On August 1, 2022, TBEN State of Samoa fully reopened its borders to international travelers. Samoa was one of the first countries to close due to the Covid pandemic, without tourists being able to visit the spectacular tropical islands for 865 days. Fully vaccinated travelers are welcome again, as long as they test negative for Covid.
The islands of Samoa
Known as Western Samoa until 1997, this Polynesian country of 195,000 inhabitants has 12 islands, only four of which are inhabited. The South Pacific archipelago is characterized by clear waters, white sand beaches and lush mountainous rainforests with waterfalls.
Travelers arrive at the 46-mile long island of Upolu, which is also home to Samoa’s capital, Apia. Most stay on Upolu and maybe take a day trip to one of the other Samoan islands. Samoa is popular for its beaches, diving and snorkeling, and for hiking to waterfalls, lava fields and blowholes. A spectacular spot is the To-Sua Ocean Trench, a large water well that can only be accessed by a steep ladder or by diving from the open ocean through a cave with lava tubes.
Other unusual Samoan sites include the crater of an extinct volcano where wild goldfish swim. In the 1800s, a German settler reportedly released a goldfish here (in violation of the law prohibiting the release of exotic species on the islands), and the big, large fish of that fish still swim here today. Easier to spot are bats and Samoa’s 19 native bird species, as well as the islands’ 900 species of fish and 200 species of coral. Also keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles, whales and dolphins.
Samoa also has over 30 world-class surf breaks; southern coasts are usually surfable year-round, while northern coasts are best during the summer months (i.e. winter in the northern hemisphere).
The people of Samoa
The Samoan culture goes back at least 3000 years with the first peoples living around 1000 BC. arrived in ocean canoes. Samoa became independent on January 1, 1962 (from New Zealand, which had taken the islands from Germany during World War I).
Life in Fa’a Samoa – the Samoan way – is important, with common values being more important than individual ones. Stories are often told through dance, music, art and Tatau (tattoos). Tradition, religion and modesty are highly respected.
Travelers often want to learn more about Samoan culture. For starters, most hotels offer a FiaFia night, with traditional dances (including the fire knife dance) and sometimes they serve dishes cooked in a traditional umu or earth oven.
Entry Requirements for Samoa
For now, travelers will need a certificate proving they have been fully vaccinated (i.e. two doses of most vaccines), as well as paper certification of a Covid negative test. PCR testing should be performed within 48 hours of departure and a supervised rapid antigen test should be performed within 24 hours of departure. Details can be found on Samoa’s Travel Advice website.
Passengers are required to wear masks (note that N/KN-95 respirators are more effective than surgical or cloth masks in preventing infection). Upon arrival in Samoa, travelers will be given another Covid test and must make an appointment for a supervised antigen test on day five of their stay and report the results to the Ministry of Health.
These requirements are expected to relax further. Of the 195,000 inhabitants, 98% are fully vaccinated.
Traveling to Samoa
You can fly direct to Samoa from Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and from American Samoa.