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South Pacific

South Pacific (Moon Handbooks S.)

by David Stanley
  For more than 30 years, the award-winning Moon Handbooks series has been the top choice among independent travellers who want a unique experience, a new perspective, and a few new stories to tell. With Moon Handbooks, travellers are given the tools to make their own choices and create a travel strategy that's theirs alone. The result? A more personal and ultimately more satisfying travel experience. From lagoon swimming in the Cook Islands to witnessing the race of the banana bearers in the Heiva i Tahiti festival, travelers will find the best of the South Pacific, both popular and obscure, in this guidebook. Moon Handbooks South Pacific provides in-depth coverage of outdoor recreation, with specifics on swimming, diving, yachting, kayaking, biking, hiking, camping, climbing, caving, and horseback riding. Complete with useful advice on practicalities such as food, entertainment, shopping, visas, money, health, packing, and inter-island travel, travelers will find the tools they need for a uniquely personal experience in this guidebook.
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Samoa a South Pacific Travel Sensation

by David Stanley

The islands of Samoa are emerging as an exciting new South Pacific travel destination between Hawaii and New Zealand. This "Heart of Polynesia" is politically split into two distinct entities 80 miles apart. The country Samoa is a former German colony, captured by New Zealand in 1914 and granted independence in 1962. In 1997 the name was changed from Western Samoa to Samoa.

American Samoa is the only U.S. territory south of the equator. Annexed by the United States for use as a naval base in 1900, the territory no longer has any military significance. Instead, Pago Pago currently hosts the StarKist and "Chicken of the Sea" tuna canneries, making it the most important commercial fishing port under the American flag.

The Samoan environment is tropically lush, with green volcanic peaks plunging to brilliant coral reefs, an ecotourism paradise still unspoiled by mass tourism. Visitors often stay in open Samoan beach houses called fale (pronounced FAH-lay) and adopt the laidback local lifestyle. Swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing, deep sea fishing, and hiking opportunities are all close at hand.

Samoan culture is alive and strong, and local traditions can add another fascinating layer to your travel experience. Most Samoans are subsistence farmers who reside in small villages governed by chiefs (matai). The egalitarian ideals of this communal society place loyalty to family and religion above all. Visitors can sample this culture at the weekly "fiafia" island night dance shows staged at most of the larger hotels and beach resorts. Buffets of authentic Samoan dishes are an essential part of these events.

Samoa's climate is sultry, alternately sunny and rainy, but always hot and humid. Cooling sea breezes make the shoreline the best place to be yearround. The nicest months weatherwise are May to September, "winter" south of the equator. The rainy season runs from November to April, with increasingly intense hurricanes sweeping in due to global warming. Yet you can get long spells of bright sunny weather even during the "rainy" season, and Samoa's excellent Vailima beer (created by German brewmasters) tastes best at this time of year.

Most visitors spend their time in independent Samoa, which is considerably bigger and less expensive than American Samoa. However the rugged scenic beauty of Tutuila, the main island of American Samoa, should not be missed. In recent years some of the most strikingly beautiful parts of the territory have been incorporated into American Samoa National Park. There's great hiking on Tutuila and wonderful snorkeling on Ofu in the seldom visited Manua Group.

Traditional Samoan culture is largely based on oratory, and it's no accident that several literary legends originated here. Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last five years of his life in Samoa and is buried on a hilltop above Apia, the capital. His mansion is now a museum dedicated to the author. Somerset Maugham's short story "Rain" about Sadie Thompson and the repressed missionary thrown together in a guesthouse at Pago Pago, American Samoa, has been adapted by Hollywood several times. The original guesthouse still exists, now an upscale restaurant and inn. In "Tales of the South Pacific," James A. Michener based the prototype of his character Bloody Mary on an Apia hotelkeeper named Aggie Grey, whose family still operates Samoa's largest resorts. Michener's book was later made into the musical "South Pacific."

Getting to Samoa is easy with direct flights from Hawaii and Los Angeles on Hawaiian Airlines, Polynesian Airlines, and Air New Zealand. Local ferries and small commuter planes ply frequently between the islands, and getting around by public bus or rental car is no challenge. Visas are not required by most visitors for entry to either Samoa, although a passport and onward plane ticket are mandatory.


David Stanley's regional travel guide Moon Handbooks South Pacific http://www.southpacific.org/pacific.html has chapters on both Samoas. His online guide to Samoa may be perused at http://www.southpacific.org/text/upolu.html

South Sea Tales

South Sea Tales (Oxford World's Classics)

by Robert Louis Stevenson
The literary world was shocked when in 1889, at the height of his career, Robert Louis Stevenson announced his intention to settle permanently on the Pacific island of Samoa. His readers were equally shocked when he began to use the subject material offered by his new environment, not to promote a romance of empire, but to produce some of the most ironic and critical treatments of imperialism in nineteenth-century fiction. In these stories, as in his work generally, Stevenson shows himself to be a virtuoso of narrative styles: his Pacific fiction includes the domestic realism of 'The Beach at Falese, the folktale plots of 'The Bottle Imp' and 'The Isle of Voices', and the modernist blending of naturalism and symbolism in The Ebb-Tide.
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