Travel Advice for Families Visiting Samoa
What is supposed to feel like your special time away with the family can have the opposite effect when it comes to planning. Is everyone going to enjoy themselves? Are there enough things to do for the kids? Is there going to be enough time to relax? Will my baby food pass through Quarantine at the border? If you’re thinking about taking a family holiday to Samoa, then the answer will be a resounding yes!
Is Samoa Good for a Family Holiday?
Samoa is one of the most exciting places in the South Pacific to travel with children, especially if you’re looking for something different from the usual tourist hotspots of Fiji, Rarotonga, Bali, etc. There are resorts and activities well-catered to family travel, with emphasis on things to do for the whole family.
Regardless, every parent could do with a few extra tips for a family Samoa vacation with kids and we are here to provide a whopping 25 of them!
While you’re here, be sure to also open up The Complete Travel Guide to Samoa for Families, which is our complete bible for family travel in Samoa.
1. Book Early if Visiting During School Holidays
The beauty of Samoa is that it’s much quieter than many tourist hotspots in the South Pacific. With much fewer resorts, however, family rooms can get booked up pretty quickly for the New Zealand and Australian school holidays. If you’re aiming for a school holiday escape, be sure to book accommodation as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. FYI, the school holidays are the second half of April, essentially the whole month of July, the first half of October and the end of December through January. Note that the July (winter) holidays and December (summer) holidays are the busiest and when flights and accommodation are at their most expensive.
Check out The Best Time to Visit Samoa: A Month-by-Month Guide for our advice on when to visit!
2. When Booking a Rental Car, Ask if Baby Seats are Available
Samoa has the perfect islands for a family road trip; you’re never stuck in the car for too long until you come across an amazing waterfall or beach to explore. On the downside, baby and child seats are not mandatory in Samoa, so many vehicle rental companies only have a limited supply. If you need one, make sure to request one upon booking! You’ll also want to test that the baby seat is in functioning order before accepting your vehicle rental, as some are not in the best state.
3. Bring Your Own Snorkelling Gear
Samoa is a fantastic destination for snorkelling, especially within the sheltered waters of its lagoons. However, snorkelling masks and fins, especially for kids, are not always readily available and, when they are, they are not always in the best state. Bring snorkelling gear for the whole family to truly make the most of the amazing underwater landscapes and the wildlife that resides in them!
See The Best Snorkelling in Samoa: Top 10 Places to Snorkel for all the best snorkelling hotspots and quick tips for safe snorkelling. Plus, check out snorkelling gear recommendations for kids in the 20 Essentials You Need to Pack for Samoa.
4. There are No Fences Around Swimming Pools
For more safety tips, head to Samoa Safety Tips: Is it Safe to Travel to Samoa?
5. Educate the Kids About Samoa
While your kids are bound to learn a lot about Samoa from cultural tours, get them excited for their trip away by educating them on Samoa before you go! Use a map and show them where you’re all visiting and pull out some trivia from our 35 Fun Facts About Samoa for Kids.
6. Keep an Eye on Kids at Natural Attractions
Waterfalls, freshwater springs, beaches with lagoons, sinkholes, lava fields and caves are all amazing attractions to discover in Samoa. Although Samoa is the ultimate natural playground loved by kids and adults alike, note that there is very little in the way of “health and safety” at these natural attractions. There are no barriers and very rarely signs to point out dangers or where currents are, for example.
Parents will seriously need to have their wits about them and assess whether all of Samoa’s natural attractions are safe for their kids. For example, many choose not to take kids under 10 to To Sua Ocean Trench, which involves climbing 30 m (100 ft) down a slippery rung ladder.
We list some of the most family-friendly attractions in the 20 Best Things to Do in Samoa with Kids to start you off.
7. Travel with Another Family to Save on Costs
One of our 20 Tips to Save Money in Samoa, travelling as a group allows you to split more costs to save money. Renting a people-mover or minivan with another family is only a fraction of the cost of hiring two family cars, while more costs can be saved on supermarket shopping, attractions that charge per vehicle, holiday home hire and more.
8. Assign Roles
It’s important to assign roles between parents or between the whole family before jetting off to Samoa. Who is going to be in charge of the food? Who is going to choose the activities? Who is going to book the activities? Who is going to handle the airport check-in while the other watches the kids? Communicate these roles early so you avoid hick-ups in Samoa, giving more time for everyone to enjoy themselves. Plus, assigning small roles to the children is a great way to teach responsibility.
9. Prepare for the Flight with Entertainment
There’s always a bit of downtime when travelling, especially at the airport if you’ve been savvy enough to check in on time (or during any stopover if you’re coming from far). Games are an essential boredom-buster while getting the whole family bonding, so pack some travel-size games, like Uno and Connect 4 Grab & Go. They’ll also come in handy when you’re enjoying some downtown at your accommodation after a day full of adventures.
You may also want to pack a few snacks but just note that once they are opened, you probably won’t be able to pass them through Quarantine once you land, so don’t go too overboard.
10. Don’t Rely Too Much on Babysitting and Kids’ Clubs
Ok, Samoa isn’t Fiji. Kids’ clubs and babysitting services at resorts are few and far in between. If you absolutely have to have some alone time, we have listed what is available in The Best Kids’ Clubs in Samoa + Top 3 Resorts for Babysitting. Otherwise, Samoa is a destination best spent together as a family.
11. Plan Some Family Fun
Speaking of together, a holiday to Samoa is the perfect opportunity to bond and reconnect. Go explore and swim at some waterfalls, enjoy some snorkelling off the beach, be captivated by a “fiafia night” and much more. Plan your adventures using our 20 Best Things to Do in Samoa with Kids!
12. Split Up for Some Activities
Ok, so there may be some experience that half the family aren’t too keen on, and that’s fine. Instead of booking spots (and paying the extra bucks) for tours for the whole family, make the decision to split, for example, mum and the kids or dad and one kid, etc. In the meantime, the rest of the family can do something else they’d rather do and, likely, make sure their travel budget is better spent!
13. Don’t Try to Fit in Too Much
On the flip side, packing your itinerary to the brim with sights and activities is probably just going to exhaust everyone. Allow a free day or two in your holiday to relax and enjoy more the simple pleasures; a day by the pool or at the beach is plenty (and kids love hermit crab hunting)!
14. Prepare for a Rainy Day (and for Sunday)
With a tropical climate and rain being a possibility no matter what time of the year you visit, it’s a good idea to have one or two rainy-day backups. There are some fantastic museums, markets, cultural demonstrations and much more. Head to the 20 Things to Do in Samoa on a Rainy Day for ideas!
Also on the subject, you’ll notice that Sundays are a little quieter in Samoa, so have a look at what attractions are open in the 10 Things to Do in Samoa on a Sunday.
15. Make a Plan for Food
Food is a bit of a tricky one in Samoa. Restaurants and self-catering accommodations are rarely available outside of Apia, which means that most families have to rely on their resort, beach fale or surrounding resort restaurants for meals. If you’re on a budget, it’s a good idea to make a plan for eating, whether it’s researching self-catering accommodation or where to buy snacks near your resort to see your family through the afternoon, for example.
16. Bring Baby Food and Snacks for the First Few Days
If you’d rather jump into holiday mode than buy baby food or snacks for the family from the supermarket upon arrival, then bring a few snacks for the first couple of days in Samoa. You can bring food to Samoa as long as it’s commercially prepared and packaged and you avoid fresh fruit and vegetables – see Taking Food to Samoa: What You Need to Know.
On the subject, if there’s a particular brand of baby food that you want to stick to in order to avoid any stomach upsets, it’s best to bring it with you. Samoa has a few brands like Watties and Farex in the supermarkets.
17. Kids’ Menus Aren’t Always “a Thing” in Samoa
That’s right, kids’ menus are not available are every cafe and restaurant in Samoa, so you sometimes have to get quite creative with what younger kids can eat. Look out for “snack menus” instead, which are usually good portions for kids. If push comes to shove, you can always just order them a side or an entree.
Check out some of the best places to eat across the islands in the 20 Best Restaurants in Samoa.
18. Be Discreet When Breastfeeding in Public
Samoa is quite a conservative and religious country. With that in mind, it’s best to be discreet and respectful of the local culture when breastfeeding. Using a breastfeeding cloth is recommended when out in public or perhaps feeding at your accommodation will allow you to avoid some dirty looks, as some mothers have reported having while breastfeeding in public places.
For more cultural etiquette, take a look at Samoan Etiquette: Samoa Customs & Traditions.
19. Know What Water is Safe to Drink
Making sure that everyone in the family is drinking water regularly is absolutely essential to their health while in Samoa’s tropical climate. However, tap water is generally not safe to drink, even if locals are drinking it. Resorts normally let guests know where to get safe drinking water at their facility. Otherwise, bottled water is readily available to buy throughout Samoa. So that there’s no stress over the issue, we recommend getting the family a few Lifestraw water bottles that remove 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria as you suck through its filtration straw. Plus, a reusable option is much kinder on the planet you’re leaving your kids.
Find out more about water safety in Is the Water Safe to Drink in Samoa?
20. Pack a Baby Carrier and Waterproof Diapers
Although we have a full packing list in What to Pack for Samoa: A Full Samoa Packing List, those with infants will need to consider a couple of holiday extras. As mentioned, a core part of your Samoa family holiday is spending some time in the water so waterproof nappies/diapers are a must for the packing list! Normal nappies/diapers are normally readily available in supermarkets, if you’re not bringing your own.
Additionally, a baby carrier is the way to go, as there are not many places that are stroller-friendly in Samoa.
21. Rashies and Reef Shoes are Highly Recommended
For an extra piece of protection while spending so much time in the water, we highly recommend that you get rashies (rash vest/swimming T-shirt) for younger ones that are more prone to sunburn, especially as sunscreen otherwise needs to be applied much more often when swimming (and no kid likes being pulled out of the water every couple of hours for a sunscreen slap-on). 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.
We also recommend packing some reef shoes to protect little feet when standing on rocks or bits of coral. Speedo Kids and Toddlers Water Shoes are a great choice for little ones.
22. Go Heavy on the Sun Protection
Perhaps the biggest health concern in Samoa is the sun. While it makes for an awesome holiday by the beach, the UV levels are high and are especially harmful to unprotected sensitive skin. Make sure you are quite strict on sun protection with child-friendly (and reef-safe) sunscreen, cover exposed skin where you can, use sunhats, stay in the shade when UV levels are at their highest (around midday) and drink plenty of water. See The Best Sunscreens for Samoa + Sun Protection Tips for more advice.
23. Remember Their Insurance Too!
When buying your travel insurance, look for insurance that covers children too. Most travel insurance companies have policies to cover kids for free if travelling with an adult so always inquire.
24. Get Your First Aid Kit and Medication Together
Note that not all medications are easy to find in Samoa. Pack all the essential medication and toiletries you might need, including the original box of the prescribed medication (with notes and the name on the prescription). We have a whole list of things to pack in your travel first aid kit, just in case there are some accidents or illnesses, in What Medication to Pack in Your First Aid Kit for Samoa.
25. Do Your Research Using Our Family Guides
Finally, while this is a little piece of shameless self-promotion, make sure you do your research! A good place to start is right here on Samoa Pocket Guide where we not only have The Complete Travel Guide to Samoa for Families but even complete guides to each of the islands that families like to visit, such as The Complete Travel Guide to Upolu for Families and The Complete Travel Guide to Savai’i for Families.
More Tips for Your Family Samoa Vacation with Kids
That’s it for our list of tips for your family Samoa vacation with kids. Congratulations on making it this far! But, of course, our advice for families in Samoa doesn’t end here. Check out more tips for a family trip to Samoa using the following guides:
- 20 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations in Samoa
- How to Pick the Best Family-Friendly Accommodation in Samoa
- Samoa Travel Tips: 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed you’re likely to find it in The Complete Travel Guide to Samoa for Families.