Samoa - Facts

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Samoa is currently dealing with an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease Dengue Fever after cases started appearing in the community in November 2023. An outbreak was officially declared in April 2024.  See the Health section for more information.

  • Important pre-arrival information: Samoa Port Authority and Biosecurity require an Advance Notice of Arrival. See Formalities for all the details.
  • Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa, comprises the two islands of Upolu and Savai’i, as well as several smaller islands. Savai’i is the largest, but Upolu is the most developed and center of government and commerce.
  • From a cruising perspective, Western Samoa is often the first practical landfall when heading west from French Polynesia. Apia is the only port of entry and departure.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson was the first in a long line of famous travelers to be seduced by the Samoan way of life, and today’s sailors can still find a Samoa whose ways have changed very little during the century since Stevenson lived here.
  • Cruising along the sheltered northern coast of the two main islands, one can anchor off villages such as Asau on Savai’i, from where one can explore the interior of these verdant islands with their gushing waterfalls and lush rainforests.
  • Asau is a well-protected anchorage, but only limited supplies are available, so it is better to a provision in Apia.
  • Samoa is on the New Zealand side of the International Date Line. If you arrive from the Cook Islands or French Polynesia you will skip a day. As Samoan authorities do not clear boats at the weekend, it is worth planning for. American Samoa, is still on the French Polynesian side of the Date Line.
  • See Yachting Essentials section for information on supplies and provisions.

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  1. October 2, 2023 at 3:50 AM
    Reinhard Kramm says:

    Cruising permit: the immigration officer – he is in the 1. floor of the gouvernment building – told me today on my request, that a cruising permit only allows sailing along the coast. No landfall. Except when you leave Samoa, then one landfall with a cruising permit would be possible.

  2. September 26, 2022 at 12:14 PM
    profile photo
    sue-richards says:

    Lucinda and Al on SV Ten Gauge left NZ in 2018, cruised French Poly from Australs to Marquesas for almost a year before heading to Alaska for the northern fall/winter/summer of 2019/2020. Now on their return trip to NZ they stopped over in Apia, Samoa and gave this report:
    1) Western Samoa: Arriving boats are most definitely NOT allowed into the marina until AFTER they’ve cleared all the health, customs and immigration items. Apparently this became a headache for the marina, and had to change at some point. Sounds like this change came from cruisers not doing what they were asked to do.
    2) We were first told that all officials would come to the boat at anchor, and we had to stay on the boat until completed. In the end we were told to walk to immigration in town. It’s more than a week and we’re still not sure what’s up with Agriculture/biosecurity.
    3) Health came first and did a rapid antigen test for covid on us. They did ask if we had evidence of supervised testing prior to leaving last port. We didn’t. I’m not clear if we’d have been tested on arrival regardless. Everyone we talked to had same as us, and didn’t come with prior supervised testing.
    4) In Apia nobody has answered the vhf for cruisers until after 9am. A container ship got an answer at 6am, but he’d been calling for well over an hour. A couple boats this week called for several hours during the day, got no answer, came in and anchored and they say nobody challenged them on it in the end. VHF reception still seems to be an issue.
    5) The Port Captain’s email to us prior to arrival clearly instructed us NOT to come into the channel until receiving verbal permission. Everyone calls them ” Apia Port Control” on radio calls.
    6) The rest of the arrival protocols seem to more or less align with what’s on Noonsite. The staff here seems to be quite under-resourced. Our clearing in has been dis-combobulated. The different boats here all had slightly different experiences.
    7) Everyone from the Port Control, to health, customs, immigration, the marina, the guys on the dock…. All have been uniformly friendly and welcoming. But not all organized individually, not organized between departments, not fast, not easy to get hold of, and not really clear. Everyone has been polite and most of them even apologizing for not having made a smoother process for us.
    8) US Samoa – we decided not to go since our best info from shore based people’s research was a no go. We met two policemen from US Samoa visiting here in Apia the other day, doing a few days official exchange of some kind. They told us US Samoa would have been open to us, and encouraged us to visit later if we wanted.
    9) I got permission from Tonga to go to Minerva on the way to NZ. I emailed Friday morning, got the response Tuesday morning. I requested ” Up to a week weather depending, around 7 October, weather depending”.

  3. September 16, 2019 at 6:41 AM
    expeditiondrenched says:

    Update: Already checked out of the country and heading West toward Wallis.
    Over Channel 16 the port authority hailed and said we needed to Return to pay $100 USD we informed them we didn’t have USD.
    That we were already out of the harbor in rough seas.
    They said they would send a boat out to collect the $100 USD for anchoring in the only place you are allowed to anchor without a cruising permit.
    We waited 30minutes for the boat.
    Hailed and said we would pay with a CC.
    We were there a week without any signage or visit from them asking to pay a anchor fee.
    We finally put sails up and left.

    We later found out that a worker came to another vessel.
    And demanded $100 USD they weren’t a US boat but had USD and paid it.
    They later went into the office and found the man and asked for a receipt for check out.
    They said “we have the $ to another coworker, he’s not here to give you a receipt”
    They were able to check out without it.
    To be clear this is not the marina, it’s the port authority for anchoring not the marina for docking or dinghy docking fee.

    SCAM employees of the harbor SCAMMING yachts.
    Go to Samoa by plane, a worse cruising destination I am yet to find

  4. September 1, 2019 at 9:46 AM
    expeditiondrenched says:

    I would think twice before coming back to Samoa.
    Heres the truth, Apia is on the north side of the east island right in the middle of the island.
    Typically the trades are blowing 20+ knots which means if you are coming from the south or west you are beating into the trades.
    I had a long discussion with them about needing a check in on Savaii the island to the west for this reason. So yachts can land, pick a weather window and make their way east.
    Once you’ve made your way to APIA now you are stuck in sailboat jail in the middle of the city which is the ONLY place in the country you can be anchored unless you apply for the 5 day cruising permit for $100
    Once you’ve gotten your cruising permit it is active immediately.
    So let’s say you want to see Savaii? you head west a day. spend 4 days and then beat right back into the trades to return to sailboat jail.
    Every cruiser here is saying the same thing and every cruiser had a rough ride reaching APIA.
    Once just came in that said it took 12 hours just to get across the 10 mile stretch between the islands.

    Samoa needs more check in, check out places.
    And NO you can not check out of anywhere other then APIA despite what has been written prior.

  5. August 30, 2019 at 9:03 AM
    expeditiondrenched says:

    It’s been written that you check out and let customs know you will be departing from Savai’i.
    This is not true.
    You must check out from Apia.
    Which means you likely will have to beat into the trades.
    Also you must get a cruising permit for 5 days which is $100 ($30usd) it is active when they give it to you.
    If you want to go to Savai’i you will take a day to get there. Stay 4 days. And immediately come back to Apia again… beating into the trades.
    Not the best set up for cruising.

  6. September 20, 2013 at 3:27 AM
    Data Entry2 says:

    Please note that, since 2011, Samoa has been on the New Zealand side of the International Date Line. If you arrive from the Cook Islands or French Polynesia you will skip a day.

    None of the cruising guides mention this but as the Samoan authorities do not clear boats at the weekend, it is worth planning for. American Samoa, however, is still on the French Polynesian side of the Date Line.
    S/Y Yindee Plus