New Year's Eve in Samoa

Lonely Planet Travel Editor Tom Hall is on a mission to discover 52 of the most awe-inspiring places to visit across the world. This week he delights in the ultimate New Year's destination - Samoa.


If you’ve had a fantastic year and don’t want to let go of it, make Samoa your port of call. This South Pacific kingdom just east of the International Date Line is the last place on earth to let go of each day and therefore the final inhabited spot to see out each year.

To get to the westernmost point of the country, leave the colourful capital of Apia on the paradise island of ‘Upolu and catch a ferry to the volcanic nugget of Savai’i. This island boasts lava fields and caves, waterfalls and rainforest and is great fun to explore.

To see the last of the year, head to the Falealupo Peninsula. This part of Samoa figures prominently in local myths and legends. As well as seeing the year out gazing at choppy seas there are forests to walk in and unusual rock formations to marvel at.

How to get to Samoa

Getting there requires a journey from New Zealand, Hawaii, Australia or Fiji and will cost around £1500 to get to from the UK.

Rather than pay this price you should look into including Samoa on a round-the-world air ticket. For not a lot extra you’ll get a lot more travel, plus a flexible ticket. On the ground costs vary from moderate to top-end – a realistic daily budget is £40 – £75 per day.

Celebrate New Year's Day in Kiribati

Alternatively, if you can’t wait for the new year to begin and want to be among the first to pop a cork or two, take a hop over the date line to Kiribati. This even more remote archipelago is the first inhabited place to see the new day, every day.

It is accessed via costly island-hopping flights from Fiji. It gets very few visitors and maintains a centuries-old traditional Polynesian lifestyle.

Planning your trip to Samoa

Start researching Samoa (not to be confused with the US territory of American Samoa) at the official Samoa Government website. The Kiribati Tourism website includes a very nice acrostic, outlining reasons to visit the archipelago.

© 2009 Lonely Planet Publications Pty Ltd