Kirsty and her family write about their adventures at Travel With Meraki. Kirsty's story about their time in Samoa makes me want to visit - I hope you love it as much as I do.
In Samoa there is a saying fa'a Samoa. It means the Samoan way and as soon as you land in this beautiful South Pacific paradise you are warmly embraced by this way of life. The smiles are genuine and everywhere you go, music seems to follow you.
Samoa is made up of 10 islands where you can experience everything from volcanic lava flows to cascading waterfalls in lush rainforest. Travelling with our three little ones, all under five at the time in tow, we ventured to two of the more populated islands, Savai'i and Upolu.
Our first stop was the largest island in Samoa, Savai'i. A 90 minute car ferry ride from Upolu took us to our new home for the next week, the beautiful Le Lagoto Resort & Spa. Being a bigger family we stayed in the larger house rather than the beach fales. With a garden full of hermit crabs, beach access and the staff all giving in to the children's every whim - the Samoans adore children, even ones that are tired and cranky from a day full of travel - everyone settled in quickly.
We don't like sitting still for too long, even on paradise beach holidays. So, as tempting as the white sand beaches and tribal fruit platters were, we also booked a full day adventure through the resort that would take us around the island and sights. Although it is possible to do this on your own, when the children were younger I tended to always look for the easy option. I also love having a local guide show their home off. It's such a great way to learn about secret locations and being told about a culture from someone who is passionate about it always leaves a lasting impression.
For a full day we were taken from one beautiful sight to another. We saw dolphins at Sea Arch, learnt local tales at Mata o le Alelo Pool, where legend tells of the first coconut growing from the head of an eel. We watched coconuts fly 30 metres up into the air at the Alofaaga Blowholes and swam in the azure waters of the Afu Aau Falls.
One of my faves were the Saleaula lava fields. Here you can wander through 50 square kilometres of land and five villages that were are buried when Mt Matavanu erupted from 1905 to 1911. The local church is a highlight, which has black lava pouring through the front door and windows.
Our day ended like all our evenings on Savai'i, stunning tangerine sunsets and the echoes of conch shells being blown by villagers to mark the evening prayer curfew.
The main island of Samoa is Upolu. Here we found the hustle and bustle of the capital Apia, although it is still possible to find stunning beaches such as Vaiula Beach.
Exploring the island plantation home of Robert Louis Stevenson was a highlight. You can also take a hike up Mount Vaea, to where Tusitala - the name the Samoans gave Stevenson, meaning Teller of Tales - was buried, when he died on the island in 1894.
We stayed in the legendary Aggie Grey's in Apia for two nights before its Sheraton update. Although nowhere near as glam as it is now, we were treated to fun cultural shows and I had Aggie Grey's grand-daughter come and help me order a meal from the kitchen so the children could watch the fire dancing.
We then moved to The Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort for our last few nights in Samoa. Between plenty of days doing not much of anything except soaking up the island life we did another tour that took us to some of the amazing natural wonders of the island like Falefa falls, Fagalao Bay and Papapapaiuta falls
Although it is easy to get caught up in the beauty of Samoa - especially those sunrises - I think it needs to be said that it really is the gorgeous locals who make this place so special. Everywhere we went we were treated as old friends. Everyone had time and a kind word for the children, especially. From the driver of our transfer bus, who rode back especially to come and return my sons favourite teddy that was left behind, to the lovely lady who was our tour guide one day and upon seeing us at the airport a few days later, made sure the children had a cookie each for the flight home. The warmth and generosity of this culture is such a special gift to experience.
Kirsty and her family, write about their adventures at Travel With Meraki. Meraki is a Greek word that means to do something with heart and soul, to put a little bit of yourself into something. They believe that everyone should travel with Meraki. Whether it is travelling on a child-free adventure or with the three kids in tow, she loves having experiences to treasure for a life-time and capturing those moments with her fourth baby, her camera. Visit them on their blog, or become their friends on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.