I’ve been contacted by a few people who’ve seen my travel photos on Instagram asking for an itinerary of things to do in Samoa in the past and since one of my friends is leaving for Samoa this week and I’m a good friend (sometimes! haha :P ) who wants him to try be a tourist in his own country, I thought I’d attempt a blog post of MY favorite things to do in Upolu that I have done myself or have on my list of things I’d like to do next time I visit!
This is by no means the best list or the must do list, it’s just my own personal list of things I love. Read the dot points below & if you’re interested I have elaborated on some of them even further down.
If I have missed something that you love, please feel free to share in the comments for everyone else to see! Fa’afetai tele lava Friends & Fams :)
Things I have done
- Visit a natural ‘water slide’ at Papaseea Sliding Rocks
- Visit the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum & hike up Mount Vaea to ‘Tusitala’s’ grave
- Take a small boat from Upolu to Manono Island & walk around it
- Catch the ferry to Savaii
- Sleep in an open fale & listen to the waves crash at night
- Swim in one of the most beautiful places in the world, To Sua Ocean Trench & jump from the top of the ladder if you are brave enough
- Stay in a real life tree house at LupeSina Treesort
- Watch the sunset on a beach
- Have the beach to yourself at Vavau Beach
- Go waterfall hopping and see the many waterfalls on Upolu, click here for my blog post about the many waterfalls
- Go to a fiafia night
- Snorkel with the giant clams in Savaia
- Visit the natural infinity pool at Samoana Beach Bungalows
- Walk along the seawall in Apia (Read below for my explanation!)
- Rent a car from the legends at Blue Pacific Car Hire
- Walk through O le Pupu Pu’e National Park to visit the beautiful old Ma Tree in all its magical tree root glory
- Sit for a good hour in the beautiful Catholic Cathedral
- Go to Farmer Joe’s in Vaitele Fou, just cuz i said so
- Cool off in the chilly clear waters at Piula Cave Pool
- Stay at Le Vasa Resort and book in for the sunset cruise or the Nu’ulopa (Bat Island) tour, or both!
- Take a scenic drive through Le Mafa Pass
- Visit the Baha’i House of Worship, one of only eight Baha’i Temples in the world
- Visit the beautiful Lalomanu Beach and enjoy lunch at Taufua Beach Fales
- Have lunch at Home Cafe and marvel at all the decorations
- Visit the Cultural Village behind the Tourist Information Centre & have a traditional lunch cooked in an umu
- Go to the markets in Apia for all your souvenirs/ lavalava’s/ food
- Get a meal from McDonalds, again just because I said so & I swear the large is like America size large which fascinates me
- Eat palusami at least once every couple of days if not more, as well as panikeke for breakfast and taro fa’ausi for desert. Eat, just eat a lot
- Go to one of the village dances between kerisimasi & tausaga fou, just for the crazy bass, loud music, alcoholic punch & smoke machines
- Get a huge oily pizza from Georgie’s Pizza in Apia, perfect hangover food
- See the turtles at the Malua Theological College (although last time I went, they was gone gone gone)
Things I still want to do
- Get a smoothie bowl from Krush Juice Lounge (only available on Saturdays)
- See the Samoa Police march down Beach Road at 8.45am sharp on weekdays
- Snorkel at the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
- Visit the Museum of Samoa on Vaitele Street
- Dress up in your nicest white clothes & go to Church on a Sunday
- Get a traditional tattoo from the amazing Peter or Paul Sulu’ape (again see below for explanation)
- Visit Black Sand Beach
- Get a flight out of Faleolo or Fagali’i Airport to American Samoa
- Catch the beautiful, colorful, thumping with music bus around the island
- Get a boat from Lalomanu to Namua Island
Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
I’ve written a little about Papase’ea Sliding Rocks in my waterfall post but it is honestly such a fun place to go (more so with friends or family, than by yourself like I did the very first time I went!)
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
I really enjoy the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum despite never having read his books as a child or not really knowing much about him before going to Samoa. My Mum is a huge fan of his book ‘Treasure Island’ so I thought I’d pop in & visit the house as I knew they had a gift shop with his books available to purchase. It is such a peaceful property that it has become a little tradition to visit each time & buy a different book for my Mum.
The hike up Mount Vaea to his grave site is very scenic and beautiful, my only suggestion would be to try wear runners instead of flip flops like I did and to bring a bottle of water!
It costs $20T for entry with a guided tour of the house.
I organised my boat trip to Manono Island through Le Vasa Resort while I was staying with them as they have their own personal jetty and organised two nice guys to come and get me. But there is also another jetty close by for public use and that has cheaper boats. I arranged a pick up time with them as they dropped me off then I spent the morning walking around the island. There is no cars or roads on this island, just a dirt track road around the island so it is extremely peaceful. I would only do this if I had longer than a week in Samoa or had previously done a lot of things in Samoa and was looking for something different to do. It is a beautiful island nontheless and something really satisfying and good for the soul to be on an island with no cars.
You can also stay overnight here but have to arrange that through Sunset View Fales.
I really love staying in Savai’i despite every time I catch the ferry I get super seasick. If you get seasick I’d advise to take some anti seasickness pills before you go but don’t be put off as it is such a beautiful, amazing island with lots to offer.
My favourite (and only) place I have stayed in is Lusia’s Lagoon Chalets as I had my heart set on staying in an overwater fale and it did not disappoint. I’ll do a separate blog post on Savai’i at some point but in short my favorite places to see would be Afu Aau Waterfall, Alofaaga Blowholes, the Rainforest Canopy Walkway in Falealupo, seeing the turtles in Sato’alepai (please don’t try pick up the turtles) and the lava fields in Sale’aula.
Anyway, you can catch the ferry from Mulifanua Wharf on Upolu which goes to Salelologa Wharf in Savaii. It costs $12T for adults each way if travelling on foot and cars are $80T (small car) or $95T (Hilux, van or sedan) each way. Click here for the timetable to see when the ferry departs.
There are so many amazing places to stay in Samoa that I think that calls for a seperate post in itself, but I would definitely reccomend staying in an open fale for at least a few nights of your trip. I have enjoyed Tafua beach Fales in Lalomanu for a bit more of a party atmosphere where you are guaranteed to at least meet a couple other tourists. It’s a good spot to stay if you are travelling solo as you will meet people and all gather at the restaurant in the mornings for breakfast and evenings for dinner which is included in the cost of your stay.
My other favorite place I’ve stayed at is Matareva Beach Fales for a really relaxing, quiet stay. This is a place I’ve really taken time to sit back and reflect on things in life and learnt to be at peace travelling by myself. Like most fales in Samoa breakfast and dinner is included in the cost of your stay and so delicious!
To Sua Ocean Trench
I was probably one of those people who initially saw photos of the beautiful To Sua Ocean Trench and immediately knew I had to visit!
Located on Main South Coast Road, heading towards Vavau and Lalomanu, you’ll find a sign leading you down a gravel road to the beautiful trench. It costs $20T to enter, regardless if you swim or not and is so, so worth the entry fee. You enter and are greeted with beautiful tropical plants and lush grass, as you walk along you can first peer down at the water in to the smaller of the openings, then just a tiny bit further you see the most magical swimming hole you’ll probably ever see. The color of the water always changes depending on light and sun, sometimes it is more green, sometimes bright aqua, either way it is a magical sight.
If you don’t want to climb the steep ladder down and swim, you can still walk through the gardens and look out over the coast, then walk down to the rock pools below. There is also open fales to relax and unwind in.
I think this place might currently be closed, awaiting new owners If I am correct, but it is one of my favorite places in Samoa. I have spent a lot of time with Jack & Victoria, the owners chatting over dinner admiring the craftsman ship of Jack & his son who has unfortunately passed away. This is truly the most stunning tree house I have ever seen in the whole world & such a magical place. It really hurts my heart that people stopped staying here after a terrible incident because it was such a fluke accident that I honestly can’t ever see happening again. I have beautiful memories of this place and will always cherish my times with Jack & Victoria and Jack’s daughter Brooke. Thank you for always being such gracious hosts and calling me your ‘Tree house Family’. Situated just off Cross Island Road, close to Papapapaitai Falls, please make sure you do pay the $10T if you drive down Jack’s driveway to take photos of the tree house.
A little pricier than other places ($20T entry) but worth it if you’d like to spend a few hours swimming in a beautiful spot with most likely not many other people. If I were to come back I would make sure I had some snacks and a fresh coconut to drink and a packed lunch and towels to make the most of my day. Vavau Beach is on Main South Coast Road in between To Sua & Seabreeze Resort.
Giant Clams in Savaia
The giant clams are so beautiful and such an amazing experience to see snorkeling. This was my first time I have ever snorkeled and despite the initial irrational fears of drowning myself or suffocating (or even funnier, getting my leg trapped in one of the giant clams which made me scream if I thought I was getting too close) I had the most unforgettable time. The Giant Clam Sanctuary is in Savaia at the bottom of Cross Island Road and cost $10T entry to one of the locals who will meet you when you park your car. I’m not sure if they loan snorkel gear as I brought my own, but there is a toilet and shower block to get changed afterwards.
Natural Infinity Pool
Samoana Beach Bungalows I think was originally aimed at surfers wanting to come to Samoa to get some good waves but so many families, couples and solo travellers now stay here as well because of the scenic location and relaxed atmosphere. They have an amazing natural infinity pool to swim in which overlooks the ocean.
Sea Wall in Apia
I remember reading some things about the harbor wall in Apia and warning people not to walk along there, especially at night and to not have phones on display, back packs etc. so I honestly kept away but one night as the sun was setting I went for a stroll and it was the most beautiful and relaxing walk. I had no problems and nothing but friendly people who would just smile or wave on their way past. It’s nice when you’ve always avoided doing something then get pleasantly surprised once you finally do it.
Ma Tree Walk
The Ma Tree walk is a short 700m or so walk through the O le Pupu Pu’e National Park. There is a clearing to park your car on the side of the road on Main South Coast Road then its a 15 minute walk or so to see the beautiful huge tree roots of the Ma Tree. You can walk a further 1.4km through to the Togitogiga visitor center where you can swim in the waterfalls there.
One of my most peaceful and favorite spots on earth. The cathedral is free to enter but there is a donation box at the front. It is opposite the Tourist Information Centre on Beach Road in Apia. Just a very serene place to sit and think about life.
Piula Cave Pool
Piula Cave Pool is close to Falefa Falls, both about a half hour drive from Apia along Main East Coast Road. Piula Cave Pool (Also known as the Fatumea cave pool) is located underneath the Piula Theological College and is a $5T entry fee.
Baha’i House of Worship
The Baha’i House of Worship is at the start of Cross Island Road, it’s a good place to see if you are also wanting to stop by the nearby Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. I came here in torrential downpours and two lovely girls invited me inside for a sandwich and a drink and refused any donation at all. The temple is one of only 8 Baha’i Temples in the world.
Lalomanu Beach is one of many people’s favorite beaches. It’s beautiful blue water and white sand just looks like your typical paradise pictures. Almost every photo of Lalomano stands out because of the pretty Nu’utele island in the background so it is instantly recognizable.
This cafe was recommended to me and did not disappoint. Such a cool, quirky cafe with lots of things to look around at and the food was really delicious! They had beetroot on my burger which is always a huge gold star in my books and the outside area out the back overlooked a really pretty river.
The cultural village is a really great place to come at the start of your trip as it is situated behind the Tourist Information Centre, so a good place to plan any things you’d like to do. Just remember in Samoa you can do as little or as much as you’d like to do, eat as much good food as possible and relax and unwind. My first trip my car broke down, I was flustered and hot and I remember the lovely Fatu from Le Vasa Resort who just happened to be taking a tour group through to Papaseea gave me the funniest, most serious yet best pep talk of my life “GIRL! You are in Samoa now, you are on island time, you have to start THINKING like a Samoan, be a Samoan, remember that!”
The cultural village tour operates on a donation basis so please be generous as it is such a worthwhile place to visit. There is locals there (usually the awesome Chris who will be your host) that will prepare a traditional umu lunch for everyone, demonstrate the tapa cloth process, basket weaving and traditional dance. Pop in to the Tourist Information Centre to ask for days/ times of the week it operates.
* Getting a tattoo in Samoa
The reason I said I would explain in further detail about this is because when I was at the Samoa Cultural Center we had the honor of watching a young local man receiving his pe’a. I was incredibly humbled and felt emotional at getting to be a part of his special journey, however during this time I noticed a palagi woman from Venezuela who was asking if she could get ‘her own’ pe’a (only for men) while she was on her week long holiday. She was politely refused and they tried to explain the customs in getting this sort of tattoo. She was getting so agitated and aggressive she started to cry because she really wanted to get it done. I was so embarrassed and in shock I didn’t say anything but look back now and wish I had of. She made me feel shameful for even having my small Samoan tattoo on the back of my calf and it was probably one of the most disrespectful things I have ever witnessed.
Long story short, please try be respectful about getting a tattoo in Samoa. It can offend a lot of people who follow the Samoan way of life (Fa’a Samoa). It is not ‘cool’ to go and get a Samoan tattoo just because you like the look of it. Each symbol has a different meaning and every tattoo has its own story so can be very disrespectful and hurtful to ‘copy’ anyone else’s tattoo you see online.
I feel a deep connection to Samoa and fell in love with this beautiful place and that is when I decided to get my tattoo. I had asked the thoughts and opinions from Samoan’s I know and have met in Samoa and back home and they all told me to go for it. Honestly if one single person had have told me that it would have upset them, I wouldn’t have got it done. It is my favorite tattoo on my body, it means an awful lot to me and even though it wont ever mean as much as a true traditional Samoan tatau, I am very grateful to have it. It was drawn especially for me, with each of my four immediate family members on it, myself in the middle with two stars (fetu) and the malu protection symbol to always guard me and protect me on my travels.