Flight Centre travel expert Kristin Ralph visited Samoa to celebrate a friend’s wedding. Here she reveals the side of this South Pacific paradise she likes best.
Samoa is a destination known for its tropical climate, stunning seascapes and alluring waterholes. What's not as well known – but should be – is the world-class hospitality its people show in their everyday lives.
Samoans are proud of their country, which is nestled in the heart of the South Pacific, and it's obvious they want others to feel the same. As a visitor to this amazing place, I was on the receiving end of the Samoan hospitality on a daily basis during my 11-day stay.
It all started with a random bus trip into town from my hotel soon after arriving. With a craving to explore, my travel buddy and I waited at a bus stop until a colourful and windowless former school bus picked us up.
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We stepped on to the bus, which was packed with locals, and were prepared to spend the trip standing in the aisle. Instead, we were greeted by friendly smiles, with every man and boy getting out of their seats to give up their spot, even sitting on each other’s laps so these two tourists could travel in comfort.
Everyone seemed so interested in finding out what had brought us to their home and when we all got off the bus, a friendly local guided us through the main tourist centre of Apia. Needless to say, we were impressed by the hospitality from day one.
I was there for my friend's wedding. She was marrying a Samoan man from a small village on Savai’i – one of Samoa's two islands. Upolu is the main island.
I was welcomed into the homes of his immediate and extended family, all of whom genuinely wanted to ensure we were looked after. I remember sitting down to have a conversation at their dining table and before I knew it, the women of the home were bringing out dish after dish. There was never an empty plate and the food kept coming until we begged them to stop.
We were treated like royalty and it was considered rude if we didn’t eat, or if we tried to help with the clean up. This unexpected service happened the whole time I was there and was unlike anything I had experienced.
But this hospitality extended beyond the groom’s village. I remember walking past villages and joining in games of volleyball. I was welcomed into a White Sunday (a day of family and thanksgiving) church service despite not being part of any denomination. I felt accepted no matter where I went.
Family and respect are vital components of the Samoan culture and it can be felt everywhere you go.