Apia is the capital and the largest city of Samoa. Apia is situated on the central north coast of Upolu, the second largest island of Samoa. Samoa is a popular fishing destination and most of the charter companies operate out of Apia. Apia Harbour is by far the largest and busiest harbour in Samoa.

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About Apia

General Information about Apia

Apia is the capital and the largest city of Samoa. The city is located on the central north coast of Upolu, Samoa's second largest island. Apia is situated on a natural harbour at the mouth of the Vaisigano River. It is on a narrow coastal plain with Mount Vaea. Apia was founded in the 1850s and has been the official capital of Samoa since 1959.

Image Source: Samoa Images. Central Apia
Central Apia

As with most Pacific Island capitals, Apia is a little shabby and run down. Reasonably small in size and with few obvious attractions, Apia is very useful as an initial stop-off point for first time visitors to get their bearings, plan travel around the island of Upolu, organise accommodation on the beach, and recover from jet lag. The vast majority of Samoa's highlights can be found outside this town, although most are within a very short drive.

Apia has several quite reasonable places to eat. Beer and soft drinks are available at most places. There are numerous restaurants that cater for locals on a budget and will sell the sort of food that is eaten in the average household. The menu is likely to include chop suey, chicken curry, and mutton flaps. Umu or earth oven cooked local food include roast pig, and the great delicacy, palusami. Palusami is made of onions, and coconut cream with possibly chicken or prawns, all wrapped in a new taro leaf and baked. This is a "must try" and goes well with taro.

Remember that restaurants tend to close early by Western standards and that, with a few exceptions, the restaurants in the big hotels are the only ones open on Sunday. There are no street numbers in Apia so you will have to ask for directions if you do not take a taxi. The town is divided into lots of smaller villages and the restaurant location is given by village, road (e.g. Beach Road, which is a couple of miles long), or the building, which is not much use to foreigners.

Samoa is a popular fishing destination and most of the charter companies operate out of Apia. The Samoan International Game Fishing Association is based near the port and can provide information about boat companies. Every year it runs an International tournament, attracting anglers from all over the world. Fish in the local waters include blue and black marlin, sailfish, yellowfin, and the giant trevally.

Apia Harbour is by far the largest and busiest harbour in Samoa. International shipping with containers, LPG gas, and fuels all dock here. Ferries to Tokelau and American Samoa depart from here. Apia is served by a good road network, which is generally kept reasonably well maintained. Most of the main roads are sealed; the unsealed roads have lower use. Vehicles drive on the left-hand side of the road.

The country has no trains or trams, but is served with an extensive and privatised bus and taxi system. People commonly walk around the town, or even for some distances outside it. There are few bicycles and motorcycles, but traffic congestion due to a huge increase in vehicle ownership has necessitated a major upgrade in road infrastructure.

Two courses are close to Apia: the Royal Samoan Country Club near Fagalii Airport and a more recent development, the Faleata Country Club, which is close to the sports complex constructed for the South Pacific Games. Guests of Aggie Grey's Hotel get free green fees at the Royal Samoan.

Things to do in Apia

Visit the Apia Fish Market – The fish market is best visited early on a Sunday morning, from about 6am. There is an amazing variety of the fish available, ranging from huge cross sections of freshly caught yellow-fin tuna to octopus, crabs and eels all at unbelievably low prices. Be adventurous and try the more unusual options available, like the sea cucumber gizzards.

Visit the Fugalei Fresh Produce Market – The produce market in Apia, is open every day of the week. On offer is a dazzling array of fresh local produce as well as some cooked Samoan favourites to nibble on. Walk along the aisles of family owned and operated stalls and marvel at the sheer number of bananas, coconuts and taro in all shapes, colours and sizes, as well as a plethora of other exotic tropical fruits and vegetables. Pick up an icy cold niu (drinking coconut), and sample some of the produce and Samoan food available.

Visit the Museum of Samoa – The museum is housed by a two storey colonial building of over a century years old that was once a German school. You will find inside the museum a spectacular collection of cultural and historical artifacts and other sources of information relating to the customs and cultures of Samoa and other Pacific islands. For more information, visit www.museumofsamoa.ws

Visit the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve – This very convenient spot is only five minutes walk from the centre of Apia (head east to Vaiala Beach). There's a blue hole surrounded by walls of coral and tropical fish so it's great for snorkelling, diving and swimming or just relaxing with a picnic. There are toilets, showers and changing rooms and snorkel gear can be hired.

Gear is available for hire ($5.00/mask and $2.00/snorkel). It is recommended that visitors plan their snorkel trips for high tide as attempting to reach the high tide could result in damaged coral or coral cuts for the swimmer.

Visit the Papase'ea Sliding Rocks – Papase'ea Sliding Rock is located at Seesee in Faleata District. The sliding rocks is divided into two, one for kids and one for adults. This splendid site is widely being used by visitors and guests for swimming and sliding.

There is one 5 meter slide and three smaller ones at the base of the steps for sliding and swimming. One of the most affordable sites in Samoa, Papase'ea is ideal for cooling off on a hot day. Alcohol is prohibited on site. Visitors are advised about their belongings and valuables to be locked in their vehicles or be left with the Women's Committee who will be on duty before heading down the pool. Toilets and change room facilities are available at the parking area.

Visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum – The majestic and magnificent Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. A place where this famous Scottish poet and author fell in love. The Museum is perfectly restored back to its glorious day with some of the Author's work and family memorabilias.

Robert Louis Stevenson is famous for his many writings including Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Originally from Scotland and he was known to the Samoans as the man with great 'manas'. Due to his many positive interactions with the local community he became very popular and also a well respected figure to the locals that knew him. He passed away December 3, 1894 at the age of 44. His colleagues and people that worked for him buried him on top of Mount Vaea (within Vailima) at a spot overlooking the sea.

The museum is well kept and all its facilities are in good condition. The museum also has a gift shop available for the visitors and there is a sign book at the front of gift shop which visitors can use to note where they are from and more significantly feedback of their experiences with the site. For maintenance purpose, guests are not allowed to take shoes or eat inside the museum.

Visit the Savalalo Flea Market – The flea market is the place to pick up all those unique Samoan handicrafts, both traditional and locally made. Discover intricate hand crafted wood carvings, beautiful ava bowls, woven pandanus mats, lavalavas (sarongs) printed in every colour under the sun. Many of the items are made by village communities using natural materials. A great one-stop-shop for affordable gift items for one and all.

Visit the Vailima Botanical Gardens – The Vailima Botanical Garden encompasses about 12 ha (30a) and protects a variety of species – native, introduced and naturalized – representative of the flora of the archipelago and the Pacific basin. It is an excellent place for a day visit to relax and enjoy nature and its tranquilities. The walk to Robert Louis Stevenson's Tomb atop Mt Veaa takes about 30 minutes going the short way though the terrain is quite steep and can be very slippery when wet. The other option to the top is a 50min walk weaving through dense tropical rainforest and passing a magnificent Banyan tree. Either way water and good footwear is recommended.

Within the gardens near the carpark there is also a visitors center and a natural swimming hole that was once Robert Louis Stevenson's pool but is now available for any visitors to relax and cool off after a strenuous walk up the mountain.

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