No matter how cool you think you are as a parent, you are probably one of the last people your teenager wants to spend time with. But if you can cut their WiFi umbilical cord and get them to look up from their phones for a day or two, you can show them just how cool you really are, with a trip to Samoa.
Teenagers love nothing more than educational visits to historic monuments. Samoa's second island, Upolu was the home and final resting place for
, author of
among other novels and poems. Did you know that Samoa has only two indoor fireplaces? And that both are inside Stevenson's old home? Now you do. But teenagers can impart a few lessons of their own: I learned, for instance, that old portraits of the teller of stories, as Stevenson is known in his adopted land, are hilarious when filtered through Instagram.
Teenagers quickly get bored lying about on sunloungers ordering mocktails by the pool. They would much rather paddle a kayak for an hour or two - especially if you suggest they may see turtles. We spent a very pleasant afternoon paddling the winding arms of an estuary behind our resort - although the turtles failed to show up. If that doesn't float your boat, take a dip in the To Sua Trench, a most splendid tidal swimming hole in a 30m deep collapsed lava tube. You can apparently swim out to the ocean through a narrow tunnel but I wasn't brave enough and she didn't have her mother's permission. Or there's the walk up Mt Vaea to Stevenson's grave. The sign says it's a 45-minute walk. We assumed that meant return. Helpful hint: It means one way. But the views of Apia from the top are pretty. A swim in the Sinalei resort pool is definitely in order after that one. A lava-tube spring at Sinalei also provided exciting jumping-off-the-wharf opportunities, although if other members of tribe teenager arrive you may find yourself sent away, by way of an unsubtle filthy look, to wile away an afternoon on your own sunlounger, ordering cocktails by the pool.
After all that exercise, a teenager and her mum need a massage. We each had one, both of us almost dozing off while warm hands and scented oil made up for the rigours of kayaking and swimming and walking and diving and snorkelling. And the Sinalei resort is geared towards adults so you won't have other people's shrieking hordes around the pool.
4: How the other half live
Travel broadens the mind but also opens the heart: seeing the village of Poutasi and how it has picked itself up after the 2009 tsunami and continues to work for the betterment of all its people is a sobering insight for a teenager whose biggest problem is how to maintain a social media presence. The village has established a garden that grows vegetables to sell at resorts and all profits come back to the village. Arts and crafts are made and sold and the profits, you guessed it, come back to the village. My daughter will return here shortly to volunteer in the village. And I couldn't be more proud.
5: Primary colours
Samoa is so lovely your eyes just about hurt under the onslaught of all that vividness. God was in his Matisse phase when he created Samoa: the blues are unbelievably deep, the reds achingly vibrant and the yellows and oranges shriek for attention.