Oh Samoa I already miss you. Leaving New Zealand for a two week holiday, Tyler and I spent 5 days in the Gold Coast to check out Coolangatta and Byron Bay then left for Samoa for a week. The Gold Coast was awesome. We rented two different Airbnb apartments, which were both perfect and highly recommended. The first one was oceanfront in Palm Beach with a fun beach break right out front. The second one in Byron Bay was central to pretty much everything, including some amazing restaurants. I pretty much ate my way through Byron Bay, the foodie scene has come a long way when I was there about 8 years ago. In both destinations, we just relaxed, ate way too much good food, checked out Snapper Rocks and the surf comp going on, and surfed. We did manage to do the lighthouse walk in Byron Bay to see some beautiful views, and got a dive in at Julian Rocks where we hung out with some huge rays, leopard sharks, and some colorful fish.
We then left for Samoa after having a brief layover back in Auckland. We had planned this trip back in November when we were researching warm tropical places to go to (it was still cold and rainy in NZ at the time so we needed something warm to look forward too). We had decided to do a proper holiday and book a week at Salani Surf Resort, located on Upolu’s South East coast. The package we booked included all boats to the surf, meals, and transportation from the airport. I was not sure what to expect with Samoa, I pictured something similar to Fiji, but I knew the waves in Samoa are generally heavy reef breaks.
We got in to Samoa on a Saturday night, around 10:00pm. A Salani van picked us up and we made the hour and half drive from the Apia airport to the Salani resort. In the dark, it was hard to see much of anything but we were tired and ready for some food and a bed at that point when we got to the resort. Luckily for us, there was only two other couples staying the week so we had a fun week hanging with the staff, a couple from France, and a couple from Hawaii.
Salani Surf Resort is awesome. Definitely set up for surfers, it is a great place to stay if your main goal for the week is to surf as much as possible. It is 8 upscale villas built where a pretty river meets the ocean. The villas have a awesome deck where you can look out and check Salani Rights, and a very high performance left if it’s the right conditions. Also on the grounds, there is a small pool, restaurant area, pool table, and of course bar. Nikki and Drew, the managers of the resort, are awesome and were great and doing everything they could to make everyone comfortable and having a good time. The Salani Staff were also great, most of them being from Salani Village, were friendly and really eager and proud to share with guests their Samoa culture. I really enjoyed seeing them and chatting with them throughout the week. The boat men, 3 guys from Australia and Hawaii, and the resort photographer, made up the rest of the Salani Crew and were also really cool and did a great job making sure all the boys got waves. The boat men also were amazing surfers, it was a lot of fun to watch these guys just get barreled all day long. The waves in Samoa for the most part are pretty heavy waves, and definitely not for the beginner. The week we were there it never really dropped below 6 foot, so I only got to surf twice. I didn’t really mind though because I had a chance to tune my photography skills on the boat. Mattie the surf photographer also was nice enough to give me some lessons so we had fun blasting reggae from the boat and snapping photos.
On Sunday when we woke up, we all decided to head out to the To-Sua Ocean Trench. On Sundays, Boats are prohibited by Salani Village to go out and surf because it is a religious day so no activity around the village is allowed.
This was fine because we had heard about this ocean trench before even getting to Samoa so I was excited to check it out. After pulling up and paying 10 Tala to park, we walked over to the trench to have a look. At first glance, it looks calm inside the trench, but when you climb down the ladder and jump in you will immediately notice the pull of the ocean filtering water in and out of the hole. On lower tides and swell, you can swim through the hole to the ocean, but that day it was way too dangerous. Around the trench there is also some beautiful tidal pools you can also hang out in (for people who don’t want to climb down that ladder). There is also awesome views from the bluff that look up and down the coast.
The rest of the week was all surf related. Every morning, we would take off in the boat at first light and I would take pictures of the boys getting 6-8 foot heavy right hand waves . We would also throw out the fishing lines on the boat and try to snag some fish on the way out and in, one of the boatmen one night caught a pretty good size snapper. We also spent a great sunset with Nikki and Drew, Mattie the photographer, and Tyler and I with a cooler of beers on the boat at sunset trying to catch some fish. Mattie was able to snag a small guy that we threw back but it was so beautiful out there it made not catching anything a bit easier.
We also made a afternoon trip to another part of the island to surf a beach break that probably had the prettiest backdrop I have every seen. Jungle came right up to a white sand beach that was flanked on either side by a rocky cliff line. I kept thinking as I was sitting out there that it would be a perfect location for a Pirates of the Caribbean Movie. The break was this wedgy A-frame that broke on a flat reef. The wave again was pretty heavy and double overhead, but luckily for me I was able to sit on the outside by the channel and get a wide swinging peak next to the main break and have as much fun as the boys racing the little wave down the beach. We named it Kim’s Peak, and it had a great view of the boys waves at the main break. The only negative about the whole experience is the girls sitting on the beach got eaten alive by mosquitoes, so if you go, bring some Deet if you want to hang out after you get out of the water.
On the last day, we decided last minute to do a snorkel trip out of the Coconuts Resort on the other side of the island. We originally wanted to do a dive in Samoa but after hearing that the best reefs were in 30 feet or less, we decided to save the money and effort of putting tanks on our backs. It turned out to be a greqat decision because on the boat ride out, we ran into a hug pod of dolphins that gave us a show as they rode the wake of our boat. The reef itself was beautiful, and our guide Neil showed us where the turtles hang out and eat in the Coconuts shallow water so it was a great day.
We had such a great week and were pretty sad to leave at the end of the week. We could have easily extended for another week no problem, as I feel we didn’t even see everything on the island. I also loved the way Samoa feels untouched, as the tourism industry is still pretty mild on Upolu. The part of the island we were in, I saw no trash in the rivers or on the beaches, and it seemed the local people really cared about keeping things clean, which is nice. I hope future tourists realize what a special place it is and make a effort to keep it how we experienced it.
Thanks Samoa for the great waves and memories, hopefully we will be back soon! Next on our agenda is to fly back to New Zealand and pick up our mate Scottie who will be driving down with us as we move to the South Island!