26-Sep-2012 -- A quest to visit the "edges" of the world brought me to the South Pacific. My primary goal was to visit the 180° longitude on the Fiji Island of Taveuni.
Because it is a quite long way to the South Pacific I intended to visit more than only the Fiji Islands and added visits the Kingdom of Tonga and Samoa to my journey.
As usual I checked beforehand if any unvisited and doable Confluence Points are along the route. The one in Fiji was already visited and others were far from my intended route. The only close point would be this one, about 6 kilometres south west from the village Matautu on the Samoan Island of ʻUpolu.
On my arrival in Samoa I rented a car and explored the islands. While driving along the south coast I had a rest on the "Return to Paradise Beach". The beach is named after a 1953 movie with Gary Cooper, which was recorded here. I checked the distance on my GPS receiver to the Confluence Point 14°S 172°W, which is about 6.22 kilometres. This is nearly the shortest distance on land to the Point.
To enter the beach I had to pay a kind of entry fee of 10 Samoan Tala (about 3.60 Euros). You need to know that all land on Samoa is customary land, which belongs to the village and the villagers request a kind of entry fee. Do not expect that you get any services for the fee and from my point of view on some locations the fee is much too high, in particular if you only want to stay for a short time. During my journey on the neighboring island of Savaiʻi I made a photo stop on a nice beach and suddenly a woman appeared, armed with a bush knife and requested 10 Tala. I was only able to give her 5 Tala, because she could not change my 50 Tala bill. I was a bit shocked about the situation. In other countries if someone appears with a bush knife in his hand (and definitely not coming from field work) and requests money from you could be considered as robbery.
In contrast to this incident there was a plate at the entrance to this beach with the fees in writing so you know what to expect and the beach was really worth the money. I need to emphasize that the Samoan people (as well as the Tongans and Fijis) are very friendly, open and helpful. The locals were the most amazing and pleasant experience during my journey and I think we Europeans could learn a lot from them in these terms.
I intended to return to the village the next day, check if I could hire a boat and visit the actual Confluence Point, but due to the bad condition of my rental car and the bad roads I preferred not to "Return to Paradise" :).
Thus the only views I can offer to you are of this beautiful beach. Photos from the actual location on the sea would particular show the mighty mountains of the island.