Apia, Upolo, Samoa

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The remote Polynesian nation of Samoa, surrounded by dragonfly-bright seas, boasts a dramatic volcanic landscape with vibrant green jungles. The country has two major landmasses: Upolu, the most populous of the Samoan islands, and Savai'i, the third-largest Polynesian island. Samoa's capital, Apia, sits midway along Upolu's north coast. This sprawling metropolitan area features a waterfront promenade and Beach Road, an avenue curving along the harbor where the Royal Samoa Police Band marches and hoists the national flag at Government House on weekday mornings. Check out their sharp ensembles, which feature navy lavalava (kilts) and robin's-egg-blue dress shirts. Adventurers will want to make a splash at Palolo Deep National Marine Reserve near Apia harbor, while bookworms make a beeline to the home and grave of Robert Louis Stevenson. But perhaps the best way to experience fa'a Samoa (the Samoan Way) is by visiting the small villages scattered throughout the two islands. Here, you'll see locals still living in traditional fales—round thatched homes with no walls, all the better to enjoy the ocean breeze—and cooking on umus, "ovens" of hot stones placed in shallow holes in the ground.

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