Why Kayak Samoa?
Warms seas, wildlife, culture and beaches
With open ocean water temperatures about 28°C all year, but no nasties like box jellyfish, Samoa is something of a kayakers paradise.
A network of small islands close to the coast are easily reached. The smaller islands teem with life from frigate birds to shearwaters and flying foxes while the surrounding water has numerous large turtles, pods of dolphins and the odd passing whale.
There are many remote and stunning white sand beaches on the edges of clear lagoons with safe swimming and snorkelling amongst the coral.
On Manono Island and in other remoter villages, life is remarkably traditional and things have changed little in the last 100 years. Help prepare an umu, observe basket making as it is done every day and try your hand at siapo (tapa cloth making).
Whether your ideal holiday is a lazy paddle between beautiful swimming beaches or challenging open ocean kayaking, Samoa has it all.
Ways to Travel
There is so much to explore in Samoa and a wide range of expectations in terms of experience and ability. So tell us how you like to travel and what level of adventure we want and we can organise it for you.
Whether we start with a simple freedom hire concept or start with a "standard tour" we can create journeys for all abilities.
Contact us early
We like to help you plan a trip that will fit your interests, comfort expectations, fitness, kayaking experience and budget. If you contact us early in your planning we can recommend options and ideas. Just email email@example.com or use the contact us button. We can advise you on trip options and indicative prices.
If you are travelling on a budget, the biggest variable cost will be the airfares. Generally speaking the sooner you book flights the better the price. For the July school holidays you will need to book 9 months ahead for a good price. The Easter and October breaks fill up a bit slower and are often a better alternative. See Airlines below for more details.
The most frequent comment we get from one week visitors is "wish we had booked a longer trip". Extra nights along the way at Fale type accommodation add very little to the cost. Another common comment is that most of the beach resorts deserved a second night and the usual adventure pace of bike/kayak every day was less appropriate in Samoa. A few extra days will also give you better access to pleasanter flight times.
With confirmed flights we can finalise your itinerary and invoice you (see FAQs for billing and cancellation details).
Once your tour is confirmed (by payment of deposit) you will receive a booklet on touring Samoa, vouchers for accommodation and comprehensive itinerary notes. These include more notes on what to bring (generally less than you expect) and how to prepare.
Both Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia operate a regular schedule of flights from Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane. Booking flights directly using the airlines booking sites tend to provide the best value deals. For traveller outside New Zealand and Australia your travel agent or specialised flight aggregator site may provide a better deal.
FAQs for Kayakers
Reefs protect about 50% of Samoa’s coastline, which provides sheltered and easy kayaking within the lagoons. Many of the small islands surrounding Upolu and Savaii can be reached within the lagoon systems providing interesting paddles.
Outside the reef, particularly on the south coast, there is often a big, lazy swell providing for more interesting, but very manageable conditions.
The open water temperature is about 28°C all year, it’s very pleasant and safe too.
April and May are particularly calm months in Samoa, while the trade winds from June to October create more days with moderate to fresh winds, particularly in the afternoons when the sea breeze kicks in. However, there are very few mornings when kayaking is less than a delight and there are always sheltered bays or directions of travel for a good paddle.
Hurricane Season (from December to March) is often a time with very little wind most days. With reliable forecasting now in place, this can be a good time to paddle.
Our singles are a mixture of older Penguins and new Shearwaters. The doubles are new Southern Explorers. The kayaks come with spray decks, buoyancy vests (life jackets), bailer, sponge, pump, split paddle and tow line etc.
Many villages offer fales (pronounced far-lays) as tourist accommodation. These beach huts consist of thatched roofs, matting sides, and wooden floors.
The huts are often in the most stunning settings and allow you to sit or lie on your bed and look out across the beach to the most amazing sunsets. Breakfast and dinner are usually included and served in a common dining room and the bathrooms are shared facilities. Mattresses, mosquito nets and bed sheets are included.
The fales are equivalent to a permanent campsite; the more traditional ones like Namua are often a highlight for guests. Fale resorts are changing with the times and some offer lockable rooms, corrugated iron roofs, hot showers and ensuites. However, the traditional units are often cooler and much more pleasant.
Hotels and upmarket resorts
These come in all shapes and sizes with varied reputations. Unfortunately, they are not distributed to fit with a kayaking tour and the very good ones are usually too full to accept kayakers for 1-day visits while the poor ones are less enjoyable than the fales. We use a selection of accommodation options (see the itineraries) because they are conveniently located, appropriate quality and usually offer something unique.
There are no camping grounds and generally camping is not worthwhile. This is because there are no public beaches, as all beaches are communally owned by the local village. So if you are not staying in a resort or village fale you will be asked to pay for your camping spot. Tents tend to be too hot and not nearly as pleasant as a fale. So it just becomes easier and not much more expensive to stay in a fale and have the added opportunity to interact with the locals.
Samoan currency is the Tala, often abbreviated to WST (Samoa changed its name from Western Samoa to Samoa, but do not confuse it with American Samoa, a dependency of the US located 60kms to the east).
A Tala costs 60 to 70 NZ cents (or 50-60 Australian ones). Exchange rates vary hugely and the gap between buy and sell rates is larger than for most countries. On Savaii in particular you will need to pay for most of your expenses in Tala cash. The economy end resorts often do not take Visa or NZ$. The best rate for buying Tala is often at the airport on arrival (even at 2am). ANZ banks in NZ and Australian cities have much better rates than those at Auckland and Sydney Airports.
There are ATMs that accept NZ cards in Apia, Salelologa and Manase; the rates are reasonable, but fees can be substantial.
Never travel anywhere overseas without at least Medical Travel Insurance. Client feedback indicates online deals from Tid.co.nz are competitive. SCTI.co.nz is often well priced.
The best time to purchase travel insurance is when you decide to travel, as it also covers travel cancellation due to health issues.
There are no poisonous land snakes, spiders or scorpions or large predatory mammals in Samoa. There is a giant centipede that (from personal experience) has a very unpleasant bite, but it is not fatal.
There are no box jellyfish and swimming is safe and pleasant so long as you observe the usual cardinal rules of look don't touch (there are poisonous cone shells that look attractive to pick up) and watch for rips when swimming.
Malaria and yellow fever are not considered risks but dengue fever is present. Do use mosquito repellent at dusk and do sleep under the supplied mosquito nets or in mosquito proof rooms.
This is the biggest and most commonly seen issue with travellers. Drink plenty of fluids, always carry spare water and watch your companions. Coconuts and Coke are incredibly refreshing, even if you usually avoid fizzy drinks!
Food and Water Quality
Despite a solid program to supply safe piped water to all villages, tap water is often not safe to drink. Bottled water is cheap and available in all resorts and some villages. On escorted trips we take high quality filtration kits and have some available for hire.
We have seen occasional incidences of upset stomach, but think this is seldom related to food. Swimming in the turtle ponds is strongly recommended against as the water is badly contaminated. Watching water quality will generally keep stomachs at optimal efficiency.
The hot climate keeps bugs alive and skin infections can quickly turn nasty - take a good antibiotic with you and know how and when to use it.
Bookings and Cancellations
See our Booking and Cancellations page
What to Take
Less Clothes more Attitude
The old saw is take half the clothes and twice the money. That is only half true on our trips as there is little to spend money on and most of our trips include transport, accommodation and most of your activities and meals.
The half the clothes part is true. It's a lovely warm climate, something almost impossible to fully imagine when you are packing in winter is that you will not wear a jersey at all. The casual style of the resorts also reduces suitcase size, but do be aware that conservative dress outside the resorts is important.
Do bring a sense of adventure and a willingness to try new things. Samoa is not particularly sophisticated and not everything works quite as well as it might in an expensive resort would. However being a caring host is a core part of the Samoan way, so with a little tolerance for a different set of priorities, you will have a great experience.
Kayakers will need a light top for protection from the sun. No warm clothing needed.
Fale style accommodation includes mattress, mosquito net and sheets. It is too warm to require blankets or sleeping bag. So no need for tent, sheets, mosi net etc.
- Sunhat - essential on the water
- Insect repellent
- Water bottles (bring 2)
- Light, modest clothes for kayaking in. A short sleeve running or cycling top with light collar and modest nylon shorts are ideal (Samoa villages are very traditional and short shorts and bikinis cause serious offence)
- Swim gear for at resorts (can be to whatever level of brevity people want within the resort).
- Light casual clothing for evenings
- Usual range of toiletries (tampax not available in many places)
- Women should bring or buy (15tala) a lavalava (sarong)
- Torch (lights in fales are hard to read by)
- Snack food for kayaking
- Bottle of duty free if you want any alcohol other than beer (limited mixers available)
- Own paddle is optional. We have light fiberglass shafted, plastic bladed paddles that are fine. If you have your own specialist paddle you may enjoy it more.
Several little things are worth preparing for and in most cases we have ways of helping with hire gear.
Remember that the international airport is near our base and the ferry terminal, but an hour from Apia. Compounding this is that all town shops are shut from midday Saturday till Monday morning. Salelologa is only one town on Savaii and it will be closed by the time you arrive on a Saturday.
We have a limited range of dry bags available for use with the kayaks. If you have your own they may be worth bringing.
There is none for sale on Savaii and very little available in Apia. Bring your own or hire from us.
Mobile phones and Internet
There are two local GSM providers. Both are open for most flights at the airport and sell Sim cards and economic prepay deals. If you miss out at the airport the only other options are Salelololga and Apia (with their limited hours). Make sure your phone is not locked by your provider and you know how to configure new sims for data.
Wifi access is limited and expensive. This is due in part to a very small Internet cable connecting Samoa to the rest of the world.
We offer a rental smart phone loaded with 400mb of data and sufficient call funds for an hour long call to NZ or Australia. The phone is configured as a wifi hotspot so you can still process emails and praise us on facebook with your own phone/PC/Tablet. Top-ups available at most shops and on any day.
If you are staying in fales there is no lock on your room. It is always a good idea to bring a lockable suitcase. Some people also like to keep their wallet and phone in a small packsafe that can be locked into the rafters. We have these for sale and hire.
Tap water is generally not regarded as potable (there is a good reticulation and course filtration system but chlorine usage is at best spasmodic). While bottled water is available in all resorts and some shops a high quality water filter is easier on the pocket and probably more reliable. We have a limited number available for hire and supply them on all guided trips.
Gear is available for hire to people booking tour or bike hire only.
Items for Rent 7 day hire 10 day hire 2 Week hire 3 week hire Mask & Snorkel Set (Atlantas Spree) Includes mesh bag for easy carrying NZ $ $30.00 $35.00 $40.00 $45.00 Samoan Tala 50 Tala 60 Tala 70 Tala 80 Tala Fins (Apollo Rubber Fins) - Includes mesh bag when hiring NZ $ $20.00 $25.00 $30.00 $35.00 Samoan Tala 35 Tala 40 Tala 50 Tala 60 Tala Pack Safe NZ $ $20.00 $25.00 $30.00 $35.00 Samoan Tala 35 Tala 40 Tala 50 Tala 60 Tala Phone and wifi hotspot with 400mb data and 1 hr call to NZ/Australia NZ $ $35.00 $40.00 $45.00 $50.00 Samoan Tala 60 Tala 70 Tala 80Tala 90 Tala Water Filter NZ $ $25.00 $30.00 $35.00 $40.00 Samoan Tala 40 Tala 50Tala 60Tala 70 Tala
Hire gear invoiced before travel will be charged in NZ$. Request equipment hire when confirming trip itinerary.
See also Hire bikes for bike hire rates and details.
All kayaks were made by Q-Kayaks in Ashurst, New Zealand.
We have a mix of Shearwaters and Penguins
Included with Hire
Each boat comes with:
- PFDs (Lifejackets for kayaking)
- Spray decks (spray skirts)
- bailer and sponge
Each group also gets:
- split paddle
- tow line
Kayak hire is included in tours - rates below apply only to freedom hires.
Daily Rate Kayak hire (pp) $NZ 40 or WST 75