Why go to Apia, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa)?
A true hub of Polynesia culture with good shopping and visitor experiences
Slow-paced life may frustrate busy city types. Some petty crime.
As authentic a Polynesian city as you'll find in the South Pacific
Apia, Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) Cruise Port Facilities?
Apia's port facility at Matautu is still a working container port despite recent upgrades for cruise vessels, which includes a wharf extension and navigation upgrades. Passenger facilities are still in temporary marquees on the dock and toilets are housed about 200 yards from the berth near the small retail centre that is on the walkway to the town centre.
The walk into the main shopping precinct is about one mile on flat pavement. Shuttle buses to the Visitor Information Centre in town will often be provided, so check with your cruise director or daily bulletin about this service.
Good to Know?
You'll quickly find the Samoan people, with their broad, welcoming smiles are wonderful hosts and eager to show you their beautiful island but, as the early explorers found, a respect for culture ('Fa'a Samoa') is important. Visitors should dress modestly and observe protocols, such as asking permission before taking photos or swimming in secluded lagoons. Don't be afraid to consult your guide as some protocols are tricky, like not standing in the presence of seated elders or inadvertently pointing your toes when seated. It's also a good practice to exercise alertness and awareness of personal safety as opportunistic crime like bag-snatching and burglary has been reported in Apia. Water is safe to drink. It's also worth knowing that most businesses are shut on Sundays for church.
On Foot: It's a short and pleasant 20-minute walk into the town centre from the port and from there it is easy to get around the shopping precinct as all the essential businesses are very close together around midtown.
By Bus: The favoured local transport is by bus. These colourful vehicles are an attraction in themselves and it can be fun to jump aboard for a cheap short trip.
By Taxi: Taxis may be in high demand on cruise days, so unless you really need one, it may be easier to walk. Be aware that taxi fares are best negotiated prior to your journey.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Samoa has its own currency, the Samoan t?l? (WST), which is roughly USD$0.35 to USD$0.40 cents. Officially, at least, the t?l? is the only accepted currency, but you can exchange other currencies at banks and some hotels or withdraw from any of the ATMs. Even though credit cards are now much more widely accepted in Apia, it's still important to have some cash at hand for minor purchases made at market stalls or for catching taxis.
English is widely spoken and understood in Samoa but often with a thick Polynesian accent that may be difficult at first. Even so, speak clearly (not loudly) and politely and you will be understood.
Samoans will be delighted if you can greet and thank them in the local language. 'Talofa' (tah-lo-far) is much like Fiji's 'bula' as a multipurpose greeting that will never offend. But say it with gusto! Thank you is 'fa'afetai' (fa-ah-feh-tie).