Upolu, home to three-quarters of Samoa's population, is known for its lush forests and waterfalls, peaceful beaches, and great fishing, surfing and snorkelling.
At just 75 kilometres (47 miles) long and 1,125 square kilometres (434 square miles) in total area, Upolu is small enough to easily explore but packs a lot of natural beauty in a small area.
At its peak, Upolu is 1,113 metres (3,652 feet), creating a dramatic difference between its coastal and mountain regions.
Visitors to Samoa arrive at Upolu’s Faleolo International Airport in the north-west and can choose to stay on Upolu or head to an outlying island.
Upolu’s largest town and Samoa’s capital city, Apia, offers bustling local markets selling crafts, fish and tropical fruits, a selection of shops and accommodation, cultural experiences including museums, and a stunning range of cuisine options from contemporary cafes to fine dining restaurants.
The island's south coast is home to some of Samoa's most beautiful beaches, including Lalomanu - regularly voted as one of the world's top beaches.
Upolu’s coastline is dotted with accommodation options, from traditional waterfront fales to luxury resorts.
Visitors have much to explore with the many sites and attractions on Upolu.
There are many options for getting around Upolu, including private car, scooter, taxi or bus.
You'll find it useful to have a map or to map your trip online, so you can track where you are.
Petrol stations may be closed on Sundays, so it's advisable to top up with fuel on Saturdays to avoid running out.
Hire cars are readily available on Upolu and are available to hire at Faleolo Airport and through most accommodation providers.
All visiting drivers in Samoa must have a temporary driver’s licence, which is issued on presentation of a full driver’s licence from the visitors’ country of origin. 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.
Cars drive on the left side of the road in Samoa. Like many things in Samoa, traffic operates on “island time”, and speed restrictions are low.
Always watch for children and animals on the road, particularly in villages and at night. At traffic lights, there is a free turn left on a red light if the way is clear of traffic.
Riding one of Samoa’s brightly coloured buses is a must-do experience and a great insight into the local way of life.
There aren't many bus stops in Samoa (other than the main bus terminals in Apia), 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.
Taxis can be found across Upolu and are very reasonably priced.
They aren't metered and drivers only accept cash, so agree on a price (based on distance) with the driver before you head off.