People are one of the main reasons Charlie and her sister, Katie Wilkinson keep returning to Samoa.
The first trip was with their dad about six years ago and after that it was almost after every two years. This trip would make it their fourth time to the island.
This time they are in Samoa with their family, a total of 30 people. It was a perfect time for them to spend time together as a family.
Katie lives in Auckland and brought her four month old daughter with her while Charlie lives in Wellington.
“We came probably every second year to Samoa,” Katie said to the Dear Tourist team.
“I think what makes us return is the warmth and the people are really lovely. It is very easy especially with the kids. It’s a short flight from New Zealand. They love kids here.
“It is a nice and warm place to come.”
Charlie told the Dear Tourist team that it is the people that makes them return.
“I think the people and just being in the middle of the culture is what makes the value of a place. There would be nothing worse than going somewhere and feeling like an outsider.
“I feel the Samoans are really outgoing and help you to bring the culture nearer. They helped us out with the language and the fiafia night for example.”
The sisters couldn’t help but highlight the changes they’ve noticed since they last came.
“There are probably more hotels here and more options to do, I guess,” Katie said.
“Where the tsunami was, it is good now. I guess it takes a longer time to fix the infrastructure here then for example in Fiji or even New Zealand,” Charlie added.
“I don’t think there is anything missing here because it is a balance between where you can go and explore. The options are there and you still have the opportunity to relax in the resort.
“Like we are here to spend time as a family, like our family is big in doing things together. Some of us took the option today (yesterday) to go out to explore, but my sister and I, we wanted to relax and look after Chloe. It is easy here to hire a car and get the Samoan license.”
Katie added: “I think it is pretty good because I have been to quite a few islands and it depends on where you go. In Fiji for example, it is different and for me I think it is easier here as a tourist.”
“Compared to Fiji, which is pretty much full of resorts, there is almost a lack of authenticity, whereas here you can still have the resorts, but at the same time the authenticity of the town as well, which I think is really cool,” Charlie added.
“The people are really friendly, a little bit more reserved than the Fijians, but I really like the Samoan people and culture, obviously enough to get a tattoo. I think our whole family likes the Samoan culture.”
For Charlie her first stay in Samoa was worth getting a permanent reminder inked on her skin.
“I have been here when I was 16. It was after the tsunami, what we saw then was pretty crazy.
“My dad and I got matching Samoan tattoos. We had seen turtles and when we returned then we decided to get them done. My mom was not happy, but she is over it now. We really love Samoa,” she said.
“It is such a beautiful place. It is really nice and warm and I really like the natural beauty as well, the trench, the natural water.
“This is definitely not the last time we come here. I want to bring my partner and show him this nice place.
“I really like being here and want to return.”