Samoa Flag

Samoa Travel Guide

Village Children

At times village children can be a bit of a nuisance, calling to you and crowding around in an almost mocking way. You can forestall much of this by smiling and saying talofa (hello) as soon as you see them. Just keep smiling, keep going, and you'll soon leave them behind. It's important not to show any anger or irritation at their behavior, as this will only delight them and make them all the more unmannered with the next visitor who happens by.

If you're resting somewhere and don't really want to move on, the only way to get rid of annoying children is to complain very politely to their parents or to a local matai. Beware of ordering them away yourself, as tourists who thought they could do whatever they liked have been stoned by local children many times. As always, a kind smile is your best defense. Occasionally you'll be accosted by groups of children who have been given money by tourists and if they think you might do the same they'll stick to you like glue.

Theft and Violence

Nobody means any harm, and violent crime is almost unknown, but be careful: The concept of individual ownership is not entirely accepted by the Samoans. Don't leave valuables unattended. Someone might even steal your laundry off the line, so it's better to hang it up in your room. Theft from beach fale and hotel rooms is also not unusual. If a moneybelt is turned over to a fale resort owner or village host for safekeeping, a certain amount of cash may be taken, though probably not all in the hope that the missing money won't be noticed.

The wisest policy when visiting Samoa is to remain low-key. Don't put yourself in high-risk situations, and if you ever have to defend yourself, it's always better to try to run away. If confronted by a belligerent drunk (quite possible in the evening), humble yourself, apologize even if you did nothing wrong, and ease yourself out of the confrontation. If it ends in violence, you'll always lose, because the culture pressures relatives and friends to join in the attack even if their side is clearly in the wrong. Loyalty is priority number one, and proving that is a lifelong obligation.

Getting Stoned

Some Samoans in remote areas resent sightseers who drive through their village in rented automobiles, especially if they're going a little fast. Cases of local children shouting insults, baring their bottoms, and even stoning motorists are not unknown. Sometimes palagi on buses, cycling, or even walking get this reaction if they're thought to be intruding. (Though the kids know how to throw stones with deadly accuracy, they seldom actually hit tourists.) Try to smile and keep your cool.