Apia

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Apia
Port of Entry
13°49.774'S, 171°45.832'W Chart icon.png

Apia is the capital and only city of Samoa, also the country's only port of entry.

Charts

Land Information NZ
NZ 86 -- Samoa Islands (also covers American Samoa)
NZ 865 -- Approaches to Apia Harbour
NZ 8655 -- Apia Harbour

Note that the harbour entrance leads and channel markers shown on this latest chart are not present, and the chart also does not show the new marina in the north eastern corner of the harbour.

See the cautionary note about electronic charts in Samoa Charts. Most of the beacons and buoys shown on the various electronic charts of Apia are not present. Simply put, there are no useful buoys or leading lights, and there are a few large floating mooring buoys present on the harbour that are not on the chart, and the mooring buoys listed on the chart are not present. Enter the harbour with caution, during daylight hours only. If you already have a track plotted, you should be fine, the harbour entrance is fairly wide and deep with no obstructions other than the fringing reefs.

Weather

See Samoa Weather.

Passages

See Samoa.

Islands

See Samoa.

Communication

There are no radio nets specific to Apia. The Apia Harbour Master maintains a regular if not constant watch on VHF 16.

Also see World Cruiser's Nets.

Navigation

It is necessary to give 48 hours prior notice of arrival. This can be done by emailing portmaster@spasamoa.ws or spa@spasamoa.ws.

Call Apia Harbour Master on VHF 16 when approximately 1-2 hours outside of the harbour and await permission to enter the harbour. Your courtesy flags and yellow Q flag should be flying. Because of poor VHF reception around Apia, it may not be possible for the harbour master to hear your VHF call. Continue along the lead line and continue to call occasionally until inside the harbour.

The entry is best done by chart, during daylight hours only. The port/starboard markers marked on the chart are missing, and although there are leading lights it wasn't possible to see the second one. The entry channel is fairly wide and easy to see between the breakers along the reef on either side of the channel.

Stand off to a point at 13°48.394′S, 171°45.608′W. On approach from the east it may be preferable to cut inside the Muaavasa bank shown on the charts, as it's slightly more sheltered inside the bank than it is outside it. Do not rely on Navionics charts as to the location of this bank, they are incorrect -- use the C-MAP, Admiralty, or LINZ charts instead. From that point approach Apia harbour on a heading of 194T (183M), taking note of any west running current that might be running across the harbour entrance. There are no buoys (despite them being shown on the chart) but the reefs are easy to see. Due to the reefs extending out from the harbour entrance the swell will reduce considerably as you approach the harbour.

Once entering the harbour, there is a large round yellow buoy to the south eastern end of the harbour. Anchor the other side of this buoy (there may be other yachts present) and contact the harbour control on VHF 16 to await formalities.

Entrance

Formalities for checkin include, in approximately the following order:

  • Health
  • Quarantine
  • Harbour Master
  • Customs
  • Immigration

Contact the Harbour Master on VHF 16 and inform them that you are awaiting quarantine and customs clearance. It is important that nobody leaves the yacht until these are attended to. In most cases the health and quarantine officers will come to your yacht, giving clearance to drop the Q flag. Once those are done contact Harbour Master again. In some cases customs and immigration will come to the yacht, in some cases you will need to go ashore to complete clearance.

Customs is in a building near the marina. They are easy to find, ask the marina security guard to direct you. Similarly the harbour master's office is only a short walk north of the marina along the main wharf road. Immigration have an office in town which you may need to attend, this is a lengthy walk from the marina.

Clearing Out

In order to obtain clearance from Apia, visit the offices listed below - all of this will need to be done on land as the officials do not come to your boat on clearing out.

  • Harbour Master, to pay the required anchoring or berthing fees.
  • Immigration
  • Customs, who will issue the clearance document.

After obtaining clearance, provided a cruising permit has been obtained from the government offices (see Samoa), it is permitted to remain in Samoa for up to 30 days, in order to visit other harbours and anchorages.

Berthing

If you wish to berth in the marina then contact the harbour master's office who will allocate you a berth. It's probable that a tender will be sent out to guide you in to the marina. Alternatively there may be other yachts present who can guide you in and catch lines as required.

Berthing is done alongside, on a floating dock.

Marinas & Yacht Clubs

There is only one marina in Apia, that being the Apia Marina, under control of the harbour master / ports authority. It contains one single wharf with approximately 24 floating berths. A second wharf has been damaged by a cyclone and has been dismantled and removed, no date for its repair or replacement has been set.

  • Water and electricity are available. Water and electricity are present at every berth. Electricity is 240V 50Hz AC with 3 pin round (NZ caravan style, same as those found at Papeete and other places in the Pacific) plugs only.
  • There are no showers and toilets ashore, except toilets in one or more of the nearby bars.
  • Cost is 1 tala per foot per day. Other cruising guides mention additional fees for accessing facilities and for a marina pass, these are no longer applied.

Anchorages

Anchoring in the harbour is permitted, however there is a charge of 220 tala regardless of the length of stay. This must be paid to the harbour master's office. Some vessels have reported being charged different amounts than 220 tala, so it might be worth confirming this fee with the Harbour Masters office.

There appears to be no fee for short term anchoring if the vessel has also been in the marina and has paid the marina fees.

See the note in Samoa Berthing about obtaining a cruising permit to visit the other anchorages in Samoa.

Yacht Repairs and Services

There are no yacht repairs available.

Marine Stores

There are no yacht chandleries in Apia but ashore you will find Ace Hardware and Samoa Builders' Supplies have a range of general hardware items that may be useful aboard. Both can be found in the center of Apia, away from the main beach road.

Fuel, Water, & Electricity

Fuel
Fuel may be purchased by taking jerry cans to one of a number of nearby service stations. Although duty free fuel is available, it is only sold in 44 gallon drums and with a minimum delivery of 1000 litres.
Water
Water is available at every berth in the marina, and may be carried in jerry cans to vessels in the harbour.
Electricity
Electricity (240V 50Hz AC) is available in the marina.

Things to do Ashore

Samoa has been increasingly opening itself up to tourism over the last few years. There are many things to do ashore around Apia as well as elsewhere on Upolu and Savai'i islands. There is a taxi stand outside the marina, taxi drivers there will regularly offer to run full day and half day tours of the island, as well as take visitors to places such as the Papaseea sliding rocks and the Robert Louis Stevenson museum.

Tourism

There is a tourist information office in the center of Apia. The staff there are friendly and helpful and will offer the latest information on the various sights around Samoa. They also run a website at http://www.samoa.travel/ which contains some useful information about the various attractions of Samoa Some of the highlights that are accessible to cruisers include:

  • The Robert Louis Stevenson museum. This should be about 10 tala each way in a taxi, as well as the entry fee to the museum. The museum is set in Stevenson's house above Apia. The staff there are helpful and informative and regular short tours are run during the day.
  • Papaseea sliding rocks. This is about 15 tala each way in a taxi and is a fun place for a fresh water swim as well as sliding down the rocks into the pools below.
  • Palolo Deep Marine Reserve. The entry to the reserve is only a few minutes walk north of the marina. Excellent snorkelling can be found here. There is an entry fee, snorkelling gear can be hired as well.
  • A taxi ride to the other side of Upolu to visit the To Sua Ocean Trench and Vavau Beach is well worthwhile.
  • A 2 or 3 day trip to Savai'i island can be arranged through the tourism information office. The best way to do this is to arrange a taxi to the ferry terminal (about 45 minutes drive from Apia), then a hire car on the island, and accommodation in one of the beach fales around the island. Take your time to drive around the island enjoying the sights, including the blowholes, beaches, and forest walks. Expect to pay about 5 tala per person entry fee to almost everything.

A great time to visit Apia is during the annual Teuila Festival. Check the web site for the latest times and programme but it normally runs in early September each year.

Grocery & Supply Stores

There are a number of grocery stores and supermarkets nearby Apia. The ones most accessible to the maria include:

  • Frankies, on Matautu Street, is the one nearest the marina. Within walking distance and contains a useful range of produce. Fresh local produce is usually available from small traders outside of the supermarket.
  • Farmer Joe's, in Fugalei is a bit further along and has a large produce market opposite. This is definitely worth a trek if you have an easy way of getting there (bicycle, etc) or take a taxi. The range is better than other supermarkets in Apia and prices are lower, it's also the only supermarket open all day on Sundays.
  • Chan Mow in the center of Apia has a small range of items.
  • Lucky Foodtown on Vaea Street opposite Ace Hardware has slightly higher prices but has a range of imported and speciality items not found elsewhere. e.g. I was able to find both Vegemite and untoasted muesli there, whereas it wasn't available anywhere else in Apia.

Eateries

There are several eateries near the marina, around central Apia and all over Samoa. I am yet to find one that does not serve a good meal at a reasonable price. The Edge bar nearest the marina does decent food but also there are 2 or 3 cafes and restaurants across the road that are just as good if not better in terms of food quality and price.

Nearest the marina for best food, try:

  • Annabelle Inn, opposite the marina. Run by the Grey family, formerly of Aggie Grey's (which has been taken over by the Sheraton group and is currently closed for refurbishment) does good meals at a reasonable price.
  • The Gourmet Fish Cafe, despite the presumptive name and the ordinary looking interior, the fish and chips here are good quality for a reasonable price.
  • Ooh La La Ice Cream Bar does all day ice cream service including local and imported varieties. 2 nights per week they have a restaurant and FiaFia (fire knife) show which is worth catching.

Further from the marina, Bistro Tatau does by far and away the best food in Apia. Despite that it's more expensive than elsewhere in Apia the prices are in fact quite reasonable by Australian/NZ café standards and the food is superb.

Things to look out for include trying a local Samoan feast -- check out the specials boards at various establishments around town, and a small (and free) Samoan barbecue lunch is served after the Samoan culture tour which runs twice per week at the cultural centre in town, next to the tourism information centre.

Internet/WiFi

There are two main 3G/4G phone carriers in Apia, those being Bluesky and Digicel. Both have offices in the center of town. I found that the coverage was about the same with Digicel having slightly cheaper internet rates. Data on a 3G plan is typically prepaid on a per MB basis, the top rate was around 100 tala for 4G of data.

Bluesky also operate a number of Bluezone branded wifi hotspots around town, with prices around 10 tala per hour, including one quite close to the marina (in one of the nearby bars). With an appropriate antenna it may be possible to use this connection in the marina.

Laundry

There are two laundry services on Matautu Street, the same street as Frankie's supermarket. Mine's Laundry Service, which is the furthest one from the marina, opposite Frankie's supermarket, had the better prices and service.

Motorbike & Car Rentals

Do not rent a vehicle from Funway Rentals, near the marina, as they charge exhorbitant extra fees on returning a vehicle. Slightly further from the marina is Juliana's car hire which offers better prices and service.

Despite some time searching, we were unable to find anywhere to rent motorbikes or scooters in Samoa. Some distance from Apia (an hour's drive, or about 3km past the ferry terminal) we found the one and only bicycle hire place in Samoa, Bike Samoa. Cost was 280 tala for a 7 day rental.

Garbage Disposal

There are garbage disposal bins outside the marina, but garbage brought in from overseas must be taken to the quarantine office (north of the marina, as the security guard for directions), and disposed of there at a fee of 2.30 tala per bag.

Transportation

There are many taxis around Apia. They are cheap but do not use meters -- negotiate a price on entering the taxi.

Faleolo International Airport has regular flights to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and connecting flights to other places. There is also a smaller domestic airport with shuttle flights to American Samoa.

Friends

Apart from the helpful staff at the harbour master's office, for marine services you are very much on your own in Samoa.

Taxi drivers out the front of the Apia marina as well as security guards can often be relied on for accurate information about where to obtain fuel, gas refills, etc, around Apia, and will assist you with transport for a fee.

Forums

See Samoa.

Links

References & Publications

See Samoa

Comments

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