Samoa maybe little known as a tourist destination, at least in comparison to its neighbour Fiji, but it has stunning scenery and prices are some of the lowest in the South Pacific making it perfect for anyone on their gap year. Taufua Beach Fales is as close to paradise as you can get on a gap year budget. Sleeping in traditional open Samoan fales (wooden platforms on the beach) you wake up to the turqoise sea lapping metres from your fale. Food at Taufua is excellent with meals varying daily and including some excellent fresh fish. Don't forget to sample the excellent cocktails during happy hour! The vibe here is really relaxed and everyone is friendly. It is full of backpackers from all parts of the world and everyone is here to relax, do some snorkelling and have a good time.
Some people on their gap year come to the Lalomanu area to help reconstruct it after the devastating tsunami in 2009. The whole of Taufua Beach Fales was wiped out. Construction work continues and people wishing to give something back to the community are most welcome there.
Take the public bus (around £1) for the three hour trip from the airport to the beach fales. These buses are old Bedford trucks with no windows and wooden benches. It is definitely an experience and really get's you settled in to 'Samoan Time'.
This is a beautiful 'rifugio' located high up in the Italian Alps which has changed little since it was first opened in 1878. It is accessed by a short ski path running just off the piste itself. But this characterful restaurant is a little known gem in the area, favoured by experienced Italian skiers and climbers (situated just beneath Mt.Rosa). The cooking is simple, hearty and traditional and the owners are always friendly, plus their wine cellar is excellent. The Rifugio provides rooms which are traditional and unpretentious with wooden cladding, candles and quilts. A really beautiful little secret.
Rifugio Guglielmina, 2880mts up, between Alagna and Gressoney valleys,
Taken from their website:
The refuge is located at the foot of the Monte Rosa south wall. We suggest you to use the Monte Rosa sky lifts starting from Alagna Valsesia up to Passo dei Salati at 2900m. From there you reach the refuge following an easy path (or by skiing during the winter season) in about 15 minutes.
Google map: tinyurl.com/yzby4ej
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