Namu’a: A tiny island with huge potential
The tiny island Namu’a lies just off the coast of the most South Eastern point of Upolu island, Mutiatele. Since 1999, the island has become a destination for many visitors looking for total relaxation and peace.
Salaevalu and her husband Levasa Ieti run an accommodation in the traditional Samoan way.
Fifteen Beach fales are opened for the public and invites both, Samoans and foreigners to a true island escape. The name Namu’a means ancient, yet the name of the island is only a shortcut from Anamu’a.
Ana is the cave and mu’a young. Villagers nearby also like to call it Turtle Island, as its shape is similar to the silhouette of a turtle and a few of them live in the ocean surrounding the island.
Namu’a is only a five-minute boat ride away from Mutiatele, but once you arrive on the island, Upolu seems light years away.
“It is not a big place,” Salaevalu says.
“We started with five fales and now we have 15 altogether. And I think it is a lot, because this is such a small area. This is the flattest area we have on the whole island. Most of it is dominated by steepness.”
There is no electricity, so light is only provided by oil lamps lit at night. The $120 rate per night also covers the boat ride, dinner and breakfast. The food is simple local style, but delicious.
The island belonged to the Tuisila family. Salaevalu’s father was their second title holder. When Samoa was a German colony, the Tuisila’s borrowed some money from the government and another family. After New Zealand’s take over and Samoa gaining its independence, the island was still not back in the family. “My father’s uncle tried to see if there was any way the government could release the island back to our family. But they could not.
“So, my father took the title and he even wrote to the government. They finally gave us a chance to bring the island back to our family. When my father passed, my brothers, sister and my mother referred the lease under my name and I took it with pride. It was their own will and I took it as a gift, that is how I see it. The people keep this island precious.”
Some couples from overseas even come to the tropical island to get married.
Salaevalu tells the Samoa Observer that visitor numbers are only rising slowly. Sometimes especially on the weekend the fales are full but often there are only small groups of six people on the island. “I used to say that 95% of the Samoan people did not know about the island.”
Most people visit from Australia or New Zealand. Visitors enjoy the tropical surroundings, the beautiful beach and calming silence on Namu’a.
“If I compare Samoa to Fiji and Tonga, we do not have many small islands. But it is a good thing, because we treasure every one of them.” Salaevalu is keen on improving the experience at her beach fale accommodation.
“I would like to build a nice fale restaurant. I see that Namu’a has got potential. There is so much to do. I mean, with the water, I have got this 300 acres of big playground area in front of me. So, that is what I am going to do. I think I will ask one of the banks for help and then upgrade this place.”
Namu’a is paradise. A few people especially Chinese have come to the island with a big interest in investing.
“They might have money but at the same time they want to ruin the place. My father always told me to watch the nature, the birds. Now, the native pigeons are coming back and just recently we found out that the turtles are starting to get on land and lay their eggs.” Salaevalu loves her very own private island and she enjoys giving visitors an unforgettable Samoan experience. She is proud of its achievements and will keep on taking care of the nature while also welcoming guests with open arms and remembering her family’s pride.
“I still believe Namu’a is in the family. “