Samoa - What to see in Savai´i in 5 days (including map)
Are you planning to visit Samoa and still deciding whether is it worth to go to the second island Savai`i as well? Look no further but to this post to ensure yourself you will miss some damn stunning places if you decide not to visit. Tropic rainforest, unique waterfalls, gorgeous beaches and even reminder of not so long ago volcanic activity makes this island memorable. And what will bring smile on your face and will fill your heart with positivity are warm and generous people that you will meet here living their fa` a Samoa - Samoan way of life.
The most interesting places to visit on Savai`i are situated on the north and south coast of the island and that is also how I structured the list of best things to do and see here.
All information about the transportation from Upolu to Savai`i you can find in Samoa - all you need to know before you go.
part of the island
SATO`ALEPAI TURTLE SANCTUARY - SWIMMING WITH TURTLES
If you haven`t seen any wild sea turtles while snorkeling in the ocean yet or you just want to show your kids these giant creatures, then head to the village Sato’alepai on the northernmost point of the island Savai`i. The local Matai`a family has started a project and developed a huge pond for hurt turtles to keep them alive. It supposed to be sanctuary (at least we thought so before we went there) but to be honest, we had kind of strange feeling when people were actually swimming with turtles in the pond, which is allowed here. We don`t think this is how sanctuary should operate, if we compare it with the one we have visited in Sri Lanka where volunteers were actually nursing hurt turtles and helping with hatching little ones and then letting them be free in the ocean again. So that`s why in Sato`alepai we enjoyed turtles only from the shore and fed them with some yummy turtle greens that the owner gave us. If you decide to go in do not wear orange swimsuit, you do not want turtles to think you are a paw-paw (recommendation from the owner).
Adults: 7 WST, Kids 4-10 years: 3 WST
Monday - Saturday: 9 am - 7 pm; Sunday closed
SALEAULA LAVA FIELD
This huge lava field around Saleaula was formed by Mt. Matavanu destructive eruption in years 1905 - 1911. To be precise, Mt. Matavanu itself was born in August 1905 by this eruption when molten magma gushed from the ground as lava fountains and flowed to the northeast creating many lava tubes until it dropped to the ocean. The flow of magma buried five villages including churches and farmland.
In Saleaula you can walk through ruins of London Missionary Society church destroyed by lava flow and few meters behind the church you can have a look at the only place that molten lava somehow spared from the destruction. It is Virgin`s grave that belonged to virgin daughter of High Chief where lava flowed around it rather than over it. Locals believe it was untouched because the girl was so pure.
Adults: 5 WST, Kids: 3 WST
Monday - Saturday: 8:30 am - 5 pm
CHURCHES AROUND THE ISLAND
As I already mentioned in previous posts Christianity is widely spread out accross Samoa and people are very religious and adhere all Christian traditions. No doubt it is one of the main pillars of Fa`a Samoa - the Samoan way of life. Even if you are not really into religion staff the colorful churches around the island are worth to check out.
I really loved the shape and the design of them which is line with the vibe of the island and therefore I called them 'tropical churches'. If you walk by any church on Sunday you will see all people dressed in white gathering for a mass. Dressing in white should symbolize a purity. After the service families gather together for a lunch and games.
Treetop walkways are very popular in the world these days and Samoa, of course does not want to stay behind. Therefore, local council has built Falealupo Canopy walkway 40 metres above the ground on a tall and robust Banyan tree in Falealupo Rainforest Preserve.
The start of the walk is by climbing up metal stairs to get to the hanging bridge between two tropical trees which is 30 meters long. If you have fear of heights do not try to cross it since bridge sways a little bit. But for the other adventure souls it is quite fun experience.
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday:
We haven`t been at Moso`s Footprint and House of Rock because based on the pictures it did not catch our attention that much but here is some information if you want to give it a try:
Moso`s Footprint - unusually shaped crack in lava that looks like a footprint of a giant. According to legend, giant Moso put his right foot in this place as he walked across the Pacific Ocean to other islands.
House of Rock - (heap of rocks) - according to a legend, there was a competition between men and women of the village who could built a house in shortest time possible. The women won since they had completed the construction by sacrificing their night's sleep.
Cape Mulinu is Samoa's most western point with stunning scenic views. At first, when we left the sealed road we arrived to the beautiful palm trees crossroad which led us to the small village with church ruins and eventually to the cape itself.
There is a nice small beach surrounded by lava rocks like a fortification. The view on wide open ocean from the rocks is gorgeous, I bet the sunset must be incredible here. According to a legend, this is also the place where the dead pass into the underworld, therefore there is an Ancient Star Mound hidden in the palm trees just behind the beach.
Unfortunately, we had one bad experience on this place. We knew it is common to contribute to the village when you visit some public place that they take care of (we paid small fee many times before) and normal price is like 5 Tala per person. But here one young villager was running to us asking us to pay 20 Tala per person because we are on his family land, which was ridiculous price since we were just walking around the coast where there was just sand, rocks and the ocean. He did not speak much English but we insisted we will pay just normal price 5 Tala as anywhere else on the island. He seemed to be very angry and after few minutes of arguing he took 10 Tala for both of us and let us go. We absolutely understand the small contribution to the village and respect that but not really if someone wants to milk the tourists. This was the only bad experience we had in Samoa. Later I googled Cape Mulinu to find out similar experience from other tourists and seems that usually people pay here 10 Tala per person.
Be prepared that someone will come to ask you to pay exorbitant price but try to get away with 10 Tala or even 5 Tala per person.
No specific time, it`s open public space.
Read also What to see in Upolu in 5 days
part of the island
One of a few public beaches on the island, Faiaai beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. The dazzling white sand, turquoise water, dark green palms and trees in the background and not a single person except us, made me wanted to stay here forever.
It is pretty easy to find the beach, however you need to pay attention around the place pinned as Faiaai beach on Google maps while driving South Coast Road and look for the tall board saying Faiaai Beach. Park the car on the side road and someone from the village will come to ask you to pay the entrance fee. The path to the beach itself is nice as well. From the main road you descend by the stairs from where you have great view on the park below and the ocean. Once you cross the park you will find yourself in paradise :)
Adults - 5 WST
No specific times
Another spectacular geological site are Alofaaga Blowholes that have been formed by lava tubes cracking which eventually connected together creating blowholes. When wave hits the lower end of the tube it sends water at high pressure up through other tubes creating jets of water spraying hundreds of meters up in the air like geysers. This is one of the must-dos when visiting Savai`i.
Adults - 5 WST; if you use private parking car park and fale on site, then extra 10 WST.
Opening hours: no specific times
MU PAGOA WATERFALL
Mu Pagoa in village Puleia, is unique waterfall that creates river with fresh water dropping about 5 meters straight to the roaring ocean. Overall view on waterfall with strong waves breaking on sharp rocks with thin palm trees in the background is very photogenic.
Access road to the waterfall leads through local family property who you will pay small admission fee to. They navigated us to park the car at their courtyard and showed us the way to the waterfalls.
Adults - 5 WST, Children - 2 WST
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday: 6 am - 6 pm
AFU AU WATERFALLS
Imagine lush rainforest where in the middle you find beautiful waterfall that drops into crystal clear water pool huge and deep enough that you can swim in it. That`s how Afu Au waterfalls and its surrounding looks like. The circle of 5-7 meters around the waterfall is quite deep so you can even jump to the water from rocks on the right side of the pool. It is more shallow towards carved stairs and the outer rim of the pool. Notice also smaller waterfalls on the left side where you can sit on rocks and enjoy a bit of sun if you feel cold from the fresh water.
Afu Au Waterfalls are quite popular spot because I think it was the only place where we have not been alone while we were exploring Savai`i. There is even official car park at the entrance where you pay the admission fee as well. From the car park it is just 10 minutes walk to your retreat :)
Adults - 5 WST, Children (6-12 years): 2 WST - collected at the main entrance fale
Monday – Saturday: 8 am – 5 pm; Sunday closed.
At the end of Savai`i list of best things to do and see I have one inspiration for a cool photo spot for you. It is not a place with name actually but we found this amazing palm grove near the South Coast Road between Alofaaga Blowholes and Faiaai Beach which is perfect for some creative photo-shoot if you are up for it. I am sure there are some other palm groves on the island but this one was quite dense and easy to get in.
If you plan to stay more days in Savai`i we have some more tips for additional experience that we have researched however, we did not visit the following places due to lack of time so we cannot say if it is really worth it.
Paia Dwarfs cave - it`s lava tube cave located in the village Paia, where you need to take a guide to the cave. You should have good shoes and a torch with you. Exploring the cave can take almost entire day, it`s about 1 km long. According to a legend, dwarfs lived in this cave and some believe their footprints can be seen there still nowadays.
Peapea cave - another lava tube cave also almost 1 km long that stretches to the coast. This one is easy accessible from the road but the entrance is locked so still you need a guide. The cave is home to a unique nocturnal white rumped swiftlet.
Tafua Crater - is located on peninsula Tafua Rainforest Preserve. It takes up to one hour to get to the volcano rim walk which provides perfect view on the rainforest and is ideal for bird watching. Entrance fee: Adults 5 WST; Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 8 am - 5 pm
Mt Matavanu - volcano that buried 5 villages in 1905 - 1911 in Saleaula area, it`s easily accessible by 4WD in 20-25 minutes. The walking trek around the rim takes about 2-3 hours (6km) and provides spectacular views on countryside below.
TIPS FOR ACCOMMODATION
We can highly recommend Lauiula Beach Fales with family atmosphere where we stayed ourselves during our visit of Savai`i. We stayed in fale right on the beach few steps from the ocean and we were having breakfast and dinner accross the street in common fale for the guests. Showers were open (without roof) also accross the street with slightly cold water but it was not a problem in hot weather.
All points of interest that we have visited or we researched before our trip are pinned in the following map.