Apia is your gateway to Samoan culture

Western Samoa
Western Samoa

Your Australia and New Zealand cruise will take you to some memorable destinations around the South Pacific, but perhaps none will mix gorgeous beaches with unique culture like the city of Apia in Western Samoa.

When you step off the ship in the city of Apia, your first thought might be "where's the city?" While Apia is technically considered to be a city, and has a population of more than 50,000, it won't likely look like any urban center you've ever visited. Frommers writes that Apia grew from one local village into a collection of settlements over the area of a few square miles, but the villages continue to operate somewhat distinctly, with roads interconnecting them all. The individual villages now comprise the neighborhoods of the "city" as a whole.

As you can probably guess by now, culture and tradition are still extremely strong in Western Samoa, also known as Independent Samoa to distinguish this region from American Samoa. You'll have a number of opportunities to engage with the locals here, whether its shopping at the Maketi Fou (open-air market) or witnessing a Kava ceremony, which utilizes the island's Kava plant.

There's also a number of sights to see around the island. Visit the beautiful house of Vailima, which was once home to "Treasure Island" author Robert Louis Stevenson. The house has since been converted into a museum that holds a number of interesting artifacts.

Of course, you could also simply find the nearest beach, sprawl out on a chair and let the day slip away. Tafa Tafa Beach is centrally located and is one of the better beaches on the entire island, whether you want to find some shade, sunbathe or take a dip in the water.