Paradise is calling, this time we are heading to Samoa with my 8 months old baby Kyra.
Quite frankly, I wasn’t very comfortable bringing my baby to Samoa at the time of our travel. It was a big step out of my comfort zone, especially when Zika was all over the news. However, after browsing through the photos of To-Sua Ocean Trench on Instagram, I was sold!
I had doubts in my head, but I still decided to go for an adventure. I packed up our stroller, rolled up our light summer clothing, stuffed half a luggage of nappies, 2 insect repellents, along with my life-saving Ergo carrier*, and off we went! We are in love with the Pacific Paradise, and ain’t no babies are going to stop that!
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In this family-friendly Samoa travel guide, we cover the essential travel information to know before you go. We share our favourite restaurants to try, and the most popular resorts in Apia, Samoa. You can also check out our travel vlog for the top things to do in Apia with a baby.
Is Samoa safe to travel to?
On the main island of Upolu, Samoan fales are found on either side of the road. Fales have no walls, doors or locks, they’re transparent and open.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eEach village has its own chief, and almost everyone knew each other in the village. Because of this close-knit community culture, Samoa is very safe to travel to with an extremely low crime rate.
Sundays are the quietest day on the island. Most people go to church in the morning and spend the rest of the day with families. Some attractions are closed on Sundays, so be sure to schedule around it.
Big groups of friends and families gather to play bingo at night, and neighbors are invited to join family feasts. Coming from an urban city where privacy is such a major concern, this way of living is mind-blowing!
This, is one of the reasons why I love traveling so much, it opens our eyes to new ways of living and consequently broadens our mind.
The official currency in Samoa is Tala.
Bring some cash to exchange at No1 Currency in town with your photo ID, we find this offers the best exchange rate.
Most hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. Visa and MasterCard usually incurs a 3% surcharge, where Amex is 3.5%.
Faleolo International Airport to Apia town centre is about 40 minutes by car, and costs around $60 tala.
If you’re traveling with a baby, you would be glad to know the taxi drivers in Samoa are not too fussed about having a baby car seat.
Hire A Driver
You can privately ‘hire’ a local driver for about $360 tala a day. We simply asked a local if he would be interested to be our guide / driver for 3 days, and he couldn’t be happier.
If you decide to hire a car, it costs around $120 a day + $21 to convert your license. There may be an extra charge for pick-ups or drop-offs outside of Apia town centre.
It’s fairly easy to navigate around the island. Drive on the left side of the road, and Main Coast Road will pretty much take you around the island in less than half a day.
- Pump up petrol in town, there are hardly any petrol stations elsewhere on the island.
- Download Google area map to use as a GPS offline. Zoom out to have a full view of the entire Upolu island, and type ‘okmaps’ in the search bar to download!
Exploring Apia town is very achievable on foot, just remember to avoid the hottest part of the day, which is around midday. Wear a sunhat and slap some sunscreen on.
Is Apia Samoa stroller-friendly?
I managed to walk around town with a stroller with an extra pair of hands, but the roads in Apia are not exactly stroller-friendly. Markets are very crowded, and there are steps along the harbor sidewalks. The top attractions and tourist activities are generally not stroller-friendly. I would highly recommend using a baby carrier, and avoid coming out with kids during the hottest part of the day.
Samoa Must-Try Local Dish
Palusami – taro leaves baked in coconut cream with meat or fish.
Oka– raw fish with coconut cream, cucumber, lemon juice, and onion. This is really refreshing on a hot day! Some restaurants will price it around $30 tala, but markets sell them for only $3 tala.
Top Things To Do
1. To-Sua Ocean Trench
Cost: ~$20 tala pp
This unique 30-meter deep giant swimming pool is one of our favorites in Apia. It’s surrounded by nature and right by the ocean. We see To-Sua Ocean Trench’s beauty from photos, but a true experience is to smell the sea breeze and jump in the refreshing cool saltwater pool.
There are people snorkeling here to my surprise, we hear there’s not a lot to see down there, but hey, it’s worth checking it out! Spare some time in your itinerary and walk around the trench afterward, there are beach chairs by the ocean which makes it a great place to chill and relax. Have a chat with the locals and tourists, everyone is in their happy place here and you may just make a friend or two!
The wooden ladder that goes down to the ocean trench can be slippery, so please be careful. And no, I did not take my baby down. She cried the whole time while I was down there, and created a beautiful echo around the most popular attraction in Apia. Nevertheless, it was an experience I just could not have missed.
2. Pappase’ea Sliding rocks
Cost: $5 tala pp
Pappase’ea sliding rocks are super fun for those who seek an adventure. However, it’s not a baby-friendly activity in my opinion, although my baby loved watching people making a splash. You would need to sign a visitor book before making your way down a steep set of stairs through the rainforest to the cascading waterfalls.
The first pool you see on the right-hand side as you walk down the stairs can be very shallow. Don’t jump in like we did, the rocks are quite sharp.
The actual infamous sliding rocks are further down to the left. No one tells you this, but once you slide down the first pool, the only way out is to climb out of the dip and slide down the second pool – where all the screamings come from. So if you decide to chicken out after the first one… too late, too bad.
From May to November, water levels can be low, so be sure to check with the locals before jumping in!
If you’re traveling with a baby like I did, you could get down really close to the pools, but do hold on to something as it can be quite slippery. Climbing back up the steep stairs is a workout, but hey that’s just a part of the fun, right?
3. Sopo’aga Falls
Cost: $5 tala pp & $2 tala for kids under 12, Coconut Show is $10 tala per group
Uila (pronounced Weila) is the owner of this piece of paradise at the time of our travel. With the waterfalls as the backdrop, she helps tourists to take photos, and even go above and beyond to suggest Instagram-worthy poses.
What we didn’t expect though, was the coconut show at the end. Uila didn’t mention anything about it, so it was a pleasant surprise – pun intended. We enjoyed the show very much, my baby tasted coconut, and we learned about them. All at a surprise cost of $10 tala.
4. Togitogiga Waterfall
This waterfall is very much under-rated, it should be on top of the best things to do list in Apia. Near the car park, check-in at the reception for some information on the waterfall. Donations are welcome but to our surprise there’s no entry fee!
From the car park, it’s an easy 2-minutes walk to Togitogiga waterfall, yes even with a baby in your arm. The pool is shaded by trees, so a refreshing dip in the water is the most satisfying thing to do on a hot day. It’s shallow enough to stand, so I felt very safe bringing my baby in.
5. Piula Cave pool
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to check out this pool as it was closed on Sundays.
A local has recommended another cave pool on the southern coastline off the main road. They run cave tours at $25 tala per person, but they are not recommended for babies and young kids because it’s common for them to get scared in complete darkness.
6. Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
Cost: $5 tala pp
This is a must-stop attraction for snorkeling lovers.
As we were traveling with a baby and had very little time left, we skipped this attraction.
7. Explore Town Centre & The Markets
The first thing we did after checking into our resort, was to check out SNPF Plaza. The reason behind that was we needed to cool ourselves down as the day was getting hotter from mid-morning. My baby and I had to leave the group soon after and retreated back to our air-conditioned resort for a nap.
Dumping the stroller back at the resort, I took out my Ergo carrier* and went to explore the Markets in the afternoon – Flea Market, Fish Market, and Fugalei Produce Market. It was not possible to push a stroller in and out around the markets, so a baby carrier was the way to go.
8. Walk around Apia Harbor
Apia Harbor is beautiful, take a stroll around the harbor to get a taste of Apia. This walk is manageable with a stroller and a helping hand.
9. Dine at Sails Restaurant
Right by Apia Harbour sits Sails Restaurant, the best part of this restaurant is their alfresco deck. You can walk out to the harbor front and take in all the sea breeze.
High chairs are available for the little ones, and they have a buffet menu with Polynesian Show and Fireknife Dance on Friday nights.
10. Dine at Paddles Restaurant
Paddles Restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants with harbor views on the island. Bookings are recommended. What’s special about this restaurant, is their service. You can experience 5-star hospitality right from the moment you walk in.
We found this restaurant during our casual walk around Apia Harbor and decided to go for a last-minute dinner. They were full on the day but still managed to squeeze us in at an earlier session. The staff were super friendly and kept my little one busy in her high chair with animal cards the whole time!
The food was absolutely delicious and the portions were generous and well presented. At the end of our meal, it started to rain, and to our surprise, the staff walked us to our taxi with an umbrella! It was that little bit of extra personal touch, that set this restaurant apart from the rest.
Top Resorts in Apia
Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort
I had to admit, Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort^ was the best part of our trip and our top recommended family-friendly resort in Apia. Unfortunately, we didn’t expect it to be such an experience and only booked one night here at the end of our trip.
We arrived early for check-in and our rooms weren’t quite ready yet, so we stored our luggage and headed straight to the pool. We ordered delicious food and drinks from the pool bar without even getting out of the water.
Like many luxury resorts, the resort pool was right by the ocean, and boy, the color of the ocean here took our breaths away at first glance! There was hardly anyone else there, so we had this amazing tranquil water and private beach all to ourselves!
Whilst we waited for our rooms, we borrowed some towels and chilled on the sun lounge with our cocktails facing a true tropical paradise. As you may have guessed, we were all mesmerized by this unreal postcardesque view and didn’t mind the wait at all!
Soon after, we checked into our air-conditioned room, it was greatly appreciated on this hot Samoan day. My baby and I had the most relaxing bath together! And the best part was the courtyard door opened to a 270 degrees view of the turquoise ocean, it was tough having to decide whether we wanted to stay in our room or chill outside!
The rooms at Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort were divided into 3 blocks. The furthermost block required a good walk to the main entertainment area, but it was a rather enjoyable walk on the grass along the beach.
The resort restaurant was beautifully decorated, and the food was scrumptious. We were all dressed in our most summery dresses watching the most intense Samoan sunset with live Samoan music in the background.
Last but not least, all non-motorized water activities like kayaking and stand up paddle boarding were free at the resort, it was a bummer for us that we didn’t have enough time to enjoy the rest of the facilities here such as Polynesian Spa, Umu Demonstration and Kid’s Club.
Taumeasina Island Resort
Taumeasina Island Resort was an unexpected luxury escape. It was a day pass compensation offered to us due to the unavailability of the pool at our resort.
The pools caught our attention as soon as we walked in, with both adults and kids pools by the beach, my baby had no trouble sun-tanning on the lounge chair with just a diaper on! The private sheltered beach was a haven for snorkeling and of course, non-motorized water sports are free of charge for hotel guests. Taumeasina Island Resort was a real luxury treat that was not on our original itinerary but turned out to be one of our highlights.
Tanoa Tusitala Hotel Samoa
Located in the heart of the town centre, Tanoa Tusitala resort was the first resort we checked-in to. The resort offered each room 1Gb of free data which was a luxury in Samoa.
There was a good selection of hot buffet breakfast and omelets can be made on requests. The staff here loved kids and gave lots of attention to my lucky baby. Their FiaFia show was on every Wednesday but unfortunately, we didn’t know that before booking.
Our room had a generous 2 double beds for my baby and me, and we enjoyed chilling at night at the bar right by the pool. Baby Kyra had her first dip in the water here at Tanoa Tusitala, it was an excellent start of our vacation.
Saletoga Sands Resort
The first impression we had of Saletoga Sands Resort was the beautiful palm tree that stretched out to the ocean during sunset. If we booked beachfront Bungalows, we would’ve had absolutely stunning views.
Nevertheless, we checked into our room which belonged to the basic category, located in a 2-storey building towards the back end of the resort. Later we discovered this resort had two blocks on either side of the main restaurant and pool. Everything in this resort seemed scattered and far apart from one another.
We had a good selection of pastries and continental breakfast at the main restaurant, which was also the main chill-out place for a la carte lunch and dinner accompanied by live Samoan music. The buffet restaurant and bar hosted themed nights, but the only option was a buffet dinner.
In my honest opinion, this wasn’t the most baby-friendly resort. It was quite difficult to get around with a stroller as there were stairs everywhere, and there was no help from the staff. However, if we had booked a beachfront bungalow, or even requested early for a bungalow on the block close to the main area, we would’ve had a completely different experience.
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Have you been to Samoa? What’s your story?