Pacific Islands Samoa

Savai’i, Samoa

June 17, 2014
Savai’i is the larger of the two main Samoan islands, but by far the less populated of the two.  We were taken aback by just how few people we saw out and about in comparison to Upolu.


Our decision to head over to Savai’i was a relatively last minute one and as we had accommodation on Upolu prebooked as part of our package, we decided to spend just the one night on Savai’i.


Getting to Savai’i is easy but is fairly time consuming.  The ferry ride itself is only an hour long but you’re meant to check in at the wharf two hours before the departure time.  We figured that that was way too early (seriously, have they not heard of island time?!) so arrived approx an hour before each sailing which was more than enough time.  We took our rental car onboard (which wasn’t a particularly cheap exercise but worth it to have the flexibility over on Savai’i) but you can travel over as a normal passenger too.


Once there, we made our way over to our accommodation for the night.  What a beautiful spot!!  We had a fale right on the beach.  The accommodation itself was rustic (cold water showers and insect nets with enough holes to question the point) but regardless, does it get any better than this?!

Dinner and breakfast were both included in our stay and was served like it would be at home – one option on offer, but both were home cooked and delicious!


Funnily enough, we really struggled to sleep in this beautiful spot.  We tend to find that the first night camping is always hard going from a sleep point of view and we found the same thing here… the waves that were relaxing during the day became so loud at 2am that we couldn’t sleep (though I don’t doubt that the second night we would have been out like logs).


Whilst on Savai’i we visited the turtles and spent a good chunk of time snorkelling off the beach.  The snorkelling was gorgeous and though we didn’t see particularly large fish, we saw a wide variety of small-medium sized fish and some pretty healthy coral.


Swimming with turtles was something we went back and forth about.  I had my doubts about how well the turtles were cared for and found a number of reviews online before we went that reiterated my concerns.  We made the decision in the end to check it out ourselves…


We were pleasantly surprised by how large their enclosure was (when we took onboard some of the TripAdvisor reviews) and initially were pleased that we went to take a look.


Nathan and I had decided that we were more than happy to feed our new turtle friends, without getting in the water and swimming with them.  We’ve both been fortunate enough to snorkel and dive with them in the wild and though we really valued the experience, it felt like swimming with them here was imposing on them just a bit too much.


Feeding them was a real pleasure; we found a quiet spot to the side of the main deck, dipped our toes in the water and enjoyed some quiet time with these beautiful animals.


Unfortunately it went downhill from there.  Before long other tourists were in the water, picking up the turtles and passing them around.  It was really disappointing to see others showing such little respect for animals that by all accounts, already have a less than perfect life.  Many of the turtles kicked out, obviously uncomfortable with what was going on.  This was then met by full grown men and women trying to hitch a ride on the back of their shells… naturally the turtles dove sharply down in a bid to escape.


From memory, we paid around 7/8 tala which is cheap as chips.  Nathan and I chatted as we were leaving and came to the conclusion that we would have happily paid much more than that if there was a way to ensure the turtles were better cared for or put towards releasing the turtles after a certain amount of time and replacing them with newbies.  There’s obviously a real tension in supporting something like this – on one hand, I believe that positives can come through these interactions (improved education etc), but on the other hand, when there are tourists and travellers that will support these operations as they are, where is the need for them to change?



Have you visited an attraction like this?  Or made the decision not to based on your moral views?


We had the most incredible experience spending a day with elephants in Thailand.  We intentionally decided against riding elephants in Phuket and instead researched and selected a spot out of Chiang Mai where we knew our money was being put towards a breeding and rehabilitation programme.  I don’t doubt that our day was made all the more magical knowing that the staff had a genuine interest in the well-being of the elephants and for us, it was well worth the cost (regardless of the fact that it was 4x the price of other outfits).


There is definitely more to an experience than the sum of its parts sometimes!

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