While all this is exactly what many visitors to Samoa do, did you know that this island paradise is also a great destination for a hiking holiday?
Active relaxers will be thrilled to know that Samoa has many days worth of walking trails for all ages and abilities, from an intrepid multi-day hike to Samoa’s largest volcano to family-friendly tracks to see amazing natural scenery.
But, we hear you say, isn’t it far too hot and muggy for such exertion so close to the equator? In fact, Samoa’s highlands are noticeably cooler than the coast, but not cold, which means there is no need to drag bulky packs of warm clothing around.
So what are you waiting for? Here are some of Samoa’s top walking and hiking experiences. All you need is a pair of worn in walking shoes, quite a lot of water and to be ready to explore a side of Samoa that not everyone gets to see.
A great place to begin your walking experience in Samoa is to start on a high. The Canopy Walkway in the Falealupo Rainforest Preserve, Savai’i, is 40m off the ground and threads through spectacular huge banyan trees. Just a short 5 minute walk through the lush rainforest from the car park.
This 938m-high volcanic peak on Upolu Island is accessed via a 1.5km trail, climbing 150m up from the nearest road.
Tafua Crater in Tafua Peninsula Reserve, not far from Salelologa in Savai’i, is a great place for bird watching with potential to sight flying foxes and the tooth-billed pigeon. Safua Tours will guide visitors to the top of the crater on foot.
Two walking trails lead from Vailima to the gravesite of author Robert Louis Stevenson. From the tomb, there are views that overlook Apia to the sea.
The two trails to Stevenson’s tomb take 45 minutes to an hour to walk, and are steep and slippery in places. Sturdy footwear is recommended. The Vailima Botanical Gardens are also located here and offer easier walking trails.
Walk along dramatic cliff tops and through pandanus trees to an open lava field.
Located within O le Pupu Pu’e National Park on Upolu Island’s south coast, this vantage point is also a great place for spotting sea life and birds with views of sea arches and interesting lava rock formations. About 1hr return walk from the car park or 2.5hr return walk from the main road.
Slightly further north, is a 700m, 15-minute walk through the lush Samoan rainforest to the Ma Tree, which has wall-like root structures that fan out from the main trunk. At the tree, experienced walkers can opt to continue along a rough trail for 1.4km to the Togitogiga Visitor Centre.
The site is open daily and entry is free.
A great taster for those who haven't done any hiking in Samoa before, this facility offers guided or independent walks through the ancient mangrove forest.
Climb a waterfall, experience the lush jungle, and cool off in the river. Wearing water shoes or old sneakers is a must.
There is also accommodation on-site, set in a spectacular rainforest on the banks of the Liua Le Vai O Sina River on Upolu.
Bookings are essential.
Mt Matavanu’s summit and an overgrown crater on Savai’i is accessible by a scenic six-hour walk from the nearest main road.
Rising to a height of 1,858 meters, surrounded by rainforest and often covered in cloud, Mt Silisili on Savai’i is a dormant volcano and the highest point in the Samoan archipelago.
This, along with the great views and fascinating geological features that you’ll encounter along the way, makes this a mountain worth summiting.
Reaching the top takes two to three days and requires a guide who will identify the trail.
Arranging a trek can be done at the village of Aopo, which is approximately 10km to the north. You’ll need to speak with the village pulenu’u, a person who is an intermediary between the village and the national government – just ask one of the locals.
You should expect to supply all camping and food supplies for yourself and your guide.
Once on the trail, you’ll go through A’opo Conservation Area, taking in different types of vegetation. The humid tropical air becomes noticeably cooler as you gain altitude. The volcanic crater of Mata o le Afi, which erupted in 1902, is the end of the trail, with the summit of Mt Silisili another hour and a half further on.
Before and after the hike, you might be invited to stay within the guide’s village. Meals may be offered to you during your time there, which it is recommended you reciprocate with appropriate gifts such as food staples, cash or camping gear used on the walk.
For a walking holiday in Samoa with the added benefit of local know-how, plus the company of a guide and maybe other keen walkers, why not join a tour?