These little horrors are plaguing the reefs and beaches of the south coast of U'polu since the 2009 tsunami disaster. They are (fortunately) bright red and easy to spot when you're swimming. I was staying at Litia Sini Beach Resort in Lalomanu and they supplied a pole with a nail on the end to spear the little cretins. They destroy the reef and can ruin your day if you stand on them. So, like the cute little possum in NZ, they're a pest locals want to be rid of. If you see them, mark their position and don't tread on them. Better still, spear the suckers and deposit them somewhere they can't get back in the water (or trodden on by someone). Believe it or not, if they get into the water, they regenerate! That's what makes them the eco-baddies of Samoa. Where I was staying we had a rock we piled them on when we went hunting and in the evening, they were buried up the hill to become ant food (they can't regenerate after the ants eat them!).
Don't let this put you off swimming at Lalomanu. They're not covering the beach or anything, though one day we did spear five in the space of a hundred metres or so.
"The biggest scam artists on the Island" is a better way of describing the company FUNWAY RENTALS in Apia, which I STRONGLY URGE you to STAY AWAY FROM! They are unreliable, untrustworthy scam artists that will try to force any kind of BS and lie upon you.
Me and my fiancée had the unfortunate displeasure to deal with these liars and this is what happened. After booking a specific car, the 2-door 4WD Toyota RAV4, which I specifically asked for (because there was just the 2 of us and it looked new, clean and exciting to drive) over one month before the specified day, I was reassured and received a confirmation from them that the car would be waiting for us (which in the case of this company really doesn’t mean a thing).
As we arrived on the day and time we had advised, I saw the car I had booked in front of the doorway and another person stepped into it, so I naturally asked what was going on, pointing out that that was my car that I had booked, and all I heard was that my would be there at 11.30-12.00 at the latest (we were there at 10.30). I asked if it was the same car, make and model and was assured that it would be (which turned out to be a complete lie!). At 12.30 (after a 2hour wait) the car turns up; an OLD Kia that looks like it would fall apart any minute – with a soft rooftop that was broken! (which would be devastating for our luggage as it rained heavily the following day), torn seats, smelly from cigarettes inside, no air-condition etc. I asked the guy if this was a joke, and he replied that that was our car! And he said, in his own words “Take it or leave it”! as if “I don’t care if you had booked another new car over a month ago, I don’t care that it was confirmed and I flat out lied to you promising you the same car which you waited 2h for.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and asked how this was the same car that I had booked?! He replied that it was a 2door 4WD - Except that the make, model, year, condition was immensely different! It was just ridiculous. I asked what sort of price he could offer for this car – read piece of junk - (thinking that I might start considering it for half the price of the RAV4) and heard that it was the same price! And after pointing out to him the differences between the two cars that even a blind person could see, he reluctantly (as if he was suddenly a good Samaritan) said he could go down from 130 to 120 WST/day, so 10 WST (approx. 3US$)/day less! That was it and we left to go to another agency!
Please be aware of these crooks! Note, there was NO apology from their side for their mistake and lies, not to mention the inconvenience it meant to us! NO regret whatsoever. NO offer of help to try to find another rental company. Absolutely NOTHING! This was by far the most unprofessional, unfriendly and unserious company I had ever dealt with! As we finally found another rental company and told the story, the representative of the other one apologized 3 times (although she had nothing to do with it!) and could not believe her ears. I can truly recommend Discovery Rentals, who might be a few $ more expensive (literally a few) BUT are a serious, professional and customer oriented company that is a pleasure to deal with. Budget rentals are also recommended; the nice lady didn’t have a 4WD but allowed us to use her phone to call other companies in search of it, and also regretting our situation (needless to say, half the day passed by, which is a lot considering our rental time was 2 days - ¼ of our time to drive around was wasted because of the scam artists of Funway rentals).
So be warned; if you want lousy if not non-existent customer service, absolutely no guarantee you even get a car even if you booked it a month before and got it confirmed, if you want to risk waiting around for hours for nothing, than I would recommend Funway. If not, turn to a proper, decent rental company like Discovery rentals or Budget for a normal rental experience. And, if you still decide to deal with Funway, DO NOT under any circumstances give them any money before you see the car! I didn’t, thank god, because I’m sure I wouldn’t even get them back. They are as UNSERIOUS, UNPROFESSIONAL and UNFRIENDLY company you will ever find. “The cleanest cars on the island” should be replaced by “the dirtiest scam artists on the island” for a more truthful description of them.
then John reminded us of the warning in the book, and how the sign said not to pay anyone any money and to report that to the chief, and that there was NO trail...
we look up from the vines and rocks we are climbing over, and THE GUIDE WAS GONE!
Then he popped out again, about 50 feet infront of us, telling us to "come this way, it's OK, come this way"..and within 4 seconds he was gone again.
John and I looked at each other and were thinking the same thing--NO ONE IN SAMOA MOVES THIS FAST!
We ran back to the car, John twisted his ankle, and drove as fast as 1st gear in the forest would let me!
My initial thought was that we were going into a trap of death!. but after we calmed down, we now think that maybe he was going to get us lost in the woods, and by the time we found our way back, our car would have been broken into.
We still don't know where the crater is or if that was, in fact, the right path to take...
We followed the map and turned into a small road. There was a large sign that explained the rules of the village, and it was $2ST per person to enter the village but if ANYONE else asks you for money, please report it to the chief and do not pay. In the Lonley Planet book, it warms of car break- ins .
We continued down the road for maybe a km. The road appeared to dead end at the village. A guy came running out of his house and asked us, in very broked english, if we were looking for the crater. He said we passed the road and he would take us. He was very friendly !
about 1/2 way back to the main road he told us to turn right. We began to drive on an over grown dirt road...it looked like it had been driven on but not in a long time and not by very many people. John began to get nervous. I told him that the book said we would have to hike, so maybe this was part of that hike.
Then the guide, in severely broken english, says he would take us all the way to the crater and tell us stories for $50 ST. I assumed we were going to have to pay him something for taking us this far but for $50 ST we could get a hotel and 3 meals. I explained to him that we worked very hard to come see his beautiful country, we wouldnt afford that, but I was willing to take him back home and pay him $10ST for his time. He said $10 ST was good and he would take us to the crater...Then he told us to stop...we are deep into the woods at this point..
He said we would have to hike the rest of the way, 5-10 minutes...There was NO hiking trail.
I thought maybe he was taking us a different way, a local way...
Continues to part 2
Although there is no malaria in Samoa, which is usually transmitted by night-active mozzies, be aware that there have been several outbreaks of dengue fever in Samoa in the past. The mozzies transmitting dengue are active during daytime so make sure you are equipped with a good insect repellent or wear long-sleeved clothes. Mosquitos tend to nest near freshwater sources like rivers and ponds. So take extra care at those spots.
When in the water, swimming, snorkelling, etc.
1) There are Stonefish around.... best to wear thick soled shoes when walking in the water.
2) Fire Coral.... I saw quite a bit at Lalomanu Beach when snorkelling..... don't touch anything when you snorkel.....
3) Coral is sharp.... be careful not to step on it or cut yourself.... coral cuts are nasty and become easily infected.
4) Cone shells.... you will see lots of them on the beach and the reef. Some are dead and some are not. Don't pick them up unless you know for sure something is not alive in there. A cone shell sting can be as fatal as a Cobra bite.
Don't Drink the Tap water....
I spent a good part of my time in Samoa travelling around with Med students.... there is lots of cholera and hepatitis in the country according to them. Bottled water is cheap and available EVERYWHERE.
The Mozzies can be a nuisance.....
Bring your repellant with DEET.... all the accomodation I stayed at had mosquito nets.
Big, fat ugly ones (15cm long) with a nasty bite.... don't walk around barefoot.
ditto..... especially at night.... they were often hiding in the toilets at Litia Sini's beach fale and become quite defensive when suddenly cornered. Not a pleasant way to have your toe nails clipped...
There are scads of stray dogs everywhere in Samoa....especially in the suburbs of Apia. The seem to be innocuous during the day, but often form packs at night..... best to take a taxi to and fro in the evening.
Samoa has no malaria and food is safe and good... it is a very clean, safe and surprisingly efficient country considering it is "3rd world". There are very good health care facilities in the country.... MedCen in Apia is a private hospital that has high standards if you so need a doctor or have a medical problem. You may want to avoid the National Hospital.
Communications and services are quite good.
Siumu, Apia, Samoa
Good for: Business
This hotel has a relatively interesting history which I encourage you to read if you happen to stay...more
South Coast, Maninoa Village, PO Box 3684, Apia, Upolu, Samoa
Good for: Business