Budget Travel In Samoa

By | April 2, 2012 at 6:30 am | 35 comments | Advice, Budget Travel, Jade, Samoa | Tags: ,

Budget Travel In Samoa

When I first decided to come to the Pacific Islands, I had no idea what to expect. The lonely planet I borrowed was not only out of date, but also very vague about costs. The internet didn’t help much either on this front, with the only accommodation providers who had internet web pages being the ones that were out of my budget.

I had no idea what to expect from Samoa I didn’t know if it would be as cheap as Asia, the same price as travel in Australia, or maybe it would be even more? I had heard rumours of the Islands being not budget friendly from other travelers, and this did worry me slightly. But when would I ever have another opportunity to go to the Pacific Islands?

A sunset over the beach in Samoa

To fly to Samoa from where I live in Canada, would easily cost me $2,000, but to come here from Australia only set me back $315 one way. Who can argue with those numbers?

I’m hoping this guide will serve as a good resource for other budget travelers wishing to experience the unique culture and lifestyle of Samoa…(not to mention the amazing beaches!)

Transport

Your biggest expense, transport wise, is getting TO Samoa. Flights are relatively cheap from Australia and New Zealand, where there are often great deals and sales. If you are coming from anywhere else though, you may want to consider basing yourself in Fiji, which acts as the main hub in the Pacific. From there you can fly very cheaply to most other Pacific Islands.

If possible, try to arrange your flight so that you arrive in Samoa during the day. During the day, public buses run between the airport and Apia, or the airport and the ferry to Savai’i. There are no set bus stops, so just hail down a bus that is going in the right direction. Or read my guide on how to take the bus in Samoa… Bus fare should cost you no more than 3 Tala. (Try to get some smaller bills or change when you exchange money at the airport if you plan to take the bus)

Creative Commons – Dave Lonsdale

If you are arriving late at night (like I did), you have two options. Arrange an airport pick up by your hotel, or if you are unprepared like myself, take a taxi. I shared a taxi with some other travellers, but it still cost me 40 tala. Which is a lot more than 3. A lot more.

No matter where you want to go in Samoa, you will be able to get there by bus. There are no set timetables or stops, so you just need to hail one going the right way. The Samoan people are extremely friendly, and it won’t be hard to find someone who is willing to let you know when you are at your correct stop.

The view from my beach fale, laundry drying in the breeze, at Tanu beach fales in Manase

Accommodation

There are no hostels in Samoa. Ok…whoa.. calm down. I know, I had that reaction as well. The most common type of accommodation there are beach fales or bungalows.  A basic beach fale with no frills, will cost you between 50 – 70 tale per night. This is roughly what I would pay for a dorm room in Australia, so I wouldn’t go ahead and call it overly budget… but at least I get two beds and my own room. It is also good to note that in many fales, breakfast and sometimes even dinner are included in the price of the room. When you consider that your meals are often included, the initial price stops feeling like too much at all.

 Food

The bananas are free!

You will be buying most of your food during your stay in Samoa, as in most villages, restaurants are scarce. Also, most fale’s or guest houses will not have kitchen facilities available.

However, if you chose your accommodation wisely, this may not be a concern for you. Many fale’s offer breakfast and/or dinner in the price of accommodation, and if you lucky, you may get all your meals provided.

Another option, if you are in one of the bigger villages, is to go to the markets and sample some of the traditional fare on offer there. I’m not sure of the average price of food in the markets, since I was lucky enough that almost all of my food was provided in the cost of my accommodation.

Swimming with turtles is one of the many budget activities available in Samoa

Misc

The reason most people come to Samoa is for the beaches and natural beauty. And lucky you, because that is mostly free! I say mostly because some waterfalls or community beaches require you pay a small entry fee (usually 5 tale) which does not amount to very much really.

The only other thing that you may end up spending money on is connectivity. Yes, I am referring to our good friend, in Internet. The internet is neither cheap nor plentiful in Samoa. But it is available for those who desperately seek it out… umm yes… that’s me.

Wireless spots (called lava spots) are available from most fale’s and beach hotels, and will cost you about 20 tale per hour. Please don’t do that math on that one… it hurt’s too much. Things get a little cheaper at the internet cafes, and these are a good option if you don’t need to use your own computer. At the travel centre in Salelolonga on Savai’I, an hour of internet will cost you about 12 tale. Please don’t do that math on that either… and yes.. that is more expensive than hostels in Australia.

Cell phone costs are a little more reasonable. For 20 tale you can get a digicell simcard with 10 tale credit already loaded on it. I chose to go with digicell because I saw that most little road side shacks were selling top ups. Also because it promised good reception with it’s promotional material of two fit looking Samoans texting on the beach. That 10 tala lasted me for my entire 10 days in Samoa, and believe me, I am a prolific texter.

 So what did I spend?

On average I spent about $43 per day in Samoa. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all! If you want to see a more in depth look at my spending, please see here.

About the Author

Jade Johnston

Jade is a freelance travel writer from Manitoba Canada. She loves travel and meeting new people has lived in 6 countries and travelled to more than 30. She prefers to travel slowly - taking overland transit or working/ volunteering in the countries she visits. Her motto is that she might never return to this place again, so she has to try to soak up as much as possible. To learn more about the OurOyster project, Google + : Jade Johnston's Google You can also shoot her an email at jade@ouroyster.com

35 Comments

  1. Shirley Fai (2 years ago)

    Traveling is very exciting but we need to make sure that we don’t spend much…Anwyay, the turtles are very unique…I have never seen such great turtles as like those…

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Thanks! i really enjoyed seeing the turtles, and it fit right into my budget as well. i try to show that travel is accessible to anyone… regardless of budget :)

  2. Nic Freeman (2 years ago)

    This is a great post Jade, and your photos are beautiful. I may be having a wonderful time travelling Europe, but oh how I crave warm beaches, swimming and islander food. Thanks for sharing!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      The grass is always greener on the other side! I would give anything to be in Europe during festival season!

  3. Laurence (2 years ago)

    Great guide Jade! Love the photos, in particular with the turtles :)

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Thanks!! I had such an amazing time there! highly recommend it

  4. Laura (2 years ago)

    What? The bananas are free? This is a place for me!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      I ate sooooo many of them when I was waiting for busses! lol

  5. Christy @ Technosyncratic (2 years ago)

    I want to swim with turtles! And wow, you’re not kidding that internet is expensive. Kali and I would break our bank there. :P

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Yeah, internet was one of my main big “extras”, but when you think about it, it is no more expensive then the networks like global gossip that you get in many hostels these days. And at least it is actually a good speed too.

  6. AlexBerger (2 years ago)

    Wow, fantastic photos – that must have been fun and a smudge exciting swimming with the turtles that close!

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      It was pretty awesome! I don’t usually do much in the range of water sports, so this was pretty amazing for me

  7. Sophie (2 years ago)

    Such fun to read your Samoa posts. When we were there, it seemed all the flights came and went at very odd hours – like 3 am. Just an extra bit of time lapse, in addition to the strangeness of crossing back and forth across the date line.

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Yeah I don’t know why all the flights are at ridiculous times! I arrived at half 1 in the morning and left at about the same time on a flight for Fiji…. I don’t know why that flight had to leave so late… it’s not that long of a flight so it just meant that I arrived in Fiji at a weird time as well

  8. Wanderplex (2 years ago)

    LOVE that picture of you with the turtles! Just incredible! Samoa seems like such a photogenic place, thanks for putting it on my radar :)

    • OurOyster (2 years ago)

      Your welcome! Samoa is amazing! I totally recommend it!

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  11. Cheryl (1 year ago)

    Really cool that you’re able to offer some information that was not so readily available before.

    And I want to swim with turtles too! :)

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Thanks! I hope my article comes in handy for some people, since there really ins’t much information for backpackers in Samoa

  12. Richard Smith (1 year ago)

    I loved your stumble and also your photos. Thanks for providing free travel tip, when ever i will visit to Samoa defiantly I will follow your travel guideline.

  13. Mary @ Green Global Travel (1 year ago)

    These are very useful tips. I will definitely use them if I visit Samoa. Thanks for sharing them!

    • OurOyster (1 year ago)

      Thanks! I hope you do visit Samoa! It is such a nice, relaxing destination

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  16. Mark Surrey (5 months ago)

    Travel does not mean to be expensive! You can seek for many options as you like. But one thing is certain first – KNOW YOUR BUDGET. In my experience when traveling (I travel with friends, btw) we make sure to plan it all the way. From spending for transportation, food, accommodation and other important things needed. I’m also from Australia and would love to visit Samoa again.

    Great tips by the way, very informative. We may have different approaches in deciding and planning for travel but either way as long as you enjoy every moment of the trip – its worth it!

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  18. Benjamin (2 months ago)

    Hey, you said there weren´t any cooking facilities in most of the falas. So IF lunch and dinner isn´t provided (well you say breakfast and lunch are sometimes provided but never dinner ?!), what are you supposed to do? I mean without cooking facilities, you can just eat raw staff like fruit or vegetables?!

    Just wondering, would appreciate a reply :O

    • OurOyster (2 months ago)

      Hi Benjamin! Most of the time breakfast and dinner is provided but not lunch. I just ate fresh fruit for lunch, but it can be a bit of a hassle. Especially if you are in an area with out any restaurants! Most of the time though there will be a nearby restaurant where you can go, but it wouldn’t hurt to come prepared with snacks just in case.

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