Destination Highlight: Vailima

Samoa isn’t all beaches, tropical forests  and waterfalls. It has a vibrant history too. One if the most famous “palagis” – pronounced palangi, to have made Samoa his home  was, of course, Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of great novels like Robinson Crusoe and Kidnapped.

Stevenson suffered from ill health and chose our fiar islands as aperfect antidote to the cold and damp of his native Scotland. H

Vailima is the name of a village about four kilometers south of Apia, the capital of Samoa. The population is 1,462 (2006 census). Vailima is part of the electoral political district Tuamasaga.[1]

The village is most known as the location of the last residence of Robert Louis Stevenson, named ‘Villa Vailima’. The estate has had a varied past with it functioning further as the residence for the governor of German Samoa, the administrator of the New Zealand mandatory authority and the Samoan head of state. It is now a museum in honour of Stevenson and has been substantially restored.

The name Vailima means “water in the hand”, according to an old Samoan tale. A woman gave some water (vai) in her hand (lima) to help her thirsty companion. A widely quoted misinterpretation states that the name means “five waters”, as the word “lima” means both ‘hand’ and “five” in Samoan.[2]

Stevenson is buried in a tomb on Mount Vaea overlooking Vailima. He had two wishes for his burial, to be buried on the top of Mt Vaea and to be buried with his boots on as he used those boots to walk on the Samoan lands.

Vailima is also the name of the beer made by the only brewery in Samoa

About xplorer

Strategist, change agent, thinker, and as often as possible a heretic. My passion helping others "make sense of their world" then find ways of working collaboratively to make it a better place in which to flourish.


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