When many Australians contemplate their honeymoon, images of Fiji, Vanuatu or Bali often spring to mind. But there’s one tropical hideaway that is regularly overlooked. Perhaps you’re wanting something further from the beaten track, somewhere a little more pristine? When you consider its clear, warm waters, sultry temperatures, waterfalls, dense tropical rainforest, coral reef and hospitable locals, the Polynesian islands of Samoa are a very attractive proposition indeed.
Upon arriving, countless churches (there is literally one every few hundred metres on the main roads) hint at a strongly religious population (though not imposing on this front, you’d be wise to cover up in the villages), who are peaceful, family-orientated and hugely welcoming. Volcanic country, the land is richly fertile and produces an abundance of tasty crops – you’ll savour some of the best tropical fruit around. The people still live in a largely traditional way, tending to their own crops and letting their animals wander. There is a veritable menagerie at the roadside – pigs roam with chickens, cows and plenty of dogs too. But despite all this, Samoa is the perfect spot for the intrepid traveller with a penchant for creature comforts too. UPOLU
Home to the nation’s capital Apia, Upolu is the economic hub and most densely populated part of Samoa. The most pristine, postcard-perfect beaches can be found on the south coast along with one of the country’s leading accommodation spots – Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa
With its beautifully manicured grounds, friendly yet laidback staff and some of the most interesting food to be found in the whole country, it makes the perfect honeymoon hideaway. Just 45 minutes from Apia airport, the property boasts lush, tropical gardens and the spa is an absolute must – try the hot stone Samoan massage for the ultimate in relaxation. All spa treatments take place in private pavilions that overlook the sea – the sound of gentle waves lapping fills the room while the therapists get to work. We loved the little touches like the steaming fresh basil that you inhale as the massage takes place and the outdoor shower where you can freshen up before slipping into the alfresco spa. Gallery: Honeymoon Romantic Stays
The resort pool is also a lot of fun – especially since there is a bar right beside it making the transition from pool to cocktails a completely seamless one. There are a variety of room choices including the enormous Presidential Suite, which boasts its own plunge pool and direct beach access –definitely worth the splurge if the budget allows. And if you’re there on a Friday, the resort’s tapas night is a must. Succulent garlic prawns, sweet ginger beef plus local lobster cooked with garlic butter are just a couple of the culinary highlights.
Only 45 minutes from Sinalei’s shores is Nusafee Island, an immaculate, tiny island with bleached sand, aqua water, lush foliage and countless coconut trees. After a short boat ride, and snorkel over the reef, you can circumnavigate the island on foot and spot hermit crabs scurrying on the rocks with not another soul in sight.
While in Upolu, the To Sua ocean trench (below) is a must. After climbing down a 20 metre wooden ladder you’ll find yourself in a magnificent ocean pool. Serviced by a tunnel that connects it to the nearby Pacific, the clear water ebbs and flows at different depths depending on the tide. The view from within the cave is quite spectacular – its walls are comprised of cliff faces covered in moss and other lush greenery. SAVAI'I
A 75 minute inter-island ferry ride from Upolo takes you to Savai'i, Samoa’s other main island. Far less populous, Savai'i takes ‘island time’ to another level making it perfect for maximum relaxation. The Saleaula Lava Fields are well worth a visit – the result of a volcanic eruption over a century ago, the ripples of inky black earth hint at the terror of the time when a whole village was wiped out. Thankfully the island’s volcano has remained dormant since and it’s left behind some richly fertile earth. The mass of frangipani trees that have grown out of it provide both testament to this and the sweetest aroma too.
Not far from the lava fields, in Saleapaga Village, is a sea turtle conservation site that offers a unique experience. The turtles are brought to the sanctuary by fishermen (who’ve accidentally caught them in their nets) for rehabilitation, before returning to the ocean. The entry fee into the sanctuary includes a bowl of papaya with which you can hand feed the turtles before getting in the water. An incomparable experience, the turtles glide peacefully around you and will even let you touch their reptilian skin and smooth shells. Swimming with a bale of turtles really is like nothing else.
The Canopy Walkway is another great activity for those exploring Savai'i – walk across a 30 metre hanging bridge for a view across the rainforest all the way to the coast. Situated on a beautiful lagoon, Le Lagoto Resort (lelagoto.ws) has the kind of rustic vibe exclusive to the truly far-flung. A small resort, the traditional-style bungalows have modern amenities and the restaurant serves up tasty, fresh food and reasonably priced cocktails. Book a beachfront fale (villa) and wade straight out into the glassy, milk pond lagoon every morning – it really is a magical spot. As a warning though, the hot water can be a little temperamental at times, so nature’s bath may just be a necessity! Useful links
• For a luxe experience check out Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa.
• The honeymoon villa at Sea Breeze Resort
is a lovely secluded spot to stay on Upolo.
• Hit up Le Lagoto Resort
on Savaii for a more traditional vibe.
• Virgin Samoa operates direct flights to Apia from Brisbane and Sydney. See virginsamoa.com
• For a complete guide to Samoa, see website samoa.travel Related: Luxury Tropical Islands of the World Story by Amy Collins-Walker