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By Plane

Air New Zealand flies between Auckland and Samoa, with one flight a week going on to Los Angeles and back. Polynesian Blue, a joint venture between the Samoan government and Virgin Blue, connects the country with Auckland and Sydney. Air Pacific flies twice weekly between Apia and Fiji (usually in the middle of the night). A less direct way to get to Apia is on Hawaiian Airlines, which flies between several West Coast cities and Honolulu, thence to Pago Pago in American Samoa. Connections to Samoa can then be made on Polynesian Airlines' small planes.

Flights into and out of the Samoas are often packed with Samoans leaving and returning to the islands, so reserve a seat as soon as possible.

Arriving -- All international flights arrive at Faleolo Airport (APW), on the northwest corner of Upolu about 32km (19 miles) from Apia. There are duty-free shops and two currency exchange windows in the baggage claim area, or you can wait until you've cleared Customs and use ANZ Bank's ATM in the main concourse.

Getting to Your Hotel -- Aggie Grey's resorts and some other accommodation send buses to meet their guests who have reservations. Otherwise, transportation from Faleolo airport is by taxi or by buses which meet all international flights. The government-regulated taxi fare into town is S$50 (US$20/£10), but make sure you and the driver agree on the fare. The bus ride officially costs S$12 (US$4.80/£2.40) each way.

Departing -- Shuttle buses also transport passengers from the Apia hotels to Faleolo Airport for departing international flights. They arrive at the hotels at least 3 hours before departure time. Be sure to tell your hotel what flight you are leaving on; otherwise, the bus could leave you behind.

Everyone over 12 years old must pay a S$40 (US$16/£8) departure tax before leaving the country. Get your boarding pass and pay in Samoan currency at one of the banks in the main concourse, or after clearing Immigration if the banks aren't open.

There is no bank in the departure lounge, so change your leftover talas before clearing Immigration. Remember, Samoan currency cannot be exchanged outside the country, even in American Samoa.

By Ferry

The Samoa Shipping Corporation (tel. 20-935; www.samoashipping.com) operates the MV Lady Naomi ferry between Apia and Pago Pago in American Samoa. It usually departs Apia on Wednesday at midnight, arriving in Pago Pago at 8am on Thursday. The return voyage departs Pago Pago at 4pm Thursday, arriving at Apia at midnight. One-way fares from Pago Pago to Apia are US$60 (£30) for a seat, US$75 (£38) for a cabin.

Savai'i

Getting There & Getting Around -- Air service to Savai'i is supposed to be provided by Polynesian Airlines, although it was not flying during my recent visit. Samoa Shipping Corporation operates two ferries between Mulifanua Wharf on Upolu and Salelologa, the commercial center on Savai'i.

You can plan a trip to Savai'i yourself, but the easiest way is to use one of the tour operators in Apia. Oceania Travel & Tours (tel. 24-443) has day trips for about S$350 (US$140/£70) by ferry, including breakfast and tour. It also has 2-day, 1-night packages.

Taxis meet the ferries. One-way fare from the wharf to the east-coast hotels is S$10 (US$4/£2) one-way. The one-way fare is F$60 (US$24/£12) to Manase, and S$120 (US$48/£24) to Asau village, 89km (55 miles) on the other side of Savai'i.

Local buses going around the east and north coasts to Manase meet the 8am and noon ferries arriving from Upolu. The fare to Manase is S$4 (US$1.60/80p).

PK Rentals (tel. 51-025; pkrentals@samoa.ws) has offices in both Apia and Salelogoga on Savai'i. Savai'i Car Rentals (tel. 51-392; fax 51-291; cars@samoa.ws) is based here. The round-island road is completely paved. Sekia Rentals (tel. 54-008; sekis_cars@samoa.ws) is based near Le Lagoto Beach Resort on the north shore. Expect to pay about S$115 (US$46/£23) a day in cash, not to a credit card.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.