Located on Upolu Island, Apia is shaded by palms and huge umbrella trees, and has the appearance of a typical South Seas town. Traditional open-sided houses with thatched roofs on platforms of coral or concrete, also known as ‘fales’, can be seen everywhere. Nearly all of the population wears the typical local dress; skirts, or ‘lavalavas’ for men, and long, mumu-style dresses for women.
The main road skirts the waterfront, and is lined with banks, shops, shipping offices and the typical public market. The focal points of Apia are the Town Clock and a World War II memorial. At the ‘roundabout’, you will most likely see a lavalava-clad policeman directing traffic.
Inland, rainforests thrive in mountain areas where heavy rainfall nurtures huge tree ferns and slow-growing, moss-laden hardwoods. Some of the island’s loveliest scenery, including the Falefa Falls and Le Mafa Pass, can be found East of Apia.
Whilst Apia can be seen in a short time, the island deserves more thorough exploration and a look at the laid-back local lifestyle.
Pier InformationThe ship is scheduled to dock at Matautu Wharf, located about 2 miles (3 kilometres) from the centre of town.
ShoppingA good selection of local crafts invite browsing and shopping. Items such as kava bowls, woodcarvings, baskets, shell jewellery and ‘tapa’ cloth make nice souvenirs. On Saturdays, many of the shops and markets close at 1:00 p.m. The local currency is the Tala.
CuisineA number of restaurants offer excellent seafood, as well as Chinese or Continental cuisine. More basic eateries, such as cafés, coffee shops and bars sell everything from hamburgers to pizza, ice cream and beer.
Other SitesMount Vaea
Behind ‘Villa Vailima’, a winding path leads uphill through luxuriant vegetation to the summit of Mount Vaea and site of the final resting-place of Robert Louis Stevenson. It requires a rigorous hike, but rewards visitors with a beautiful view from the top. Guests are advised to bring a bottle of water, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses from the ship.
Avid walkers may want to venture on-foot to the end of the peninsula, located about one mile (1.6 kilometres) from Apia’s centre. The Samoan Parliament Building, a museum, the Apia Observatory and a few hotels can be found here.
A short coral beachfront with good snorkelling is just a 5-minute walk from the wharf. There is a small entrance fee, and snorkelling equipment can be rented (no guarantee that it is in top condition). Giant clams can be seen close to the shore; farther out, the reef wall drops away to reveal a host of colourful reef fish.
Private arrangements are not available in this port.