21 Things to do In Samoa

21 Things to do In Samoa

21 Things to Do In Samoa

The Definitive Guide to Your Holiday in Samoa

 

1.Dive into a waterfall

 

There are so many things to do in Samoa, they’re blessed with hundreds of waterfalls and iridescent pools. In the wet season, during November until April, the waters will be strong and clear, and the pools deep enough to dive in. Spend a day between the cooling waters and sun soaked fales.

The popular Togitogiga Waterfall  30 Minutes by Vehicle From Aga Reef Resort was once a swimming hole for great Samoan Warriors. It’s most beautiful during the wet season, when the water becomes clear and calm. Float in the pool at the bottom of the falls, or enjoy a relaxing shoulder massage from the flowing water.

Fuipisia falls are spectacular. Falling 55m out of the jungle, you can hike up to these falls and spot a number of native birds along the way.

Close to Apia, kids (and the adults) will love the Papase’ea Sliding RocksGentle waterfalls have formed natural slides in the rocks, one up to five meters in length. It’s easy to find and a must do during the wet season.  It’s possible in the dry season to although not always guaranteed to be flowing.

On Savai’I, Afu Aau falls cascade from the depths of the rainforest into a natural plunge pool. Cool and deep Afu Aau is a popular escape from the heat. Leap from the cliffs like the local boys, or dip your toes in poolside.

Not all of Samoa’s waterfalls are hidden away under a canopy of lush forest.

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

The Mu Pagoa falls tumble into the open ocean, crashing on black sand and creating extraordinary panoramas unseen elsewhere. Expect to get caught up in local daily life here, as the river is safe and shallow enough for kids.

To Sua Ocean Trench 10 Minutes by Car from Aga Reef Resort. Doesn’t lie beneath a dreamlike waterfall, but it is easily the most instagramable swimming hole in Samoa. Set in the serenity of the rainforest, the trench is a volcanic pool filled by ocean tides. Not for the faint of heart, the entrance to the pool is down a steep, and sometimes slippery wooden ladder, but if you’re lucky, you may get the pool all to yourself.

Piula (Fatumea) Cave pool (Along the main east coast road, 45mins from apia, you will find piula cave pool located at the piula theological college in the village of lufilufi. It’s a beautiful crystal clear freshwater spring pool and cave that originated from an old lava tube. Explore the underwater cave that connects to a second cave. Day fales and toilet facilities available. Open mon-sat: 8am-4pm.

 

2. Swim with the fishes

The water around the islands is abundant with colorful fish, hundreds of turtles and rays, and no matter whether you’re on Upolu or Savai’i, there’s plenty to explore with a mask and snorkel. To truly make the most of Samoa’s incredible coastline, hire a car and drive around to the south coast.

Lalomanu Beach is 5 minutes drive from Aga Reef Resort, one of the top 10 beaches in the world as reported by Loanly Planet and has some of the best snorkeling around. You won’t need to swim too far to see turtles and brightly colored fish.

10 minutes by boat from Lalomanu Beach is Namua Island. There is no electricity, or food to purchase on the island so take a picnic with you and enjoy the magnificence of the untouched reef. It’ll cost you about $20 to get there. Nearby Fanuatapu Island and the coves around Aleipata coast are beautiful snorkeling locations, with turtles and eagle rays. The waters are quiet here; it’ll just be you and the turtles.  If you’re willing to travel a little further, check out the bays of Matereva as well.

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

For access without a boat head to Palolo Deep Marine Reserve in Apia. You do have to swim a fair distance to reach the colorful corals and larger fish, but you’ll get up close to reef sharks – an experience not to missed, and perfectly safe. Find the drop-off, and continue swimming around its edge to the main reef for the best views. You can hire snorkeling gear at the reserve.

Remember the sea is the livelihood for many villagers, so while a small fee of 10 to 25 tala may inconvenience you it can sometimes be a village’s only income. Chatting with the locals will also keep you safe. They’ll point out any dangerous rips or other hazards.

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

 

 

              3. Get up close with a turtle

 

You’re bound to meet a few local turtles while out paddling or snorkeling, but for just a few dollars you can swim with endangered green turtles in captivity before they’re tagged and released into the wild by the Fisheries Department. Villagers raise the infant turtles at the Satoalepai Turtle Sanctuary on Savai’i, and once released the turtles will grow to 180kg.

The turtles are named green turtles not for their shell, but for their cartilage and fat. Some green turtles will have black shells. These curious creatures are herbivores and feed on the sea grass beds, keeping it short and manicured. They’re like the sheep of the sea.

At the Malua Turtle Feeding Site run by Malua Theological College you can feed turtles for free.

 

 4. Go deeper

 

Samoa is a pleasant place to learn to dive – water temperatures lie between 26 and 29 degrees year round, and the visibility is near perfect.

Learn to dive in the shallow lagoons, or complete an open-water dive certificate for access to the world under the sea. Explore shipwrecks and get closer to some of the world’s most enchanting seascapes. Coral gardens, eagle rays, sea canyons and colorful marine life are just off the coast. You’ll find over 900 species of fish. Peak season is between July and September, when you might even spot a humpback.

A popular spot to dive is named The Rock. The abundance of fish here make you feel like you’ve dived into an aquarium. Clown fish dart among the anemones; schools of barracuda and tuna follow you about, plus you’ll find giant clams and coral.

Drift in the coral wonderland off Apolima Island. Unicorn fish, lobsters, turtles, reef sharks and blue fin trevally are more readily seen in these parts.

For incredible underwater photos dive to Juno, an iron shipwreck full of corals. Reef fish, parrotfish, turtles and snapper are only a five-minute boat ride from Savai’i. The maximum depth is 25 meters.

 

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

Dive Savai’i has affordable learn to dive options, and experienced instructors.

 

5. Take a hike

 

There are plenty of good trails throughout Samoa, with its lush rainforest, volcanoes and rugged coast. Midday heat can be problematic, so plan accordingly and take a lot of water, often there are no natural springs available.

Explore the old lava tube of Peapea Cave, it is easily accessible (April to November) in O Le Pupu-Pue National Park but still worth taking a guide as tourists often get lost. Named after the birds that sing from its depths, Peapea is set an hour into the rainforest. You’ll need good shoes and a headlamp to amble into the cave, as it is pitch black for about an hour until it opens up.

The lava fields around the Tafua Peninsula make for an active morning. Hiking around the base of the Tafua volcano rim takes about an hour from the base. Cape Mulinu’u has dramatic scenery with towering cliffs and secluded beaches.

The Falease’ela River Walk costs $50 but is an incredible way to experience the pristine beauty of Upolu. You’ll hike through riverbeds, and along the banks of Liua le Vai o Sina River. Your guides will likely leap from cliffs, and if you’re brave enough the pools beneath offer a respite from the heat.

Walk out to Lake Lanotoo National Park, Samoa’s largest lake, also known as Goldfish Lake. It’s set in the central Upolu highlands and surrounded by rainforest. The green lake is a volcanic crater and derives its nickname from the plenitude of goldfish introduced by German settlers. The walk will take around 5 hours return.

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

A canopy boardwalk has been established in the 1200 hectare Falealupo Rainforest Preserve. Overcome your fear of heights by walking across the 30 meter hanging bridge. There are plenty of options here for novices to adventurers including short walks to the Olemoe Falls and the Pulemelei Mound.

A two-day guided tour will take you to Samoa’s highest point. Mt Silisili touches the clouds at 1858m high. You can arrange a tour with locals from the nearby village of Aopo. Prepare properly and remember to take your own food and drink as well as supplies for your guide. The track can be slippery, so good footwear is essential, and as you climb higher the temperature begins to drop. A light jacket should be enough. The journey up passes through distinctive zones where you’ll find orange spongy moss and blueberry bushes. Stay on the track, even if it feels slightly precarious. It is the safest route up. You will arrive at Mata o le Afi, the remains of a volcano.

from here the summit of Mt. Silisili is only an hour and a half away.

Matavanu’s Peak is another ambitious hike, but well worth the trip. Six hours from the road you’ll find an overgrown crater guarded by Da Craterman.

Walk into the lush Sataoa Mangroves forest for a not to be missed experience. The site has recently been declared a UNESCO conservation site and for 30 tala, you can spot flora and fauna along the trail before getting into an outrigger canoe.

 

6. Lava fields

 

The lava fields on Savai’i are easily the largest attraction on the island. A unique geological phenomenon, the Mt Matavanu eruption buried five villages throughout its three-year long eruption. Thanks to the slow flowing lava, no one was killed in the eruption.

The local church and a gravesite of the chief’s virgin daughter were unscathed in lava flow, and provide an eerie look into the past. Visiting the fields is free, but you’ll be asked for 5 tala to visit the gravesite. After looking at the church, walk down to the water where the lava finally came to rest.

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 Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

                  

7. To market, to market

               

Markets are a part of everyday life for Samoans, and in the center of Apia you can find a variety of handicrafts and foods to haggle on.

Rise early Sunday morning for a chance to see the fish market in full swing. Freshly caught tuna, octopus and eels along with a huge variety of ‘what is that?’ are available at unbelievably low prices. Everything is fresh off the boat, and the locals love sharing their knowledge. Pluck up some courage and try something new.

The produce markets are also open Monday through Saturday and are best before sundown. There fruit selection is vast and there are plenty of samples to nibble on. Buy in season and experience truly tropical fruit, locally grown. A coconut is a refreshing way to cool down from the midday heat, just ask for a straw.

Traditional handicrafts can be found at the Apia flea markets that run every day but Sunday. Purchasing gifts here mean you are supporting the local economy. Try on a lava-lava (sarong) or take home some wooden carvings for loved ones. Prices are low, and the kava bowls and pandanus mats are uniquely Samoan. A recent blaze burnt down the old flea markets but quick construction has meant trading is underway again. Take small notes to purchase goods at any of the markets.

                

                  8. The Samoan way.

                   

Experience Fa’a Samoa, the Samoan way of life by visiting a nearby village. A proud and generous people, Samoans will make you feel welcome. Play footy with the kids, or get them to show you their favorite beach spots.

Tours can be arranged through your accommodation, and will include a formal introduction to the village. From there you’ll be able to wander freely observing true island life.

Please be respectful when visiting villages. Don’t wear inappropriate clothing, and keep to the customs of the locals. Samoa is deeply religious; there is a prayer curfew at sundown so it’s best to avoid being on the street during this time.

 

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9. Road trip in a bus

Hiring a car isn’t the only way to get around Samoa. Embrace island time and take one of the colorful public buses instead. This is a great way to meet locals and experience true Samoa. Everyone piles in, and sits on each other’s laps.

 

10. Do nothing

 

There is no better place to do absolutely nothing than in Samoa. With a plethora of postcard-perfect beaches and fresh coconuts everywhere, spend the day soaking up sunrays. Your only decision is which beach.

Aganoa Black Sand Beach has deep water, but safe swimming. Close to the Maninoa village, you’ll need to access the beach via an off road track.

Lalomanu Beach is where you’ll post images from that will make your friend sick with envy. On the south coast of Upolu Island it has clear turquoise waters, peaks of white breakers and white sand. Hire a beach fale and never leave. Between July and October you may see whales in the Pacific.

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

 

Vavau Beach is protected and a beautiful spot to make the tough decisions in life: snorkel or sleep?

Faiaai Beach is fringed with palms. Ask the locals for access then head down the steep trail to a beautiful escape.

                  

11. Sleep in a fale

                   

Fales are circular with wooden posts holding up a domed roof, they’re popular across the country, and particularly as shade on beaches. There are no walls, however blinds or mosquito nets can be lowered.

You can pick up a list of beach fales can be obtained from the Samoa Tourism Authority (info@samoa.travel), although asking other travellers is an easier way to find out where’s best.

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

               

12. Praise the Lord

 

Sunday in Samoa is a day for church. Throngs of locals will dress in white and attend the beautiful churches across the city; exalting the lord. Some of the grandest churches can be spotted along the road to Apia from the airport, but even the village churches are stunning. If you want to attend a mass, ask the locals how to dress appropriately.

The Baha’i’ House of Worship is one of only 8 in the world. The beauty of the building is striking in itself, with nine symmetrical sides and majestic dome, but more remarkably this place of meditation and prayer is open to people of all backgrounds.

At 10am every Sunday a service is held at the House of Worship with prayers from various world religions.

A Samoan Choir sings and afterwards you can join the congregation for light refreshments, or explore the peacefulness of the gardens.

At the Avao Congregational Christian Church is a memorial marking the site of where the bible was translated into Samoan, beginning in 1834.

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                  13. Step back in time

                   

Treasure Island author, Robert Louis Stevenson, spent his final years in Samoa.

The locals named him Tusitala – ‘teller of tales’. You can hike up to visit his grave at Mt Vaea, overlooking the sea, or visit the mansion where he used to live. This magnificent building has been converted into a museum and houses many of the family’s possessions.

If you’re a history buff, be sure to check out the small, but well maintained National Museum of Samoa.

Established in 1999 it houses a collection of paintings and artifacts, as well as running weekly workshops and holding temporary exhibitions.

You could also visit the John Williams Memorial where missionaries first landed in 1830.

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

                

                   

 14. Surfs up

Powerful waves hit the coral reefs that surround the islands creating some awesome surf breaks in both Savai’i and Upolu. Samoa isn’t the best place for beginners, but for those with a bit of skill, it’s idyllic and mostly uncrowded.

Between May and October you’ll want to be rising early to make the most of the conditions before the winds pick up and the waves become too powerful. November through to April, the breaks are more comfortable. There is no surf shop in Samoa, so bring all your surf gear.

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Photo credit: David Kirkland/Samoa Tourism

                                  

 15. In the footsteps of giants and dwarves

              

According to legend Paia Dwarfs Cave, near Manase, is home to dwarves. Explore the cave and find footprint evidence of these mystical little people. The cave is a kilometre long, so bring good shoes, water and a torch.

An oddly shaped crack in the lava is said to be the footprint of Moso, a famous giant. It is said it was made when Moso step over from Fiji. To see it for yourself will cost you a small fee.

                 

16. Go on get a tattoo

                  

Samoan tattoos are a traditional art form. For over 2000 years both men and women have been tattooed by repeatedly tapping a ‘needle’ into the skin with black soot. The process is painful, and before the missionaries appeared in the 1830s every male was tattooed. Geometric lines are most popular covering the middle of the back down to the knees.

 17. On ya bike

 

Samoa is a safe and smooth place to cycle, if not a little sweaty. Armed with sunscreen a singlet and a decent hire bike, it’s also an amazing way to see the islands. Take advantage of all the waterfalls, beaches and swimming holes along the way.

Most of the roads are well sealed and there are only a few hills to be aware of. Everyone will greet you along your way, and when you stop off roadside there’ll be plenty of fresh fruit and coconuts to drink.

             

                  18 Go fishing

                   

Catch a legendary yellow fin tuna in this calm ocean paradise, or reel in anything from marlin and trevally, to masimasi and dolphin fish.

Professional fishing boats head out daily, or you take a more cruise like approach and stay on a catamaran for a few days, waking up to fresh shellfish each morning.

local trip will give you a real insight into island time, and even if you’ve never fished before, there’s no doubt you’ll come back with spoils of the sea.

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19 Be pampered

A land of rainforest, natural beauty and fresh ingredients, it is no wonder Samoa is also known for its traditional healers, or taulasea. The knowledge of many therapeutic plants has been passed down through generations of Samoan women and, with the onset of tourism, is now being used to pamper weary travellers.

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Spoil yourself with a coconut oil fofo, the traditional Samoan massage or a refreshing banana and papaya body wrap and facial. Nonu, one of the most valuable of the rain forest’s restorative plants sooths, nourishes and calms irritated skin, as well as cures upset stomachs and high blood pressure. Try it for yourself at one of the many world-class spas.

 

                   

                  20. The blowholes

                

Watch nature at it’s wildest in the southwest of Savai’i. Here the Alofaaga Blowholes drive water hundreds of feet up into the air. Throw a coconut into the blowhole and see how far it launches.

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                  21. Learn to slap dance

               

Developed in the 19th Century the Fa’ataupati, slap dance, is indigenous to Samoa.

Traditionally performed by men for birthdays, weddings and other celebrations, it is a demonstration of strength.

You can watch it being performed at special fiafia nights along with firedances, taualuga – a sacred dance performed by virgins – all while enjoying a taste of Samoan cuisine.

In late August the Teuila Festival is held, a much larger annual celebration of this tradition and way of life.

Choirs sing, umus burn (underground ovens) and one beauty is crowned Miss Samoa.

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