Cloaked in a pristine rainforest teeming with birdlife, Savai’i is often referred to as the “real Samoa” where locals enjoy a laid-back, traditional way of life.
Its size and lack of population make Savai’i the ideal place to get away from it all, immerse yourself in true Polynesian culture and explore incredible landscapes.
Savai'i is reached by ferry from Samoa’s main island, Upolu.
Savai’i is 80 kilometres (50 miles) long and 40km (25 miles) wide, with the dormant volcano Mt Silisili its highest peak at 1,858 metres (6,095 feet).
The island’s main town and arrival point for ferries from Upolu is Salelologa in the southeast, accessible by the main road that encircles the island.
Savai’i’s attractions include high waterfalls, caves and blowholes, and particularly the dramatic Saleaula lava fields and huge lava tubes that formed when Mt Matavanu erupted in the early 20th Century.
Savai’i also has plenty of pristine beaches, great snorkelling, kayaking and diving, and a wide range of accommodation options along with some of the best food in Samoa.
There are many options for getting around Savai’i, including rental car, scooter, bicycle, public transport or taxi.
It is useful to carry a map or track your destination online. Petrol stations are likely to be closed on Sundays, so play it safe and top up your tank on a Saturday.
Rental cars are available on Savai’i, or can be brought over from the main island Upolu by ferry. To book your vehicle on the ferry, please visit the Samoa Shipping Corporation in Matautu, Apia. This needs to be done in advance to ensure a spot on the ferry.
Driving in Samoa is on the left side of the road. Traffic operates on “island time”, and speed restrictions are low. Always watch for children and animals - and stray volleyballs - particularly in villages.
All visiting drivers in Samoa must have a temporary driver’s licence, which is issued on presentation of your full driver’s licence. Many vehicle rental companies will issue a temporary licence; otherwise, visit the Samoa Tourism Authority Information Centre in central town or the Land Transport Authority in Vaitele.
Riding one of Samoa’s brightly coloured buses is a must-do experience and a great insight into the local way of life.
In Salelologa, buses depart from the wharf or market. There are no bus stops on Savai’i so check at your accommodation or ask a local for advice.
There aren't many bus stops in Samoa, so here it really is a case of catching a bus... simply wait on the side of the road and wave your bus down (arm out and palm down). You won’t need to pay your fare until you disembark - it’s a good idea to have cash in small denominations.
The destination is often written on the front of the bus. But if you're unsure you’re on the right bus, just ask the driver.
The seats are wooden benches, and if the bus becomes full, the locals will opt to sit on each others’ lap, rather than stand in the aisles. This is a courtesy often offered to visitors as well, so don’t be offended or shy if someone offers you their lap. If the bus is heading into either Apia or Salelologa, the locals may carry their produce onboard to the markets.
When you want to get off, simply pull the cord to ring the buzzer.
What better way is there to slow down to “island time” and see the sights up close, than travelling by bike? Bicycles are a popular way for visitors to tour Savai’i, and you can hire a bike or join a guided bike tour of the island.
There are taxis on Savai’i and they are a reasonably-priced way to travel around. As Samoa taxis don’t have meters, it’s best to agree on a price at the start - based on distance. Drivers only accept cash.