The combination of tropical climate and fertile soil make Samoa the perfect breeding ground for rainforests and other lush landscapes such as mangrove swamps and marshes. These ecosystems are all alive with native wildlife, such as seabirds, skinks, flying foxes, geckos, as well as a plethora of unique flora. One of the best remaining rainforests is O Le Pupu-Pue National Park on Upolu. This park runs from the southern coast up into the mountainous interior of the island. Bird lovers, and those who love exploring nature on foot, will love this place.
In the southeast, you might also want to check out the Tafua Peninsula Rainforest Preserve.
The Sopo'aga falls were my first stop on a little half-day trip I did while staying at Lalomanu. The falls are well sign-posted if you're heading south on the main South Coast Road, but if you're heading north, as I was, the sign faces the wrong way!
There is a five tala charge to view the waterfalls, payable in an honesty box if there's no one around. Next to the car park a path leads to a viewing area through a well kept garden. Besides photographing the falls, it's interesting to walk around the garden and look at the flora - most of which is labelled with signs showing the Latin, English, and Samoan names of the plants.
There are spotless toilet facilities here as well.
The word 'trench' doesn't really describe this geographic feature that well. I'm guessing that this feature is a collapsed sea cave. Basically it's a big hole in the ground (up a cliff on the south coast), which has a pool of magnificent blue-green water in it. The pool is linked to the sea through an unseen tunnel, and so the pool is salt water. There is a second 'trench', further in land and you can swim through a high tunnel to it from the To Sua pool. The second trench is dry and its walls are clad in green ferns. The climb down into the To Sua pool is not for the faint hearted or less mobile. The ladder is about ten metres. The entire vertical descent is closer to 20m. There is a noticebale surge in and out of the water in the pool, but after getting used to it, there's nothing to worry about.
The family that live here maintain a manicured garden that is well worth a stroll in. There a clean toilets, but no changing facilities. The wife of Samoa's first primeminister is also buried on the cliff here, and from her grave there are spectacular views west along the south coast.
Carparking available and entrance fee (Oct 2011) was WST$15 per adult.
Aggie Grey's Hotel in Apia is part of South Pacific history. I guess it could be likened to Raffles of Singapore, with many stories linked to its past. Today, you can opt to stay here or just call in for a coffee and a chance to sit in the front lobby or cafe. There is a certain Edwardian feeling to the decor in there. If you're interested in the relatively young European history of this part of the world, Aggie's is worth a stop while walking around Apia.
In all my trips to the Pacific, I had never gone to a church on a Sunday morning to hear the sublime singing it seems every Pacific Islander is blessed with. While staying at Lalomanu, on U'polu, I finally had this chance. The singing was magnificent. The dress code at Lalomanu wasn't too strict, but if you are planning on visiting one of the larger north coast churches, it would pay to check with the locals.
On the Main East Coast Road, you'll find the Piula Cave Pool, a natural pool of sea water with an adjacent picnic area, changing block and toilets and showers. Reached through the grounds of a methodist college, there is a WST$5 parking and access fee. The pool would be a great place to while away a sunny afternoon with a picnic. It is closed on Sundays.
Look for the sign on the left if you are heading east.
The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum at Vailima, in the hills above Apia, is a well-preserved and presented piece of literary history and Samoan heritage. The great 19th century author of the well known "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped", lived here for the last four years of his life. The building has been added to over the years, but the old photogrpahs, period style rooms and displays, and the informative guides, make this a definite must do while you are in Apia. Entrance is WST$15 and this includes your guide. Sit on the great verandah of this classical 19th century wooden villa and let the heritage and history seep into you!
Unfortunately it was very wet the day I visited, so I didn't climb up to see the 'tomb' of RLS up the hill.
I drove to Vailima from Apia. Parking is available and the place is easy to find. Taxis and organised tours from your hotel are other options for getting here.
About half way along The Cross Island Road between Apia and the south coast is the Papapapai-tai falls. The pull-in is clearly signposted and the viewing area is in the carpark. You need a good telephoto lense though to take a decent picture! There is no charge to park and view the falls.
There are some photogenic churches around U'polu. On the road from the airport to Apia are some of the grandest churches (none of which I got photos of sadly). Here some pictures from villages in the eastern end of U'polu.
Having a hire car is great in Samoa. I did a little bit of exploring along the south coast of U'polu on two separate occasions. On the first trip I turned right at the end of The Cross Island Road and drove out to have a little look at the accommodation at Virgin Cove. On my second little expedition I started in Lalomanu and went as far as the Sopo'aga Falls.
When I returned to Apia at the end of my five days in Lalomanu, I re-traced that trip and continued on to The Cross Island Road to get back to Apia.
Much of the south coast was once picture-postcard-perfect tropical beaches and swaying palm trees, but the terrible 2009 Tsunami destroyed much of that. The coast is clearly recovering, but before and now shots of beaches like Saleapaga clearly show there is a long way to go before the scars of 2009 will heal.
Lalomanu beach has to be the best beach on the south coast of U'polu Island in Samoa. There's three beach fale places to stay (see my accommodation pages for more about the best one of the three) and a strip of magnificent sand fronted by aqua-marine waters and further out the white breakers on the reef, stark against the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean. Paradise.
Though hit hard by the tragic tsunami of 2009, the locals here have really worked hard to re-establish the beach and their tourist facilities.
Swimming here is good, though at times the longshore drift can be pretty feirce. Also, be wary of the red crown of thorns starfish. Do not stand on them. By all means, spear them with whatever is at hand (a stick, or long piece of robust dead coral) and chuck them high up on the beach (like on a palm trnk or root ball). They are a pest and very hard to erradicate.
If you're lucky (like I was) you might even get to swim with turtles here! Also, keep an eye out for whales beyond the reef... (saw those too)... It seems this place has it all!
I really enjoyed my few days in Apia. Unless it's a public holiday (when the only thing missing from the picture of deserted streets is tumbleweed), this small city is Samoa's bustling capital of about 35000 people.
My Lonely Planet guide recommended a walk along Apia's waterfront to take in some of the heritage of this port city. The walk included Aggie Grey's, the venerable hotel establishment at the east end of town, the beautiful old Court Building (now vacant and looking a little sad), various monuments to missionaries, victims of shipping disasters, and even a mound marking the spot where the German flag was raised over this once far flung colony. The Amau building is a great sight in the town centre and I hope that the locals will preserve it, despite it clearly being privately owned (it's a supermarket). Near the brilliantly tropical looking Amau building is the fine town clock. In front of the large modern blot on the ladscape that cuts Beach Road off from the water (the one with the mock fale on the roof), the flag is raised at 9am on weekday mornings to the accompaniment of the police marching band. When the national anthem is played, everyone on Beach Road stops and stands still. Apparently there is a lowering ceremony at 5pm.
If you don't have the LP guide, stop at the tourist information centre on Beach Road to find out about this walk (there's also a signposted walk map outside).
So, avoid to stay in resorts or in Apia. Rent a car and use every single road in Upolu. As you live Apia, take the southern road and we'll have a real scenic road. You can not get lost because it's only one road :). At first, you'll have the turquoise sea on your right. After a while you'll pass through a mountainous region, surrounded by the most impressive luxuriant vegetation. Back to the sea, you'll have the most beautiful beaches in Upolu. The road will drive you to the famous Lalomanu Beach (around 2 hours drive). It's beautiful, good for swim, but way to crowded for my taste. They build fala for tourist (traditional house - something like a tent) on every plot, and, in my opinion lose the charm of the beach. Although, Lalomanu it's a good place for swimming; just don't believe the postcards :).
There is also a scenic road that connects the south and the north. You'll have good signs that lead you to 2 lovely waterfalls.
Don't forget to have enough petrol, because it can be quite tricky to find a gas station outside Apia. The car eat more fuel because of mountainous relief. And take more time beacause Samoa has a 55 km/h speed limit and the roads are narrow and in a quite bad condition.
It is simply amazing. As everywhere in Samoa, it is, nothing to do. Just swim, read in one of the most exotic places on earth. You won't find too many people on this beach, as it is not easily accessible and it doesn't have any resort near.
One photo makes one million words so I attached you four million words :)
Remind that you don't have any food or beverage outlets on the beach. The closest one is at around 3 miles (5km).
There is an entrance fee, around 20 WST (around 5 euro or 7 usd)
The Beaches in Upolu.. are breathtaking.., however.. you need to take a drive over to the other side of the island.. Saleapaga is a great place to Stop. There is a set of small beach fales ... that the proprietor.. Maetoa... will cook for you .. if you call in advance. She makes a great samoan dish Pisupo.. and taro with coconut cream.. Also.. her soup is great.
Remember.. she has children.. and you can always be a great tourist.. by remembering to bring small gifts for them. Anything from Balls.. dolls (boy apprx 11.. girl apprx 6)
I always tell people to go into any Samoan village with a gift for those you visit. They never tire of tourists who understand how if feels to be on display 24/7/.
Siumu, Apia, Samoa
Good for: Business
South Coast, Maninoa Village, PO Box 3684, Apia, Upolu, Samoa
Good for: Business
This hotel has a relatively interesting history which I encourage you to read if you happen to stay...more