Like in many countries, the transport you use can become a fun part of the holiday experience. Whether it’s cruising by ferry, jostling around on one of the island’s famous local buses, or road tripping in the comfort of your own hire car, here’s your guide to getting around Samoa.
There’s nothing more exciting about a visit to Samoa than heading offshore to discover beautiful and remote locations where you can immerse yourself in Samoan culture.
To get to and from the two main islands of Upolu and Savai’i, you can take car and passenger ferries operated by Samoa Shipping Corporation. Terminals are located at Mulifanua Wharf on Upolu and Salelologa Wharf on Savai'i, and the crossing takes 60-90 minutes. For an additional fee, a VIP ticket allows you to access a lounge onboard which offers air conditioning, tea, coffee, and a snack.
To reach Manono Island, boats operate from Manono-Uta on Upolu Island’s western end, near Le Vasa Resort. There is no set timetable and trips are arranged on-site along with any other passengers who may be waiting.
Read more helpful tips on taking the Upolu – Savai’i ferry
Do not leave Samoa without riding a local bus at least once! When you take a bus, you step temporarily out of the tourist realm into the ‘real Samoa’ in all its warmth and glory. Exploring the islands on Samoa’s brightly coloured buses doesn’t just provide an inexpensive transport option, but a memorable and fun cultural experience.
To catch a bus, just wave it down - there are no bus stops. And when you want to get off, pull the cord along the roof of the bus. Simple! All buses are named with their destination, but you may ask the driver if you are unsure.
Buses run on ‘island time’, so are not appropriate if you need to be somewhere at a specific time. The bus timetable is flexible, to say the least, and it’s not unheard of for buses to stop at supermarkets and wait while passengers do their shopping.
For first-timers, and for those unsure of the bus routes, you can board a bus at main terminals. In Apia, the main terminals are located behind the food market in Fugalei and opposite the flea market at Savalalo. The most you should expect to pay is ST$12 per person. Payment is in cash so make sure you’re prepared with small change.
Sometimes it’s just easier to get to where you’re going with a local in the driver's seat. You’ll see lots of taxis throughout Upolu and Savai’i and they are an easy and inexpensive way to get around.
You’ll notice that taxis aren't metered, so you agree on a fare with the driver before departing. The minimum fare is ST$3, and as a guide, a fare from Faleolo International Airport to Apia should cost around ST$60-70. For short trips around town, fares range from ST$3-12.
If you find a driver who you hit it off well with early on, it can be worth getting their telephone number and using their service during your stay. You may be able to negotiate a decent day rate that compares favourably with a hire car.
You might think that the driving pace is slower compared to back home, but taxi drivers in Samoa must contend with potholes, kids, and animals - so plenty of care is taken.
The most convenient way to get around Samoa is by renting a car. With so many off-the-beaten-track activities, it’s great to have an air-conditioned vehicle to get to where you want in the time frame you need. Local companies cater to all group sizes, from 16-seater vans to four-wheel drives for off-road exploring.
In Samoa, drive on the left-hand side of the road and note the speed limit is 40km/h in towns and villages and 56km/h on the open roads. Embrace island time and speed when you’re driving in Samoa, and always keep your eyes peeled at night for animals you might not expect to see at home.
Before you drive in Samoa, you'll need a temporary drivers’ license from the Transport Enforcement Division of the Ministry of Police. Check with the rental car company whether they offer the license on-site, or you can also apply for the license at Faleolo International Airport.
Ensure your rental car company inspects your vehicle with you, noting any existing scratches or dents. If you rent a car from Faleolo International Airport, you'll need to pay an ST$2 fee to leave the car park - payable by cash only.
Read more helpful tips on hiring a vehicle in Samoa.
Travelling by bike is another great way to experience Samoa. Both islands have easy to navigate coastal ring roads but there are also tracks suitable for mountain biking for the adventurous. There are even bike tours if you want to get orientated or be guided through a particular part of Samoa.
Bikes can be rented from some resorts and Outdoor Samoa on Upolu and Savai'i. You can also find companies that offer a bag carry service or full support vehicle if you just want to enjoy the cycling rather than balancing packs and provisions.
With many resorts, hotels, fales and other accommodation dotted along the coastlines, it's easy to cycle between nightly rest stops. There are also fruit and BBQ stalls and plenty of swimming holes along the way - just remember to ask the village for permission before you swim.
Renting a scooter is another great option. You can duck and dive between traffic - well, traffic Samoan style! - and have a fabulous open-air experience that will enable you to enjoy Samoa’s natural beauty as it should be – with blues skies above, gorgeous beaches to one side, and lush green vegetation to the other. Helmets are a must.
Samoa’s main roads are generally sealed, but cyclists and drivers alike will encounter many patched-up sections and potholes.
If you’re cycling, head out as early as you can in the morning before the heat of the day builds. Then relax on the beach or at the pool in the afternoon.
Take a bike lock to ensure your bike remains where you left it when you went for that well-deserved swim.