Days 339 and 340, Year 1: Beautiful Savai’i
Date: Friday, September 22, 2006
Weather: Mostly Sunny Days with Intermittent Downpours
Location: Apia Harbor, Upolu Island, Samoa

We’ve just returned to Windbird (10 pm on Friday evening) after two wonderful days on the island of Savai’i. This is the largest island in Polynesia other than New Zealand and Hawai’i, but much of it remains uninhabited. There is a road that goes all around the island dotted with pristine villages where people still live Fa’a Samoa-the traditional Samoan Way. Savai’i is also known as the “cradle of Polynesia”. The prevalent theory is that all Polynesians came from Southeast Asia to Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga. Sometime around 300 AD, Samoans from Savai’i sailed to what is now known as Raiatea in French Polynesia. It was named Havai’i by people from Savai’i. These same people went on to settle what we know as today as Hawai’i, and in the Southern Cook Islands, Avaiki, now known as Aitutaki. Over hundreds of years, these settlers of Polynesia carried with them their homeland name of Savai’i which was changed slightly by different dialects.

Our two days in Savai’i were just fantastic. We arrived and drove uphill through what was once the largest plantation on Savai’i. All of us (including me with my air splint, climbed to the top of a 12 meter star mound (volcanic rock structure) with a view from the top of the world. We then drove through a huge pasture to a waterfall. Only Mark and Justin attempted the climb straight down to the pool at the bottom of the falls, but just the view was great. Our next stop was at the blowholes on the southwest corner of the island. The whole coast is black lava rock and when the waves come in, they hit the lava rock with incredible force, and the water shoots straight up into the sky. It was very hard to pull ourselves away from here, but we knew we had to keep going in order to get to our beach fale in time for dinner. We drove up the west coast of Savai’i and then out a peninsula on the northwest corner to a rainforest. Here they have built a rainforest canopy walkway from one huge tree to another. The walkway is a swing-bridge that is nine meters high, and once you cross, you climb another five stories to see an incredible view of the ocean and surrounding rainforest. Again, I was able to do this thanks to the air splint I am wearing.

We ended our day on the northeastern side of the island at Jane’s Beach Fales. This was our stop for the night and we made it in time for dinner. It was quite a day, and it was amazing. Staying in a beach fale was also an amazing experience. Fale is the word for the traditional open-sided Samoan home. The beach fales are basically a wooden platform with a roof, traditional woven shades that can be lowered for privacy or to keep out the rain, and a mosquito net hung over a bed. The beds are a wooden base with a thin layer of foam. I must admit that the comfort level was not great, but the ocean waves lapping near your front doorstep makes up for the less than perfectly comfortable bed. We woke up to sunshine and headed to the beach to read before breakfast. After breakfast, Mark, Justin, and I snorkeled. Once we got out to coral, we saw many different types of little fish. Nothing fantastic, but always fascinating. We had a bit of time to lounge on the beach, but then it was time to move on. We all left reluctantly wishing we had more time to spend on this beautiful island, but we were booked on the 4pm ferry back to Upolu. We knew we had two more stops, so we moved on. We visited the lava fields and ended our day by climbing to the rim of a no longer active volcano.

We knew we had to make the 4pm ferry, so ready or not, we had leave Savai’i. When we got back to the dinghy dock here in Apia, we saw that there was a party at the dock. The local fisherman’s club was having a hot dog barbeque for the cruisers in port. Hot dogs are not are favorite food, but friends that we haven’t seen for many months had come into port while we were gone and we had a great reunion with Doug and Sylvie on Windcastle. Penny and Greg from Long Tall Sally that we met in American Samoa had also come in while we were gone, so we had a great time socializing.

Justin and Lynn have four more days with us. We hope to spend some time just relaxing, but there are still things we hope to do. We have had a great visit with them in a part of the South Pacific that we think is the best of what we have seen.

Tomorrow early we return the rental car and go to the Saturday market. So I’d better turn in so I’ll have the energy for new explorations tomorrow.

060921 Day 339 Samoa–Savai'i Tour Day One
060922 Day 340 Samoa–Savai'i Tour Day Two
Day 341, Year 1: Rainy Day in Apia
Day 338, Year 1: Touring the West Side of Upolu