The Faleolo International Airport is located about 35kms west of Apia, on Upolu. Do not leave your Duty Free shopping for your arrival here as there is little to choose from and all prices are in US Dollars. Only one bottle of spirits and one carton of cigarettes can be brought in per person in addition to Duty Free goods to the value of $500SAT. Luggage including hand luggage is generally x-rayed on arrival. The airport has an ANZ ATM machine which accepts Visa, MasterCard, JCB and Cirrus cards.
Banks and Currency
Samoa has decimal currency based on the Tala (dollar) and Sene (cent). 100 Sene = $1Tala. All major currencies are exchangeable in Samoa for Tala. Banking hours in Samoa are Monday to Friday from 9am to 3.30pm, with the exception of the ANZ Bank which is open until 3.30pm Wednesday and Thursday and 4pm on Fridays. Many shops in Apia and most hotels have EFTPOS access which accept Visa, MasterCard , JCB, AMEX and Cirrus. There is also a number of ANZ ATMs available. Some retailers will also take US, Australian and New Zealand dollars but you will need local currency at the markets and smaller shops including most petrol stations.
Samoa has very volcanic and rocky islands which make for very scenic and beautiful beaches and coves. Many beaches have small fales (huts) to give shade to visitors and you can swim and snorkel in the lagoon within the reef. Sun protection is necessary as the suns strength can be very deceptive. Always make sure you apply a sunscreen. Nude or even topless bathing are not generally acceptable.
Samoa has Australian/New Zealand electrical standards; you will not need an adaptor if you have electrical goods from these countries. From other part of the world you will require an adapter.
Inoculations are not necessary for travel to Samoa. While you are here drink a lot of (bottled) water to avoid dehydration due to the heat, enjoy the sun for limited periods and don’t be shy with the use of sunscreen. Disinfect and cover cuts.
Meals and drinking
Apia has many fine restaurants, which offer a range of cuisine and are inexpensive. Beach Road in Apia is home to a number of bars and nightlife. While beer and spirits are reasonabely priced (both in the bar or bottle shop), good wine (if available) can be pricey.
Samoan newspapers are the only print media available with the exception of New Zealand Sunday papers which are available from some outlets.
If you have a film camera it is better to bring your own including any spare batteries or other accessories. Due to the sharp sun exposure a polarized filter is a good idea and will make for far better pictures.
Physician and Pharmacies
The best bet for visitors requiring medical assistance is the new Apia Hosital. Dental treatments and chiropractic care are also available here, and all medical treatments are relatively low cost. Samoa has 4 pharmacies, the most western style one being Maria’s Health Care in Vaea St, Apia. Medicine supplies are low-priced but may be limited so any special requirement should be brought with you.
As a visitor you will probably not be able to learn the Samoan language, because the words and grammar are strange. Remember the letter G is pronounced as NG. There are only 14 letters in the Samoan alphabet so a slight variation in accent can change the entire meaning of a word or phrase.
Talofa or Malo
Manuia le po
The international code for Samoa is 685. At the end of 2006 a digital mobile/cell phone network was introduced and mobile/cell phones from overseas with global roaming will now function in Samoa. Alternately Sim Cards for mobile/cell phones can be purchased locally through Digicel or Bluesky. Internet Café’s are available in Apia and while broadband is now available.
Tipping is not expected in Samoa so it is at your discretion whether you decide a tip is warranted for a good service.