Never a fan of any upscale resort’s tourist-oriented “local dancers night”, I approached the Wednesday “fia fia” night at Aggie Grey’s Hotel, Apia, Samoa, with trepidation. Thankfully, this event is light on resort-style corniness, and it was worth hanging around other tourists to watch the spectacle.
“Fia fia” used to mean village play; now, it’s a pastiche of dances performed by Samoan women and men to chunky, wooden drumbeats. Highlights include the energetic mosquito dance and the traditional siva — although the night I was at Aggies, MTV was filming a to-be-released reality surf show, Surf Girls, and the usual siva was hijacked by ten teenagers of dubious dancing talent.
The fia fia finale, a three-storey firedancing extravaganza, puts to shame every Byron feral I’ve ever seen twirl a flaming stick.
Bucketloads of MTV crew aside, Aggies is a decent resort set in fertile grounds in Apia. It’s a good base for exploring lush Upolu, Samoa’s main, and second-largest, island.
Apia’s harbour is no match for the beaches of Upolu’s south coast, and if you surf, head for the Black Sand Beach at Aganoa for a nice pair of breaks — be prepared for a bit of a rough drive in — or the neat cabins at Salani. Both beaches are close to O Le Pupu-Pue National Park, the first national park in the Pacific Islands.
The most stunning beaches are at Aleipata, on Upolu’s southeast coast. The village of Lalomanu is a tropical dream: coconut palms, crisp white sand, impossibly clear water and a fringing reef. Many fales border the beach: basic huts with a mosquito net and no walls, just metres from the water.
Recommended is the Litia Sini Beach Resort, but any of the locally-run fales will provide a divine outlook across crystal waters to Nuutele Island. The accommodation and food may be basic, but the laid-back experience is sublime — all you need are a pair of togs, a sarong, a T-shirt, a towel and a book for a week’s stay… maybe three books…
You can hire a car and cruise around Upolu in a few days. Driving is ok; you just have to keep an eye out for kids, pigs and chickens! If you’d rather someone else do the driving for you, try Ecotour Samoa, which offers varied tours, from a single day 4WD to fortnight-long educational tours. Whatever option, you’ll surely unwind and enjoy the green of Samoa’s Upolu.