A list of the top ten things to do in Samoa, including explosive blowholes, plunging sinkholes, rainforest-clad craters and cascading waterfalls.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN SAMOA
1. To Sua Ocean Trench: The descent to To Sua in ‘Upolu starts with a vertiginous (and slippery!) ladder to a small landing base. There, you can leave your belongings before jumping into the aquamarine pool below. The natural trench has a small passageway out to the open ocean but authorities warn against trying to swim through.
Instead, laze in the pool for an hour or two, explore its cavernous passage and take some time to wander the surrounding gardens. You can get there by bus or taxi and pay a small entrance fee for the day. Read more about To Sua and other attractions listed below in 5 unmissable natural wonders in Samoa.
2. Afu-A-Au Falls: This waterfall with its natural swimming pool was one of our favourite things to do in Samoa. Spend an hour or two swimming in some of the clearest freshwater you will ever see. Pause beneath the waterfall for a ‘natural back massage’ and dry off in the deliciously warm Samoan sun. We hired a car for the day but you can get there by bus or taxi also.
3. Robert Louis Stevenson Museum & Mt Vaea: This was an unexpected highlight of Samoa. It offers an intriguing look at the author’s life in ‘Upolu, his relationship with the Samoan people and his death on the island. Get there by taxi and make sure you do the short hike up Mount Vaea to the writer’s grave.
4. Sopo’aga Falls Viewpoint: This viewpoint offers a stunning look at ‘Upolu’s verdant landscape. The yawning valley lined with lush vegetation is a great spot for lunch. Our only disappointment was that we couldn’t get closer to the falls themselves. You can get there by taxi but our advice is to hire a car for the day and whip round the island taking in the falls.
5. Falealupo Rainforest Canopy Walkway: If traversing a shaky canopy bridge followed by a climb up a grand old tree to a creaking old treehouse at the top is your kind of thing, you’ll love this stop in Savai’i. While the views at the top aren’t as breathtaking as other viewpoints in Samoa, the crossing itself is well worth the entrance fee. We got there with our hired car but it’s easily reachable by taxi or a bus too.
6. Mt Matavanu Crater Hike: This hike nearly killed us but only because we underestimated how hot it would be. The six-hour round trip offers a view into a massive crater, previously the mouth of a devastating volcano, now covered in greenery.
While the view itself wasn’t as stunning as we’d hoped, the climb was worth it just to meet Da Craterman, the crater’s larger-than-life guardian and caretaker. You can drive up some of the way if you have a sturdy car. If not, catch a bus or taxi to the start of the trail. Take sunscreen, a hat, good walking boots and plenty of water!
7. Dwarfs Cave: If you’re not quite up to the Matavanu hike, instead spend at Paia Dwarfs Cave. Hire a guide from Paia Village (just ask at your fale or hostel) and take a day to explore this cave, said to be home to a race of small people. Just make sure you tell the guide when you’re ready to turn around. Legend has it that the end has never been reached and your guide will keep on going until you tell them to stop!
8. Alofaaga Blowhole: This roaring jet of water on Savai’i is blasted through rock by the power of the ocean waves. While it’s certainly impressive, the visit probably won’t take more than 20-30 minutes (once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it). You can pay locals to throw coconuts into the blast for a small fee: impressive but not a must do.
9. Baha’i House of Worship: Amid the many Mormon churches on ‘Upolu sits the contrasting Baha’i House of Worship. One of only eight in the world, the temple is an impressive structure that rises out of 20 acres of beautifully maintained gardens. If you’ve hired a car, you can fit this in as part of your round-the-island tour. If not, consider paying a taxi to take you to a few stops around the island including this one.
10. Manono Island: A tiny island between Samoa’s main islands of ‘Upolu and Savai’i, Manono has an estimated population of 884. Surrounded by crystal waters, it offers a haven of calm (dogs and cars have been banned there!).
Day trips can be organised via Samoa Scenic Tours or, if you prefer to go it alone, go to the jetty south of Le Vasa Resort and ask for the boat to Manono. Tickets are dirt cheap (around 5 tala each) and the journey takes about 20 minutes.
Lonely Planet Rarotonga, Samoa & Tonga is a comprehensive guide to the Cook Islands, ideal for those who want to explore the top things to do in the Cook Islands as well as take the road less travelled.