A youth jumping into the waters of the Tu Sua Ocean Trench in Samoa.


Fa’a Samoa

In the heart of the Pacific lies Samoa, an island nation where time seems to slow, allowing nature’s rhythm to take center stage. Beyond its postcard-perfect beaches and rich Polynesian heritage, Samoa presents itself as an unexpected haven for the contemporary wanderer.

While the allure of bustling metropolises has its charm, the serenity offered by Samoa’s shores is unparalleled. Instead of skyscrapers, one finds towering palm trees; in place of blaring horns, the gentle lullaby of waves. Every inch of the island invites exploration, from its lush rainforests teeming with life to its coral reefs bursting with vibrant hues.

It’s not just the landscapes that captivate, but the warmth of the Samoan people. They welcome visitors with open arms, sharing their vibrant culture and age-old traditions. This genuine hospitality transforms any stay into a memorable experience, making travelers feel at home, miles away from their usual surroundings.

For those seeking a destination that offers both relaxation and rich cultural experiences, Samoa stands out as an unparalleled choice. It’s a place where the wonders of nature intertwine with age-old traditions, crafting a narrative of beauty, warmth, and discovery that stays with travelers long after they depart.

I. The basics

Cost of living

  1. Housing: Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost approximately $400 to $600 per month, while outside the city center, it can be around $300 to $500.
  2. Food: A meal at a mid-range restaurant can be around $10 to $20, while a meal at an inexpensive eatery might cost $5 to $10. Groceries for a month for a single person can range from $200 to $300.
  3. Transportation: A liter of gasoline is about $0.90 to $1.10. Monthly public transportation tickets (for buses) might be around $30 to $50.
  4. Utilities: Basic utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage) for an 85m2 apartment can cost around $70 to $100 per month.
  5. Internet: Monthly charges for unlimited broadband internet can be around $40 to $60.

Connectivity and infrastructure

Samoa’s commitment to enhancing its digital infrastructure is evident in its robust internet capabilities. Both broadband and mobile internet services have seen significant upgrades, making connectivity reliable in urban centers and increasingly available in more remote areas. Apia, as the nation’s capital, is well-equipped with modern amenities and serves as the epicenter for transportation and communication. Its road network is expansive, linking major towns and tourist attractions seamlessly. Buses remain the primary mode of public transport, with routes covering most of the island, making it easy for visitors to navigate. For international travelers, Faleolo International Airport is the gateway to Samoa, hosting flights from various global destinations and acting as a vital link for the nation’s tourism and trade.


The healthcare landscape in Samoa is characterized by its blend of centralized and community-driven services. The Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Apia stands as the flagship healthcare institution, equipped with essential medical facilities and staffed by trained professionals. In addition to this central facility, the Samoan approach to healthcare is deeply rooted in community outreach. Numerous village-based clinics operate across the islands, ensuring that residents, even in more isolated locations, have access to basic medical care. While the local healthcare system can address many standard medical needs, individuals with specific or complex conditions might find it necessary to seek treatment overseas. Given this context, it’s recommended that visitors procure comprehensive health insurance to cover potential medical expenses during their stay.


Samoa’s reputation as a safe travel destination is well-deserved, backed by consistently low crime statistics. Tourists can generally explore the islands with ease and confidence. However, as with any travel destination, it’s prudent to exercise basic precautions. This includes being mindful of personal belongings, avoiding isolated areas after dark, and being aware of local customs and norms.

On the environmental front, Samoa’s tropical location means it’s occasionally susceptible to cyclones. While these are not common occurrences, staying informed about potential weather disturbances, especially during the monsoon months, is advisable. Lastly, for those exploring Samoa by road, the conditions are generally favorable. However, adjusting to local driving habits and being vigilant, especially in unfamiliar terrains, can ensure a smooth and safe journey.

II. Living in Samoa as a digital nomad


Samoa enjoys a tropical climate, characterized by warm temperatures year-round. There are two main seasons: the wet season, which typically runs from November to April, and the dry season from May to October. During the wet season, heavy rainfall and occasional tropical cyclones can be expected, while the dry season brings milder temperatures and less frequent rain. Average temperatures hover around 26°C to 30°C (79°F to 86°F) throughout the year, with coastal areas being slightly warmer than the interiors.


Samoa is a nature enthusiast’s paradise. The islands boast a diverse ecosystem, from pristine beaches with turquoise waters to lush rainforests teeming with unique flora and fauna. Coral reefs surround the islands, offering vibrant underwater landscapes that are a haven for divers and snorkelers. Inland, there are waterfalls, caves, and volcanic craters waiting to be explored. The nation’s conservation efforts, including marine reserves and national parks, ensure that Samoa’s natural beauty is preserved for generations to come.


Samoa’s lifestyle is deeply rooted in its rich Polynesian heritage. The “fa’a Samoa” or “the Samoan way” emphasizes community, family, and respect for tradition. This is reflected in everyday life, from village ceremonies to the warm hospitality extended to visitors.

Samoa’s cuisine is a delightful blend of traditional flavors and modern influences. Staple ingredients include taro, breadfruit, coconut, and fresh seafood. Popular dishes are ‘Oka’ (a raw fish salad) and ‘Palusami’ (coconut cream wrapped in taro leaves). For those with a sweet tooth, the ‘Panikeke’ (deep-fried banana pancakes) is a must-try.

Nightlife in Samoa is relatively laid-back, reflecting the island’s relaxed ambiance. Apia, as the capital, offers the most variety, with a handful of bars, clubs, and restaurants that come alive as the sun sets. Traditional dance performances and live music are often highlights of the evening, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in Samoan culture while enjoying the night.


Samoa’s culture is steeped in its rich Polynesian roots, with traditions that have been preserved and passed down through generations. The “fa’a Samoa” or “the Samoan way” underscores the significance of family, respect, and community in everyday life. Traditional ceremonies, often accompanied by music and dance, play a crucial role in significant life events and communal gatherings.

Historically, Samoa’s past is a tapestry of indigenous Polynesian culture, interwoven with influences from European explorers and missionaries. The islands have witnessed the rise and fall of chieftaincies, the impact of colonialism, and the journey to independence in 1962, making it the first Pacific nation to reclaim its sovereignty in the post-colonial era.

Local attractions abound in Samoa, catering to a range of interests. The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in Apia is a testament to the famed author’s love for Samoa, where he spent the last years of his life. The ancient temples or “marae” offer a glimpse into Samoa’s pre-colonial past. For nature lovers, the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks or the To Sua Ocean Trench provide unique experiences, while the vibrant markets in Apia are perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in local life and pick up handicrafts.


Samoan (Gagana Samoa) is the official language, spoken widely across the islands. English is also an official language and is commonly used in government, business, and tourism sectors. Most Samoans are bilingual, making it relatively easy for English-speaking visitors to communicate during their stay.

While Samoans appreciate any efforts by visitors to speak their language, even a few basic phrases, they are generally patient and understanding, making communication smooth. Signages in tourist areas, restaurants, and public transport are often in both Samoan and English, further facilitating ease of communication for travelers.

III. Places to consider


View of the Apia waterfront, Samoa.
Photo by Balou46

As Samoa’s vibrant capital nestled on the island of Upolu, Apia is a blend of tradition and modernity. The city pulses with life, from the bustling aisles of the Maketi Fou food market to the historic corridors of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. Architectural gems like the Immaculate Conception of Mary Cathedral stand testament to the city’s rich past. And as night falls, the waterfront morphs into a lively arena, with restaurants and bars offering a taste of Samoa’s contemporary flavors.


View at Salelologa wharf on Savai'i island in Samoa.
Photo by Sarah Keleman

On the shores of Savai’i lies Salelologa, the island’s primary ferry port and a hub of commercial activity. But beyond its bustling center, Salelologa is a gateway to nature’s wonders. The cascading Afu Aau Waterfall and the mesmerizing Alofaaga Blowholes are but a short journey away. For those seeking a touch of local culture, the Salelologa Market brims with Samoan crafts, foods, and the infectious warmth of its vendors.


View of Lalomanu Beach, Samoa.
Photo by Neil

Positioned on the eastern cusp of Upolu, Lalomanu is a haven for beach enthusiasts. Its pristine shores, bathed in golden sunlight, are a vision of tropical paradise. Beachside fales offer visitors a unique stay, with the waves serenading them to sleep. Off the coast, the Aleipata islands beckon, their marine reserves a treasure trove for snorkelers and divers alike.


Tanu Beach Front in Manase, Samoa.
Photo by dbrough

Nestled on Savai’i’s northern coast, Manase is a portrait of tranquility. The village’s beaches, fringed with swaying palms and traditional fales, provide a serene backdrop for relaxation and reflection. Amidst this peaceful setting, Manase remains rooted in tradition, offering visitors a genuine glimpse into the Samoan way of life.


Falealupo village main road in late afternoon, Savai'i, Samoa. Woman and children taking a stroll in the afternoon.
Photo by Teinesavaii

Tucked away on Savai’i’s western frontier, Falealupo is a realm of natural wonders. The village is encircled by lush rainforests, home to the famed Falealupo Rainforest Preserve with its canopy walkways. Ancient banyan trees, their roots deep in Samoan soil, watch over the village, while legends like Moso’s Footprint add a layer of enchantment to Falealupo’s narrative.

Lotofaga Village

A youth jumping into the waters of the Tu Sua Ocean Trench in Samoa.
Photo by Ethan Elisara

Located on Upolu’s southeastern coast, Lotofaga is a serene Samoan village famed for its natural wonder, the To Sua Ocean Trench. This vast sinkhole, filled with turquoise waters, offers a unique and captivating swimming experience amidst sheer cliffs. An emblem of Samoa’s natural beauty, the trench draws visitors worldwide, elevating Lotofaga’s status on the global travel map.

Lefaga Beach

Palm trees over Lefaga Beach, Samoa.
Photo by Stephen Glauser

Located on Upolu’s southwestern coast, Lefaga Beach, also known as “Return to Paradise Beach,” offers a secluded escape. Named after the 1953 film shot on its shores, this beach remains less frequented, allowing visitors to enjoy its beauty in solitude. The nearby villages, with their warm inhabitants, offer cultural experiences off the typical tourist circuit.

Piula Cave

Piula cave pool by the Piula Monastery, north coast Upolu island, Samoa.
Photo by Stephen Glauser

Nestled near the village of Lufilufi on Upolu’s northeastern coast, the Piula Cave Pool is an underground freshwater haven beneath a historic Methodist Chapel. This azure sanctuary, carved from ancient volcanic formations, provides a tranquil swimming experience, illuminated by ethereal beams of sunlight filtering through the cave. Adjacent to a theological college, the harmonious blend of natural beauty, geological intrigue, and spiritual ambiance makes the pool a unique and captivating destination in Samoa.

Types of visas available for remote workers

1. Visitor’s Permit

  • Duration: Initially valid for 60 days upon arrival.
  • Suitability: Digital nomads planning short stays can operate under this permit, as long as they don’t engage in local employment.
  • Extensions: It’s possible to extend this permit for up to 12 months, provided you meet the necessary requirements.

2. Temporary Resident Permit

  • Duration: Can be valid for up to 12 months.
  • Suitability: Ideal for digital nomads wishing for longer stays in Samoa without engaging in local employment. Proof of remote employment or consistent source of income may be required.

3. Business Investor’s Permit

  • Duration: Varies, but typically longer-term.
  • Suitability: For those looking to establish a business in Samoa or have business dealings in the country while also working remotely.

Application process and necessary documentation

  1. Application Form: Obtain and complete the relevant visa application form. These are typically available from the Samoa Immigration website or at Samoan consulates and embassies.
  2. Valid Passport: Ensure your passport has a minimum of six months’ validity beyond your intended stay in Samoa.
  3. Passport-sized Photos: Generally, two recent photos are required.
  4. Financial Solvency: Documentation, such as bank statements, to demonstrate you have sufficient funds to sustain your stay in Samoa.
  5. Return or Onward Ticket: A confirmed booking indicating your intention to leave Samoa after your stay.
  6. Medical and Police Reports: For extended stays, especially on a Temporary Resident Permit, a medical clearance and a police report from your home country or your current residence may be necessary.
  7. Application Fee: This fee varies based on the visa type. Ensure you are aware of the cost and preferred payment method.
  8. Supporting Documents: For specialized visas, like the Business Investor’s Permit, you might need additional documents such as business plans or letters from potential Samoan business partners.

After gathering the necessary documents, submit your application to the nearest Samoan consulate or embassy. If you’re already in Samoa, check with the Samoa Immigration Office in Apia. Given the potential for processing times, it’s prudent to apply well ahead of your intended travel or extension date.

Always refer to the official Samoa Immigration website or liaise with a Samoan consulate or embassy to get the most updated and accurate information before making any plans or decisions.

V. Tips for a smooth landing in Samoa 

Finding accommodation

Landing in Samoa and finding the right place to stay is the first hurdle. While online platforms, such as local real estate websites and expatriate forums, offer a plethora of rental options, it’s the nuances that matter. Apia, the capital, provides a mix of modern apartments and traditional homes, catering to varied tastes. For those yearning for a beachside experience, the coastal regions offer fales, traditional Samoan huts, that merge simplicity with stunning vistas. It might be worthwhile to opt for short-term lodgings initially, giving you the flexibility to explore different areas, understand commute dynamics, and gauge amenities. Engaging a local real estate agent can also be invaluable, providing insights into lease agreements, suitable neighborhoods, and potential rental deals.

Setting up local bank accounts and financial considerations

In Samoa, while many establishments accept international credit and debit cards, local transactions, especially in smaller towns and villages, rely heavily on cash. Major banks, such as the Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) and ANZ, have a strong presence and cater to expatriates with tailored services. To open an account, standard requirements include a valid identification, proof of local address, and often, a reference letter from your home bank. Familiarizing yourself with the Samoan Tala (WST), its denominations, and conversion rates can aid in daily budgeting and larger financial decisions.

In Apia, local buses, painted in vibrant hues and playing melodious tunes, ply regularly, offering an authentic Samoan commute experience. However, their schedules can sometimes be erratic. For those keen on flexibility and frequent inter-city travels, renting a car becomes indispensable. Roads in Samoa are generally in good condition, but it’s essential to remember that driving is on the left. Scooters, too, are a popular choice, especially for short distances. For travels between Upolu and Savai’i, regular ferries provide a scenic and efficient option. Taxis, while more expensive, offer the convenience of door-to-door service and are easily available in urban centers.

Adapting to local customs and cultural nuances

Delving into Samoa’s cultural depths is a rewarding endeavor. The ‘fa’a Samoa’ or ‘the Samoan way’ is an intricate weave of respect, community, and tradition. Sundays, for instance, hold a sacred space in Samoan life, marked by church services, family gatherings, and a palpable tranquility with most businesses remaining closed. When visiting local homes or villages, modest attire is appreciated, and it’s customary to remove shoes before entering. Gifting small tokens, especially when visiting for the first time, is a gesture valued by locals. Language, too, plays a pivotal role in forging connections. While English is widely understood, sprinkling conversations with Samoan greetings like “Talofa” (hello) or “Fa’afetai” (thank you) can bridge gaps and foster friendships.

VI. In summary


  1. Natural beauty: Samoa’s pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and serene landscapes offer a tranquil work backdrop.
  2. Cultural richness: Immersing in the ‘fa’a Samoa’ or ‘the Samoan way’ allows nomads to experience a unique and enriching way of life.
  3. Cost of living: Samoa’s relatively lower living costs, compared to many Western countries, can be economical for long-term stays.
  4. Friendly locals: The inherent warmth and hospitality of the Samoan people make newcomers feel instantly at home.
  5. Safety: Generally, Samoa boasts low crime rates, especially in its more rural locales.
  6. Flexible accommodation options: From the bustling apartments of Apia to the tranquil beachside fales, there’s a housing style for every preference.
  7. Local experiences: Traditional events, enriching village visits, and vibrant local markets offer endless avenues for exploration.


  1. Limited advanced infrastructure: Some remote areas might lack the high-speed internet and amenities that digital nomads rely on.
  2. Isolation: Situated in the heart of the Pacific, Samoa’s distance from major global hubs can feel isolating to some.
  3. Climate considerations: Samoa’s tropical climate brings with it the potential for cyclones and heavy rainfall during certain seasons.
  4. Limited public transport: The erratic schedules of local buses in urban areas might necessitate personal transportation for added flexibility.
  5. Visa restrictions: While visa options exist, long-term stays might require recurring renewals or visa runs.
  6. Connectivity costs: Internet availability comes at a premium, which might be pricier than in many home countries.
  7. Cultural sensitivities: A deep-seated respect for Samoa’s traditions and customs is crucial to avoid potential misunderstandings.

Navigating Samoa as a digital nomad feels like stepping into a vibrant tale, where each chapter is as intriguing as the last. The landscapes are an artist’s dream, with turquoise waters and emerald forests offering daily doses of inspiration. The heart of Samoa, though, lies in its people, whose genuine warmth and camaraderie are a refreshing antidote to the impersonal screens and keyboards that dominate the nomadic life. The cost of living is reasonable, but be prepared for the occasional eyebrow raise when checking internet rates — Samoa, it seems, treasures its offline moments.

On the flip side, Samoa’s serene isolation can sometimes tip into feeling a tad remote, especially when you’re trying to sync with global time zones. The island operates on its own clock, which is delightful when you’re lounging on a beach but can be a challenge when you’re chasing a project deadline. The local transportation, with its vivid colors and eclectic tunes, is charming but might leave you playing the waiting game more often than you’d like.

In essence, Samoa offers a rich and varied experience. It’s a place that challenges and charms in equal measure, compelling digital nomads to embrace every facet of their journey – the smooth sailing alongside the occasional speed bumps.

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