A carefree tropical paradise in the south pacific, Samoa offers a mix of relaxation and adventure. There are plenty of things to do in Samoa despite it being less developed than some of its neighbours. The main island is Upolu and is home to the capital city of Apia. For visitors, Samoa highlights include swimming into a cave, jumping into a trench, visiting a famous author’s home, waterfalls, markets, and feeding turtles.
Malua Turtle Feeding Pool
Not well marked, a GPS will make it easier to find the Malua Turtle feeding pond. It’s not a commercial venue. Therefore, the turtles here are wild, yet used to taking food from people. There is no entry fee, although you will need to bring food. Papaya was recommended to us, and the turtles seemed to enjoy it. If you are picking it up at a shop along the road, don’t forget to bring a knife to cut it up. The turtles will eat right out of your hands. We did not see anyone swimming with turtles. Samoa
Robert Louis Stevenson Home and Grave Site
Robert Louis Stevenson spent his last five years in Samoa. He is buried on top of the hill, but the rains were too heavy on the day we visited to make the hike to his gravesite.The guided tours of the house are frequent and informative. Don’t miss Sarah’s photo from the Robert Louis Stevenson home.
Piula Cave Pool
These freshwater pools are loaded with colourful fish and pass under a church on the north side of Upolu. At the cost of only 5 Tala (about $2.50), it was a bargain and one of our Samoa highlights. Take caution on entry as some of the rocks are slippery. Also, the water is much colder than we expected.
The Bahai Temple is another interesting and free stop. It is worth the visit if you are driving on the Cross Island Road (from Robert Louis Stevenson Museum). Be sure to enter both the temple and the visitor centre. The grounds are well manicured and full of tropical beauty. Plus, it has clean toilets.
Fuipisia Falls Samoa is located on the private property. Visitors pay a small fee to the family to view the waterfall. It’s a short walk through the property, and we were escorted Fuipisia Falls by the children living in the house. The two small boys took my hands and helped me across the stream on the way to the falls. The daughter is the same age as our older teen, and they compared their education and daily lives as they are both studying algebra, English and science.
To Sau Ocean Trench
Personally, I skipped this leap, but jumping into the lava caves at To Sua Ocean Trench is one of my teens Samoa highlights.
Apia Flea Market
And my other teen loves shopping, and couldn’t resist getting a dress and a few other goodies at the Apia Flea Market. This is the spot to pick up your Pacific island souvenirs, clothing, sarongs. It is filled with both locals and tourists, and right across the street from the main bus stop in town. Remember to negotiate the best price.
**UPDATE: In Jan 2016 Apia Flea Market was engulfed in flame and destroyed. A new temporary flea market opened nearby.
Key Samoa Highlights that We Skipped:
- Slide pools (due to heavy rains making them dangerous while we were there)
- SCUBA – Skipped as best dives too deep for our girl’s Jr. PADI diver’s certification
- Surfing and Fishing – we were too busy relaxing.
- Or, check out Lonely Planet Rarotonga, Samoa & Tonga Travel Guide and then head to one of the other south pacific islands.
Where to Stay in Samoa
A few quick tips on Driving in Samoa
- Drive on the left – remember back in 2009 the entire country switched sides of the road from driving on the right to the current left-hand side.
- Legally you need a Samoa license, which is a validation of your driver’s license allowing for driving in Samoa. I am not sure how many people do this.
- Allow extra time; speed limits are low.
- Take caution; there are frequently people, dogs, pigs and chickens on the roads.
- If possible, avoid driving at night.
- Local custom when approaching a pedestrian or another vehicle you intend to pass from behind is to tap the horn once. After you pass another vehicle, tap twice to say “thanks”, and the driver will typically reply with a tap.
- Watch out for fords after the rain (A ford is a shallow place in a river or stream allowing one to walk or drive across.)
**On the flip side (the anti-highlights), we had an unusual plane landing into to the country, and one of our girls required a trip to a Samoa hospital from a bug bite. While the hospital was shockingly affordable, we were glad to have Travel Insurance.World Nomads In fact, we don’t leave New Zealand without it.