When it's time to go backpacking and swimming on the beach, an island getaway makes the most enjoyable vacation. The sun, sea, and surf all invite one to relax and just breathe. That's the atmosphere tourists can enjoy when in Apia, Samoa's capital city.
Apia's history has wide-ranging roots due to many countries fighting over the control of Samoa. Although first sighted by the Dutch in 1722, it was the British who first undertook missionary work in Apia and other places in the country in 1830. The Germans, however, soon broke into the territory, followed later on by the Americans. These events further complicated the tension of the Civil War which was resolved by a treaty in 1899. This separated the two islands on the Western part with the Eastern island going to the Americans.
New Zealand, however, got control of Samoa, despite the non-violent protests for independence in Apia and other cities during this time. Freedom from foreign rule only occurred by 1962 when Western Samoa signed a friendship treaty with New Zealand.
Located on the second largest island of the small Pacific country, tourists going to Apia for the first time will see a combination of traditional and modern structures. This enables travelers to enjoy a variety of activities from fun water activities to cultural tours around the city. The first stop should be the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum which displays the memories and lifestyle that the literary artist and his family experienced in the island. The author was quite fond of the island nation, lauding the Samoans as a gentle people in his work, 'A Footnote in History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa.'
Another cultural landmark tourists shouldn't miss is Samoa Cultural Village. It features interactive exhibits about the Polynesian community and their way of life. Tourists will find the experience fun filled and educational as they learn about the traditions among Samoans and how they relate to their elders and children. From there, tourists can go shopping at Apia markets to buy tropical fruits and vegetables. There are also intricate handcrafts and sarongs ready, which make nice souvenirs to take home.
After a day of touring and haggling in the marketplace, it's time to pack for the beach. There's a variety of options waiting, from swimming in pristine waters to participating in a fishing expedition. Tourists can also swim with the turtles in the Satoalepi Village or look for a waterfall and just bask in the peaceful air. For those who like to hike, there are rainforests aplenty for exploration. One challenge to undertake for this activity is Mount Vaea which features a panoramic view of Apia at the peak.
How to get around within Apia
There are many ways to get around Apia and other surrounding cities. Buses are especially colorful with informal seating arrangements. One can just wave at a bus to board and then press a buzzer before getting down and paying the fare. Produce might also be taken around by locals, especially when going to the city center and the market areas.
Driving around the city is also permissible, as long as the drivers' license were validated by the local authorities. There are many rental cars available, from 4WDs to 12-seater vans. Taxis can also be found going around, but travelers will have to negotiate about the fare, as there are no meters.
For water sceneries, tourists can board an inter-island ferry between Apia, Salelologa Wharf, and Mulifanua Wharf.
How to get there
When going to Apia, travelers will most likely land on Faleolo International Airport. They can book connecting flights to this port of entry through Samoa Air, as well as Air New Zealand, Fiji Airways, Inter Island Airways, Polynesian Airlines, and Virgin Samoa.
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