Apia Travel Guide
Introduction to Apia
The capital city of Samoa, Apia is hardly the first choice of many travellers to this island nation, as most opt to stay at one of many resorts found at its first-rate beaches. However, there are advantages to staying here at the start or end of your trip, as it is close by to a number of notable cultural, historic, and natural attractions.
Cultural Attractions in Apia
Soon after arrival in Apia, head over to the Samoa Cultural Village to get your first dose of the local culture. Here, you’ll get to see how wooden and woven products have been created for generations, you’ll get to watch traditional dance and song, and afterwards, you’ll be invited to take part in a kava ceremony.
Traditional dishes are also offered, giving you an opportunity to sample the national cuisine if your resort doesn’t offer much in the way of Samoan food.
Once you have gotten your fill of Samoan traditions in Apia, learn about one of Samoa’s best-loved expats at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. Home to Scottish author and poet Robert Louis Stevenson until he succumbed to a cerebral haemorrhage in 1894, it is a place of homage to a literary great who did everything he could aid his fellow Samoans.
From the grave where he is buried to his estate’s homely interior, fans of the man who wrote Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde owe it to themselves to see this historic attraction.
Of all the places in the world, you would likely never expect to find a grand church on an island in the middle of the vast South Pacific. Yet, it is in Apia, the capital city of Samoa, where you will find the Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral, one of the most stylish Roman Catholic houses of worship built in the last 100 years.
While the original church was finished here in 1857, it underwent a significant overhaul in 2009 following a major earthquake in 2009. Completed in 2014, it features two cupolas, each of which has a fresco painted with a local flair on their interiors, countless stained glass windows, and an arched wood roof with detailed artwork carved into it.
Other Attractions in Apia
Want to see Samoa’s tallest waterfall? Hire a cab in Apia, and tell the driver to take you to the outlook for Papapapaitai Falls. Situated on the Cross Island Road, the vantage point for this site is best accessed during the wet season, or in the first couple of months following its conclusion.
Visit during this time, and you’ll see torrents of water rushing over a 100-metre high drop, plunging into a deep gorge below. Official tours won’t take you to the base, as there is no official trail leading to it.
Some visitors have made the trek to the gorge; if you wish to attempt the same, you should be knowledgeable about jungle bushwhacking. Even if you are, we strongly recommend hiring a local guide, as they will be able to keep you safe and point out local plants and wildlife along the way.
Looking for a spot of excitement in the tropical rainforest of Samoa? Make your way to the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks. Located 6 kilometres from downtown Apia, these are small waterfalls which flow evenly over large stones into a deep pool below.
Having done so for aeons, the water has smoothed down the stone to a smooth texture, making it easy for swimmers wearing smooth bathing suits to slide down in an accelerating fashion. At the peak of dry season, the flow might not be sufficient for riding: ask ahead in Apia during this time to avoid disappointment.
The South Pacific is known for having a rich diversity of marine life – the waters off Samoa are no different. During your time in Apia, book a snorkelling or diving trip to the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve.
Located within a short drive of the city, this system of coral reefs are situated in a series of shallows little more than 100 metres offshore. As such, those planning on doing a self-guided tour of this colourful corals should plan their visit for high tide, as the amount of clearance between you and the spiny structures are minimal at low tide.