Apia, Upolo, Samoa

A total of sixteen islands comprise the Samoas, considered to be the heart of Polynesia. It was from these islands that early Polynesians sailed to populate other Pacific Islands. Today this chain of islands is divided into two political units - the U.S. Territory of American Samoa and the independent country of Western Samoa. Much of the charm of the Samoas lies in the simple village life and the friendly people, combined with a striking landscape of soaring mountain peaks, rugged coastlines, white sandy beaches and tropical rainforests rich in flowering plants. Western Samoa consists of a total of nine islands with the two main ones, Savi'i and Upolo, separated by a narrow strait. The country's capital Apia, resembling an old South Seas port during the early trading days, perches on the north coast of Upolo. Colonial-style wooden buildings and churches line the tree-shaded main street that curves around the harbor. The primary attractions include Parliament House, the village green, Independence Monument and the former home of Robert Louis Stevenson, now the residence of Western Samoa's head of state. A trip around the island passes mile after mile of stunning landscape, interspersed with tumbling waterfalls, breathtaking views, tiny villages, and coconut and cocoa plantations.