Renting a vehicle is also a great idea for people travelling to Samoa with families or large groups. Whether you’re visiting to find surf in some of the most remote parts, or you just need a way for your entire family to get around, there are plenty of different vehicle types available to suit your needs from vans and 4-wheel-drives to cars and scooters.
Booking a car in Samoa is easy, with rental options available from the international airport and central Apia – but before you drive away, there are a few things to arrange and be aware of about driving in Samoa.
All international drivers are required to get an endorsement on their full drivers’ licence before they are allowed to drive in Samoa. Temporary drivers’ permits are available from most rental vehicle companies, or you could visit the Samoa Tourism Information Center, Samoa Post, or the Samoa Land Transport Authority in Apia.
A driving permit costs WST$21 for one month, but car rental companies may charge a fee on top of this. Once issued, an endorsed international drivers’ licence can only be used for a maximum period of 90 days in any one year; a longer period requires a Samoan drivers’ licence.
Because traffic in Samoa generally moves at a slow speed – or according to “island time” – driving in Samoa is relatively safe and easy. The speed limit is generally 35 mph (56 km/h) with slower speed restrictions in villages.
You should keep in mind there are usually many wandering dogs, pigs, and other animals in an around the roads, as well as pedestrians around villages. Always drive at a steady speed and be vigilant of others (animals or people) entering the roads with little notice.
In Samoa, cars have been driving on the left side of the road since 2009, so you may still see many left-hand vehicles in use as a result of this relatively recent change. There are also few street signs around the islands, so it’s a sensible idea to have a map with you at all times, either on your phone or in print.
Fuel stations are and fuel availability can be limited in Samoa, especially on Sundays when many businesses are closed. If you're travelling around Samoa with a rental car or scooter, always plan ahead and fill up your vehicle before leaving a main town.
Upolu has several fuel stations in and around Apia and near Faleolo International Airport. There are very few outlets on the south coast of the island.
On Savai’i, fuel is available at Salelologa, Lalomalava, Maota, Saleaula, and Asau. On Sunday, fuel is available at Saleaula until 4pm, and at Lalomalava from 7am-8am (one hour).
Most stations are open from 7am to about 6pm, except Sundays. Fuel stations have forecourt attendants who do all the filling – just tell them how much fuel you would like and remember to have cash on hand to pay for your fuel afterwards.
When renting a vehicle, always ask about the company’s insurance policy, so you are clear about what you’re covered for. Most will offer various insurance options to reduce the insurance excess in the case of an accident.
The good news is, because driving is quite slow in Samoa, there aren’t many accidents. If you are involved in a motor accident however, the Samoan Road Code advises that you should take the following steps:
Find out about hiring a vehicle in Samoa and book a car, van or scooter for your holiday.