Why go to Samoa?
Samoa is an independent Polynesian island country located in the South Pacific. It consists of the two main islands of Savai’i and Upolu.
Upolu island is more popular where you can find more hotel options and attractions. Savai’i is a bigger island but less developed with more humble accommodation options, offering a more authentic experience of Samoa.
The two smaller islands of Manono and Apolima are where locals live in a more secluded and peaceful life. There are also a few smaller uninhabited islands including the Aleipata Islands.
Samoa offers you a lesser-known paradise in the Pacific. It has beautiful lush green jungle, outstanding white sand beaches, gorgeous turquoise water, swaying coconut palms, and many waterfalls to explore.
But what really makes a trip to Samoa special is the Samoan culture and the hospitality of its small population. They have their own unique traditions that have been carried till the present day.
What languages do they speak in Samoa?
Both Samoan and English are the official languages in Samoa and are widely spoken.
But if you head to less touristy areas, you may meet people that don’t speak much English. We never experienced any trouble with communicating with locals and our hosts.
When should I visit Samoa?
The best time to go to Samoa is from April to October for optimal weather conditions. During this time, the climate is comparatively less humid and drier.
You can still enjoy water-based activities with the temperature remaining warm. Samoa's wet season begins from November and lasts until April. It's also the time for hurricane season.
However, we went in January and in three weeks we only had rain a few times throughout the day. This is something to keep in mind when you plan your activities, so you may want to have a couple extra days as reserve in case of bad weather.
The humidity was quite high too and hiking wasn’t that pleasant in the tropical climate.
Do I need a visa?
Visitors of all nationalities travelling to Samoa are exempted from obtaining an entry permit or visa if their stay is less than 60 days. Nonetheless, all visitors must follow the entry requirements:
- A valid passport for 6 months or more at the time of entry.
- Proof of a return ticket.
- A copy of a bank statement as proof of financing your trip.
- No records of deportations from other countries.
- No health problems that would put Samoan people at risk.
For more information, refer to the Samoan government's entry requirements.
Transport in Samoa
We highly recommend travelling around Samoa by local buses. It’s not just a more sustainable way to travel, but an experience in itself.
Local buses in Samoa are very unique. Their cabins are made from wood and are brightly painted, sometimes with local colours and sometimes with Western characters.
The buses can get very full and we’d heard the locals may sit on your lap if there’s no space left! We waited to see how full the bus would get and eventually all of the seats were taken and sometimes a couple of the younger people would sit on the laps of others.
Make sure you pack light as there isn’t a lot of space in the bus for your luggage. We always managed to squeeze our suitcase in the back under the bench seats.
There are no bus schedules as such, but there are bus stops where they stop regularly depending where you are heading.
Our whole itinerary is mainly based on travel by local bus. But if you head to Savai’i, you probably want to hire a car for at least two days to see all the attractions. Savaii is less populated, so the buses there don’t go as frequently and may not go to the places you need to go.
Renting a car in Samoa is quite pricey and you won’t find electric vehicles. We also recommend booking your car in advance as we found out the smaller and more budget friendly options were booked weeks in advance.
For convenience we had to take a taxi a couple of times, and we highly recommend asking your host to organise you a taxi and ask for the price in advance as we found the taxis can be quite expensive. You can also hire a local taxi driver for a day for a flat fee that you need to negotiate in advance.
Money and connectivity in Samoa
The local currency is Samoan tala (WST). It's still very much a cash society in Samoa. You need to ensure you are always carrying some with you for shopping and paying for attractions, accommodation and transport.
ATMs are available in Samoa, but only in urban areas. It is recommended to top up with cash whenever you pass a bank or ATM to avoid running out of money.
You will be guaranteed to find ATMs in Apia, Salelologa and at the airport. Check out this page for the full list of banks and ATMs.
Wi-Fi is accessible for guests at some restaurants and hotels in Apia, most commonly in resorts. Some hotels also offer pay-by-the minute hotspots that we found quite pricey.
If you are staying in fales, most likely you will not have access to wi-fi. So if you need to be connected to the internet, you are better off purchasing a SIM card with lots of data.
There are two carriers to choose from - Digicel and Vodafone. We’d used Digicel in Vanuatu with mixed success and our research indicated Vodafane would be a good choice.
We found the Vodafone office after exiting the airport to the right. They offered a ‘tourist SIM’ plan with a decent amount of data, calls and text. But we ended up asking for a new SIM and choosing our own plan as we needed more data.
Our itinerary for travelling in Samoa for two weeks
Day 1 - Arrival in Samoa
We flew from New Zealand into Faleolo International Airport located near the capital Apia at night. If possible, it would be easier if you arrive earlier in the day to allow enough time to get into town safely.
There were a number of taxi drivers who were asking if we needed their services. We’d made the mistake of not organising a transfer with our first accommodation near Apia.
The first taxi driver who approached us wanted 150 WST to take us to our hotel, which according to Google Maps was about 35 minutes away.
Both the taxi driver and the Vodafone staff explained that it would take longer than that because of the poor roads. We eventually negotiated the taxi driver down to 130 WST.
After travelling through the villages near the airport, we made it onto the road leading to our accommodation at Dave Parker’s Eco Lodge. The taxi driver complained about the road, pointing out how difficult it was to drive on.
Apart from a steep section towards the end, it really wasn’t that bad. It was still paved and had minimal potholes to avoid. We found out later that Dave Parker’s could have organised a transfer for us, which would have only cost us around 90 WST.
So definitely learn from our mistakes and organise a transfer beforehand when possible! Or at least know what a decent taxi driver should be charging for your journey.
Because we’d arrived late at night and had no idea what people were charging, we were at the mercy of the taxi drivers who were there at the time. Once someone latched onto us, it was also impossible to check the price with others as he was telling them to go away.
Dave Parker’s Eco Lodge is a simple accommodation located in the mountains near Apia. If you want to wake up to singing birds and a beautiful jungle, this is your place. They provide free daily shuttles to Apia that you can take to explore the city.
You can learn more details about this and other sustainable accommodation in Samoa by reading our article.
If you arrive early
If you arrive earlier in the day, we’d recommend visiting the Museum of Samoa to learn about Samoan history and culture. The entrance is free but you are welcome to leave a donation.
You may also want to have lunch at one of the vegan-friendly restaurants in Apia.
Depending on what day of the week you arrive, you can immerse yourself in fiafia, a traditional Samoan cultural show that includes dancing, singing, music, and traditional cooking styles.
Ask your hotel to assist you and find out where you can go. Different resorts and restaurants hold it on different days of the week.
Read our guide to local food and restaurants that offer plant-based meals and fiafia nights.
Day 2 - exploring Apia
Start your day with a healthy plant-based breakfast at RiVaiv Cafe & Tumeric Bar.
You can also visit their sister restaurant, Kure Juice Bar. Both have a great selection of vegan and vegetarian options as well as vegan shakes. Try their koko nut smoothie made with koko Samoa and almond milk.
After breakfast, head to the Visitor Information Fale, which is located on Main Beach Road near all the government offices in the centre of Apia. ‘Fale’ simply means house in Samoan.
This is a great place to become oriented when you first arrive in Samoa. They have free maps and guides and are able to provide you with up-to-date information on accommodation, rental cars and attractions.
They are even happy to contact providers on your behalf to make general enquiries or bookings for you. They also sell tickets to the Samoa Cultural Village.
Samoa Cultural Village
For only 10 WST per person, you can experience cultural activities and a taste of ‘Fa’a Samoa’, the Samoan Way, at the Samoa Cultural Village.
The Samoan Way guides Samoan life and how they are meant to act to their elders, family, community and environment in the over 362 no’u (villages) around Samoa.
This way includes a strong focus on being welcoming to guests which makes them very friendly to tourists. There is an expectation that tourists will observe and respect their local customs in return.
It should also be mentioned at this point that religion plays a strong role in Samoan life, with churches of multi-Christian denominations found in most villages. Often the biggest building in the village will be the church.
They also take the edict to not work on Sundays seriously. Most places will close on Sundays with families attending church in the morning before having lunch together (known as ‘toanai’) and relaxing in the afternoon.
Read more about our experience at the Samoa Cultural Village.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Across the road from the Cultural Village and Visitor Information Fale is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. It dominates the skyline on Main Beach Road and is hard to miss.
As mentioned above, religion plays an important part in Samoan life and this impressive building is a strong representation of its importance.
The building is in a typical cathedral shape with stained glass windows adorning its exterior. We definitely recommend going inside the church to admire its interior as well.
It’s here that you’ll realise they have actually mixed Western and local architecture when constructing the church. The ceiling is dominated by wood carvings in traditional Samoan style.
The walls are adorned with Western religious motifs and stained-glass windows. Above the altar there is a dome with an impressive mural running around the inside of it (although we noticed that the wooden panels inside the dome are starting to fray).
We’re not religious, but it was still awe inspiring to observe the majestic design.
Our next stop in town was at Fugalei Market, also known as Marketi Fau, the main market in Apia. It’s located between Fagalei and Saleufi streets in the middle of town. There are vendors selling fresh fruit, vegetables, snacks and other goods, including tobacco!
We grabbed a couple of large coconuts that had been kept cool in an esky to refresh ourselves. We also bought some bananas and a pineapple for breakfast the next morning.
There were also stalls selling souvenirs including baskets, wood carvings, clothes and other bits and pieces that you can take home to remember Samoa or give as gifts. Make sure you get yourself a lava lava (traditional sarong). Both men and women in Samoa need to cover their legs when in public, specially in smaller villages.
It’s definitely worth checking out Fugalei Market at least once and is the best place to buy fresh fruit and vegetables when needed.
Later we learned that there used to be a flea market called Savalalo Market, where Samoans were selling their handcrafted goods and souvenirs. Unfortunately, they had a fire in recent years and had to temporarily move it to Fugalei Market. That’s why today you will see the fresh produce market joined together with the flea market.
Day 3 - Palolo Deep Marine Reserve and Papaseea Sliding Rocks
Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
We opted to walk for about 30 minutes to get to Palolo Deep Marine Reserve along Main Beach Road to see more of the town and the wharves.
You will see a turn off for the reserve on Main Beach Road around the corner from the wharves and Customs Department. A village surrounds the marine reserve and manages its entry. After walking down the driveway you will come to a small fale where they have a reception desk.
It’s here that you pay the entrance fee of 5 WST per person. You can also hire some snorkel gear from them if needed. We were shown where the reefs are located and where a deep hole is located indicated by a floating white marker.
We were also advised that we could use the open beach fale to store our gear. There are change rooms and an outdoor shower that can be used by guests when needed.
It was a bit windy when we went, so the water was choppy. There was also a fairly strong current once we had swam out from the shore. But there was a great amount of coral to explore that had a good variety of sea life.
We had gone more to the left initially towards the marker but then realised there was some amazing coral more to the right over a wide area as well. We’d arrived at high tide, so we were able to swim above all this coral before reaching the marker.
If you go at low tide, you may be able to navigate through a small channel between the coral to reach the hole. It was definitely worth visiting and is an amazing place for snorkelling so close to Apia.
Papaseea Sliding Rocks
After lunch it was time to head to Papaseea Sliding Rocks to cool down in some fresh spring water. There are a series of waterfalls and rock pools to relax and enjoy sliding down.
Read more about how to get there and our experience at Papaseea Sliding Rocks.
Day 4 - Travel East to Maninoa
It was time to experience a different part of Samoa. We were informed by the locals that the buses heading east are located at the Old Apia Market (flea market) located on Mulinu’u Road. There were buses everywhere and we tried to make sense of the names on the front of the buses to work out which one would be the correct one to take.
A vendor selling drinks and snacks to the waiting bus passengers noticed us and asked us where we needed to go. He led us to one of the buses in a waiting area. We bought some fresh lemonade from him as a way of saying thank you.
A local on the bus told us to come on and a young man helped us to store our suitcase at the back of the bus under the bench seat.
We realised later that he was assisting the bus driver with helping the passengers. We stored one of our backpacks under the seat in front of us and the other one between our legs.
On the way out of town, the bus stopped at a supermarket for everyone to do some shopping. Locals came back on with bags of rice and other groceries, while the lucky kids also scored some ice cream.
We made our way towards our destination. Passengers would pull a cord to let the driver know when they want to get off.
We’d noticed marked bus stops on our previous bus journey through Apia to Papaseea Sliding Rocks, but it seemed more random once we left Apia where the bus would stop for people.
Friendly locals made conversation with us and made sure that we got off at the correct stop for our next stay.
It turned out that we needed to check in at Maninoa Beach Club. If you look up this accommodation on Google Maps, it’s best to use this name as the location is more accurate and they have a website with a link to their Airbnb listing.
They provide both open beach fales and beach cabins that you can stay in overnight or just come and enjoy them for a day. We met a few locals that lived in Apia and came to Maninoa Beach Club just to spend a day by the ocean.
If you like to wake up to the sea breeze and see the ocean from your room, you definitely want to stay here. Upgrade to a cabin for more comfort compared to the fales.
If you are looking for a more luxury kind of stay, there are two resorts just next to the fales. Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa is a 4-star hotel for adults only with a lagoon style pool and villas.
On the other side you have another resort called Coconut Beach Club Resort and Spa. It's famous for its water bungalows similar to the ones you can find in Maldives.
You can learn more details about this and other sustainable accommodation in Samoa by reading our article.
Day 5 - Exploring the east side of the Island
We were lucky to be able to hire a car from our hosts for the day. This meant we could see multiple attractions nearby without having to rely on buses or taxis.
The first stop we made was to Papapapaitai Waterfall, the highest in Samoa. There is a car park just off Cross Island Road where you can park your car and look at the waterfall from a couple of observation points.
If you’re driving from Apia, it takes about 20 minutes.
It looks impressive and you can see some different rock pools at the waterfall. Unfortunately, there is no way to hike down to the waterfall itself. It’s still worth a stop if you’re in the area to observe its power and beauty.
Our next stop was the Giant Claim Sanctuary in Savaia next to Main South Coast Road. It takes about 50 minutes if you’re driving there from Apia. There is an entry fee of 10 WST per person.
Someone from the house opposite the sanctuary on the corner of the road will come out to greet you and ask for the entrance fee. There are change rooms available across the road and open fales dotted along the shore.
You need to swim out from shore towards the sanctuary, which is marked by a series of white buoys in a circular shape. Cross under the first set of buoys and keep swimming out to about the middle of the marked area on the left side.
There was a wooden stick poking out of the water when we were there. We found the giant claims a few metres to the left and in front of it. The marked-off area is quite large and it took us some time to find this spot, but definitely look to the left rather than the right side of the sanctuary as you swim out.
The giant clams were amazing creatures to observe up close. They are half animal and half plant, and we saw them open up at one point to capture the sun’s energy to create food for themselves.
There were also a couple of spots where there were young clams growing. One of these spots had mesh over them indicating local intervention to assist in their growth. Besides the giant clams, we were also happy to see an abundance of coral and tropical fish.
We were treated to another underwater surprise when we came across a giant turtle. It was swimming gracefully through the water and didn’t seem to pay any attention to us.
We were careful not to get too close to it and enjoyed our time swimming alongside it until we grew tired and waved it goodbye. We swam back to shore and realised it was also a beautiful spot to swim with white sand for a number of metres before the coastline.
This was one of our favourite spots in Samoa. Seeing the giant clams is a unique experience, as was swimming with the giant turtle.
But it’s also just a great place for swimming and snorkelling. It’s definitely worth the trip to experience all this place has to offer.
Just be mindful that it takes some patience to find the giant clams as they are within a relatively small area of the marked-off area of the sanctuary.
Our final trip today was to Togitogiga Waterfall, located off Main South Coast Road about 40 minutes’ drive from Apia. After parking the car, it’s about a five-minute walk down to the waterfall.
It’s a pleasant walk alongside the river. Or in our case, river bed. We visited in late January and there actually wasn’t any water flowing down the river. As we made it to the waterfall, we could see only a trickle of water coming down the rock face.
There were a number of fales set up around a grassy area and change rooms as well. You walk down some stairs next to the change rooms to reach what would normally be the river.
At this time, there was only a little water left in the pool below the waterfall. It was still refreshing to have a quick dip in the water that was there.
We could see down the river bed how beautiful it must be when the water is flowing. We were the only ones there which made the experience very tranquil.
Day 6 - Travel to Lepa
We organised for a taxi to take us to our next accommodation in Lepa as there was no local bus available. Faofao Beach Fales is located in the south east of Upolu. It’s located between some of the local attractions.
The beach is a good size with white sand. There are scattered volcanic stones and pebbles as you enter the water.
The snorkelling at this beach was great. You can swim out and encounter some colourful coral and decent sea life after only about 10 metres. Head left in particular for some large coral formations.
We were lucky enough to see a giant stingray one evening too.
Our host prepared us a tasty dinner adjusted for a plant-based diet. And we watched a beautiful sunset at the bar terrace of the property.
Both dinner and breakfast were included in the price of our stay. We definitely recommend staying here as this was our favourite beach in Samoa.
At Faofao they have open beach fales that can be used for the day or for overnight stays. If you’re staying overnight, they provide the bedding and a mosquito net. The fales have traditional drop-down blinds for privacy and added protection when sleeping there.
They also have a faifai show once a week.
Day 7 - Day trip to To Sua Ocean Trench, Vavau Beach and Sopoaga Falls
To Sua and To Le Sua were formed with the collapse of an ancient lava tube system. The ocean flows into To Sua, forming a natural swimming hole. It’s one of the most famous natural attractions to visit in Samoa.
Read about how we experienced swimming in the To Sua Ocean Trench.
Near Sua Ocean Trench there is another spot to visit and maybe even spend a full day there if you have time. We were lucky to discover this place with the help of a local.
It's a beach surrounded by beautiful coves covered in greenery and palm trees. The water is a beautiful turquoise colour with a white beach. It makes you feel like you are in heaven.
You will have to pay an entrance fee of 40 tala. This is standard practice in Samoa as all the beaches belong to a Samoan family.
There are open beach fales that you can use once you paid your parking fee. You could stay there for a day or even camp there. There is no water or food so you will have to bring everything you need with you if you decide to stay there for the night.
One more place that could be visited if you are in the area is Sopoaga Falls. We actually didn’t make it there but have heard it is beautiful.
It's a one-drop waterfall in wild and unspoiled jungle. You can’t get close to it, but you can admire it from a viewpoint. There is a 10 tala entrance fee to support the family that provides access to the view point. The site is well maintained with beautiful gardens.
Day 8 - Hike to Lalomanu Beach
One of the most beautiful beaches in Samoa is located on the tip of the island. Lalomanu Beach is a 1 hour 20 minute drive from Apia.
There aren’t any local buses running there from Faofao Beach Fales, so you could catch a taxi or try to hitch a ride with a local driving past. However, we hadn’t gone on any hikes recently so decided to walk approximately 90 minutes instead. And we can really recommend this experience.
We left after breakfast to try to beat the heat of the day. We walked along the coastal road and enjoyed the feeling of the ocean breeze for most sections of our journey.
The mountain range of Lotofaga Nature Reserve loomed above us to our left. The mountains are covered in lush green jungle and they formed a beautiful scenic backdrop as we made our way towards Lalomanu.
A young boy called out to us as we neared our destination. He proceeded to remove the outer layers of a coconut with a sharpened stick that had been inserted into the ground.
He then hacked out a small opening and offered the coconut to drink. It was exactly what we needed and gleefully accepted the coconut in exchange for 5 WST.
It was now lunchtime and we looked for a restaurant. Taufua Beach Fales has a number of closed-style fales where you can stay the night for 90 WST per night, which includes breakfast and dinner. They also have open-style fales that you can rent for 50 WST per day.
We weren’t staying for long, so opted to have lunch in their restaurant instead. They allowed us to use their showers and change rooms and leave our belongings in the restaurant while we went for a swim.
The beach is fairly long with beautiful white sand and numerous coconut trees dotted along the coastline. It was easy to enter the water and it became deep for swimming fairly quickly.
There was a strong current the day we visited and it was easy to drift down the coast before you realised it. We enjoyed swimming at this beach but it didn’t have any coral within easy reach for snorkelling. We felt the beach we had at Faofao was more enjoyable overall as a result.
Day 9 - Return to Apia
After a delicious breakfast from our host, we’d planned to catch one of the local buses back to Apia. We waited until after 11AM and it became apparent that this bus wouldn’t be coming today.
Someone staying at Faofao Beach Fales was from a nearby village and offered to drive us to Apia for a discounted rate compared to the usual taxi price.
You can try your luck and wait for the bus but keep in mind that it may not come, so if you want to get to town at a certain hour it’s better to organise a taxi or a ride with your host.
We recommend you to stay at an Airbnb called Tiny Home in Apia or Treehouse in Apia, both are run by a family that also runs the gallery next door. Wake up to a beautiful sunrise with singing birds.
Alternatively you can stay at Skyview Hotel Tiapapata. The family-owned 3-star hotel surrounded by jungle is just a 16 minute drive from Apia.
It’s a perfect base for the day to explore the surroundings.
When you take a bus or a taxi from FaoFao, make sure to let the driver know that you get off at Tiapapata Art Centre, which is before you will get to town.
If you rather stay closer to the centre of Apia, you can learn more details about other sustainable accommodation in Samoa by reading our article.
Lunch at Tiapapata Art Center
Tiapapata Art Centre is part of Skyview Hotel Tiapapata. The gallery is full of amazing local art, pottery, collages, lino prints and photographs that are also available for sale. Besides the art, it's a great place for a plant-based lunch with locally sourced ingredients.
They have many vegetarian and vegan options promoting healthy and fresh food that grows in their garden. You will enjoy beautiful lush gardens and don't forget to try their vegan ice cream made of tropical fruits!
RLS Museum and Tomb
The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum is located just a 9-minute drive from Tiapapata Art Centre.
The famed Scottish author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde ended up in Samoa in 1890. Unfortunately, his ill health caught up with him and he passed away soon after in 1894.
Just outside of Apia on the site of his estate, a museum has been created to honour his life. It’s also possible to hike up to where he is buried on top of Mt. Vaea.
Read more about our experience at the RLS Museum and nearby attractions.
Dinner at Giordano's Pizza
After a long day of exploring, have dinner at the best pizza restaurant in Samoa - Giordano's Pizza. They have vegetarian pizzas and can even make you a vegan pizza on request.
If you have more than two weeks to spend in Samoa, you can also visit Manono Island before or after visiting Savai’i. To get to Manoa Island, you will have to travel to catch a boat around a 10-minute drive from the main wharf.
It’s a fairly small island and two days in our opinion should be enough. From here you can also visit another island called Apolima as a day trip.
Read more about our experience on Manono Island.
Day 10 - Travel to Savai’i
Our host on Manono Island organised a boat to take us back across to the mainland and for a taxi to pick us up. We arrived at Mulifanua Wharf in time to buy tickets for the ferry to Savai’i.
There’s usually one every two hours although they run less frequently on weekends. There are numerous shops where you can buy some food and drink at the wharf, or there are some limited options on the ferry itself.
The journey to Savai’i takes about 90 minutes. The ocean was fairly calm, but it was still a bit rough on the stomach as the boat rocked from side to side on occasion. Most passengers made the journey easier for themselves by sleeping.
We arrived at Salelologa Wharf, which is located in the main town of Savai’i. Although Savai’i is a bigger island than Upolu, it’s not as populated or developed.
Salelologa is a small town but it does have a few restaurants and shops. There are local buses but fewer and running less frequently than on Upolu.
We caught a taxi to our accommodation at Lauiula Beach Fales.
The fales are located on the east coast of Savai’i on a beautiful white-sand beach with turquoise water.
There is also a good amount of coral to explore close to shore. They have both open-style and enclosed beach fales available.
This was probably our favourite budget-friendly place to say. We loved staying in our enclosed bungalow and the fales seemed to be very spacious.
If you choose to stay here, you will be rewarded with waking up to the sound of crashing waves.
You can learn more details about this and other sustainable accommodation in Samoa by reading our article.
Day 11 - Enjoy Lauiula Beach
We spent a couple of days relaxing in an open-style fale at Lauiula beach, interrupted only with swimming, snorkelling and having our meals. We also went for a walk to explore the nearby area.
Our hosts had recommended a place where we could buy some cakes and coffee. It was well worth the fifteen minute walk north to the shop. The owner bakes the cakes and cupcakes herself and they were delicious.
Day 12 - Explore the south side of Savai’i
We decided to explore the furthest attractions from where we were staying, located on the south side of the island. We organised for a hire car to be dropped off where we were staying at Lauiula Beach Fales.
We were stopped at a police checkpoint on the way to our first destination, Alofaaga Blowholes. We hadn’t been aware of this at the time, but you should obtain a temporary driver licence to drive in Samoa.
You should attend the Land Transport Authority (LTA) office in Apia (Upolu) or Salelologa (Savaii). Present your driver’s licence and pay a small fee to receive a temporary licence for one or two months. We paid 21 WST for a one-month licence.
Luckily for us the police officer was understanding and let us proceed with a promise to attend the LTA and obtain the temporary licence on the way back!
Alofaaga Blowholes are located roughly in the middle of the southern coast of Savaii. They take about 50 minutes to drive there from Salelologa, or about 1 hour and 10 minutes from where we were staying at Lauiula Beach Fales.
You will see a turn-off from South Coast Road to get to them. You will come to a small fale where you pay the entry fee of 5 WST per person to one of the local villagers. The road is unpaved and becomes quite narrow and rocky. But our small hire car was able to handle it without any issues.
There is a lookout platform with space to park or you can drive a bit further up to park closer to the main blowholes. There are some fales located near the parking, but unfortunately they are in dire need of repairs and aren’t suitable for use.
You have to walk over massive lava fields to reach the blowholes. There are eerie sounds as the sea water is rushing through the lava tubes underneath your feet. The blowholes have been formed where the sea water has been forced up through some openings in the lava tubes.
There are two main blowholes near the ocean. The sea water bursts through the holes with tremendous force, pushing spray and water metres into the sky above.
There are pools of water formed on the lava fields teeming with fish and tadpoles. We also noticed a few crabs that had fried themselves alive on the hot lava rocks - make sure you wear shoes when walking across the lava fields to avoid the same fate to your feet!
Mu Pagoa Waterfall
On South Coast Road we drove back towards Salelologa for about 25 minutes to see our next destination. To get there you will cross a bridge that runs over Lata River. Almost immediately after the bridge on the right hand side, you will see a driveway down to a house next to the river.
There are no signs confirming this is the correct place, so we stopped at the top of the driveway first and asked the villagers if it was OK to drive in to see the waterfall. We were able to drive in and park in a grassy area near the house. After paying 5 WST per person, we were able to see the waterfall.
The waterfall isn’t very high, only around five metres. But it’s very unique as the river water runs down and over volcanic rocks along the coast at multiple points to form a wide waterfall. There is also volcanic black sand below the rocks.
The river water hits the sand while at the same time the waves from the ocean are running into it. It’s a very unique waterfall!
The grass plains with coconut trees along the coastline behind the waterfall adds even more beauty to the scenery. It’s well worth stopping here on the way back to Salelologa.
Afu Aau Waterfalls
About a 20-minute drive from Salelologa on the south coast heading west are Afu Aau Waterfalls. There is a turn off for the waterfalls from South Coast Road just before a bridge. The sign is a bit faded, but go along the road that runs right along the river.
You will come across a fale soon after entering next to the road and then another one further along the road. Local villagers will be in one of these fales to take the entry fee of 10 WST per adult (children 5 - 12 years old are 5 WST).
You will then arrive at a car park and see a path to walk along the river. There are a series of smaller falls and rock pools along the way. Although overgrown with grass, there are paths leading down to them and it’s possible to swim in them.
There are a couple of picnic tables with thatched roofs near the second rock pool that are perfect spots to have lunch. There’s also a toilet block located here if you need a place to change. Keep walking along the path to come to the main waterfall.
This waterfall looks amazing as it plunges from the rainforest for about 20 metres into a fresh-water pool below. The water near the waterfall is very deep before it gets more shallow towards the outer rim of the pool.
You can see some spring water trickling down to the near left of the pool. Rock alcoves are also visible under the falling water. These elements combine to make the main waterfall area even more alluring.
There are some stone steps to make entry easier at the shallow end. The water is incredibly refreshing and it feels very serene as you lay floating there. The rainforest forms a ring of green around the pool as you look up, making you feel even more relaxed and connected to Samoan nature.
We spent a long time relaxing and enjoying the pool. We definitely recommend arriving early in the morning to enjoy having the main pool to yourself before others arrive. You then have the other rock pools downstream to explore when other people arrive.
Day 13 - See the north side of Savai’i
Asaga River Pool
As you drive on North Coast Road about 30 minutes from Salelologa, you will come to a bridge that crosses a river into the ocean. To the left you will see a concrete pool has been constructed around the river.
You can park your car after you cross over the bridge and pay 5 WST per person to access the pool. There are also some fales on the beach that you can use during your stay.
If you arrive during low tide, you should be able to enjoy the fresh water in the pool without the sea water that comes in at high tide.
Even better though is to ask to see the source of the river. They should show you a path to the right that runs through a village. The path runs over volcanic rocks and winds through some mangroves with crabs scampering away as you approach.
This will lead you to another pool that has been created around the source of the spring water that feeds the river. The water here was the coldest we experienced in Samoa.
At one point the sun was at the right intensity to allow us to see the blue luminescence of the water around our fingertips. Definitely recommend this spot to escape the heat and humidity of Samoa!
Saleaula Lava Ruins
Further along North Coast Road about an hour drive from Salelologa, you will find the remnants of a major volcanic eruption. Nearby Mt Matavanu erupted from 1905 - 1911, spewing copious amounts of lava into the surrounding area.
The lava buried five villages but fortunately everyone was able to escape by boat before it reached them. The main attractions now are the remains of the London Missionary Society (LMS) church, a ‘virgin’s grave’ and the lava fields themselves that stretch all the way to the coast.
There is a reception fale where you pay the 10 WST per person entry fee. There is also an information board and you’re given a brief oral history of the area by one of the villagers. You then enter via a gate and walk down a path where the church ruins are located.
There is a grassy area before the church where the village graveyard was located. There are also some benches to the left and trees providing a shady area to sit and absorb the violent force of nature that occurred there.
The lava appears to have flowed straight through the front door of the church. Somehow all of the walls of the church are still standing. The lava piled up in layers around the entrance and into the middle of the church before petering out.
The doors, roof and windows were all destroyed. A giant tree now grows inside one corner of the church.
It’s a surreal feeling walking over the dried lava and imagining its force over a hundred years previously. You can see different patterns left in the lava from the objects that it encountered and melted around.
About 300 metres to the left is the ‘virgin’s grave’. After walking over the lava fields you’ll arrive at a small area marked as the grave. The story goes that it was the grave of either a chief’s virgin daughter or a virgin nun.
Regardless of whose grave it was, the lava appears to have gone around it. This was supposedly because the girl was so ‘pure’. It’s definitely a curious tale but the grave itself isn’t much to look at.
We’d recommend that you trace your steps back to the church and then continue on towards the coast. You’ll walk over a wooden bridge and pass some piles of stone that appear to be marked with different tributes to ancestors or spirits. Look out to the horizon to gain an appreciation of how extensive the lava flow must have been.
Once you reach the coast there is a wooden deck out over the water and some benches. We enjoyed the sea breeze here and was lucky enough to see a turtle sticking his head up out of the water a few times.
Day 14 - Return to Apia
We drove the hire car to the ferry terminal at Salelologa Wharf and handed it back to the hire car representative. We caught the ferry back to Mulifanua Wharf. After disembarking we left the terminal and straight away was encouraged to jump onto a local bus heading to Apia.
Depending on when your flight is, you may want to stay at Vaiala Beach Cottages for a night or two. The cottages are fully self-contained with a double bed, two single beds, a lounge area, a dining area, kitchen with a fridge, and a bathroom.
There is no air-conditioning, but there are two ceiling fans to cool down with. It’s only a seven-minute walk to Palolo Deep Marine Reserve and about twenty minutes on foot to town along Main Beach Road. There is also a small beach a few minutes walk away where you can swim without having to pay any money.
There is a small store across the road, a mini mart down the road and two supermarkets which are about a ten-minute walk away. The cottages are great value for 100 WST per night (when booking directly via Facebook). They can also be booked via Airbnb at a slightly higher rate due to the fees.
We found this was a great base for any final activities in Apia before catching our flight out of Samoa.