Charles Netzler is a Samoan local who knows a thing or two about how to experience the best of Samoa’s island life. As a Wedding Photographer and passionate explorer, Charles has the opportunity to visit many beautiful resorts and locations right across the country.
We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Charles, discussing what makes Samoa such a beautiful and unique place to visit. From the pristine beaches, to the glistening waterfalls, to the delicious food and the warm-hearted Samoan people – there is so much to discover in this serene and spirited destination. Check out our insiders guide to Samoa below.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where did you grow up and what inspired your love of travel and photography?
My name is Charles Netzler. I grew up in Samoa and have always enjoyed being around the ocean. As a teenager I would borrow my older brothers camera but at the time photoshop was more of a passion than actual photography. It wasn’t until university where I started to get into landscape photography and photograph rocky terrain as opposed to sandy beaches.
How would you describe the people and culture of Samoa?
Samoa’s culture is all about respect and the people of Samoa are full of pride. Living in Samoa is great for landscape photographers and those that enjoy being in the ocean but it can feel like a bubble after extended periods. It’s good to get out to refresh yourself every now and then.
Do you get to explore much of Samoa through your work as a Wedding Photographer?
Most of my exploring comes in my own personal time. Wedding photography does get me to the resorts of Samoa as most of the venues are shot in a resort. I can’t say I have one favourite wedding but I love working for small weddings since everyone feels a lot less stressed.
We can take our time to get great shots instead of just going through a check-list to try to get the shots the couple wants.
What are your favourite places in Samoa?
Vavau is just beautiful and still feels untouched. Matareva is also a beautiful beach with a lively coral ecosystem and there are beach huts to sleep in. Afu Aa’u Waterfall is also one of those places you could sit around for hours either swimming or just watching the water fall from the rocks.
Do you know of any secret spots that not many tourists visit?
There are so many secret spots that I could mention in this article but the locals wouldn’t be happy with me if I did that. Nevertheless, if anyone wants to travel to Samoa then they can always message me on Instagram and I can give them all the details there.
What is the best way to experience the culture of Samoa?
You’ve got to see a cultural show also known as a Fiafia Show. This show highlights Samoan food prep, Samoan dancing also known as Siva and traditional Samoan clothing attire.
What is the food like in Samoa?
Samoan food has a lot of seafood, coconut and starches. The Samoan cooking method aka Umu is cooked in the ground with hot rocks and the food is covered in leaves to slow cook over a few hours. My favourite dish is called Oka which is fresh raw fish soaked in coconut cream along with fresh vegetables.
Where do you recommend people stay when they visit Samoa?
Lynn’s Getaway in Apia is a great place to start. They offer tours, great accommodation and food. During different seasons they have guests that are also looking to travel around the island so if you want to meet people to travel with then it’s a good option.
As I mentioned before Matareva is also a great place to be and also Lalomanu Beach which is Samoa’s most popular beach. Resorts are quite expensive so I would recommend looking into the kind of accommodation that suits your needs.
Insiders guide to Samoa: Could you provide a couple of key tips for Samoa travel?
Samoa is a very humbling location to travel to. It’s still developing so you really have to keep an open mind to not having the same luxuries as overseas. For example, the Internet can be awful at times, the power might go off randomly, dogs and roosters can wake you up during the early hours of the morning and it’s definitely not a shopping location.
It’s a great place to reconnect with yourself, relax or even learn how to relax. You can go on an adventure if you want or you can laze on the beach. If you’re the type of traveller that likes to get the local experience then definitely get in touch with a local and they’ll be able to give you some tips.
Feel free to message me if you need any advice or a more detailed insiders guide on things to do or where to stay in Samoa.