Samoa lures travelers with its paradisiacal stretches of white sand beaches framed by lush rainforest, turquoise water, and azure skies. Though there is plenty of that, to be sure, and a beach is a good place to start your Samoan experience, there is much more to discover.

Begin your stay in a beach-side fale (hut), local lager in hand (try award winning Vasilima beer), and when ready to embark on a journey into the heart of Samoa you’ll encounter thriving Polynesian culture, tight-knit aigas (extended family units), quaint villages, wide grinning locals, enticing craft markets, super fresh seafood, tropical gardens, volcanic peaks, hidden pools, cascading waterfalls, and colorful creatures on both sea and land.

Samoa (formerly known as Western Samoa) is an archipelago in the South Pacific between New Zealand and Hawaii. It is made up of ten islands, the two largest and most populated being Upolu and Savai’i. A separate territory, the nearby islands of American Samoa share some similarities in Polynesian culture and landscape with Samoa (traits which have long outlived modern political transitions), though the two territories are governed independently of one another.

Visitors to Samoa can attend a fiafia (traditional feast) and sample specialties such as fish or meaty pieces of taro baked over hot lava stones sealed under banana leaves in a traditional umu (oven). They can also witness the traditional dances of the islands, which represent thousands of years of intact local culture and are simply mesmerizing.

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