An idyllic island paradise, Samoa offers visitors the perfect vacation. With a wide range of activities and sightseeing locations, these are the top things to do and see in Samoa.
Recognised for its incredible beauty, Samoa is the perfect holiday destination. The locals are warm and welcoming, the food is fresh and the drinks are chilled.
To assist in planning a well-rounded Samoan itinerary, this post will outline all of the must-see tourist activities across the country’s two main islands: Upolu and Savai’i. It includes natural highlights, hidden gems and picture-perfect Instagram opportunities.
Top Things to Do in Samoa
The most populated of Samoa’s ten Pacific islands, Upolu is also the country’s main tourism hub.
All visitors to Samoa enter through Faleolo International Airport which is located on the north-west coast of the island. Many will then choose to hear to the capital city, Apia, or to one of the many resorts and hotels located around the island.
Upolu is home to a number of natural treasures; some of which are surprisingly close to the main business hub of the country!
Here are some of the best things to do and see on Upolu.
Piula Cave Pools
Only 30km from Apia, visitors will find the Piula Cave Pools. These natural freshwater pools are found on the shore, beneath the historic Methodist chapel. Formed long ago, this popular tourist location sits in a lava tube.
The water of the caves is refreshing as so much of it sits in perpetual darkness. Visitors are able to swim deep into the cave or can enjoy snorkelling near the mouth of the lava tube instead.
After taking a dip in the crystal-clear pool, visitors can continue swimming in the ocean or enjoy sunbathing on the shore. It’s the perfect way to dry off before moving on to the next destination.
Cost: WST $5 per adult and WST $3 per child.
Hours: Monday – Saturday, from 8 am to 4 pm.
Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
No visit to Upolu is complete without a visit to the amazing Papase’ea Sliding Rocks! Located close to Apia, the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks provide fun for the whole family.
Over time, this calm river wore away at the once-sharp rocks, leaving a smooth rock face behind. Visitors now enjoy slipping and sliding down these natural waterfalls, only 15 minutes from Apia.
The walk down to the sliding rocks is fairly steep, so good footwear is essential.
Cost: WST $5 per adult and WST $2 per child (under 12 years of age).
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8 am – 5.30 pm. Sunday, 11 am – 6 pm
Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
Though it’s hard to believe, some of the best snorkelling in Samoa is right beside the port! Only a five-minute walk from the middle of Apia, Samoa’s capital, an incredible underwater world awaits.
A large ledge stretches out from the shore, before eventually dropping off into the ocean. This ledge is home to an amazing assortment of both hard and soft coral and countless species of tropical fish. Most divers agree that the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve is one the best spots in the world to experience the extraordinarily colourful underwater world!
Be sure to visit as close to high tide as possible, to ensure comfortable snorkelling out over the coral. At low tide, this can be a challenge. To reduce the chance of coral cuts, reef shoes or flippers are recommended.
There are changing rooms, toilets and showers on-site, along with equipment rental facilities. There are also plenty of opportunities to lay out a picnic and to sunbath, making it a breeze for guests to relax the day away.
Cost: WST $3 per adult and WST $2 per child. Gear hire is available; WST $5 per mask and WST $2 per snorkel.
Hours: Monday – Sunday, from 8 am – 6 pm.
Samoan Cultural Show
Whilst in Upolu, a Samoan cultural show is practically a must-see.
Enjoy an evening of culture, dancing, food and fun as hosts welcome visitors with open arms. Sample a range of different local dishes, including palusami, taro and oka i’a (served fresh from the ocean) whilst enjoying incredible and authentic Samoan dance and performance.
Visitors to Samoa will become familiar with the country’s cultural dances, including the Siva (performed by young women), the Siva Afi (a fire knife dance performed by young men) and the Fa’ataupati (which is performed by men). Each and every dance is a sight to behold and distinctly Samoan.
A show like this is the cherry-on-the-top of any Samoan vacation, as it combines all aspects of local culture, custom and food.
There are a number of places in Apia that host these cultural evenings so it is best to ask the hotels and book a night that best suits.
Additional Upolu tourist attractions:
- To Sua Ocean Trench
- Lalomanu Beach
- Togitogiga Waterfall
- Taumeasina Island
- Scuba diving
Though Savai’i is the second most populated island in Samoa, it feels anything but. The island retains its traditional charm and feels exactly like the way Samoa would have looked generations back.
This is a place where the pace of life is slow and the smiles are big. Where the only sound visitors will hear at night is the rhythmic crashing of waves on the shore.
The following are the top things to see and do on Savai’i.
Not only is the Pulemelei Mound the largest structure in all of Polynesia, but it is also the oldest.
Walking along the unmarked, overgrown path, visitors could be forgiven for assuming this structure (which is also known as the Tia Seu Ancient Mound) lacks significance but nothing could be further from the truth.
An important historic location, it is somewhat surprising to learn that historians do not actually know what the structure was used for. Built sometime between 11th and 14th century (and actively used until the 1800s), it is possible that it was used for religious ceremonies or as a monument to the dead. Now, it provides incredible island views to tourists and locals alike.
Measuring 60 x 65 metres, and reaching 12 metres into the air, this flat-topped pyramid is quite the imposing structure, surrounded by the ever-encroaching jungle.
Located inland on the eastern side of the island, the Pulemelei Mound is close to another popular tourist attraction – the Afu Aau Waterfalls.
Saleaula Lava Fields
The Saleaula Lava Fields are a unique glimpse into Samoa’s geological past. Buried by Mt Matavanu’s eruption in 1905, these lava fields now span an incredible 50 square kilometres. This amazing lava field attract visitors from all around the world.
With incredible buried churches (the most impressive of which is the LMS Church) and 5 destroyed villages destroyed, this is a place unlike any other.
It is a must on any tour of Savai’i.
Cost: WST $5 per adult and WST $3 per child.
Additional Savai’i tourist attractions:
- Afu Aau Waterfalls
- Alofaaga Blowholes
- Surf Aganoa Beach
Samoa is an incredible destination.
Sustainable Tourism in Samoa
In a country as naturally and culturally rich as Samoa, it is important to ensure that tourism plays a positive role in communities. By exploring this country in a socially responsible manner, tourists are able to enjoy the best of Samoa whilst putting money back into the local economy. This spending helps to support community development and local conservation efforts, ensuring Samoa is protected, both for locals and tourists for years to come.
Using the above recommendations, it is easy to plan a getaway that is not only enjoyable but fulfilling. With incredible beauty, both in the islands and their people, it’s impossible to go wrong.
Just be sure to book in plenty of downtime too, so you can really enjoy the island way of life!
NOTE: Thanks to Sarah from Exploring Kiwi’s for writing this great post on Samoa.