My Week in Samoa

I was last in Samoa about 8 years ago when I took a massive trip to many islands in the South Pacific. I spent the majority of my time on Samoa in the capital of Apia dealing with the remnants of a disastrous Tokelau expedition. So I didn’t get to do too much around the islands although I did manage a day trip to American Samoa as well. I saw my week in Samoa as a make-up trip similar to recent trips to Vanuatu and Nauru and was pumped for the week ahead! Here is a day-by-day summary of what I did during my week in Samoa.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, map

Day 1

I flew into Faleolo International Airport in Apia, Samoa from New York via Los Angeles and Nadi, Fiji. After a long travel day, we headed straight for Sa ‘Moana Resort on the south side of the island. Sa ‘Moana was pretty isolated with not much else around except for the brilliant Samoan coast. I found the resort to be basic but a very comfortable place.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Sa'Moana, beach

I say basic as it’s essentially built into and with the land. It looks like something you’d see on a Thai island. The bungalows were nice and comfortable with great outdoor showers. The only thing missing was air conditioning although when I asked, they provided a fan. Also, there is no Wi-Fi at Sa ‘Moana.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, sunset, Sa 'Moana

It lies on a beautiful part of the southern coast with amazing breaks right in front of you. The waves I saw were over 20 feet at times and the water is pretty rough for snorkeling. However, there are a few entrances to small areas of ocean clear of rocks and coral where you can swim. The water is phenomenally warm.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Sa 'Moana

There is also a saltwater pool overlooking the ocean at Sa ‘Moana which looks great from afar. But up close there are lots of crab parts and other unidentified stuff. It’s very natural. I still went in and the water is very comfortable if you can accept all the floaters in the water. It does make for great photos though!

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, poke, Sa 'Moana

Lastly, as it was the first day after a long journey we just basically hung around and relaxed after a long day. I must say the food at Sa ‘Moana was excellent especially the poke with garlic and the coconut crumb crusted wahoo. It was seriously delicious. Add in an ice cold Valaima and you’re good to go. After the long trip down I was so tired, slept like a baby and woke up ready to go for day 2.

Day 2

After breakfast we headed for Mulifanua Wharf to catch the 75-minute ferry across to Savaii. Savaii is the other big island of Samoa aside from Upolu; where I was the prior night. I recommend getting a business class seat on the ferry because it has air conditioning and reasonably comfortable seats. You can still access the deck of course but you have the option.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii

When we arrived it was a beeline to the Alofa’aga Blowholes. These blowholes were pretty awesome. They were the best blowholes I have ever visited and I’ve been to quite a few including on nearby Tonga a few years ago.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii, Alofa'aga Blowholes

You will get wet at the blowholes if you go out onto the lava from the mist or the waves crashing but you won’t mind-it’s really cool. You can actually bring coconuts and toss them into the blowhole just as it’s about to spray and it can knock the coconut over 100 feet in the air. This is a must do and very cool to see one get rocketed up in the air!

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii, Alofa'aga Blowholes

Then we headed out to Afu A’au Waterfall; which looks like it could be on Maui along the Road to Hana. Bring some water shoes (I didn’t) and climb up to a platform where you can jump into the chilly fresh water (I did). Just be careful-you have to jump out a good 10 feet to avoid the protruding rocks below.

Afu A’au Waterfall, My week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii

The setting for the waterfall is pretty gorgeous and very Jurassic Park looking. You can swim out to and go behind the actual waterfall. It’s very slippery and hurts your feet climbing and walking without water shoes but again, it’s well worth it.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii, Amoa Resort

From the waterfall it was onto the beautiful Amoa Resort for a late lunch. Amoa is the nicest accommodation on Savaii and served an excellent tuna trio at lunch. It also has a working hotspot for Wi-Fi; which is not easy to find on Samoa. Ask for Lis, an Aussie who lives on Samoa and is a wealth of information and enthusiasm!

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii, Le Lagato, sunset

Finally it was onto Le Lagato for the night. Le Lagato is in a great setting and a great spot to watch sunset with some cool local entertainment as the sun sets. The rooms are very adequate and have air conditioning and a good shower. The restaurant serves pretty decent food and does great cocktails. There is a nice beach onsite as well. We arrived just before sunset and left just after sunrise on day 3 so I didn’t spend too much time at the resort but I enjoyed my time.

Day 3

After a delicious breakfast at Le Lagato, we took a 30-minute walk into the nearby village to visit a local family’s home. It was really fascinating to see how the typical Samoan families live in their very modest open-air houses or fales. It was heartwarming to watch the children play with the animals and interact with us.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii, Fale

They also prepared us some food, coconut cream and showed us how to shave a coconut. I loved seeing this up close and personal and it really made Samoa come to life for me. This was fun, educational and great because it was genuine.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii, coconut

We then headed to the Sale’aula Lava Fields. This is one of several villages destroyed by the volcanic eruptions from 1905-1911. Aside from interesting things like a church and the virgin’s grave, the most fascinating thing was the patterns of the lava itself.  It’s not the worlds greatest site but cool to check out if you’re in the neighborhood.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Savaii, Sale'aula lava fields, lava

Then it was a long trek back to Upolu via a bumpy ferry in rough weather. Upon arrival we headed down to the Aga Reef Resort. This beautiful resort is isolated on the sea at the base of an amazing mountain wall of foliage and vegetation.

My Week in Samoa, Samoa, Upolu, Aga Reef Resort

The resort is really nice and has some oceanfront bungalows. The bar and restaurant were excellent and the rooms were modern and comfortable although Wi-Fi only works in the lobby area. But the views are the star attraction here. Both front toward the sea and back toward the looming mountains of green. I definitely recommend this resort.

Day 4

Just a short ride down from the Aga Reef Resort is Lalomanu Beach; which Lonely Planet named one of the best beaches in the world. I’m not sure I would quite go that far but it was pretty nice, certainly a must visit on Samoa, and a cool look into Samoan beach culture.

Lalomanu Beach, Samoa, my week in Samoa

The beach was the nicest beach I saw on Samoa. It is nice white-ish sand with clear azure water and it is good for swimming. The beach is dotted with fales that you can sleep in for cheap. Fales are open-air, covered houses so to speak. It’s really popular with families and the hippie tourist set.

Lalomanu Beach, Samoa, My week in Samoa

The best part about Lalomanu Beach is the views both down the beach and to an imposing neighboring island that was once used as a penal colony. There is also good Wi-Fi at the restaurant right in the center of the beach. It’s Digicel and not Bluezone so you’ll need a separate login if you bought a Bluezone card. You’ll understand what I mean when you go to Samoa!

My Week in Samoa

After the beach we headed over to the To Sua Ocean Trench. This is what I was most looking forward to for the whole Samoa trip. You’ve seen photos of this before on Instagram or elsewhere even though you likely didn’t know it was on Samoa. I can say it was as good as advertised.

My Week in Samoa

The surprising thing was that when you see photos it looks like it’s deep into the jungle and you’ll have to hike forever through dense rainforest to arrive. That’s nonsense; it’s a 30-second walk from the parking lot just off the ocean. In fact it’s thought to be connected to the ocean via lava tube.

To Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa, my week in Samoa

You can circle the entire trench for photos but the best spot is immediately when you walk up to it from the ticket office and parking lot. When you go down, wear flip-flops or shoes because the ladder will hurt your feet. It’s also very steep and can be slippery when wet. The ladder would never fly in the US!

My Week in Samoa

Once down you can actually jump off the wooden platform into the water below or continue down via the ladder. Consider the tides before deciding to jump, as it can get pretty shallow at low tide. It’s worth checking the tides before you go.

My Week in Samoa

Also, there is a lava tube connecting the trench to the ocean that you can allegedly swim under, catch an air pocket about 10-15 meters in then continue. I don’t advise this at all as people have died. In fact, you’d have to be crazy to do it but we saw people do it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

My Week in Samoa

After the trench we headed to our accommodation for the night at the gorgeous Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa. This was the most resort like of the resorts we had stayed at the time. It looked like a beach resort. The food was excellent, the staff was attentive and kind and the owners are a great Kiwi couple that believe more in providing jobs to the local people than they do about making money. I definitely recommend this resort.

Saletoga Sands Resort, Samoa, my week in samoa

Saletoga Sands also has the top cultural show in all of Samoa. It’s a cool mix of music, dancing, history and fire twirling along with some great local personalities to make it really entertaining. Even for me, who has seen dozens of these things around the Pacific and the world. I really enjoyed it.

Saletoga Sands Resort, Samoan Cultural SHow, Samoa, my week in samoa

After the show we got to speak with some local dignitaries and it was really eye opening. One of the local chiefs, who had left Samoa to live in New Zealand for a while and moved back, really impressed me. He was talking about how all he needs to survive is a small island with a coconut tree. It gives you food; drink, shelter and you can make things like coconut oil and nets to catch fish with it as well. It was a hell of a way to put things into perspective!

Day 5

After a delicious breakfast at Saletoga Sands Resort we headed over to Sopoaga Falls for a quick look. The beautiful waterfall is picture perfect and looks like sheer South Pacific perfection from the distant viewpoint. Unfortunately you cannot get down close to it but this vantage point worked nicely I think!

Sopoaga Falls, waterfall, Samoa, my week in samoa

Next up was the Piula Cave Pool. This was pretty to look at and in a very quiet locale. It was a chilly swim for sure and you can actually go deep into the cave if you wanted to. I didn’t go all the way into the other cave entrance but it is possible to do if you like that kind of thing.

Piula cave Pool, Samoa, My Week in Samoa, Upolu

We then drove over to the capital city of Apia. This was my first time back in Apia proper since my Tokelau expedition several years ago. Let’s just say I had a much better time this trip! Apia has changed quite a bit in the last 8 years. It has grown, modernized and cleaned up. I was very impressed with what I saw including the cathedral and new restaurants like Nourish Café, where we had lunch. Even the old staple hotel of Aggie Grey’s has been redone and is now operated as a Sheraton Hotel.

Apia, cathedral, Samoa, my week in Samoa

The Samoan Tourism Authority operates a free Samoa Cultural Village Tour where local people guide you through typical Samoan life, food and crafts. It was very interesting to watch the men make handicrafts; the women make clothes, tattoo artists and typical cooking.

Samoa, cultural tour

It’s interesting as this isn’t something I would normally do because I would chalk it up to touristy. But the guide made a great point to our group. It’s tourism that keeps these ancient arts and traditions alive in the modern world. That’s an interesting way to think of things. As a tourist you often only think as a tourist and not how your time and dollars affect local people and traditions.

Fugalei Fresh Produce & Flea Market, Apia, Samoa, My Week in Samoa

After a quick look around the Fugalei Fresh Produce & Flea Market we headed up to the famous Robert Louis Stevenson Museum. The great Scottish author who penned ‘Treasure Island’ and ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ spent his last few years on Samoa in this house. He died in the late 19th century leaving behind a legacy carried on today.

Samoa, my week in Samoa, robert louis stevenson museum

You can get a tour of the museum and house and I definitely recommend you do so. The tour only lasts about 30 minutes and gives you some great perspective on Stevenson, the locals he affected and his and his family’s legacy they left behind. Note, if you want to visit his actual burial site, it’s a good 45-minute walk from the museum.

Taumeasina Island Resort & Spa, Samoa, my week in Samoa

We checked into the Taumeasina Island Resort & Spa for the night. Taumeasina was far and away the highest end resort and hotel on the island, certainly that I stayed in this trip. It is a modern luxury resort built on a stand-alone island just off the coast.

Taumeasina Island Resort & Spa, Samoa, my week in samoa, sunrise

The rooms, bar and restaurants were excellent. The staff was very friendly and the sunrise was one of the best I’ve ever seen over the two pools. I would 100% stay here again if I were to go back to Samoa.

Day 6

I checked out early from Taumeasina Resort to head to the small airport that serves American Samoa. My buddy and I grabbed a flight over on Polynesian Airlines that is in the process of changing names to Samoan Airlines. Talofa Airlines is also an option and flights are very cheap. You can go round-trip for about $130 or so.

National Park of American Samoa, Samoa

This was my second trip to American Samoa. This was completely on my own and not a part of the Samoan itinerary. I will write more about my second trip to American Samoa in a future post talking about the differences between Samoa and American Samoa.

Samoa, my week in samoa, cultural show, sheraton samoa

After flying back to Samoa, I stayed at the Sheraton Samoa Resort not too far from Faleolo International Airport. I arrived just in time for dinner and a local culture show. This was my 3rd such show of the trip but each was different and featured different personalities. The highlight was definitely the super intense dancing and the fire twirling.

Day 7

After a lovely breakfast at the Sheraton Samoa, I walked around the property and had a swim at the pool on a cloudy morning. Like most resorts the pool is the centerpiece of the property and is pretty nice. The property itself is very large and has a massive garden area.

Sheraton Samoa, Samoa, my week in samoa

I only had the morning so I didn’t venture off property but enjoyed the time I had before heading to the airport to catch my flight to Auckland, New Zealand. What a great way to spend a week in Samoa. I loved every second of it and felt like I saw the entire country very well including Savaii.

Savaii, Samoa, my week in Samoa, Amoa

I highly recommend you hire a car or driver when you visit and get to see different parts of both Upolu and Savaii. Different areas are very different, especially in terms of scenery and weather. Samoa is an up and coming destination and after a few visits now, a week in Samoa is the way to go!

Disclaimer: I was hosted by the Samoan Tourism Authority and their partners on much of this trip. Everything written was by me and has not been influenced in any way.

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  1. Hey Lee, great post as always. I’ve been curious about Samoa for a long time. I vaguely remember your Tokelau trip from years ago. You’ve put Samoa on my radar, it looks beautiful! It’s crazy that you slept in a different place every night. That must’ve been exhausting?

    • Hi Charles, glad to hear and hope you make it soon! It really wasn’t that bad as we covered so much ground so made more sense than always going back to one place to minimize car time and also see more properties.

  2. I’m dying to see the Tosua Trench, it looks spectacular!

  3. Ok I’m sold on Samoa, you win! Wow that’s beautiful!

  4. I am so glad you went to Savaii as well. I spent 80% of my time there and thought the world of it. Such heartwarming people, beautiful coast and fresh food. I cherished every second on Savaii.

  5. Spectacular photos, Lee!

  6. I really enjoyed following your Samoa and French Polynesia trips. You’ve really carved out quite a fun niche for yourself. Keep up the great work!

  7. Great report and beautiful photos. I do recall your Tokelau trip and how your time in the Samoas was tainted by it. What an awesome way to revisit. I’ve bookmarked this post to help me plan my trip in a few months.

  8. I’m looking forward to hearing about American Samoa. It has always fascinated me as an American territory that nobody knows anything about. Great post as well, hope to make it to Samoa some day.

  9. Samoa looks incredible. It has never been on my radar before I read this post. The trench looks amazing and thanks for the safety tip!

  10. You have the life Lee!

  11. Gus Higgins says

    Hey Less, thanks for your summary. Did you just do American Samoa in one day and just see the capital in this trip?

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