How to Plan a Family Trip to Apia
On the tropical island of Upolu and the island most visited in Samoa, Apia provides an effortless destination for families. Not only is the town brimming with family-friendly hotels, apartments, budget stays and even a couple of resorts, but there’s never a dull moment with so much accessibility to cultural and natural attractions.
While this travel guide to Apia for families focuses on the capital’s highlights, Apia also provides an excellent base for exploring the rest of Upolu so be sure to jump on a tour or have a browse through our Upolu family guide too.
Top 5 Family Activities in Apia
What does a family getaway to Apia look like? Here’s a quick overview of just 5 things to do in Samoa’s capital with kids:
- Experience cultural and crafting workshops at Samoa Cultural Village
- Have a stroll through Friendship Park
- Go to Apia’s natural waterpark, the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
- Snorkel at the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
- Explore Vailima Botanical Garden.
We go into detail on all of those points in the 10 Things to Do in Apia with Kids. Otherwise, keep on reading for more inspiration…
How to Get to Apia
Apia is located on the north coast of Upolu, Samoa’s eastern island some 3,000 km (1,864 mi) northeast of New Zealand and 3,700 km (2,300 mi) southwest of Hawaii.
The closest international airport is Faleolo International Airport, approximately a 50-minute drive along the north coast where airport shuttles, taxis and buses provide transfers. The airport receives regular flights from New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii and Fiji, which are all well-connected to the rest of the world. Find out about airlines travelling to Faleolo Airport in our guide, Which Airlines Fly Directly to Samoa?
Alternative ways to get to Apia include day trips with cruise liners, as well as via private sailing yacht; both of which anchor in the Apia Harbour. Find out more about your arrival options in Getting Here: How to Get to Samoa?
How to Get Around Apia
Apia has an inexpensive public transport network of taxis and buses. Car and scooter rentals are also available should you want to make your way around independently, while tour operators provide guided tours with transport included. The city centre is quite compact, with plenty to see on foot.
Find out all you need to know about transport in our Apia Transport Guide: 10 Ways to Get to (& Around) Apia.
Family Activities in Apia
What can families do together in Samoa’s capital? From discovering awesome natural attractions to being captivated by Samoa’s accessible culture, there are certainly some interesting experiences to be had for all ages.
Samoa Cultural Village
A hands-on experience that’s excellent for curious kids, which is also free so even more excellent on parents’ wallets, the Samoa Cultural Village is a family-friendly attraction in Apia complete with Samoan crafting, tasting and dancing.
Happening from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, Tuesday to Friday, the activity starts with weaving your own plate for the umu. You’ll then be formally welcomed with an ‘ava ceremony (kids don’t have to taste this bitter drink) before seeing how a traditional umu feast is prepared. While your lunch is cooking, you’ll see how ‘ava bowls are carved and even witness a traditional pain-staking Samoan tatau (tattoo) being performed (you might not want to let squeamish kids look too closely).
Finally, sit down with your freshly prepared umu lunch while watching a fiafia cultural performance including fire dancing!
For more cultural experiences to educate the little ones, check out the 10 Best Cultural Activities in Samoa.
A neat little area on the Apia waterfront, Friendship Park offers an attractive park for a stroll, to catch the latest community event and to let kids loose at the playground! Explore the Mangrove Tidal Garden with boardwalks and bridges to mosey over, watch locals battle it out at the sports courts, and head down to the amphitheatre to catch a free gig or event.
For more free experiences like this, check out the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Apia.
Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
After walking down a long set of steps through the jungle, you’ll come across the first and biggest slide of the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks that locals call the “men’s slide”; a near verticle 5-m (16-ft) slide. Further down is the “kids’ slide”, a much less precarious slide with a little drop at the end of extra fun. Finally, at the bottom, you have the “women’s slide”. Lots of fun, lots of laughs; what’s not to love?
Avoid the busiest times, which tend to be the weekends, to get optimal slide time. Note that this attraction is best for active kids; in other words, it’s unsuitable for toddlers.
As for finding this attraction, it’s located in Se’ese’e, Faleata District on the outskirts of Apia. The access road turns off Maugafolau Road near the University of the South Pacific campus.
Museum of Samoa, Falemata’aga
A less active experience and a good way to get into the shade with some air-conditioning during the heat of the day, the Museum of Samoa, Falemata’aga hosts an impressive collection of historical Samoan and Pacific artefacts. If you don’t want to sift through it all yourself, free guided tours are available with passionate guides to show you through the six different galleries boasting 3,000-year-old Lapita pottery, ancient tribal tools and weapons that will get the kids’ imaginations running, collections from across the Pacific, colonisation history and even a small art exhibition.
For more museums to scout out, check out the 5 Best Museums in Samoa.
Either stay at one of the 10 Best Family Accommodations in Apia or you can pay to visit resorts like Taumeasina Island Resort or Tivoli Aparthotel to make use of their pool and facilities. Either way, Apia’s hotels and resorts effortlessly entertain families with swimming pools, restaurants, watersports hire and activities, and some even with kids’ clubs – learn more about Apia’s kids’ clubs in The Best Kids’ Clubs in Samoa.
More Family-Friendly Activities in Apia
This is by no means the end of the family-friendly offering in Apia and certainly not on Upolu between the amazing snorkelling sites, waterfalls to find and easy walking trails. Find more activities suitable for all ages in the 10 Things to Do in Apia with Kids and 10 Things to Do on Upolu with Kids.
Family-Friendly Restaurants in Apia
Although self-catering is a viable option thanks to the array of accommodations with kitchen facilities, as well as the abundance of convenience stores, remember that this is your holiday too. Treat yourself to some of the family-friendly restaurants in Apia and don’t miss one of its famed fiafia nights!
Nothing captivates the kids more than watching an epic fire show, which is just a small part of a fiafia night. Otherwise, these evening shows include cultural dancing, singing and likely an ‘ava ceremony. And in true Samoan spirit, you will be encouraged to eat more than is reasonable from the buffet. Although there are delicious traditional Samoan dishes, there are also a few western favourites should you have fussy eaters in your tribe.
See which fiafia night to book yourselves into in the 10 Best Cultural Shows (Fiafia) in Samoa.
Family-Friendly Cafes and Restaurants
Be transported to the Mediterranean and among the attractive patio gardens of Giordano’s Pizzeria. The closest European-style pizzas we’ve found on the island, Giordano’s combines family-pleasing Italian cuisine with a gorgeous garden setting. Get the kids to look out for geckos!
Another popular choice in Apia, enjoy the creative menu of Milani Caffe & Cakes, while the kids are treated to mind-blowing milkshakes and sweet treats. Additionally, don’t miss a stop at Chillz ice cream parlour which also serves fried food and waffles. Get much more cafe inspiration from our 10 Best Cafes in Apia and Upolu.
Finally, one of the most popular dining establishments and extremely welcoming to families (so make sure you book ahead), Paddles Restaurant brings the culinary know-how of Italy and the Pacific charm of Samoa thanks to its dynamic Italian and Samoan owners. With a very friendly yet unpretentious ambience, as well as a kids’ menu with much more thought than your average “chicken and chips”, it’s certainly a top choice in Apia for families. See more dine-in eateries listed in the 10 Best Restaurants in Apia.
And, for the full foodie guide, head over to The Food Guide to Apia: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
More About Apia for Families
That’s it for our complete travel guide to Apia for families, but is by no means the end of our Samoa advice! Check out the following guides for anything we might have missed:
- 20 Best Things to Do in Samoa with Kids
- The Complete Travel Guide to Upolu for Families
- 10 Things to Do on Upolu with Kids
Finally, if there’s any part of your family vacation that you haven’t planned, you’re likely to find the right advice in The Complete Travel Guide to Samoa for Families and 25 Tips for Your Family Samoa Vacation with Kids.