Samoa is made up of two main islands, ‘Upolu and Savai’i. We split our time evenly between the two and were never short of activities to fill our days. Despite its tiny size, the natural wonders of Samoa are vast. I suggest hiring a 4WD on each of the islands and spending a day driving round and taking in the natural landscapes along the way. The roads are quiet and pretty much hug the coast on both the islands making it almost impossible to get lost. (I say ‘almost’ because I had Kia as my navigator…)
1. To Sua Ocean Trench, ‘Upolu
This place feels magical. Two deep sinkholes with sheer rock walls and turquoise waters within. You can swim under arching rock connecting the two pools or float on your back looking up into the blue sky above. The pools are fed by an underwater trench which stems directly from the violent coastal shores a few meters away. We hear that passage from the trench to the ocean is possible – but not advised! Also note that the 20-meter vertical ladder descending into the pools may be daunting if you’re afraid of heights.
Take your pick. On ‘Upolu there are the dramatic Sopo’aga Falls and Papapapaitai Falls. Both can be viewed from above and are easily accessible from the main road. On Savai’i there’s the dreamy Afu Aau Falls which are not as dramatic but cascade into a beautiful crystal clear pool which is perfect for a cooling dip after a long hot day exploring. Sit under directly under the falls for a bracing natural massage!
There are plenty of caving opportunities in Samoa. The most famous is Pa’ape’a Cave on ‘Upolu or the creepy subterranean lava tube that is Dwarf’s Cave on Savai’i. We chose to spend a morning exploring a dark and eerie cave while getting wet and muddy and plunging into icy cold but clear water at a nameless cave near Vaiula Beach Fale on the south coast of ‘Upolu. Just ask Sonny for the tour.
4. Mount Matavanu Crater, Savai’i
We hiked to the top and it nearly killed us, but the good news is you don’t have to. If you’ve hired a 4WD then you can drive (slowly) up to within 15 minutes of the crater rim and enjoy the views without the near death experience of hiking in Samoa’s debilitating heat. The scenery on the way up is beautiful with views across most of Savai’i out to the ocean. When you reach the crater, enjoy panoramic views of the now dormant volcano that devastated the island a century ago. Now it’s overgrown with lush green trees and vegetation.
5. Alofaaga Blowholes, Savai’i
The waves on the south west coast of Savai’i hit the low cliffs here violently. Spend a few minutes watching the spectacular and explosive blowholes during high tide. For an extra five tala you can ask a local to toss a coconut into the blowhole just before it explodes. Timed to perfection the coconut will shoot impressively up into air along with the rising waters. It won’t keep you mesmerised for hours but worth a visit nonetheless.