Detour to Samoa

Lonely Planet recently named Samoa as one of the Best value destinations for 2015. We were Samoa bound a few days later so it was perfect timing for us to find out how Samoa stacked up as a value for money destination.

You'll see a lot of churches in this religious nation

You’ll see a lot of churches in this religious nation

Budget accommodation wasn’t on our itinerary but we thought we’d booked a decent deal with 5 nights accommodation and breakfast at 4.5 star Tanoa Tusitala with Air NZ flights, and transfers for $999pp. Turns out it was a good deal, it’s worth looking at packages, especially if you want to stay in higher end accommodation. We made our own arrangements for an additional four nights – for more information see our updated Samoa guide.

Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Apia

Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Apia

Traditional open fale accommodation with shared facilities is where it’s at in Samoa for budget travellers. As an example, the popular Tanu Beach Fales on Manase Beach in Savaii can be booked from NZ$52 per night, per person, including breakfast and dinner. Vacations Beach Fales nearby offers the same deal from $70 tala per person, per night.

Open fale at Vacations Beach Fales in Manase

Open fale at Vacations Beach Fales in Manase

An option on Upolu is Taufua Beach Fales on lovely Lalomanu Beach. An open fale is $180 tala for two including breakfast and dinner. Taufua also have closed fales from $220 tala for two including meals. An added bonus of staying in beach fales is that they are often run by Samoan families so there’s an opportunity to learn more about Samoan culture.

Taufua Beach Fales - a closed fale

Taufua Beach Fales – a closed fale

Lalomanu Beach

Lalomanu Beach

The current exchange rate is $1.93 tala for every NZ $1. It was a novelty for us to almost halve our costs when converting them to NZ dollars. When dining out, our bills always came as a pleasant surprise. In our Samoa guide we’ve included a lot of price information so I’ll just provide a few examples here:

Crumbed beef schnitzel, salad and baked potato at Amanaki Restaurant - $20 tala

Crumbed beef schnitzel, salad and baked potato at Amanaki Restaurant – $20 tala

$8 tala! cocktails at Apia Yacht Club

$8 tala! cocktails at Apia Yacht Club

Food and drink is generally more competitively priced in Apia. Resorts in general, but more specifically those in isolated areas tend to charge more, partly because they can as there often won’t be anywhere else to eat and drink unless guests can drive away in a hire car. Beach fale operators tend to keep prices in line with their cheap accommodation.

My favourite drink in Samoa - chilled niu (coconut water) - from $4 tala

My favourite drink in Samoa – chilled niu (coconut water) – from $4 tala

There are some stunning natural attractions in Samoa, it’s usual to pay an entry fee as all land is owned by villagers. Charges are modest though – $5 tala to swim in Piula Cave Pool on Upolu, and visit Saleula Lava Field on Savaii. Entry to the seriously gorgeous To Sua Ocean Trench on Upolu is one of the most expensive options at $20 tala, but well worth it ………….

The magical To Sua Ocean Trench

The magical To Sua Ocean Trench

We hired a car for 7 days for $700 tala which we thought was very good value. It enabled us to drive to different dining options at night in Apia and to do our own tour of parts of Upolu and Savaii. There are plenty of taxis in Apia and a number of drivers approached us in the street offering island tours. Petrol is $3 tala a litre on Upolu so taxi fares are reasonable, there are no meters though, so ask for the price before you set off.

Catching the bus to Lalomanu will save you tala

Catching the bus to Lalomanu will save you tala

We agree with Lonely Planet – get to Samoa soon ……

Air New Zealand - getting ready for take off to Samoa

Air New Zealand – getting ready for take off to Samoa

Next stop Savalalo Flea Market

Next stop Savalalo Flea Market

2 thoughts on “Detour to Samoa

    • Hi
      Yes, the weather was beautiful, one day in Savaii it rained on an off but I’d thought we might get a bit more given the rainy season starts in November. Keeping rain water and smudges off the camera lens was a challenge so I appreciated all the clear days. The biggest hail stones I’ve ever seen fell in Rotorua not long after we got home so it was quite a contrast. I see the weather cleared beautifully for you yesterday – I really like the photo of the shells on the beach.

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