Embassies & Consulates

The following diplomatic missions are based in Apia.

Emergency & Important Numbers

Ambulance 996

Police 994

Entry & Exit Formalities

Visas

A free, 60-day visitor permit is granted to all visitors on arrival in Samoa (except for American Samoans).

Samoan visitor permits may be extended by several weeks at a time by the country’s Immigration Office. Take along your passport, wallet and two passport-sized photos and don’t make any other plans for the rest of the day. You may also need to have proof of hotel accommodation, onward transport and sufficient funds for your requested period of stay.

Internet Access

Wi-fi in Samoa is offered by LavaSpot (www.lavaspot.ws) or Bluezone (www.bluezone.ws) hotspots on a pay-by-the-minute basis. You can buy time directly from their websites, or at your accommodation's front desk.

Hotspots are found at restaurants and hotels all around Apia and at some resorts around Upolu and Savai’i.

Note that web connections can drop out with frustrating frequency on these remote islands.

Maps

The free Jasons Samoa Visitor Map is updated annually and is widely available. It’s reasonably basic but should suit most visitors’ needs. They're also available to order online (free) at www.jasons.com/samoa.

Media

The website of the country's main newspaper, the Samoa Observer (www.sobserver.ws), is a good resource for news relating to Samoa and the Pacific region.

Money

The tala (dollar), divided into 100 sene (cents), is the unit of currency in use in Samoa.

ATMs

Several branches of the ANZ and BSP banks are equipped with ATMs. Be aware that ATMs can be prone to running out of bills at the start of the weekend. Take plenty of cash with you (in small denominations) when you’re heading outside the bigger settlements.

Tipping

Not expected or encouraged, though it is acceptable for exceptional service at finer restaurants.

Opening Hours

On Sunday almost everything is closed, although ripples of activity appear in the evening. Markets normally get underway by about 6am; Maketi Fou in Apia is active more or less 24 hours a day.

Standard opening hours:

Banks 9am to 3pm Monday to Friday, some open 8.30am to 12.30pm Saturday

Bars noon to 10pm or midnight

Government offices 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday

Restaurants 8am to 4pm and 6pm to 9pm

Shops 8am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, 8am to noon Saturday (kiosks and convenience stores keep longer hours)

Telephone

The country code for Samoa is 685. The nation does not use area codes.

The mobile phone providers in Samoa are Digicel (www.digicelsamoa.com) and Bluesky (www.blueskysamoa.ws). Prepay top-ups can be purchased from dozens of shops around both islands, including at the international airport. Reception is generally very good.

Time

At midnight on 29 December 2011, Samoa officially switched to the west side of the International Date Line. This means its dates are the same as those of NZ, Australia and Asia. Local time is GMT/UTC plus 13 hours. Therefore, when it’s noon in Samoa, it’s 11am the same day in Auckland.

Samoa adopted daylight saving time in 2010. In early October the clocks go forward (to GMT/UTC plus 14 hours), returning to normal in late March.

Travel with Children

The Samoan climate (discounting long periods of heavy rain or the odd cyclone), warm waters and dearth of poisonous creatures make the islands a paradise for children. You’ll find that Samoans tend to lavish attention on very young children, and foreign toddlers will not be starved for attention or affection while visiting the islands.

Never leave your child unsupervised near beaches, reefs or on walking tracks, particularly those running along coastal cliffs (these are never fenced). Typically only the upmarket resorts provide cots, and only some car-rental agencies have car seats (and these can be of questionable quality), so it may pay to bring your own.

Tourist Information

The excellent, comprehensive website of the Samoa Tourism Authority (www.samoa.travel) has easy-to-browse information on activities, attractions, accommodation and useful organisations, plus an up-to-date events calendar.