Samoa - a food lover's paradise

Posted by on 16 Sep 2022

During your time in Samoa, you’ll enjoy all the unique flavours of the Pacific and around the world which are made even better by being in such a beautiful vibrant setting. Food plays an important part in Samoan culture with many festivities based around huge feasts. It’s no wonder, then, that Samoa’s visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out.

With plentiful seafood straight from the ocean, freshly harvested Pacific fruits and vegetables, and the distinctly incredible flavours of traditional Samoan umu (ground oven) cooking, Samoa offers authentic island cuisine and international foods which appeal to any palate.

To enjoy the best of Samoa’s fresh produce and local dishes, you could join a cultural experience or fiafia night at your resort or hotel or you might visit a local restaurant or cafe to indulge in a wood-fire pizza or the most skillfully cooked catch of the day. Wherever you go, there are plenty of must-try foodie experiences in Samoa.

Drink and dine your way through Samoa’s restaurant and bar scene

Despite its small size and strong traditional food culture, Samoa has a diverse food scene which makes it an ideal destination for international visitors looking for a range of experiences during their stay.

While Samoa offers cuisines from all around the world, visitors will find anything from budget family-friendly options and fine dining to traditional Samoan cultural food experiences and a huge choice of top bars serving beers, wines, and amazing cocktails.

A trip to Vailili will see you dine on some of the freshest seafood you could find. Within the Le Lagoto Resort situated in the village of Fagamalo in Savai'i, it´s unmissable, especially on Thursday night where the themed buffet and the traditional Fiafia show are just as good as the culinary treats.

At the architecturally designed Waterfront Restaurant and Bar, you can watch surf breaking on the reef in front of you as you tuck into dishes prepared by award-winning chefs. The talented chefs serve up a-la-carte cuisine ranging from locally caught seafood to Western specialities.

Sails Restaurant is a great breezy spot right on the beach with uninterrupted panoramic views of the Apia lagoon and harbour. Steaks and seafood are highlights of the menu, as are pastas, healthy salads and a wide range of desserts.

Amanaki is one of Apia’s top choices for fusion cuisine. Enjoy dishes such as fresh poke or try the Amanaki version of fish and chips. Owning their own fishing boats means that the Amanaki chefs will bring you the freshest seafood possible.

Markets to Shop (and Eat) Until You Drop

One of the best ways to enjoy Samoan food is to immerse yourself in normal daily life by visiting the colourful local food markets.

Apia Fish Market

On Upolu, Samoa’s capital Apia has a daily fish market which is best visited before 11am. Here, you’ll find freshly caught tuna, octopus and many more delights from the sea brought in fresh from local fishermen. The most popular day to visit is on Sunday (‘umu day’). The market has a huge variety of seafood, from yellow-fin tuna to crabs, crayfish, octopus and masimasi. The market is open from 5.30am to 11am daily.

Fugalei Fresh Produce Market (Maketi Fou)

Located between Fugalei and Saleufi streets in Apia, the Fugalei Fresh Produce Market is also called the Maketi Fou. The market has a huge variety of fresh tropical fruits and vegetables sold by local families. You’ll find everything from bananas to coconuts and taro, as well as cooked Samoan food and icy cold nui (drinking coconut) to sip while you explore. The market is open daily.

Organic Night Market

This monthly night market is held from 4 to 8pm, usually on the Samoa Tourism fale and Cultural Village grounds in Apia. The market, which supports local organic growers and producers, also sells some cooked food and smoked fish. It is normally held on a Wednesday near the end of each month.

Savalalo Flea Market

Located on Beach Road in Apia, the Savalolo Flea Market itself doesn't sell food, but the area behind has stalls sell deep-fried snacks.

Salelologa Market, Savai'i

Located near the main Salelologa wharf and by the Savai'i bus terminal, the market sells fresh fruit and vegetables and baked goods alongside other wares such as crafts, gifts, clothes and household items. The market is open Monday to Saturday from 7am.

Happen Upon a Roadside Stall

While you're travelling around Upolu and Savai’i, keep an eye out for roadside stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables - the ultimate tropical snack - along with hot BBQ meals and stalls selling freshly caught fish. Fancy a refreshing drink? Stop for a freshly harvested coconut or two.

These roadside stalls are run by locals to support their families and may offer a sometimes-eclectic variety of goods. They are particularly useful for visitors touring Samoa by vehicle or bike and could prove a welcome break in the heat of the day, as well as a great chance to meet some of Samoa’s friendly locals. Hot tip: be sure you carry cash!

Seafood Experiences

Fishing has been central to Samoan life for thousands of years with the sea providing the family’s daily meals. Today fish (i’a) such as dogtooth and yellow-fin tuna, along with other seafood such as crayfish, masimasi, and octopus, are still caught every day and form an important part of modern Samoan culture.

Visitors will find fresh seafood on most restaurant menus or see the mornings’ catch at Apia’s fish market. Would you prefer to catch your own meal? Book a fishing adventure with one of Samoa's spectacular fishing charters. Samoa has several fishing charters owned by keen fishing experts who can show you how it’s done. Many resorts also offer fishing charters using private boats.

Fishing charters can be a few hours or a whole day, depending on your preference. It usually involves fishing from the boat but ask about spearfishing and diving too. Check out more in the fishing charter directory to book a trip while you're visiting.

If you’re visiting in October/November, be sure to ask for the Samoan delicacy of palolo - it's a highly sought-after treat available only once a year when the palolo worm 'rises' - usually one week after the October full moon.

From Plantation to Plate

Samoa's countryside is dotted with plantations growing delicious tropical fruit and vegetables which make the most of the flat-rolling fertile volcanic soils near the coast.

To trace your dinner’s journey from plantation to plate, you can join a guided tour which includes a plantation visit. Experience traditional food gathering and production, harvest and husk a coconut, and get a taste - quite literally - for Samoan local produce straight from the source.

Local crops include coconuts, bananas, cocoa, taro, breadfruit, sugarcane, yams, pineapple, cassava, papaya and sweet potatoes, among others. Some plantations are owned by families while others are on a larger scale.

Buying from these means you are not only getting produce that is locally grown and deliciously fresh but that you are supporting one or more Samoan families.

Join a Food and Culture Tour

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in Samoa’s food culture is to join one of the island’s many local tour guides who can take you to all the best foodie hotspots while sharing local knowledge and insights.

Designed to experience Samoa’s fun and relaxing environment, you’ll experience the buzz of local markets and stalls while learning more about local dishes and flavours, how they’re created, and where they come from.

Cook Up a Storm at a Cooking Class

If you’re keen to take a piece of Samoa home with you that’s a bit different to the usual souvenir, why not learn a few traditional recipes you can recreate yourself.

Select resorts and independent operators regularly invite visitors to join cooking classes where you’ll learn to cook how the locals do using locally sourced Samoan produce. Classes are usually scheduled or can be arranged on request.

Taste Umu for yourself

The Samoa Cultural Village in Apia offers visitors umu-cooked food for lunch as part of its cultural programme. The village is located on the waterfront off Beach Road, behind the Samoa Tourism Authority information fale.

Most Samoan villages still prepare food in this way, particularly on Sundays or on special occasions when the tantalising smoky smell of umu cooking permeates the air. For some in more rural areas, umu is the main way that family meals are prepared.

Credits to Samoa Tourism Authority

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