Samoa’s crystal clear turquoise warm water is almost as welcoming as it’s lovely people. Adventures in Samoa are very diverse on and off the land. There are coastal walks through rain forested jungle, dazzling waterfalls (some that you can swim in), ocean trenches, world class snorkeling and diving just to name some of the fun to be experienced on these islands.
Samoa consists of two main islands, Upolu and Savai’i. There are four much smaller islands: Manono, Apolima, Fanuatapu, and Namua. The capital city of Apia is on the main island of Upolu where artifacts have been found showing that it was first settled 3,500 years ago. New Zealand governed these islands until they became independent in 1962.
Things To Consider
- Tap water is NOT safe in Samoa. It needs to be treated prior to drinking regardless of what you are told.
- Beware of ordering dishes that contain water (outside of resort restaurants). I had a vegetable soup at one cafe and after 3 days of non stop diarrhea had to succumb to taking Ciprofloxacin. Rob had a Wonton Soup at a different restaurant and went through the same ill effects. I made him take activated charcoal on day one, saving his system from the antibiotics.
Food and Drink
- Unless you are in the capital, Apia finding restaurants can be a challenge.
- We only found fresh produce at the market in Apia. Otherwise there are sporadic little kiosks along the road that may have bananas, papaya and/or tarro root.
- Small stores can be found around the island. They mostly have beer, soft drinks, cookies, ramen and some canned goods.
- Surprisingly the airport has a couple of nice cafes that are clean, inexpensive and can even cater to vegans. The eggplant and sticky rice from the main cafe was delicious and fully vegan.
- Liquor of any kind is not sold on Sundays. Not the surprise that Rob was looking for when we went to find him some beer on the Samoan holy day.
- The roads are riddled with huge potholes. Driving during the day can be nerve racking enough, but at night is NOT recommended.
- Gas stations are located mostly near the capital so plan accordingly. If you rent your car from the airport there is a gas station a few kilometers east of it on the north side of the road.
- Buses are a great way to see the island. They are colorful, plentiful and very inexpensive. Here is additional information about them.
- Just beware the time of day that you actually travel. A simple 1 hour bus ride to the capital took us almost 2.5 hours because we left when schools were getting out during the day. The bus filled up beyond capacity with kids sitting on each others laps or laying across rows. Every 50 meters or so someone needed to get out which caused half the bus to empty to allow the few individuals off. Schools are out anytime between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm.
- Traffic also starts to build in the mid afternoon as people get off work.
- Recommendation would be to use the bus between 9 am and 1 pm and then after 6 pm – although fewer buses run in the evening
Googlemaps did not show all the amenities that we were looking for while there – restaurants, gas stations, etc., The Samoan tourism board did create a helpful map located here.
Adventures in Samoa
Hiking in Samoa is very different from the kind of hilly jungle hiking that we experienced on Eua, Tonga. The coast on the main island of Samoa is quite flat, yet equally interesting to experience.
The Coastal Walk is located about 3 km from the Main Southcoast road of Upolu. It is a slim dirt road wide enough for one car. We were lucky not to encounter another vehicle as I am not sure what happens if one does. At the end of the road there is a small parking lot which is free.
A few minutes from the car park the single track path leads you to breathtaking views of the southern coast of Samoa. The trail winds along the lava laden jungle coast exposing it’s wild and at times violent waves. There are beautiful arches to marvel at, blow holes and a huge open area that looks like a moonscape.
This is an easy hike that should take no more than an hour return. We did it in flip flops although sturdier shoes would have been more comfortable.
The most beautiful beach on the main island of Samoa is hands down Lalomanu. It is located on the south eastern tip of the island. The powder white sand and crystal clear turquoise water is breathtaking. The area also has some cute accommodations and a few decent cafes including Lalomanu Beach Fales. Be prepared to pay for parking as well as some kind of entry fee for the beach depending at which point you stop.
Visiting Namua Island is one of the adventures in Samoa that we will never forget. This island is just a bit north of Lalomanu Beach. There is parking on the mainland right in front of the island. As soon as we stopped a young lady ran out of the house from across the street. She asked us to pay for the parking and offered to call the Namua Beach Fales boat to come and pick us up. The cost for parking and return boat ride for two was $34 USD (cash only).
The boat came within a couple of minutes. Since the tide was out, we had to walk quite a ways towards the island to meet the boat. During the 5 minute ride we saw sea turtles and colorful fish through the crystal clear water.
The island is very small and primitive. There are about 8 beach fales available either to stay in during your visit (included in the boat ride cost) or to spend a night in (extra cost). Fales are the wooden hut like structures in the picture below. For those spending the night, the “resort” provides a mattress and mosquito netting. The “resort” has a kitchen and cooks for the visitors (the vegan option was pumpkin and cucumbers). Coconuts are served all day long and are delicious!
The beach on the island is fantastic as is the snorkeling. The bright colored fish dart in an out of the coral. With so few people on the island we had the reef all to ourselves. As the sun was starting to slowly set we were sad to leave. A night in one of the beach fales would have been a perfect ending to the day.
Just a few kilometers east of the Coastal Walk, right off the Main Southcoast Rd of Upolu is the sign for the Togitogiga Waterfalls. A dirt road takes you to the small carpark and a path winds up towards the falls. Multiple cascades culminate to create a few different freshwater pools. There are areas for swimming, spots for thrill seekers to dive and rocks to lounge on at the lower pool. A lovely spot to cool off. The activity and parking were free of charge.
The Sopoaga Falls are located here. The cost to see the falls from across the canyon is about $4 USD per person. They are beautiful, but I am not sure are worth the admission fee.
Other Water Falls
There are a number of other waterfalls on the island:
- Papaseea Sliding Rocks
- Papapapaitai Falls
- Falefa Falls
Other Adventures in Samoa
If we had more time we would have loved to spend it on the island of Savai’i. There is a beautiful Ocean Trench there and a few stunning waterfalls. There are also bike trips organized by a New Zealand organization that circumnavigate the island.
Samoa is a country filled with beautiful clear water and friendly islanders. For all of the possible adventures in Samoa 10 days was just not enough. We could have easily spent a month there exploring. The big limitation that we experienced was the lack of food options outside of the capital city. All in all, we would highly recommend adventures in Samoa to those who love crystal clear water, jungle walks and pristine nature.