Watching the sunset as we sit in the beach fale, with beer in hand,
it’s easy to believe we are living our dream.
Samoa was a spontaneous destination six years ago. We cycled Savaii, the bigger but less populated island. It was a leisurely trip with no accommodation pre- booked, enabling Frances to get fitter before her hip replacement and a chance for me to unwind after handing over the reins of my IT company.
While the trip started as a bike ride we quickly rediscovered the joys of “camping” on the beach with warm, safe swimming and snorkelling amongst the coral and turtles as well as very friendly people living a much simpler existence.
The 200km ride around Savaii begins with a gentle, flat cycle through villages beside the lagoon. There is very little traffic on the sealed roads, but we soon had sore arms from waving to the kids and replying to their enthusiastic “bye bye” calls. We were also marvelling at the open meeting houses at the front of most houses and enjoying interacting with the villagers in ways that can’t happen in a car. Later when we stopped in the more remote villagers we would end up in conversation with locals who were interested in us and our bikes. There was no selling or begging and as English is compulsory in schools we had some common language.
Mostly we stayed in Fale resorts. These provide accommodation in small traditional beach huts with solid floors and roofs and matting sides. They are often located at the waters edge on white sand beaches in front of stunning lagoons. The resorts are usually in or on the edge of villages on customary land and are very much family run operations. A booking at a fale resort includes breakfast and dinner and the fales come with mattresses, bedding and mosquito nets. The fales are equivalent of camping, but without the hassles of tents and virtually no risk of being rained out or blown away. It’s a good start to the day, waking to waves lapping at your feet as the sun peaks through the matting, throwing back the sheet and leaping in for a swim.
Each place was ( and still is) special and unique. Lauiula has a magic Fiafia night of traditional dance. It begins with guests helping prepare the umu feast ( but they are not asked to help prepare the
swells is exciting and gives almost unique access to remote islands, whales, dolphins and birdlife. Watching Frigate Birds pinching their food on the wing from other sea birds is quite special ( Frigates have no oil in their feathers and so are unable to swim and rely of aerial theft).
Building a new business in a developing country like Samoa has certainly tested my second interest of risk management. We decided at the start to focus on maintaining quality equipment and lifting the quality of our suppliers of accommodation and other services and the rewards come from the e very satisfied clients returning at the end of their adventure. Their eir reviews on Trip Advisor - see separate box are what keep us going. This year we have had a lot more families of all ages, some touring with our baby carriers, tagalong and bike trailer. The whole family returns with the enthusiasm we e experienced at the start of our stay ( and came back from our r best family holidays with). But ut age is no barrier and last year I greatly enjoyed a guided trip with 12 Kapiti 50 plus riders, of whom the oldest was 83.
Retirement is not a word used around here and we are busy planning and testing new w ideas for next year. We are working with other operators to offer canyoning and coastering ( challenging sea, beach and climbing journeys), mountain bike trails, art tours and extended cultural activities. We are also trialing electric bikes and developing a new ride around Upolu. But in between these activities there was time for a gentle ride around the coast yesterday with Frances. She had her hip revised six weeks ago and has just got back on a bike. Riding gently through the villages, calling “bye bye” to the kids was great and the steady pace was enough to generate a cool breeze that was more pleasant than walking. We are living our dream.