Samoa is a place of great natural beauty. Renowned for hosting some of the South Pacific’s most stunning landscapes, the remote island paradise is home to rainforest-covered volcanic mountains, vast valleys, cascading waterfalls, steep cliffs, and spectacular white-sand coastlines.
On the north-east coast of Upolu, Samoa’s capital, Apia exudes relaxed charm. The locals are famously hospitable and the city is easily explored by foot. Surprisingly, Apia has a notable showcase of restaurants, bars and hotels.
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In Samoa food is as much about culture and tradition as it is about sustenance and taste. Meals are social events, where the whole family comes together.
Fresh produce and food is in abundance in Samoa. Men paddle canoes into the country’s lagoons to catch fish; the ocean is scoured for bounties of crayfish, snapper, masimasi, octopus and tuna; while plantations of bananas, taro, tropical fruits and vegetables are cultivated and harvested daily.
Apia’s colourful vegetable market buzzes with activity, stocking an excellent array of local produce, and a great assortment of classic Polynesian specialities, some of which can be eaten on site.
Village dining is traditional. Microwaves and western-style ovens aren't in abundance; instead most backyards feature a cooking fale, where an umu – a Polynesian oven – is laid every day to cook meals. Foods normally served include: breadfruit, chicken, fish, fresh fruits, pork and taro. Made from the leaves of the taro plant and coconut cream, Lu’au is Samoa’s most famous dish, and an experience not to be missed. Hotel and resorts offer traditional Samoan food as well, usually at Fia Fia nights, where buffets are served and complemented by cultural entertainment. Kava is served at special events.
Apia also features a vibrant international dining scene. Germans, Italians, Chinese, Japanese and other Europeans have all settled in the city, and their influence can be seen reflected in local restaurants. Bars can be found in almost all hotels and restaurants, as well as down town. Brewed in Samoa, Vailima Beer is considered to be one of the best beers in the Pacific region.
Apia is a small modern city with a rich retail scene. Markets brim with fresh produce and artefacts; handicrafts showcase national traditions and make for great souvenirs; while a selection of stores highlight local fashions.
No shopping experience in Samoa is complete without visiting the markets.
Apia’s produce market is a permanent fixture, which offers a dazzling array of fresh local produce, as well as freshly prepared Samoan favourites. Family-owned and run stalls stock bananas, coconuts and taro, as well as a myriad of other in season exotic tropical fruits and vegetables.
In the old central market building on Beach Road, the Apia's flea market is renowned as a good place to pick up traditional and locally-made Samoan handicrafts. The market is lined with stalls that sell items like: hand-crafted wood carvings, kava bowls, woven pandanus mats, and lavalavas (sarongs) printed in every colour under the sun – most of which have been produced in nearby local villages.