The Ultimate Guide to Food in Samoa
Welcome to one of the most significant parts of your Samoa experience – even if you haven’t realised it yet. The islands are the origins of some of Polynesia’s most iconic dishes and cooking styles, while your tastebuds can take a trip around the world but with fresh local ingredients at the eateries of this small island nation.
This ultimate food guide to Samoa covers just about everything: the best places to eat, food tours and experiences, where to try traditional Samoan food, self-catering and even vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. It’s the only food guide to Samoa you’re ever going to need.
The 10 Best Places to Eat in Samoa
This food guide to Samoa is pretty darn detailed, so let’s ease into it with a nice simple list of the best places to eat in Samoa according to our team!
- Paddles Restaurant (Apia, Upolu)
- RiVaiv Cafe (Apia, Upolu)
- Ava I Toga Restaurant (Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, Maninoa, Upolu)
- Nourish Cafe (Apia, Upolu)
- Bella’s Kitchen (Apia, Upolu)
- Giordano’s Pizza (Apia, Upolu)
- Adria’s Cafe (Lalomalava, Savai’i)
- Cocolini’s by the Sea (Le Vasa Resort, Apolima-uta, Upolu)
- Harbourside Cafe & Pizza Bar (Salelologa, Savai’i)
- Amanaki Restaurant (Apia, Upolu)
Scroll down to “About The Best Places to Eat in Samoa” to learn more about our top picks!
The Best Destinations for Food in Samoa
What are the best islands for food in Samoa? Well, that totally depends on what style of food you’re looking for. Samoa’s capital Apia is the most popular pick for its cosmopolitan-meets-Polynesian vibe. Not only is there an eclectic restaurant and cafe culture, but even authentic Samoan cuisine can be found between the markets and cultural experiences like the Samoa Cultural Village (behind the Tourist Information Centre).
For authentic food tours and experiences, one of the best islands to visit in Samoa is Savai’i. It’s a down-to-earth island paradise where dining experiences, especially at beach fales, involve dining on traditional and contemporary Samoan dishes. There are also a couple of plantation tours, should you want to learn more about the island’s small organic cocoa industry or learn about the tropical fruit and vegetables that grow in abundance from the rich volcanic soil.
Discover more about the best islands (an city, as the case may be) for food in Samoa in our complete foodie guides:
The Best Food Tours in Samoa
Make indulging your palate part of your getaway by partaking in one of the amazing food tours in Samoa. From cultural affairs, such as fiafia nights, to touring local plantations or sightseeing with a personal chef, Samoa’s food tours are certainly a treat for the senses.
Umu Demonstration at the Samoa Cultural Village
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 Samoa Cultural Village generously shares this tradition on their free tour in Apia. The experience takes place from 10:30 am Tuesday to Friday behind the Samoa Tourism Information Centre. Learn more about it in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences on Upolu.
Another way to sample authentic local cuisine is through a fiafia night. Many will start with an ‘ava (kava) 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. Check out some of the best fiafia nights in the 10 Best Cultural Shows (Fiafia) in Samoa.
Cocoa (Koko) Plantation Tour
See where your Whittaker’s Chocolate originates (if you’re from New Zealand) on Va’ai family’s koko (cocoa) farm on Savia’i. Departing from Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge, the Koko Plantation Tour has you seeing the koko cultivation process from seedlings to dried cocoa beans. Learn more about it in the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Savai’i.
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. Dive into the details of each market and much more in the 8 Best Markets in Samoa.
Sightseeing Tours with Your Own Personal Chef
Combine sightseeing with gourmet island dining on 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“.
Samoan Cooking Classes
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 can be experienced at resorts such as Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa and Taumeasina Island Resort.
More Food Tours in Samoa
And that’s not all the food scene of Samoa has to offer. Check out alternative food tours, such as:
- Taking part in an ‘ava ceremony
- Touring the Ifiele’ele Plantation
- Experiencing a Samoan delicacy and event of Palolo Rising
- Sampling Samoan cuisine at a Sunday to’onai
- Trying Samoan snacks like keke saiga, keke pua’a and more
- Catching your own dinner on a Samoan fishing charter
- Treating the tastebuds at the cafes and restaurants of Apia
- Being treated to a private dining experience at Taumeasina Island Resort, Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, Seabreeze Resort or Le Lagoto Resort & Spa…
… For elaboration on most of these activities, check out the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Samoa.
More About the Best Places to Eat in Samoa
Admittedly, the greater islands of Samoa have a pretty limited choice when it comes to dining options, but Apia more than makes up for it with an array of restaurants, cafes, markets and more. If you just sit down anywhere, chances are you’ll be at a dining establishment that primarily serves deep-fried food starring “chicken-and-chips”. To avoid being a grease bucket by the end of your holiday, here are more details about the best places to eat in Samoa in categories of the best restaurants, best cafes, best vegan and vegetarian options and more.
The Best Restaurants in Samoa
Check out some of our top picks for the best restaurants in Samoa below or head to The Best Places to Eat in Samoa: 20 Best Restaurants in Samoa for our full listing with opening hours, locations and more.
Paddles Restaurant (Apia, Upolu)
Easily the most popular dine-in restaurant in Apia, if not Samoa, Paddles Restaurant brings the culinary know-how of Italy and the Pacific charm of Samoa thanks to its dynamic Italian and Samoan owners. See how this establishment compares to the 10 Best Restaurants in Apia.
Bella’s Kitchen (Apia, Upolu)
Sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the Apia regulars at the vibrantly-decorated downstairs restaurant of Bella’s Kitchen or huddle away upstairs in the air-conditioned dining room with spray-painted murals for company. Although Bella’s does all of the usual deep-fried delights, where they really shine are their noodle boxes, Mexican dishes and thick shakes – all for a very irresistible price that will make you understand why the locals come here again and again. Check out other affordable dining options in The Top Cheap Eats in Apia & Upolu.
Cocolini’s by the Sea – Le Vasa Resort (Upolu)
Easily one of the best places to stop for lunch or dinner outside of Apia on Upolu, Cocolini’s by the Sea proves that not all resort restaurants are just an afterthought. The restaurant of Le Vasa Resort notably puts more effort into its ingredients and presentation compared to many other resorts our team have visited, whether it’s an exotic “puttanesca pasta” or a classic burger. That’s why you’ll also find this listing in the 10 Best Restaurants on Upolu.
Harbourside Cafe & Pizza Bar (Savai’i)
Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and even for partying on Friday and Saturday nights, Harbourside Cafe & Pizza Bar is a reliable yet reasonably priced dining option in Salelologa on Savai’i. With a couple of industrial-style partitions, you can easily find your own cosy corner of this attractive establishment. Compare this restaurant to the rest of Savai’i’s eateries using the 10 Best Restaurants on Savai’i.
Giordano’s Pizzeria (Apia, Upolu)
Be transported to the Mediterranean and among the attractive patio gardens of Giordano’s Pizzeria. The closest European-style pizzas we’ve found in Apia, and Samoa for that matter, Giordano’s combines Italian cuisine with a gorgeous balmy setting and ambient lighting. They also do some great gluten-free pasta dishes, as described in The Gluten-Free Guide to Samoa.
Waterfront Restaurant and Bar – Seabreeze Resort (Upolu)
Even if you’re not staying at the adults-only Seabreeze Resort, at least book one night for dinner at their elegant restaurant nestled into coastal cliffs, the Waterfront Restaurant and Bar. Offering a range of a la carte cuisine on impeccably presented plates, Waterfront is a must-do for comfort food turned fine dining, all accompanied by an enviable sunset position. For more upmarket dining experiences, take a look at the 5 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Samoa.
The Best Cafes in Samoa
For coffee, sweet treats and lunchtime delights, check out these cafes in Samoa or head to the 10 Best Cafes in Samoa.
Nourish Cafe (Apia, Upolu)
Offering respite from Samoa’s fascination for deep-fried food, Nourish Cafe is aptly named and will likely give you the health boost you need to see you through your day – even if you’re vegetarian, dairy- or gluten-free. The creative menu of international favourites uses mostly local ingredients and puts a pleasingly Samoan spin on some of your faves. See more of our favourite cafes in the capital in the 10 Best Cafes in Apia & Upolu.
Adria’s Cafe (Savai’i)
One of the rare Western-style eateries on the otherwise proudly Samoan island of Savai’i, Adria’s Cafe delights with coffee, cake and meat-lover meals to see you through your morning or afternoon. Cosy up in a booth or out in the open-plan dining area with industrial-style decor. With reasonable prices, Adria’s also appears in The Top Cheap Eats on Savai’i.
Milani Caffe & Cakes (Apia, Upolu)
A popular spot right in the heart of Apia town, Milani Caffe & Cakes is an Italian-inspired cafe, of course, with a Samoan twist. Sip on Italian coffee and revel in an ungodly choice of cakes, loaves, biscuits and pastries. You can also stop by for lunch in their large air-conditioned cafe where the menu lurches from tuna sushi burritos to pork belly boa buns to plant-based bowls and then spaghetti meatballs with Napoli sauce and parmesan…
All Things Sweet Cafe (Apia, Upolu)
Renowned across Samoa for its cakes, All Things Sweet Cafe is also worth popping in for breakfast or lunch for freshly prepared tuna sashimi, vegetarian frittatas, paninis, wraps and sandwiches. Of course, a coffee or smoothie combined with one of the many tempting treats is mainly what this cafe stands for.
Taefu T. Matafeo Store (Savai’i)
At the northern end of Asaga village on Savai’i is the Taefu T. Matafeo Store, also known as Netta’s Cake Shop. Needless to say, the cafe is famous for its cakes and cupcakes which pair perfectly with an espresso, latte, mocha or iced coffee. Either dine indoors on the vibrant sofas or chairs or enjoy the garden table set up outside.
The Best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants in Samoa
For more sustainable food choices, these are our top picks for vegan and vegetarian food in Samoa that we list below, as well as in Samoa for Vegans & Vegetarians + 10 Best Restaurants.
Krush Juice Lounge (Apia, Upolu)
Primarily a smoothie and juice bar, Krush Juice Lounge is your solution to a bit of a health boost in Apia. Their restaurant serves 100% vegan meals with their sushi bowls looking genuinely impressive.
RiVaiv Cafes (Apia, Upolu)
Although RiVaiv serves a range of cuisines, their vegan options are done well, such as their bean bowl, shiitake bowl, power bowl, pesto burger and tempura sushi taco made with tofu. Find their cafes in Vaitele and Tanugamanono in Apia.
Ava I Toga Restaurtant (Upolu)
The fine dining restaurant of Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa has a dedicated vegan and vegetarian menu with tempting antipasto platters, tempura vegetables, risotto, gnocchi, curry and more. Learn more about Ava I Toga in the 5 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Samoa.
Tiapapata Art Centre (Upolu)
Homemade everything and specialising in vegan meals (as well as meat and fish dishes), the Tiapapata Art Gallery offers a delightful lunch option on the Cross Island Road just 15 minutes from Apia.
The Best Markets in Samoa
As for street food, check out the 8 Best Markets in Samoa, while some of the highlights include the following.
Fugalei Market (Apia, Upolu)
Samoa’s largest market is a must-do for all things Samoa! Wind your way through vibrant displays of tropical fruit and vegetables displayed in traditionally woven baskets and stumble upon vendors selling classic Samoan meals like palusami and fai’ai elegi (see 20 Foods to Try in Samoa).
Salelologa Market (Savai’i)
Savai’i‘s answer to the Fugalei Market, the Salelologa Market is in an equally impressive venue but tends to have way fewer stalls to reflect the island’s much lower population. Nevertheless, the market is well worth perusing the wonderous array fruit. There’s also a small food court section selling cheap baked goods and fried food that won’t send you too far over budget – see The Top Cheap Eats in Samoa.
Apia Fish Market (Apia, Upolu)
Fishing has been a way of life in Samoa for centuries, so another culturally enriching experience is visiting the Apia Fish Market. Located on the waterfront by Apia’s main bus station (and opposite the Flea Market), the Fish Market is a storm of all sorts of colourful tropical fish, octopuses, eels, crayfish (lobster) and sea cucumbers.
SWAG Market (Apia, Upolu)
Brighten up your Saturday morning with the Samoa Women’s Association of Growers (SWAG) Market! Not just a place to admire vibrant displays of tropical flowers, plants and organic produce, but in true Samoan style, there are also locally produced foodie souvenirs to pick up, as well as hot food available to try. Find it at the Samoa Tourism Fale in Apia.
Apia Night Market (Apia, Upolu)
Another lively event happening behind the Samoa Tourism Information Centre, the Apia Night Market is where the city’s top food vendors come together for a whirlwind of tastes and treats.
Local Food in Samoa and Where to Try Traditional Food
Contemporary meals enjoyed and found in Samoa mostly reflect Asian and American cuisine with deep-fried food, chop suey, pizzas and burgers being national favourites. When it comes to the roots of Samoan cooking, however, the traditional meals and ingredients have gone mostly unchanged for centuries and Samoa certainly has its fair share of dishes to try.
Traditional Meals of Samoa
One of the easiest dishes to find is oka, raw fish marinated in coconut cream with a few other spices or chillis for extra flavour. You’ll find oka available as an entrée at many restaurants across Samoa, hopefully, presented in a coconut shell for a truly authentic island look!
An iconic Samoan food, palusami is taro leaves cooked in coconut cream to make a rich and creamy dish. It’s traditionally cooked in a hot-rock oven called an umu. What’s more, it won’t be difficult to find on restaurant menus and at fiafia nights across the islands.
The perfect comfort food, koko alaisa or koko rice is simply boiled rice, koko (Samoan cocoa) and coconut milk! Although it makes a nice dessert, most travellers will try koko rice for breakfast at resorts and beach fales.
Fai’ai elegi is fish cooked with coconut cream and a few other flavours like onions to enhance the dish. It’s typically served in the shell of the coconut that has been grated for the meal. Scooping out the creamy fish with a piece of talo is the way to go!
There’s a lot more where that came from, so head to our guide, Traditional Samoan Food: 20 Foods to Try in Samoa for more meals.
Where to Try Traditional Food in Samoa
The best places to try traditional Samoan food is at fiafia nights – see the 10 Best Fiafia Nights in Samoa, Sunday to’onai – see 10 Things to Do in Samoa on a Sunday, as well as at many of the beach fales where your meals are included – see 20 Best Beach Fale Accommodations in Samoa.
We also list some restaurants where you can try some of Samoa’s iconic dishes in the 20 Foods to Try in Samoa. You can also check out some fruit to sample in the 10 Exotic Fruits in Samoa You Have to Try.
The Samoan version of hot chocolate, koko Samoa is where cocoa is turned into a paste and mixed with hot water and sugar, which has been part of the fabric of Samoan homes for generations.
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.
The Samoan version of fresh lemonade, vai tipolo is made with lemons (moli), water and sugar as the base, while some establishments might have “secret recipes” to add an extra zing to their beverage.
There are also Samoa’s own brands of beer: Vailima and Taula!
For many more beverages to wet your whistle, check out the 14 Drinks in Samoa You Have to Try.
Self-Catering in Samoa
So, what about if you want to cater for yourself? Perhaps you have food allergies that you’d like to keep in check (if it’s a gluten allergy, then check out The Gluten-Free Guide to Samoa). Or maybe you just want to save some money. Whatever the reason, 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’s the lack of accommodations with self-catering facilities that’s a real issue for visitors wishing to stay outside of Apia; just take a look at the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Samoa.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions About Food in Samoa
Now that you know just about everything there is to know about food in Samoa, including the best places to eat, traditional meals, food tours and more, here are the answers to some of the internet’s most-asked questions about food in Samoa.
What is the National Dish of Samoa?
There is not one national dish of Samoa, but perhaps the most famous dish from Samoa is palusami; taro leaves cooked in coconut cream. You can find much more “national dishes” listed in the 20 Foods to Try in Samoa.
What is Interesting About Samoa Food?
Something interesting about Samoa food is that the country is very self-sustaining, producing many of its own staples, from fish to taro to coconut cream! With international diets influencing the islands, Samoa has taken some steps to reduce reliance on imports, such as opening several of its first poultry farms.
What is a Staple Food in Samoa?
What Do Samoans Eat for Breakfast?
What Samoans eat for breakfast includes fresh tropical fruit, koko alaisa which is rice cooked in cocoa and coconut cream, and supo esi which is a creamy papaya soup.
What is the Most Popular Food in Samoa?
Judging by what’s on the menu of most restaurants in Samoa, you could be forgiven for thinking that fried chicken is the most popular food in Samoa and maybe, honestly, it is! But everyone has their favourites and it comes down to individual taste in the end. Our favourite Samoan food is koko alaisa, in case anyone was asking.
Food Itineraries for Samoa
By now, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to bring all of these restaurants, food tours and destinations all together?! Well, we’ve done the hard work for you with our complete foodie itineraries:
- Samoa Food Itinerary: 14 Days
- Samoa Food Itinerary: 10 Days
- Samoa Food Itinerary: 7 Days
- Samoa Food Itinerary: 5 Days
- Samoa Food Itinerary: 3 Days
Finally, anything else to do with organising a trip to Samoa can be found in The Best Samoa Travel Guide.