Nine Things To Do In: Savai’i, Samoa
To follow on from my post ‘Nine things to do in: Upolu, Samoa’, here’s a guide to the other major island, Savai’i. Savai’i is not as populated as Upolu, which has the capital of Samoa – Apia and the major airport. Savai’i, even though bigger in size than Upolu, is more wild and untouched, and is just as enjoyable to visit.
We spent 3 nights in Savai’i, including hiring a car and road tripping around the island. This was a great way to see the sights!
Here’s a guide to nine things you can see on the island of Savai’i.
1. Lava Flow and Church
In the village of Saleaula, along the North Coast Rd, you can visit the site of one of Samoa’s largest volcanic eruptions, from Mt Matavanu in 1905-1911. The lava flowed through villages, destroying them on its way to the ocean. A Catholic church was also partly destroyed. You can pay a small entry fee to visit the ruins of the church and walk on the lava fields.
Like most attractions in Samoa, the lava fields and church appear to be located on someone’s property. You pay a small entry fee and a local, most times it felt like a teenage family member, escorts you through to the attraction and back. If you ask and probe, you can get a bit more information, but they aren’t exactly tour guides. We got the feeling they didn’t really want random people wandering all around, so its pretty much walk you in, tell you a few things, wait while you take photos, and escort you out.
After paying our entrance fee we followed the guide through the lava fields, to the first spot on the ‘tour’, the virgin’s grave. The story goes that the lava flowed around the grave and headstone of a virgin buried there, but did not cover it up, as seen below. Many Samoan people are very religious, and there are more churches than you would imagine spread out across the sparsely populated island of Savai’i. For some, this grave ‘halting’ the flow of lava seemed like a sign from God.
After the grave, we were taken back to the church ruins to wander through the archways and over mounds of lava.
2. Falealupo Canopy Walkway
On the far side of the island, a few hours drive from the ferry wharf, is the Falealupo Canopy Bridge. It’s a short swing bridge swung high between two old Banyan trees. It’s not a very long bridge, and you climb up, walk across and then climb the second tree a bit higher to a top platform, which feels like a treehouse to look out across the forest.
Again you pay an entry fee to see this attraction, and it is combined with a lava imprint called ‘Moso’s footprint’, which is supposed to be a footprint of a giant (seemed like a stretch to imagine it as a foot print), and an attraction called the House of Rock, which we didn’t visit. Some people have written reviews where they complain about the cost of seeing these attractions, about 20 Tala. True – it isn’t really worth driving from the other side of the island to just do the canopy walk / swing bridge. But if you are driving around the island it is worth stopping and paying the money to support the local families and community.
3. Alofaaga Blowholes
The Alofaaga blow holes were highly recommended as a ‘must do’ while on the island of Savai’i. A short drive off the main ring road at the southern part of the island led to the blow holes. We had to pay 5 tala to ‘park’ our car… which seemed like a scam at first, there were no signs – just some random family members approaching anyone who drove in. Oh well, we were happy to pay, park our car and wander out on the rocks to see the ocean spray through the holes.
A local was throwing coconuts in the holes to show us them catapulting out again when the surge of seawater sprayed up. An easy, cheap place to stop if cruising around the island, and not far from the main town.
4. Afu Aau Waterfall
Not far from the Alofaaga Blowholes is the Afu Aau Waterfall and swimming hole. A muddy drive up a road that follows the river leads to this little waterfall, where you can jump off heights and swing from trees, or just paddle in the deep pools.
We were happy just to visit and watch, the rocks were quite slippery and we had just dried off from an ocean swim. There were lots of Samoan kids there jumping in and having fun.
5. Vaisala Beach
As we began our drive around the island we kept seeing glimpses of the most amazing blue water and white sand. We headed off the main road to find a slice of heaven for a dip. At the back of the little village of Vaisala we found the relatively empty Vaisala Beach Resort with a deserted beach just for us!
After having to save a runaway hat we enjoyed a quick dip in the turquoise waters. Bliss!
6. Cocktails by the Ocean
I should relabel this as cocktails IN the ocean. Yeah you read that right. At the place we stayed – Le Legato Resort and Spa the staff would bring you your cocktails while you were swimming. You didn’t even need to get out of the water! Talk about the ultimate swim up bar!
7. Find a Fale
There are fales (wooden beach shelters) dotted all over the coast of Samoa. Most seem to be free for anyone to use, perfect for grabbing some shade or an afternoon nap, local style!
8. Catch the Ferry
The only way to get between the island of Upolu and the island of Savai’i is to take the local ferry! It’s noisy, crowded, full of locals and cars, but a great experience! Hang out on deck or pay the extra 15 Tala to sit in business class. It’s not that fancy, but you’ll get a real seat indoors and a sandwich and drink. We MAY have nonchalantly tried to just take ourselves into Business class for a free upgrade… but we were caught out! Oh well, we paid the 15 Tala anyway.
9. Swim and Snorkel
There are so many places to swim and snorkel around the island of Savai’i, in the ocean, lagoons, waterfalls or even resort pools! During the high season you can book snorkeling trips and boat trips out to the reef. We were there in the off season and many of the hire and dive shops were closed. No matter, the water was so inviting right off the shore we were happy just paddling around, and then relaxing back at the resort lagoon and pool watching the sunset!