The Covid19 Forced Rest Upon Samoa’s Beach Fale Industry


Fales with thatched roofing, blue tarpaulin as wavy windows, and poumuli posts; lined along the armful Lalomanu beach like forgotten soldiers of some oceanic war about the meaning of Sundays and Covid19.

Since the shut down, the silky white beach has rested from plenty footprints.

Tafua Beach Fales, Lalomanu.

Empty as the air, the only sounds are the thrashing waves, the rustled leaves and a trying sound speaker from a tired watchman.

It looks as abandoned as it did after the wretched tsunami of 2009. But now, for several months, it’s ghostly silence hangs on the head of Covid19 and its origins, whomever they may be.

Because of the beach, the village has somehow changed. People who used to work in the beach fales have gone to their plantations for survival. The owners, sit quiet on the decking to watch the waves. There’s some activity from locals in Apia, but the Sunday no swimming rule makes them think twice.

The beach fales are rooted in the village, that is, village-owned. It’s a family sort of affair. Everyone who is part of it, is from the village, or villages nearby.

When the beach is busy, you can expect the octopus and fishes of the reef to be stirred. The fishermen’s catches nearby are part of a beach fale meal. The octopus seller is my favorite. He likes to come to the office when my father is working because our dad is the “yes” guy. So when we have too much octopus, we know the octopus seller outsmarted us again. 

Bananas, taro and pigs from the villagers became a competitive market. It was not hard to find any family in Aleipata with pigs to sell us at last minute notice. The abundance of misiluki bananas was a sign that business was booming on the beach. Since the shut down, I imagine that the plenty bananas are riping and wasting their ssweetness.

But there’s something to be said about Covid19 and its impact on the beach fales. While we are forced to change our ways to keep safe and stay afloat, the ocean looks cleaner than ever. Last year, I had noticed that the sea was frothy. And what was once a clear blue white bottom sea, seemed foggy. Today, when you wake up to the sun through your fale, you can see ocean as blue and as crystal clear as the sky above it.

They seem to be one if we turn the earth upside down.

Perhaps the rest for tourism has brought us closer to our surroundings.

We are of course the island of paradise. It seems that, the closer we get to our pristine surroundings, the truer we become as people under the sun.

Have a blessed Holiday Samoa. Let’s be grateful despite our fears. Let’s be faithful despite Covid19 lurking.

Lumepa Hald