The best of Samoa – holidays with kids

A travel guide with the best of Western Samoa for families with kids! This incredible country are one incredible tropical destination for those craving some nature time! #samoa #travelsamoa #familytravel

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Samoa is a wonderful country on the Western side, part of the Polynesian Islands. 

The 2 main islands are Upolu (where Apia, the Capital, is) and Savai’i. 

It’s a well known holiday destination for Kiwis and Australians, but not so much for the rest of the world. 

We visited it and read below about Samoa for families with kids.

* American Samoa is a different place, still part of the USA. On this post, we’re talking only about Western Samoa. 

Samoa Language

There are 2 official languages, Samoan and English. Samoan is more widely spoken and in some villages, you’ll find that people don’t often speak English. In more touristic areas, you shouldn’t have any problems. 

Samoan currency

The Samoan Tala is used. You should have some, as small shops don’t take cards.  

There are ATMs everywhere, with ANZ bank being very common. 

ATMs tend to be a little cheaper than the currency exchange places, but do your research and see how much your bank charges for each withdraw and the limit for each time. 

The pink and blue sunset over a beach in Samoa. Samoa is an incredible family travel destination. There's a little for every kind of traveler. Find out more!

I mean… a sunset like this one is worth every money one can have. And if you have a coconut in your hands, then…

Samoa weather and seasons

It’s a tropical country, therefore being warm all year long. 

The average temperature is 29°C (84.2°F) but it often feels like a lot more. And it’s very, very humid, which makes it seems even hotter. 

The seasons are the dry season (May-October) and the wet season (November-April). 

Some attractions, like the rock slides and the waterfalls, are better visited during the wet season otherwise they aren’t safe or as beautiful, but… during the wet season, it’s best to carry a raincoat or a spare change of clothes.

Papapapaitai falls, in Samoa. To have the best holidays in Samoa with kids, all you have to do is show up. What a wonderful, stunning place!

This is Papapapaitai Falls. It was stunning, right after a heavy thunderstorm. Unfortunately, this is as close as we could get to it.

We were there in November and it was beautiful. Yes, for the first 5 days it rained every day for most of the time but then the weather opened up and we had some gorgeous weather by the end. Even though there was rain (well, thunderstorms, mostly), when it gave a break, we’d jump into the pool or the sea and have an hour or 2 or joy before going back to enjoying the laid-back lifestyle and the amenities the resorts offer. 

When it wasn’t sunny, the temperature was nice and we enjoyed it a lot. When the sky opened, though, it became way too hot to bear, so the only way out was the sea (or the pool). 

More about it here.

Samoan Islands

We’ll have a post for each island separately, so you can click below to find the details of what you’re looking for. 

Stairs leading to To Sua beach, in Samoa. There are few places in the world that left us speechless, and Samoa was one of them. Find more about it!

In To Sua, we found just the most unbelievably beautiful place in the world. Oh, it’s hard to compete, isn’t it?

  • Upolu Island

This is the main island, where Apia (the Capital) is. It’s also the landing place of most tourists since this is where the airport is. 

Check your post on Upolu here!

Even though it’s more densely populated and more developed, it’s still marvelous. The beaches are amazing, there’s plenty of nature, forests, gorges, lakes, and just about anything one may want. 

We could’ve stayed there forever, honestly. What a wonderful place. 

  • Savai’i Island

It’s populated and developed, but less.

I was expecting it to be rougher and tougher but no, it was so much more organized and very, very pretty. Find out more about Savai’i here!

The roads were super tidy, better kept than Upolu, to be honest. It was a little harder to buy things, as it was all in small stalls rather than actual markets and people not always speak English. 

It was a little bit more expensive than Upolu, though. 

It’s super worth the visit, I highly recommend you don’t miss this wonderful island. 

Traveling between the Samoan islands

There’s a ferry between the islands. It runs several times per day. It carries people and vehicles, so you can rent a car and travel through both islands easily. They’re cheap for passengers, but cars are a bit expensive. See if it’s worth taking the car or if you’d be better off renting a new one on the other side. 

There are a few ferries that do this trip. We took Lady Samoa lll to and from Upolu. It’s the ‘big boat’, and it has one whole level with air conditioning. This level can get quite crowded. We opted for the third floor, where we didn’t have air conditioning but we had the best views and the wind. 

On our first ferry trip there, we even saw a green turtle swimming! 

Inside Lady Samoa lll, the 'big boat' or the ferry between the 2 main islands of Western Samoa. It takes around an hour between the islands and the scenery is stunning. We're not very fond of ferries, but the view is always so worth it!

Well, the ferry could use some upgrade but it was fine. The Samoan sea is mesmerizing and the wind made the hot weather a lot more bearable.

It’s a short trip, of around one hour. Depending on the sea conditions, it can be a choppy trip – get your sea sickness prevention mode on! And have some plastic bags just in case. 

If you’re driving, you NEED TO BUY YOUR CAR TICKET IN ADVANCE! This ticket is for a vehicle and the driver. The other passengers must have regular tickets. 

The normal ticket isn’t sold beforehand, so even if you have your car ticket, you’ll need to go earlier to buy tickets for the rest of the party. 

They ask for cars to arrive around an hour prior to the scheduled time. 

Find the timetable and fares here!

The best way to travel between Upolu and Savaii (Samoa) is by ferry. They operate all year round, are affordable and quick! Find out more!

This is the ‘small boat’, crossing us while onboard of the ‘big boat’. Ours looked a lot more comfortable. But, anyway, it’s a short trip so either would be fine.

Transport options within the islands

Renting a car is the easiest way – though note you’ll need to have your international driving license validated. Many car rental companies do this for you but it costs a little more than at the Land Transport Authority (in Vaitele), where they charge ST 21 (less than US$ 15). 

Other options are the colorful buses, which are everywhere. There isn’t a bus stop, so you’ll need to see the bus coming, check if it goes to where you’re going and signal for it to stop. When the bus is full, people often offer their laps for the others to sit on. Don’t be offended if it happens or if people expect you to offer your lap! 

There are also transfers from some accommodations. Just check if they actually have the service and the cost. 

Taxis are also available but there isn’t any meter so discuss the price before accepting the ride!

Sunset over the beach in Samoa. You can watch the sun set every day and it'll be different every single time. What a blessing!

The car gave us the freedom of traveling freely around Samoa. It was a good call, and the air conditioning was always welcomed.

For families, I highly suggest renting a car as it’s more cost-effective and it’s a lot easier if you don’t have to wait for a bus that may never show up or a very slow taxi after a long day.

The internet in Samoa

Well, we usually need the internet, but this time we were actually in holiday mode. That meant we only did Instagram and some light Facebook and Instagram, but other than that, we didn’t even check the e-mails. 

We bought a SIM card at the airport and used that as our main source. 

You’ll have 2 options: Bluesky and Digicel. I bought Digicel because the person opened the shop so we could buy our chip before the opening hours. It worked fine, sometimes 3G, sometimes 4G, and sometimes LTE. I rarely ran out of range. There are many, many plans to choose from, from 1G to 40G, and you can top up little by little too. 

The teens kayaking in Samoa. This little country has everything to make your vacation special. It was one of the best places we've visited with kids!

Why phones when you have this, right? By the way, most beaches in Samoa have no waves, which makes them great for those trying our new water sports like kayaking!

We bought 6G with shareable internet so I could open up my phone so everyone in my family could use it. It wasn’t nearly half of what we’d use normally, but it was great to limit our phone time. It cost us ST$ 20. 

The only place that had free wifi for guests was Sheraton Beach Resort. It worked slowly but steadily and it was a relief for the kids to be able to use it all the time. Too bad we only had it for one night. The other places we used charged – and a lot – for the internet, so we didn’t use it once. 

Vodafone NZ charged us NZ$5 per day of use – the use would be limited to the plan we have at home. 

The airport has a wifi but it isn’t available in all areas, so we didn’t get to use it. 

Samoa International Airport is unique and lovely. It was still under construction when we visited, but it was already one of the most unique airports we've ever visited!

Samoa International Airport at night. It’s funny that the shops only open when there’s a flight coming or going. We visited it quite a few times to try to buy a SIM card and everything was closed. And we found a lot of people on the same boat. The parking lot is open and they charge you anyways.

Accommodation in Samoa

There are all kinds of accommodation in the country, from the most luxurious resorts to hotels, to hostels, villas, even Airbnbs. 

The most unique option, though, are the fales. They are beach bungalows – literally just a small raised floor right in front of the water. There are no walls but some curtains (they could be from leaves, regular curtains, and all sorts of materials) for privacy. 

We didn’t try them and I’m honestly glad we didn’t. I hated using repellent all the time and it would’ve been a nightmare to keep everyone slobbered enough to keep all those funny bugs away during the night. Well, my kids aren’t fond of bugs and neither am I.

We found people everywhere to be incredibly friendly and welcoming, trying their best to make us feel at home and it was lovely. 

If you’re contacting a hotel for information, be patient. They take a while to answer. Around a week, if you’re lucky. Sometimes there isn’t even an answer at all. Book well ahead of time or try your luck! Call, if you’re unsure. 

What to pack for a family vacation in Samoa

Summer clothing, a light cardigan or a sarong for the evening breeze, swim togs, jandals, travel towels, maybe a walking shoe if you’re planning on walking or hiking. And that’s it. 

Even though towels are provided in most places, we liked having our travel towels to take on our outings and as they take up such little space in the bags, it’s worth taking one!

Laundry is available at most accommodations for a charge. We paid around ST$ 50 per load, washed and dried. Some places refused to wash when we had too few clothes but otherwise, it was fine – we could just toss in our travel towels and swim togs to add up to the load.

You can hire snorkel and dive gear everywhere but we took ours – I kind of dislike using other people’s snorkel gear. 

For personal hygiene items, you can buy them anywhere. The brands are a little limited, but it’s fine.

If you’re wearing sunscreen, make sure you get some reef safe sun protection to avoid damage the wonderful coral reef all around the islands. 

Don’t forget a good insect repellent – you can also buy there, there are natural and awesome alternatives there, just for a higher price tag. 

I’d buy a sarong there instead of taking one. It costs around ST$ 10 and there are many designs and colors, they’re super pretty!

Apia Markets, in Samoa. It's very touristy but fun to walk around on a not so hot day. Otherwise it's too hot, seriously.

Apia Market – this is where we found the biggest variety of Samoan souvenirs, but you can find a sarongs and other things everywhere!

Tips for a nice holiday in Samoa

  • Most villages have an evening praying curfew. It lasts for around an hour and it’s usually around 6 pm or 7 pm. Be respectful, make no noise. You can cross the villages, but don’t expect people to come out and greet you or the shops and restaurants to be opened during that time. 
  • Women should dress conservatively, which means covered from the shoulders to the knees. It doesn’t need to be super covered, just a sarong over your shorts or your tank top. It’s mostly true for the smaller villages but it’s nice to be respectful everywhere. 
  • There are lots of bugs. Mosquitos, ants, spiders, beetles, cockroaches. Everywhere. You’ll need some insect repellent. 
Men dancing in a cultural performance in Samoa. It's one of the things you can miss in Samoa with kids! Well, even without them!

These cultural performances are highly touristic but they are beautiful and we had lots of fun! Combine it with a dinner and it’s perfect! There’s music, dancing, coconut demonstration, and fire! We loved it!

  • There are also lots of crabs, fishes, and other sea creatures everywhere. If you’re swimming at the beach, you’ll encounter some. My kids are now terrified of sea cucumbers, there were SO MANY! Haha
  • Air conditioning is a blessing: find somewhere with it if you don’t really love the hot days and nights. 
  • Whale watching season is from September and October. If you’re really lucky, you can see them from July to December, though. 
  • Turtles feed around the bays, so go snorkeling early in the morning or early evening to try and see them. Namua Island is said to be the best place to see them in the wild! 
  • Although there are many places where you can see turtles in captivity, avoid them. These animals are best left in the wild. 
  • There is NO tourist fee for Western Samoa. 
  • By the way, it’s pronounced Sah-moa. 
A snail in a hotel in Samoa. If you don't like these creatures, then maybe Samoa isn't for you!

Little critters everywhere. I found even the snails to be cute. Isn’t it? There were many, many critters everywhere.

  • Tap water isn’t potable – it’s best to have your own water sterilization device such as the Steripen (click here to see more details!) or Aquatabs (click here to find some). Bottled water is widely available too, though not really eco-friendly. Some places offer filtered water. We took our water bottles and refilled it at the hotel (when filtered water was available) and bought bottled water for the rest of the time.
  • Some accommodation offer bottled water for its guests, but it may be limited to a bottle per person, so not nearly enough. 

Samoan Food

Most accommodations with free breakfast offer the tropical breakfast, which means fruits, a porridge, and toast. We found them to be filling and nutritious, which was awesome. The kids didn’t really like the porridges much (sometimes they were rice and fruits porridge, so depending on the mix, it was a little strange) but still felt fine. 

The breakfast included in many Samoan hotels: fruits, toast and porridge. It was filling and different.

This was our tropical breakfast one day. There were always fresh fruits, toast, jam, butter, and a porridge. This one was cocoa rice porridge. Funny, different, but I liked it. Can’t say the same for the kids.

We found the food to be expensive, but it was always delicious and fresh, so very worth it. For our family of 6, we paid around ST 250 per meal. 

There are 2 things we loved there: 

  • Oka: raw fish marinated in coconut cream with cucumber and tomatoes. Refreshing, delicious, and traditional!
  • Taro fries: they’re like chips, but made out of taro instead of potatoes. It’s incredibly yum!

Don’t hesitate on ordering some deliciously fresh coconut water and then, ask them to open it so you can eat the delicious coconut flesh. So, so good!

Watch at least one cultural show. If your accommodation doesn’t have one, there’s one nearby that does, and they usually include dinner!

There’s a local soda called Taxi. It’s the usual flavors, but they’re all colored and fun. Try them! My kids’ favorites were raspberry and lemonade!

Samoa has a wide variety of traditional food, and they are delicious!

This is Sheraton’s Oka with taro chips. It was good and pricey. But every oka we ordered in the country was delicious and refreshing! And the coconut water. Yum!

Western Samoa for kids

Samoans are extremely friendly and they love kids. We didn’t have one problem with them, though know that there are resorts and spaces only for adults so maybe avoid those. 

Kids who swim well enough will enjoy the islands thoroughly as most of its attractions involve water. Coral (6) didn’t swim so we took her floaty and she enjoyed it like that, though it did make it hard for her to snorkel. It was a donut floaty, so maybe a life jacket or the arm floaties are better. 

If your kids are adventurous and enjoy being in nature, they’ll surely love it. There are many different bugs and birds, waterfalls, beaches, and just so much to see!

In Samoa, coconut trees are called Tree of Life, as every single part of the tree is used as a staple in life. Most cultural performances include a bit of it!

In a cultural performance, Coral received a coconut leaf woven hat. She loved it and she was very sad when we had to leave it behind. She also said she was glad she wasn’t called to drink the coconut water – she hates it. 😛

On the other hand, if your kid is a city-bug, they will feel a little out of place. 

Apia is an excellent base for families with different kids, as it’s close to many amazing natural wonders and it also has some city comfort, like museums, the movies, and Mc Donalds. 

My kids enjoyed the cultural shows we’ve been to. With music, dances, and fire, well, it was great fun. They tend to end up late and kids may get tired in the end so have them nap a bit during the afternoon or plan for a lazy morning on the next day. We found them at the hotels, during dinner time. Around Apia, they are more common throughout the week. 

The best of Samoa: holidays with kids - water fun! Swimming in the calm waters, snorkeling, kayaking, SUP, and even deep sea diving! Fun for all ages!

With the calm water beaches, Samoa is the perfect place for kids still learning to swim – or those too little! Also incredible for starting up on kayaking or SUP!

To finish it…

We loved Samoa. It was a little too hot for half of the family, but we all enjoyed it thoroughly. 

If you love beaches, snorkeling, diving, or sea creatures, beautiful culture and friendly people, then Samoa is for you! 

  • Country
  • Minimun Stay
  • $ ~ $$$
  • Child-friendlyness
  • Best local transport option
  • Safety
  • Do we recommend it?
  • Samoa
  • 3 days
  • $$$
  • Perfectly child friendly
  • Car
  • Super, super safe
  • YES!
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