Getting there & away
Three cargo ships sail between Apia in Samoa and the remote Tokelau Islands. Bookings for the 20-hour trip can be made in Apia at the Tokelau Apia Liaison Office (20822; Fugalei St; 8am-5pm Mon-Fri). You must obtain a permit to visit Tokelau before booking. Sailings are usually fortnightly but occasionally more frequent sailings are arranged. Return deck fares are NZ$290/145 per adult/child; return cabin fares are NZ$530/270.
Between May and October (outside the cyclone season) the harbours of the South Pacific swarm with cruising yachts from around the world, many following the favourable winds west from the Americas, while others come north from New Zealand. Apia serves as the official entry points for private yacht owners visiting Samoa. In Savai'i, there are also anchorages at Fagamalo, Salelologa Wharf and Asau Harbour.
Visiting yachts must apply for clearance from the Prime Minister's Department (21339; 5th fl, Government Office Bldg, Beach Rd) in Apia; bear left as you exit the elevator and take the unmarked door straight through the archway. The captain will need to present crew passports and the boat's registration papers.
The Samoa Shipping Corporation (20935/6; email@example.com; Beach Rd, Apia) runs a car ferry called Lady Naomi between Apia and Pago Pago (American Samoa) once a week. It departs Apia on Wednesday at midnight and returns on Thursday at 4.30pm. The trip takes seven hours each way. The return deck/cabin fare from Apia to Pago Pago is ST100/140. Note that American passport holders can only buy one-way tickets from Apia.
While Samoa isn't as remote or obscure a destination as Tuvalu or Kiribati, it's not as popular as Fiji or Tahiti either (not yet anyway), and airfares often reflect this. Access to the island group is fairly straightforward from New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Hawai'i or Los Angeles. From anywhere else, however, travelling there will almost always entail reaching one of these connecting points first. Auckland and Nadi/Suva seem to be the most convenient and best-served runs, and there are often some good discount fares on these routes. Samoa is also popular as a stopover or cheap 'optional extra' on some tickets and round-the-world fares between Europe or North America and New Zealand.
You can fly direct between Samoa and American Samoa with Inter-Island Airways and Polynesian Airlines for around US$180 one way. Polynesian Blue fares to Apia from Sydney, Australia, start around A$450, though keep in mind that this was an introductory fare at the time of writing and prices may rise (probably not by much though) if the route proves popular. One-way fares from Auckland, New Zealand, to Apia start from NZ$570. An Air New Zealand flight from London to Apia, via Los Angeles, is the most straightforward option for travel from Europe to Samoa; high-season fares from London start from UK£1500. Air New Zealand also offers direct Los Angeles-Apia flights (from US$620 one way).
Visitors to Samoa jet in to Faleolo Airport, located 35km west of Apia. Airlines that service the region include the following (all phone numbers mentioned here are for dialling from within Samoa) :
Air New Zealand (20825; www.airnz.com; Lotemau Centre, cnr Convent & Mt Vaea Sts, Apia)
Air Pacific (22738; www.airpacific.com)
Inter-Island Airways (www.interislandair.com)
Pacific Blue (www.flypacificblue.com)
Polynesian Airlines (22737; www.polynesianairlines.com)
Polynesian Blue (www.polynesianblue.com)
Qantas (21261; www.qantas.com.au)