Jenny Weir from New Zealand has had a love affair with Samoa for the past 20 years. She visits as often as two to three times a year for some relaxing and rejuvenation.
Her first encounter with Samoa happened around a very challenging time of her life and coming here proved to be helpful to the healing process.
“I had a really bad car accident and I was looking for somewhere to relax,” she said.
“I was supposed to come here with a friend but she pulled out last minute so a family friend who was living in Samoa said ‘come and stay with me’ so I stayed here for two weeks and I’ve been coming back ever since, at least two times a year. This is my third time here in the last year.”
Samoa is Jenny’s happy place and over the years she has seen the number of tourists grow as more people hear about Samoa.
“What brings me back is how really relaxed it is here and the food is good and it’s just easy. It’s easy. You don’t have to do anything. Over the past 20 years, it’s improved here. I’ve seen that there are heaps more hotels and places to stay and more tourist-focused activities.”
“The first few times I was coming to Samoa, 20 years ago, there were times where I was the only Palagi on the plane. I felt like people looked at me like “are you crazy?”
But now it feels like everyone is coming over. My sister and her partner came last month, I tell all my friends to come and they all love it when they come here.”
Jenny Weir is an island foodie and somewhat of a taro chips snob telling Dear Tourist that trying out all the local restaurants is her favourite thing to do and she lists all her favourite snacks and local foods.
“There are some amazing restaurants like Paddles and Café Milani or Giordanos – places that have been there for years. Now I think there’s more like a tourist focus where Samoans have realized that ‘hey we’ve got an amazing place here, why not tell people about it. And it’s really cool.
“Basically when I’m here, I just eat and sleep. I like palusami and the taro chips – but only the TH ones in the brown packet and yeah only the TH brand.
If you can’t find any, it’s because we’ve bought them all. I also like all the fresh seafood, we were at Seafood Gourmet last night and they had amazing palolo on toast for like 17 tala and they had the best poke ever. I just come here to eat, drink and relax that’s all I do.”
Jenny is a big fan of staying in the beach fales and her experience in Savaii was an unforgettable one.
“I’ve been over to Savaii and stayed overnight there which was so cool, the village did a fiafia night when I was staying at a beach fale there one time. Sleeping on the beach is the best thing to do. It’s like a different version of what you get at Aggies with the fiafia night. But over there at the beach fale, their fiafia night involves the whole village with all the kids and dinner.
“You spend very little, if you did this in Hawaii and Fiji and you wanted to sleep on the beach and wake up to that scene you would pay so much money. Here you’re in your fale on the beach with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it costs very little – it’s amazing.”
Jenny is torn between encouraging everyone to visit Samoa and keeping it a secret for herself. There are some things that are still readily available in Samoa that you wouldn’t see in other island destinations, and while Jenny loves to encourage everyone to visit Samoa, there’s a little part of her that wants to keep this paradise a secret as well.
“I mean I don’t want to tell many people because they’re going to start coming! She jokes but it’s nice to see so many people and tourism is becoming a big industry for Samoa.
“People before just never, if you’re from New Zealand, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to come here, it’s only 3.5 hours from Auckland, direct flight. You can stay at a top notch hotel like here at Aggies or you could stay at a fale in a beach at Savaii. There are so many hotels there, so many good places to eat.”