There is an extensive bus network around U'polu. The Samoan buses are a sight in themselves, painted in bright colours with loud music pumping from on board. The central bus station is a place to watch and be amazed by the cacophony of sound and shock of colour. The information centre in Apia (on Beach Road) has up to date timetables and fares.
Hiring a car in Samoa is a great way to see the country at your leisure and a boon for getting to and from accommodation if you want to experience staying in different places. I hired a Toyota Rav4 from "Julianna's Rentals" in Apia and paid WST$100 per day. I got 7 days for the price of 6. Looking around, and considering the type of car I got, I feel I got a very good deal! I would definitely go back to Julianna's first if (when) I return to Samoa.
Roads in Samoa are good and traffic is light, outside Apia. Drive on the LEFT. Maximum speed in urban areas is 40kmph and 55kmph on open roads.
Air New Zealand provides regular and frequent flights to Apia from Auckland. Flights from Fiji and Brisbane, Australia, are also available on other airlines.
Travellers from North America or Europe will have to go through AKL, BNE, or NAN.
Apia's international airport is about 40km west of town. It can take up to an hour to get between the city and the airport.
Airport-city shuttles await all arriving flights. I paid WST$35 for a one-way shuttle trip into the city, by just approaching one of the operators when I cleared customs and immigration (Oct 2011), and he dropped me at my hotel.
If your in Samoa and dont want to hire a car. Although the buses look fantastic they are unreliable time wise and very busy. Taxi's are an option instead just ensure your driver speaks reasonable English as even with a map one driver took me 30 mins in the wrong direction.
"The biggest scam artists on the Island" is a better way of describing the company FUNWAY RENTALS in Apia, which I STRONGLY URGE you to STAY AWAY FROM! They are unreliable, untrustworthy scam artists that will try to force any kind of BS and lie upon you.
Me and my fiancée had the unfortunate displeasure to deal with these liars and this is what happened. After booking a specific car, the 2-door 4WD Toyota RAV4, which I specifically asked for (because there was just the 2 of us and it looked new, clean and exciting to drive) over one month before the specified day, I was reassured and received a confirmation from them that the car would be waiting for us (which in the case of this company really doesn’t mean a thing).
As we arrived on the day and time we had advised, I saw the car I had booked in front of the doorway and another person stepped into it, so I naturally asked what was going on, pointing out that that was my car that I had booked, and all I heard was that my would be there at 11.30-12.00 at the latest (we were there at 10.30). I asked if it was the same car, make and model and was assured that it would be (which turned out to be a complete lie!). At 12.30 (after a 2hour wait) the car turns up; an OLD Kia that looks like it would fall apart any minute – with a soft rooftop that was broken! (which would be devastating for our luggage as it rained heavily the following day), torn seats, smelly from cigarettes inside, no air-condition etc. I asked the guy if this was a joke, and he replied that that was our car! And he said, in his own words “Take it or leave it”! as if “I don’t care if you had booked another new car over a month ago, I don’t care that it was confirmed and I flat out lied to you promising you the same car which you waited 2h for.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and asked how this was the same car that I had booked?! He replied that it was a 2door 4WD - Except that the make, model, year, condition was immensely different! It was just ridiculous. I asked what sort of price he could offer for this car – read piece of junk - (thinking that I might start considering it for half the price of the RAV4) and heard that it was the same price! And after pointing out to him the differences between the two cars that even a blind person could see, he reluctantly (as if he was suddenly a good Samaritan) said he could go down from 130 to 120 WST/day, so 10 WST (approx. 3US$)/day less! That was it and we left to go to another agency!
Please be aware of these crooks! Note, there was NO apology from their side for their mistake and lies, not to mention the inconvenience it meant to us! NO regret whatsoever. NO offer of help to try to find another rental company. Absolutely NOTHING! This was by far the most unprofessional, unfriendly and unserious company I had ever dealt with! As we finally found another rental company and told the story, the representative of the other one apologized 3 times (although she had nothing to do with it!) and could not believe her ears. I can truly recommend Discovery Rentals, who might be a few $ more expensive (literally a few) BUT are a serious, professional and customer oriented company that is a pleasure to deal with. Budget rentals are also recommended; the nice lady didn’t have a 4WD but allowed us to use her phone to call other companies in search of it, and also regretting our situation (needless to say, half the day passed by, which is a lot considering our rental time was 2 days - ¼ of our time to drive around was wasted because of the scam artists of Funway rentals).
So be warned; if you want lousy if not non-existent customer service, absolutely no guarantee you even get a car even if you booked it a month before and got it confirmed, if you want to risk waiting around for hours for nothing, than I would recommend Funway. If not, turn to a proper, decent rental company like Discovery rentals or Budget for a normal rental experience. And, if you still decide to deal with Funway, DO NOT under any circumstances give them any money before you see the car! I didn’t, thank god, because I’m sure I wouldn’t even get them back. They are as UNSERIOUS, UNPROFESSIONAL and UNFRIENDLY company you will ever find. “The cleanest cars on the island” should be replaced by “the dirtiest scam artists on the island” for a more truthful description of them.
to Me...that is the best way to get around..
save you from getting squashed in the buses...
If you didnt know...in Samoa...when the buses are fully packed..other people tend to sit on other people in order to fit everyone else who does not have a seat...
so if you dont like this idea...RENT A CAR...
you have your own space and can do watever you want and enjoy the nice breeze...
BUT..if you want to experience the bus ride to the rural areas where the beaches are at...then go rite ahead..bt dont say i didnt warn you...lol
If you are taking a taxi, make sure you agree on a price with the driver before you go, to avoid awkward situations, as they may come up with different prices and strange solutions. When asking several drivers i usually ended up with just as many prices.
On Savaii a taxi driver suggested that the owners of the place I was going to could pay him something extra, and when we arrived he told the owners I had promissed him that they would pay him the double of what I had allready paid him. I'll let this story go in the drivers favour and say that it perhaps was all due to a missunderstanding.
Air New Zealand flies to Apia Faleolo Airport 3 times per week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday non-stop and once with a stop in Tonga on Tuesday. All flights are about 4 hours long (via Tonga 6) and are usually carried out using Boeing 767-200 aircrafts. Flights depart at Auckland Int'l Airport from where there are lots connections to mostly Asia and Australia.
I flew Air New Zealand when I went to Samoa and it's probably the best carrier. You can also get mileage miles if you are a member of any Star Alliance's bonus programs. The cheapest fare is the Pacific Express fare: ex AKL it's 578 NZ$ for a return ticket and 289 NZ$ for a one way ticket.
If you want to get around Upolu or Savai'i the cheapest way to do so is by bus. Buses tend to be old and overcrowded and if every seat is taken, Samoans add another level of seats by sitting on someone else's lap.
Buses are very cheap and and run almost everywhere in Upolu and Savai'i (whereas Savai'i's is not that extensive). Most of the busses depart next to the flea market hall in Apia's city center. Each bus is named after the destination it is travelling to.
Samoa doesn't have great economies of scale working for it when it comes to air travel an tickets can be relatively expensive. Eg when we went (from Auckland NZ) it would have costed around NZ$1200 to fly there as compared to $NZ380 to fly to Sydney. On airpoints however both trips cost exactly the same. If you have airpoints and are in NZ maybe Australia but not sure. You may find that the Pacific Islands are the best way to use those airpoints.
Taxi's in Samoa run on set fares not meters. Around Apia it is either 2 or 4 Tala. There is a list of what it should cost to go to main destinations at the tourist info center. It does pay to check this before you take a trip. Most dreivers are very honest. But only most of them.
You don't need a car for your whole stay as the busses goes to most places, but a few days on your own wheels may be a good idea.
If you want to travel the island of Savaii with a rental car, pick it up in Apia and take it on the ferry. There are hardly none available in Savaii.
For getting around the island of Upolu on a strict budget you can take one of the buses. They depart from the main market, Maketi Fou, and the fish market, next to Apia bay, on a flexible schedule, maybe half an hour early or one hour late. Make sure you are there in good time as they may leave early, but if the bus is not filled up they may drive around town to pick up more passengers.
This is also a highly recomended for culture inputs, as you probably will meet many friendly people, and see villages and private gardens that you wold not get to by your own in a car. The buses are all different with unique decorations. They might be crowded and don't be surprised if you will have to let a kid sit on your lap. Sometimes they bring along building materials, fresh produce or other items hard to carry. The driver might stop at the shop to let passengers go shopping or at someones house for a short visit.
The buses are very inexpensive. Prices to various destinations range from $0.90 to $4.20 Samoan. All buses are named with their destination. In Apia the bus terminals are located next to the food market in Fugaei and the fish market.
3 and a half hour flight from Auckland,New Zealand.
Airlines: Air New Zealand (the most reliable airline)
Polynesian Airlines (not the most reliable airline)
If you're looking for a cheap way of getting around the island - than the traditional bussie (bus) offers a bumpy ride & a good mix of music. This is definitely a MUST DO activity when visiting Samoa.
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