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10 Pieces of Pacific Paradise in Samoa

Tucked away in the middle of the sprawling Pacific Ocean, the islands of Samoa offer a collection of unforgettable natural wonders to those intrepid travellers who venture to its sandy shores.

By: LJ Nielsen + Save to a List

While light on area, Samoa boasts a mouth-watering array of waterfalls, beaches, trails and surf breaks that, while ideal, create a big problem for those who want to keep them secret. With two major islands and a low head-count, it’s easy to find a piece of the paradise all for yourself, and thanks to a network of well-maintained roads, driving, biking and hiking around the country couldn’t be simpler. These are just 10 of the endless highlights on offer in this tropical dreamworld. 


Apia and Mt Vaea

While very few people make the journey to Samoa purely to visit its commercial capital, the mini-metropolis of Apia does have a few features that warrant attention. With a strip of local markets offering traditional handicrafts, a handful of chilled out cafes and the island’s most famous eateries, the city is Samoa’s urban pulse and a great place to stock supplies.

Apia’s most famous-ever resident is quite possibly Treasure Island author, Robert Louis Stevenson, and literature-lovers will find the museum built in his former home to be most interesting. Stevenson was buried on top of neighbouring Mt Vaea (472m), and hikers can venture to the summit to visit his grave stone. The trailhead for the climb is off Robert Louis Stevenson Road; from there it is a steep, slippery hike to the peak where fantastic views of Apia await.      

Papaseea Sliding Rocks

Just outside Apia lies an unusual phenomenon, the Papaseea Sliding Rocks, also known as Nature’s Waterslides. After a small entry fee, thrill seekers can head down a steep set of steps to the sliding rocks, where even the grinchiest of travellers have been seen enjoying themselves. The rocks sit on an extreme slant which, when coupled with rampaging water send sliders on a near-vertical path to the plunge pools below. Just make sure that there is enough water on the rocks, or else you may just be having a cliff jump session.  

To Sua Ocean Trench

To Sua may just be Samoa’s shiniest light, and there is no debate about why it is quickly developing a world-wide reputation amongst travellers. The trench, often dubbed the world’s most beautiful swimming pool, appears to be a 30m hole in the ground, filled with sparkling blue water. In reality though, it is connected to the nearby ocean via an under-water cave that must be seen to be believed.

The pool can be accessed via the 30m ladder that descends to the water below, or by an adrenalin-inducing cliff jump if the tide is high enough (check with the locals before you take the plunge). The water is crystal clear, and tropical fish can be seen going about their business as photographers take advantage of the pristine environment.  As the trench is tidal, the pull can be quite strong, so for safety reasons a rope line has been left under the water. 

To Sua is located just east of Lotofoga, an hour’s drive from Apia, and opens between 08:30am and 6:00pm – get there as early as you can to avoid the crowds, and have this natural beauty to yourself.

Upolu Waterfalls

For waterfall-lovers, Samoa is heaven. Upolu itself boasts at least a dozen photogenic cascades, spreading to the far reaches of the island; however the most iconic of these are the immaculate Sopoaga Falls, and the plunging Fuipisia Falls- both of which sit off the Le Mafa Pass Road. 

While the Sopoaga Falls are only viewable from the nearby Sopoaga village, it’s the setting that makes this a draw card. Surrounded by untouched Samoan wilderness, the falls are simply mesmerising, and a great place to soak in the scenery. The village also has a display of local flora, and the locals are happy to share some of their cooking knowledge. 

On the flipside, it is possible to swim right up to the edge of the Fuipisia Falls, which drop a sheer 55m to the river below. After a short jungle hike from the village, adventure seekers will find themselves at the top of this unbelievable waterfall, looking out on a seemingly unending forest vista.    

Return to Paradise Beach  

While Samoa is surrounded with 360 degrees of beautiful beaches, it would be difficult to determine which one is best, but it’s most well known would be the ‘Return to Paradise’ Beach, made famous by the movie of the same name. Located just off the Main South Coast Road in Savaia, the beach offers crystal clear waters and is the perfect place to soak in the pacific vibes between waterfall chasing and coconut sipping. Further out, experienced surfers can take on a reef break and hopefully avoid the sharp coral spreading far and wide. Otherwise, there are multiple fales for hire for those who want to enjoy a coral-cut free afternoon.   


Car Ferry to Savaii

While Upolu may offer visitors the lush life, the neighbouring island of Savai’i claims to be the true Samoa, and is not to be missed. The island’s road network is basically one single loop, with villages appearing sporadically amongst wild tropical landscape. In order to reach Savai’i though, you must take the famed car ferry across the breathtaking Apolima Strait, which is somewhat of an adventure in itself. With limited crossings per day it is advisable to reserve tickets ahead, especially if taking a vehicle, and stake out a seat on the roof to get the full experience. Many choose to tackle Savai’i by bicycle as the island can be covered in a matter of days, and the lack of vehicle noise pollution contributes to the region’s peaceful serenity. 

Afu Aau Waterfall

20 minutes from the port town of Salelologa lies Savaii’s magical waterfall system, the Afu Aau falls. From the entry point, the road follows a raging river as Samoan wilderness expands rapidly in all directions, culminating in breathtaking views of the waterfall. While not as high as To Sua, the cliffs do rise well above the water hole and offer visitors the chance to take a mandatory rainforest plunge, otherwise, the serene waterhole is a perfect place to relax and get to know the Savaii wilderness. Lying within the boundaries of the local village, the turn off for Afu Aau is well sign-posted from South Coast Road, but depending on the weather can be a slippery drive or ride. Take note that this haven is not open on Sundays, much like the rest of Samoa, when it’s time for the locals to sing and eat.

Alofaaga Blowholes

Explosive, energetic and awe-inspiring – there are very few words that can accurately describe the Alofaaga Blowholes, a natural phenomenon that needs to be seen to be believed.

Consisting of a series of tubes created by lava flows, the blowhole expels a massive tower of water into the sky every time a wave crashes against its lower end, leaving the immediate area completely soaked. While impressive, the blowhole can be fatal, and many have lost their lives from venturing too close to its core. Locals may be present, and for a few Talas will throw a coconut into the blowhole, only for it to be if sent flying moments later when the waves crash through.  

The blowhole can be accessed from the village of Taga, a pleasant 45 minute coastal drive from Salelologa. Bring a towel, even if you don’t intend to get wet.  

Falealupo Canopy Walk

For those who fancy an acrophobia-inducing stroll amongst the tree tops, take a deep breath and head to the Falealupo Canopy Walk on the far west coast of Savaii. The walk soars on a set of wobbly bridges that are suspended 10m above the dense Samoan forest, offering unrivalled views of the South Pacific paradise. The walk can be accessed from Falealupo Road, with a small admission payable at the edge of the forest.   

Samoan Culture

Finally, no trip to Samoa is complete without indulging in the local culture. The people are some of the friendliest of the planet, and are extremely proud of their pacific paradise. The country comes to a virtual stand-still on Sundays, and you could be forgiven for thinking that nobody is taking life too seriously, but this is all what makes Samoa such a charming destination. Remember that every beach belongs to a village, and permission must be obtained before entering; there may be a small charge but the locals will rarely deny entry. Once you hit the Samoan shores, island time is in effect - the best advice for any traveller is to throw schedules away, live in the moment and give this pacific paradise the love it truly deserves. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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