So that dude you see in most of my photos reckoned he was turning 30 this year. Gross. So I figured I'd take him far far away to distract him from his sprouting grey hair and wrinkles. I quickly decided this kid needed to be surfing his way out of his 20's. So after an old (yes Simon you're old) work mate of mine sung high praises of Samoa and a quick google image search, I locked everything in - completely without 29 year old Jordan's knowledge... #lovesasurprise. While I'm a firm believer in every birthday being epic, the big 30 is a little more special, so I set about planning my surprise. Do you know how fucking hard it is to book a tropical holiday for your favourite person and not be able to tell them for monthhhsss!? Turned out to be quite fun. Even when he was being hangry and I'm like "oooo boy if only you knew..." So I chucked together the below package and left it on our bed one day and just about cracked when it took him hours to go into our room. *GOO IINN TTHHEEERREE RRAAAHHH!!!* When he finally discovered it he was pretty confused and asked if I was serious like 20 times. Such fun.

Samoa is by far my favourite tropical island I’ve visited to date. Over the years I’ve checked out Rarotonga, Fiji, and Hawaii. While I loved the time I spent in each & they are all special in their own way, there is something so untouched and raw about Samoa that the other locations just didn’t seem to have. I suppose it really depends on your own personal experience and where you stay, but during our trip we were so amazed at the presence of their culture. Most of the population live in traditional fale’s (A Samoan house with open sides and a thatched roof) and their village/family way of life meant we always felt super safe where ever we went. Samoa is still working on drumming up their tourism after the 2009 Tsunami, so as a result it’s relatively quiet on the traveller front. More often that not, we had surf breaks, waterfalls and beaches all to ourselves.

Leading up to our trip, I was a little gutted to see the forecast promised us thunder storms every single day we were there. Turns out there’s no proper weather station on the island, so it’s just a calculated guess. Instead we were spoilt with hot sunny weather every day, and if it ever rained, it would either be at night or a 30 second passing down pour. So don’t let the weather forecast put you off this visiting this incredible place! (We travelled end of May/early June).

Our driver Tao picked us up from a very hot and crowded airport. Our flight was full with Samoans that had been fruit picking in New Zealand for 7 months and couldn’t wait to get back to their families, so you know how it goes: locals first = long ass wait for bags on one tiny conveyer belt. The ride to our resort ended up being a free tour of the island from the Tao (the man). He was delighted to learn that my Great Great Great Grandfather Leon Götz lived in Samoa managing a rubber farm after the First World War and even knew the family name! I then impressed him with the fact I have 7 siblings (he himself has 15 children) and my added ability to smash a tray of mean road side Samoan BBQ. “You just like Samoan woman!” followed by a classic Samoan crack up. The thing that we learned from Tao that I found the most astounding was how much the Samoans spend on their churches. No word of a lie, these buildings can cost them upwards of $12 million dollars!

After farewelling our new friend, it was onto the first order of business; surf. (Actually had a beer first.) With our new Aussie mates (the cuzzies are fricken everywhere we travel) we jumped on a boat out to Nuusafee island, also known as Devils Island – where I got dropped off to enjoy it’s shores alone. Or so I thought. I think it should be renamed to Hermit Island. Literally yelled “holy fuck” out loud when I noticed the thousands of shells moving across the beach. And climbing trees. Who would have thought.

Next surf spot was Salani right. A fun right hander that works on all tides directly out the front of our resort.

Back to Nuusafee Island for the arvo wave!

Then for a quick visit to Lalomanu Beach for a sunset snorkel and happy hour!

Then foNo trip to Samoa is complete without staying a night at the famous Lalomanu Beach – voted as one of the top  5 “Best Beaches” in the South Pacific, and it’s not hard to see why. We stayed in a cute little closed fale at the Taufua Beach Fales and were stoked to learn our breakfast and lunch were also included in the already super affordable price. A ridiculously stunning and relaxing place to spend a couple of days.

After our stay at Lalomanu, it was time to indulge in our beautiful beach front villa at Saletoga Sands Resort. But just had to take Jord back to Salani for a dawny surf on his birthday first! Huge thanks to Adam & Bj for making Jord’s birthday so epic! #faglegs

So you basically can’t Google Samoa without images of their beautiful Tu Sua Ocean Trench popping up. It is outrageously beautiful, and if you catch it on a good day, it looks exactly like the photos. This magical swimming hole sits on someones land, so it’s $20 tala (approx $10NZD) to enter the grounds and is well worth it. Formed by volcanic activity, the ground collapsed leaving behind this 30 meter deep hole which connects with the ocean through underground canals. You can swim out to the ocean through these passages if you’re game enough. I chose not to because: claustrophobia. Also take it easy on the ladder – it can get a little slippery!

Fuipisia Waterfall – again this is on someones land so it’s $10 tala to go and visit. A beautiful little family greets you and a woman sells beautiful hand printed lavalava’s to all their visitors. Such a cool way to support the locals and leave with a little keepsake.

On our last night we were treated to one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. Jord and I just floated around laughing the whole time.

A huge shout out to Nikon New Zealand for the lens I took all the surfing shots with. Also to Tigerlily for the beautiful clothing and swimwear! See you again soon Samoa!