Apia is a laidback island city where the locals are friendly, the food is fresh and the shopping is the best in Samoa. The capital is relatively small and most locals get around on foot. Many hotels and restaurants are located in downtown, with the markets, museums and central business district all within a short distance.
Apia is often the first stop on a trip to Samoa, as the airport is here and it’s easy to move on to other destinations on the island of Upolu. It’s worth spending a few days in Apia to get a feel for the culture – and shop. The food market in Apia sees families sell locally grown produce such as bananas, taro and coconut. Sample traditional dishes such as Lu’au, made from taro leaves and coconut cream. A flea market in the old market building on Beach Road has traditional hand-made Samoan products. Pick up sarongs, carvings, bowls and woven mats made in nearby villages.
The dining scene is a mix of traditional and international cuisine. Try fresh seafood and tropical fruit in small restaurants run by locals, or book a table at one of the many restaurants run by expats. There’s a strong presence of German, French, Japanese, Chinese and Italian influences from international visitors who came and never left.
Stroll around the Mulinu’u district, which is the old ceremonial capital. Many of the buildings here are old wooden colonial-style buildings, including the Old Courthouse, which now houses the Museum of Samoa.
At night, attend one of the Fia Fia shows. There are a number of venues around town, so take your pick. The Fia Fia’s are a showcase of traditional dancing, singing and drumming. There’s also the chance to enjoy a traditional banquet, often included in the price of a ticket.
Many come to Samoa for the beautiful beaches and warm waters, and the capital is no exception. Rent a snorkel and head out in the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve, which has coral and fish.
When it’s time to move on, book a tour from one of the many operators in town, then catch a boat, plane or bus to another patch of Samoan paradise.