A very Samoan experience

Many know that I spent my first years in Samoa. Afterwards, my family and I travelled constantly – basing ourselves first in Fiji, then England, before moving back to Australia. Even though I was little, the only place I ever wanted to return to was Samoa. The connection I have with the land and the people there doesn’t make any sense logically – I remember very little. But sometimes connections aren’t logical, sometimes a deep love doesn’t make sense on paper.

And so we returned – for the second time in three years – to the place I hold so close in my heart. Usually we stay in traditional beach fales that are simple, open, and cost next-to-nothing. However on this trip we were working with Sinalei Reef Resort, and so for over a week luxury was our abode.

To be completely honest, my expectations of the resort weren’t high. The photographs I saw were beautiful, but I usually like to rough it; renting basic accomodations and wanting to connect with locals rather than staying at resorts that often feel clinical, with relationships forced.

Oh, how wrong a human can be…

Firstly, I’ll start with the aesthetics, which are what Sinalei claims to be: complete, boutique luxury. Sinalei is huge cabins which lay just above the water, it is paths that lead to secluded spots, traditional spas, and quiet coves. It’s beds are clouds and sheets of the finest threads; the amenities are lavish (and eco-friendly), and the coconut mojitos are far too easy to drink. Meals are carefully curated by an international chef who teaches the local cooks; the included breakfast is a mix of western and traditional Samoan cuisine, and is presented on a table strewn with wild flowers and enough coconuts to feed a small village (or me for an hour, whichever way you look at it). Days can be filled with exploring the island solo (as we did) or on group tours, they can easily be spent relaxing on the private beaches, snorkelling off the coast, kayaking through the mangroves, or jumping off the jetty into the azure seas below.

Luxury yes. But none of this represents what Sinalei really is, or what it meant to be there.

Sinalei is family. It is community. It is steeped in tradition, culture and support, and it is proud to be all of these things. The staff  are cheeky and friendly; they are genuine and will sit down with you and talk honestly about their own story. The owners of Sinalei support numerous local village projects. They’re also a completely eco-based resort that source their own fresh water, only serve food grown locally, and have even just funded the production of a studio-recording for a staff member, who they believe is going to be the next big musical talent from Samoa.

This must be why people keep coming back here. Luxury is luxury, and that can generally be attainable anywhere. But authentic people who are doing good, and who make you feel good – that’s something that is singular to Sinalei.

To book Sinalei, click here

Photography by Tom Paterson

This trip would not have been possible without the incredible team at Hashtag Travel Society