa. Look out for the items listed in the 20 Foods to Try in Samoa and 14 Drinks in Samoa You Have to Try.

Food and Water Safety

Tourist accommodations in Samoa have access to safe drinking water, whether it’s tap water with a UV-filtration system, a jug of filtered water at reception, or the option to buy bottled water. See Is the Water Safe to Drink in Samoa? for more advice. Food in Samoa is generally cooked to safe hygiene standards, but check out Samoa Safety Tips for precautions to take.

For all things “food” in Samoa, including markets to attend, foodie tours, restaurant recommendations and more, head to The Food Guide to Samoa: Places to Eat & Food Tours.

Plan More of Your Luxury Trip to Samoa

That’s it for our complete guide to luxury travel in Samoa. For more premium travel tips, check out the following articles:

And if you simply can’t get enough Samoa wisdom, head over to the 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.

Happy travels and thanks for checking out this luxury guide to Samoa!

Author

Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Samoa Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Samoa. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Upolu and Savai’i’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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