Thanks to Aquasamoa for writing this destination page.
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Previously known as Western Samoa, the "Western" was dropped in 1996 and the country became "Samoa". In the days of European exploration the Samoan Islands, including American Samoa, were named the Navigator Islands due to being an important waypoint for Pacific voyagers. Today Samoa is the first country to see the new day, having changed its time zone to west of the International Date Line in order to facilitate trading with New Zealand and Australia.
Typically of Pacific nations, Samoa is comprised of larger volcanic islands and smaller offshore islands, with a total of 11 islands making up the whole country. The largest are Savai’i and Upolu, with the latter home to approximately 75% of the population as well as the capital Apia and the main international airport at Faleolo.
For non-divers and divers alike this is an exciting time to visit Samoa as tourism is relatively undeveloped when compared with countries such as Fiji and Tonga. The islands present fantastic opportunities for exploration and contain awesome waterfalls and impressive blowholes, as well as quaint, beautifully maintained villages, bustling fruit, vegetable and handicraft markets, and the world famous To Sua Ocean Trench. The south coast of Upolu especially also has excellent surf without the crowds of Fiji, although the reef breaks are more suited to experienced surfers than beginners.
Samoa is an opportunity to divers who wish to travel a little further from the well explored waters of Melanesia to the west. With relatively little tourism divers can expect to enjoy dive sites to themselves, with the very real possibility of being in a position to discover new sites. The diving is extremely varied with options for all levels of experience, from sheltered, shallow lagoon sites ideal for training, barrier reef walls covered in macrolife that offer drift diving conditions, wrecks lying outside the barrier reefs, and deep water current-swept pinnacles and passages.