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To-Sua Ocean Trench on Upolu in Samoa
To-Sua Ocean Trench, Upolu

The Top Places to Explore in Samoa

There's no shortage of breathtaking natural beauty and fascinating cultural and historical experiences in Samoa.

Imagine standing up close to dramatic waterfalls and being nestled in leafy tropical forests – or diving into crystal-clear freshwater pools, discovering ancient volcanoes, and swimming with turtles. With over 3,000 years of history contained within Samoa’s small islands, you’ll never be stuck for places to visit and exciting activities to try. 

 

 

Cultural and Historic Sites 

Samoa has a huge range of interesting sites and attractions which allow visitors to experience the country’s rich and ancient culture, learn about its fascinating history and explore some of its natural wonders.

The Samoa Cultural Village is a great place to start your holiday in Samoa because you can discover the nation’s 3,000-year-old culture and traditions in a fun and interactive way. For history buffs, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (RLS Museum) is the place where you can learn all about the life of the famous Scottish poet and author who fell in love with Samoa.

Even if you’re not a museum or history buff, you still might be interested to spend some time relaxing on the ‘Return to Paradise Beach’. Made famous by the 1952 movie classic, Return to Paradise, you’ll soon understand why these beautiful lagoons, sparkling white sandy beaches and colourful coral reefs were worthy of cinema screens.

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Inland Swimming Holes

While holiday swimming usually takes place in the sea, you could journey inland to discover a myriad of inland swimming holes where the waters are crystal clear, and the rainforest offers cool respite from the sun.

On the Main South Coast Road of Upolu, you will find the iconic To-Sua Ocean Trench. Looking like a classic tropical paradise postcard, the waters of this trench are a deep, glistening sapphire blue and are surrounded by tall rocks decorated with ferns and other emerald-green plants.

Piula (Fatumea) Cave Pool is a spring-fed freshwater pool and cave full of colourful fish that originate from an old lava tube. One of Samoa’s hidden gems, you’ll find it behind the historic Methodist Church Chapel on Samoa’s main island of Upolu. Consisting of two blue-green fish-filled grottos, the brave can swim between them via a three-metre underwater passage.

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Waterfalls

Samoa’s mountainous landscape has created many beautiful and spectacular waterfalls that are fed each year during the wet season.

Upolu’s south coast has the country’s best collection of spectacular falls that are easily accessible to visitors. Some, like Togitogiga Falls, have swimming holes and changing rooms and toilets. Others, like the 100m high Papapapai-Tai Falls are strictly for looking only. Fuipisia Falls at the east end of Upolu offers a bush walk, a pool at the top of the waterfall to bathe in, and a spectacular 55m drop of water.

On Savai’i, the southern coast has the most waterfalls. One of the most popular is the Afu Aau Falls, which emerges from lush green rainforest and plunges into a deep pool which is safe for swimming. At the Mu Pagoa Falls, a shallower pool formed where Samoa’s largest river flows to the sea, and is used by visitors and locals alike.

 

Walking Trails

Another way to explore the beautiful wilderness of Samoa’s lush rainforests, expansive plantations, volcanic plateaus, and soaring mountains is by booting up and hitting the walking trails. Samoa offers a spectacular range of walks for all ages and abilities, ranging from an hour or so to several days.

The aptly named Coastal Walk is part of the O Le Pupu Pu'e National Park and is a spectacular clifftop coastal walk among pandanus trees before opening out to an ancient open lava field. A great place for spotting sea life and birds. 

The highly popular Mt Vaea walking trail in Apia takes you to Robert Louis Stevensons Tomb and offers beautiful views of Samoas capital city.

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Mountain Adventures 

Samoa’s mountain sides are covered with dense tropical forests and with temperatures often pleasantly cooler than the coast, they’re well worth exploring. Visitors can even find accommodation that is positioned for incredible views on the flanks of Upolu’s mountains, while volcanic Savai’i offers trekking, adventure, and exploration for all abilities.

Mt. Fito is famous as the loftiest mountain on Upolu at about 1,100 metres high. See fascinating rainforest views from atop this gorgeous setting within the O Le Pupu-Pui National Park.

For those seeking a more intrepid mountain adventure, Mt Silisili is in the central region of Savai’i. A 2–3-day hike can be arranged with the pulenu’u (local authorities) of Aopo. All food and camping supplies should be provided by the tourists and you should expect to provide for the guide.

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Volcanoes

Samoa's archipelago was created due to volcanic activity and today, most of its peaks are dormant or extinct volcanoes. Samoa’s volcanic activity has left behind many fascinating landforms, particularly on Savai’i, which has huge lava tubes and spectacularly rugged coastlines of black volcanic rock to explore.

The most recent eruption occurred from Mt Matavanu, which is located within a string of volcanic craters leading to the highest peak in Samoa, Mt Silisili. The eruption occurred between 1905 to 1911 and led to the evacuation of entire villages which were destroyed. People were able to safely escape to the island of Upolu thanks to the slow-movign lava, but remnants of a church remain at the Saleaula Lava Fields as a reminder of the force of the flow.

Upolu has several volcanic peaks too, notably the water-filled bush-clad crater, Lake Lanoto’o. The last three eruptions on this island are estimated to be a few hundred to one-thousand years ago.

 

 

Beaches

Imagine picture-perfect sprawling white sandy beaches which meet lapping turquoise-blue waves – and under the ocean, the most amazing colourful gardens you could imagine. Samoa is one of the last unspoilt paradises in the world with range of beaches and coral reefs around its tropical shores.

Picture perfect Lalomanu, located on the island of Upolu, is one of Samoa’s most-visited beaches. A spectacular spot for snorkelling, Lalomanu boasts waters brimming with sea life thanks to the lagoon’s status as a protected marine reserve.

Manase, found on the island of Savai’i, is another of Samoa’s deservedly popular beaches. Its picturesque white sands and clear waters have helped to cement its status as a paradise for visitors. It is often considered along with Lalomanu as one of Samoa’s must-see beaches.

Visitors looking for a secluded beach experience will enjoy visiting Manono Island. Accessible from Upolu, the island has no cars (or roads on which to drive them). Beaches on Manono Island are unsurprisingly relaxing and are a popular place to go for locals from Manono’s four small fishing villages.

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