The low bellow from a conch shell beckons you. It gets louder as you move closer to the group of people on the beach. The drum beat starts, echoing around the lagoon. Tattooed warriors glisten with coconut oil. Instead of weapons though, they’re passing around a laulau, a ceremonial beverage. A woman begins a graceful Taualuga dance. And finally, the fire knife dancers, moving to the beat, emerge. With the ceremony complete, a seafood feast is about to begin.
You’ve been welcomed to Samoa–and the Seabreeze Resort–with a traditional ‘Ava Ceremony and the fresh tropical ula around your neck. The flowers may be starting to wilt, but you can’t bare to take it off. A full moon illuminates the beach. Now that everyone has moved toward the tables, you hear the breaking surf, the rustle of palm fronds, and laughter off to the side. Welcome to paradise.
Paradise is the island of Upolu, the second largest Samoan island. It was formed by a basaltic shield volcano, which created beautiful beaches, lagoons, and caves. Robert Louis Stevenson spent his last years here. His final resting place is now a small museum outside of Apia, the capital.
Spend a day exploring the southeast coast. Haggle for wood carvings in the Old Apia Flea Market. Snorkel in the chilly, clear water at the Piula Cave Pool. Hike to the Togitogiga Waterfall and find a quiet swimming hole. Or climb the ladder at To Sua Ocean Trench to dive into a huge, green crater. Kayak along the coastline to see the old church of Aufaga, which was destroyed in a 1909 cyclone. And save Lalomanu Beach for last. Once you find this perfect stretch of sand, your exploration will be finished.
Eventually, return to the Seabreeze. From the double hammock on your deck, watch the waves ripple across the sparkling blue lagoon. A cross breeze will keep you cool. Sip a Sea Breeze cocktail in the pool as the sun falls out of sight. And follow the candlelight and the smell of pizza to Cbreeza Pizzeria, a garden enclave with a traditional wood-fired oven. Their speciality pizza has lobster, sweet bananas, crispy bacon, mozzarella, and chili on it.
As you devour the bubbling hot pizza, you hear music in the distance. “Goodbye my feleni, o le a ou lea . . .” It’s a farewell song to departing guests. Luckily, it’s not for you. Your time in paradise has only begun.