Samoa's second-largest and most populated island outdoes itself with tropical grandeur. The main road that winds casually - almost sleepily - around the coast takes you past sublime beaches that are so pristine you feel guilty for putting footprints on them; outcrops of offshore coral that are just pieces of a much larger, more dazzling marine ecosystem; craggy lava cliffs that drop suddenly into a boiling ocean; and verdant plantations and conservation areas that sweep into the island's hilly, rainforested interior. Lined up between the natural spectacles are small villages where a wave and the flash of a smile are as commonplace as sunshine. Even in the crowded confines of the capital, Apia, you'll be warmly besieged by local greetings.
This is not the sort of place where you arrive in the morning, dash around on a manic day tour, and then rush back to the airport to catch a flight to somewhere else. This is a place for cruising around at your leisure. While away the hours bathing in ocean-fed pools or snorkelling amongst living reefs. Spend a day or two (why not a week?) snoozing in fale (traditional thatched house), overfeeding yourself on palusami (coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves), or unearthing star mounds on smaller islands such as Manono. Completely lose track of time inside beautiful colonial mansions or striding along bushy trails deep within a national park. Whatever you do, make sure you slow yourself down, pack away your watch and submit completely to island time.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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