Samoa had been on my wish list of places to go for 10 years already when we finally booked tickets to go there. I was worried that it would have developed too much to have retained its authentic charm, but that couldn't have been further from the truth. Development has come enough to bring some nice (small scale) hotels, but not so much that walking out of your hotel doesn't leave you wandering amongst locals, dodging pigs as you drive around the islands. We stayed on both Upolu and Savai'i islands and they are both distinctly different. Savai'i is the less developed of the two, with more obvious signs of poverty, but also has some wonderful snorkelling amongst tropical fish and beautiful corals. 

Upolu is the more developed, with roads that are sealed, and quite comfortable to drive your self. Our resort had around 40 rooms, right on the beach, and was close to the To Sua Trench which you can clamber down into for a swim.

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Kingdom of Tonga

Tonga truly lives up to its name of "the friendly islands". With 176 islands making up the group, half of them uninhabited, and even those that are inhabited being sparsely populated, it isn't hard to get off the beaten track. 

I have been keen to explore more of the Pacific Islands for a while, and a week away to Tonga  was a great excuse to avoid the cold and enjoy some Pacific hospitality. 

It seemed as though everyone I met in Tonga either had lived in New Zealand at some point, or had relatives living there. In fact with a population of only 100,000, and 40,000 living in New Zealand it is pretty easy to understand that being the case. 

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