Samoa © Andrew Moore

The island paradise of Western Samoa is an independent Pacific state situated half way between New Zealand and Hawaii. It is comprised of 10 islands, surprisingly varied in their terrain and character, with terrain ranging from rainforests and lush valleys to volcanic mountain peaks and miles of perfect sandy beaches. Immediately off-shore crystal-clear azure water teeming with aquatic life and pristine coral entices snorkelers and scuba divers. Samoa is effortlessly a place apart from the busy, populated world outside its borders.

Amid the beautiful scenery of the islands, Samoans live with their ancient traditions and culture largely intact despite the influx of more modern influences. Family, religion and hospitality are values central to Samoan identity, as is the laid-back approach to life and the legendary warm welcome extended to visitors.

Upolu is the main island and home to the capital Apia, which is a fun and vibrant city, and the ideal gateway to Samoa's other islands. Upolu was where Robinson Crusoe lived and his time here is commemorated in the eponymous botanical gardens and museum. Other highlights on Upolu include Lalomanu Beach which adjoins a protected pristine lagoon that is perfect for snorkelling; the famous Malua Turtle feeding site; and numerous splendid waterfalls.

Of the other islands, Savai'i offers unparalleled raw beauty, volcanic craters, towering waterfalls, mysterious archaeological sites and incredible natural blowholes. Manono Island, on the other hand, is a slice of old Samoa with just a handful of fishing villages and little in the way of vehicles and electricity to disturb the peaceful way of life.

A holiday in Samoa presents a dilemma of whether to proactively explore the many attractions and activities of the islands, or just embrace the easy-going lifestyle by relaxing on the perfect beaches - joy is guaranteed either way!

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