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Snorkelling in Samoa with Turtles

Snorkelling in Samoa gives you the opportunity to swim with turtles in amongst beautiful coral reefs and in warm crystal clear water. What more do you need?

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We love the water. Heck, it was the reason we decided to go Snorkelling in Samoa in the first place. We envisioned spending our mornings waking to the sounds of the surf pounding on the shallow reefs. Donning our hard bottomed reef-booties and heading out for a quick surf in Samoa before breakfast. Free-diving in the tranquil sea for hours as the hot summer sun beat down upon our backs.

Fortunately, we were not disappointed.

Our traditional Samoan accommodation – Beach Fale literally on the beach

Snorkelling in Samoa

One of the main reasons I wanted to go snorkelling in Samoa was to swim with turtles. Ever since we had first seen a turtle when I was just 7 years old at Plantation Island in Fiji, I have wanted to see them again.

In fact, even one of my bucket list items is to go volunteer to help with the turtles breeding somewhere like Greece.

So one blazing hot afternoon, the South Pacific Ocean embraced our skin with it’s warmth as we duck-waddled into the water off the beach in front of our Fale (there is no glamorous way to walk in flippers). The sand puffing up between our feet with each step as we eased our way in to the deeper water.

I tweaked the mask strap one last time so that it wouldn’t let in any water to disrupt my view and took the plunge face first.

The bubbles slowly evaporated around my lens to reveal the fish re-emerging from their hurried hiding places between the various outcrops once they realised this extremely pasty white body was no danger to them.

But the colours compared to my translucent body was amazing.

Oh, the colours! Reds, Blues, Yellows, Greens and every other imaginable colour of the rainbow were littered across the ocean floor.

With a few deep breaths and two swift kicks I let the current settle around me as I drifted calmly in to the main channel of the bay. Everywhere we looked the fish were carrying about their business. It always makes me wonder if the ocean life really is like Finding Nemo with every fish going about their daily rituals just as we do on dry land.

The sunlight filtered through the surface creating an eerie glow the deeper you swam. Fish parted before us like the Red Sea in front of Moses.

And then came a muffled cry. “Muuurrrtttllleeeeesss”. I lifted my head above the calm surface. Water ran from my ears, still blocked with the salt water from the last descent.

What?!”

“TURTLE’S!!!!”

In just our first snorkelling in Samoa adventure, we had spotted turtles. And it was them. Not just one lazy little turtle but three. All slowly stroking their way across the width of the channel totally ignoring our delighted girly squeals from the surface (not from me of course…)

A little bit shy hiding under the rock

Their mottled green and brown armour plated shells blended in perfectly with the surrounding rocks and reef. The little heads were on a constant swivel as they surveyed their habitat with wary eyes watching out for fishermen who are still allowed to catch them.

As a side note, these same fishermen have quickly realised that the money they can earn from turtles as a tourist attraction far outweighs the money they gain from catching them so fortunately this is a rapidly declining business.

The turtles four hinged flippers protruded from their shells and cut through the water effortlessly as they glided across the lagoon. We continued to float on the surface as they gracefully moved about below us before I decided to investigate getting closer. I took one last breath of fresh air and duck-dived below the surface to sneak up on them from behind. Moving like a stealth submarine I suddenly realised that I was getting closer and closer.

My arms stretched away in front of me as I approached. 30 feet, 20 feet, 10 feet.

POW!

It was like a fire-bolt had shot from their behinds.

With one swift stroke they were off. And even though I had been a competitive swimmer in my teens there was no way I could keep up with them when they realised my intentions. I retreated to the surface huffing and puffing from my brief moment of exertion as they disappeared into the gloom.

Fortunately for us it wouldn’t be our last encounter with the turtles while snorkelling in Samoa.

We spotted others at least once a day as we cruised the sea in front of our own Fale as well as in different locations around the Island of Upolu. It probably helps that we have been water babies our entire lives and are confident enough to venture out further and deeper than most other tourists are willing to go and that we would spend upwards of 3 hours at a time free-diving from the beach. But on many occasions we would only be metres from the shoreline when we would spot turtles lounging in the shallows.

With all the excitement and again with the girly squeals, the only two I managed to get decent photographs of were hiding under rocks on separate occasions. Only venturing out when they needed to head to the surface for a breath of fresh air like ourselves.

It took me back to that one day over 15 years ago on the beach in Fiji when I spotted my first turtle. That sheer joy of floating in the crystal clear water with just the sea, sun and sea-life easing all our worries.

Perfection.

Have you had any similar experiences with wildlife that you had been “just dying” to see and were lucky enough to fulfil those dreams? Leave us a comment because we want to hear about it below!

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Kate

    October 3, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    First of all, wow what an amazing experience! I’ve been lucky enough to swim with turtles in the Bahamas and off the Yucatan Peninsula, but your location is simply stunning.

    A similar “wow I’m really doing this moment” was when I jumped in with a school of about 1,000 common dolphin approximately a mile off the coast of Catalina Island (one of the California Channel Islands) when I was 14. The water was a deep blue color and as far as I could see down and to either side there were dolphins, swimming through the rays of sunlight. It was incredible.

    If you don’t mind my asking, where in New Zealand are you from? I spent last semester there for a study abroad program through my college and absolutely fell in love with the country. What a spectacular place it is =)

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      October 3, 2011 at 9:53 AM

      You definitely have to get over to Samoa Kate. Was fantastic. Hopefully we will have the chance to return or at least find some other amazing spots too.

      I love snorkelling with dolphins. Its amazing how quickly they swim past you just being curious. We used to see them a lot when we were off the Coromandel Peninsula in NZ if we were going out on our boat. Awesome experiences.

      Don’t mind you asking at all. I am from Mount Maunganui / Tauranga originally and Adela is from Wellington. Where did you study? Where are you now?

  2. Kate

    October 3, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    I was studying at the University of Auckland, so most of my time was spent around the city… I did manage to get down to Matamata and the Shire, Waitomo Caves, Raglan, and Rotorua though, as well as go from Queenstown to Christchurch via Stray bus. Did my bungee jumping at Kawarau Bridge =) Also spent 4 days out at Stewart Island, which was so relaxing and beautiful. Not that all of NZ isn’t… haha.

    I’m back at my home uni now, in Rhode Island. The whole experience feels a little surreal, which is probably a feeling you’re used to, traveling around as much as you do. It’s pretty awesome what you and Adela are doing – I’m jealous!

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      October 4, 2011 at 7:28 AM

      I love Lord of the Rings yet I have never done any of the tours. Its one of those things that if its in your own backyard then you never visit it.
      We love the States especially the East Coast area but never got to head out to Rhode Island during our 18,000 km road trip across Canada and USA. Will have to head back sometime.

  3. Kate

    October 5, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    Haha yeah know what you mean about the whole backyard thing. Did you make it into Michigan by any chance when you were in the US? I’m actually from the Upper Peninsula…only 5 hours away from Canada and yet I didn’t go there until the summer before my freshman year of college.

    • Cole and Adela (fourjandals)

      October 5, 2011 at 11:44 AM

      Not through Michigan unfortunately. We had so much to do and no where near enough time to do it. Will need to come back sometime to visit all the places we missed out on!

  4. Kate

    October 6, 2011 at 3:27 AM

    Sounds like a plan! I plan on going back to NZ when I have more time and a lot more money. Haha. And when I’ve gotten used to driving on the wrong side of the road! Lol.

  5. dtravelsround

    April 11, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    WOW! These are amazing!!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 11, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      Thanks! It was by far one of the coolest experiences ever.

  6. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    April 11, 2012 at 5:14 AM

    What an incredible experience! I can think of quite a few reasons I’d enjoy being in Samoa, but this pretty much tops them all! Thank you — this gives me extra motivation to get that waterproof digital camera I’ve been wanting 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      April 11, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      I was lucky we managed to salvage these photos after my waterproof camera leaked on the last day! Extremely lucky. Hope you visit soon Ellen 😉

  7. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    April 12, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    This sounds amazing. I love sea turtles. They look like cute old men. Really trying to visit Samoa as soon as possible!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 13, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      We would love to go back to Samoa! The warm and clear waters were fantastic. Plus they had excellent surfing nearby too.

  8. Ali

    April 26, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    I love snorkeling! Those turtles look so cute!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 27, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      We were really lucky to see them nearly every day Ali. They were amazing.

  9. Amanda

    May 6, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    That sounds so awesome! I’ve always wanted to snorkel with sea turtles. I tried in Hawaii, but didn’t see any. Was still very cool though!

    • Cole Burmester

      May 7, 2012 at 9:33 AM

      We were just really lucky in Samoa that they seemed to be everywhere! Every time we went for a snorkel we would see some. Maybe you need a trip down there Amanda 🙂

      • Louise hannagan

        March 5, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        Hi is there a particular beach we should go to to see these amazing turtles? We are hoping to head to savai’i,Samoa in july

        • Cole Burmester

          March 5, 2013 at 10:28 AM

          Hey Louise.
          Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment! We stayed at the bottom of Upolu Island near the village of Maninoa and this is where we did most of our snorkelling. However, my parents have stayed on Savai’i in the past and seen turtles there when they were snorkelling so I am sure your chances will be great!
          Enjoy your travels and please let us know how it goes 🙂
          Cheers,
          Cole

  10. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    May 19, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    There are several creatures I’d love to swim with turtles being included. Another is a whale shark…

    • Cole Burmester

      May 20, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      Oh man I would love to swim with a whale shark Mary! My parents are off to Tonga this year to do it and I am so jealous!

  11. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    August 16, 2012 at 5:42 PM

    This is super cool, you guys! I haven’t had any “oh my god” moments with wildlife yet (although I’m always excited whenever I see squirrels…does that count?) but I plan to next year on safari in Africa. I love turtles – they’re like modern day dinosaurs to me, plus Finding Nemo has taught us that they’re all super cool-slash-huggable.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 17, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Haha we were stoked to see squirrels the first time in Canada as well. After seeing them everywhere you kinda get over them. Although it is nice to see them run through the park in Edinburgh. Where on the safari are you going and who with? We want to plan one as well.

      • Tom @ Waegook Tom

        August 18, 2012 at 6:04 AM

        Planning on going to Zambia next August/September with Jackalberry Safaris. Check them out, Zambia isn’t as big as, say, Kenya/Tanzania/Botswana as a safari destination – remains fairly undiscovered and that means cheap prices & lots of animals! Maybe worth looking into.

        • Cole Burmester

          August 19, 2012 at 9:56 AM

          That sounds exactly what we want to do. Thanks for the recommendation Tom.

  12. Glenn

    January 26, 2016 at 9:33 AM

    Hi Cole
    Did have to go out past the reef or were they shore side. We are in Samoa now on the south coast and snorkelling every day in hope of spotting one

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Adventure Travel

Your Top Destinations For No-Contact Water Sports

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While it can be hard to stay cooped up inside throughout a beautiful summer, there are plenty of other places you head to for some fun in the sun before colder temperatures set in. The best news? If you’re an American, you don’t have to leave the continental US or mess with self-quarantining.

Lake Tahoe, California

A classic vacation spot, Lake Tahoe has it all for visitors. Great climate, little rain, a background of mountains, and one of the largest, most serene lakes in the US. This makes Tahoe not just a great place for spring break partying, but also for some amount of isolation, or at least a bit of peace and quiet. You can find yourself reflected on the water and reflect upon the world around you while out on the lake. Because of the still waters there, it is also a wonderful place for paddle boarding. In case you are looking for quality gear for water sports, you can look into Gili Sports.

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are another classic vacation destination, especially for anyone who loves water sports. The weather remains mild in North Carolina all year round (with the notable exception of hurricane season), so it makes for an outstanding destination through any season. Kitty Hawk, famous for the Wright Brothers first flight, is an outstanding destination, as well as smaller towns like Currituck. You will find slightly rougher currents out in the Atlantic Ocean. However, paddle boarding is also popular here, as is windsurfing.

New Braunfels, Texas

The city of New Braunfels has a river entirely within its limits, the Comal River. This allows for many water sports activities, with tubing as one of the most popular choices. In these times, tubing is a popular choice, as it is a great activity for families that doesn’t involve a lot of contact with strangers. New Braunfels has a huge German influence, with its largest water park named the Schlitterbahn.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Although there is a city in Florida named Venice, the city of Fort Lauderdale is often referred to confusingly as the “Venice of Florida.” This nickname was won because Fort Lauderdale has nearly as many canals as its famous Italian counterpart. Fort Lauderdale boasts 23 miles of beach coastline, but if you add in all the city’s canals and lakes, that puts it at 300 miles of coastline. Fort Lauderdale is also a magnet for yachts, so you can paddle board or kayak past boats in the harbor you’ve only dreamed of. Summers in South Florida can swelter, but there’s also a reason that old folks go down in the winter.

Seattle, Washington

Although it is a huge metropolis, Seattle also offers some of the most pristine coastline in the country. Although it gets colder in the PNW than it might get anywhere in the southeast, the climate in Seattle stays relatively mild. One advantage of Seattle over more southern spots is its glacial lakes, which offer a beauty that few islands can replicate.

Even as the summer wanes, there are so many places in the continental US that you can get out and enjoy the water.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated and they are cities on our list to visit again once the Coronavirus allows. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy and we want to change that after Coronavirus. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them to learn about while stuck at home due to Coronavirus:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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