Things to do in Samoa, a 10-day itinerary
Even though Samoa is quite small, there is plenty to do and see, and island time is the only time so you can easily spend a full holiday here. By following this 10-day Samoa itinerary you can make sure that you see the best that this tropical paradise has to offer and fully enjoy your Samoa vacation.
Where is Samoa and what to expect?
The Samoa archipelago consists of two big main islands, Upolu and Savai’i, and several smaller islands. The Samoan islands are located in the western part of Polynesia and have a strong Polynesian heritage.
Yo can expect welcoming people, gorgeous palm tree-lined beaches, incredible nature, volcanic landscapes, jungle, coral reefs and a lot of waterfalls.
Upolu is where the capital city Apia lies and where most of the population lives. This is also the island that gets most of the tourism as the international airport is based here as well as some of the more popular Samoa tourist attractions.
Savai’i is bigger than Upolu but a lot less people live on Savai’i. This island is a lot more untouched and less influenced by tourism. Samoans often refer to Savai’i as the real Samoa.
30 best things to do in Samoa, a 10-day itinerary
This Samoa itinerary consists of the best things to do in Samoa and covers both island - Upolu as well as Savai’i.
Ten days is enough time to get a good taste of the country, explore both islands and still have some time to relax on the beach and see some more off-the-beaten-path locations.
This itinerary averages 3 points of interest or activities per day giving you plenty of time to enjoy it all or, if pressured for time, you could condense it into a week.
Day 1 in Samoa
1. Arrival at Faleolo International Airport
Talofa and welcome to beautiful Samoa! With that phrase and a band playing tropical music you’ll be welcomed in the airport’s arrival terminal. Now that’s a warm welcome!
Once you’ve claimed your baggage and made it through the security check, one of the first things we recommend you to do is to get a local sim card. There is a store at the airport that sells Bluesky sim cards and can top it up for you. Your choices are either Bluesky or Digicel. Bluesky has the best coverage and there is a store at the airport that sells Bluesky sim cards and can top it up for you. If you want to get a rental car to get around on Samoa you can do that at the airport as well.
2. Ferry to Savai’i
Next step of action is to get to Samoa second big island; Savai’i. If you had an early flight, then just go ahead and take the ferry terminal which is just a few minutes drive from the airport.
If you had a late flight, you might want to postpone this until the next day. In that case we recommend staying at the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort. It is by far the nicest of the 3 accommodation option near the airport and it is basically next to the ferry terminal, so you can take the first ferry the next morning.
The ferry takes 1 to 1,5 hours to get across to the village of Salelologa and goes every two hours between 6 am and 4 pm from Monday to Saturday, and twice a day on Sunday.
3. Afu Aau Waterfall
Your first stop on Savai’i is the Afu Aau Waterfall, and we think that visiting the Afu Aua waterfall is something you’ll talk about for days! This waterfall might just have been one of our favourite places to visit in Samoa.
This waterfall in the middle of the jungle cascades over 3 levels. The bottom two levels are already deep enough to swim in but still shallow enough to be able to stand, but the top level is where the real fun is at. Here a constant stream of white foaming water tumbles 30 meters down over a cave into a deep pool surrounded by rocks.
The water in the pool is super refreshing, but still warm enough to swim around in for hours without getting cold, and the rocks around the pool allow for all sorts of shenanigans (which Tom loves), like backflips into the water.
Entrance fee: 10 WST
4. Alofaaga Blowholes
Next up are the Alofaaga Blowholes. Here waves push water up through holes in the rocks and then shoots up dozens of meters into the air which is a pretty spectacular sight. The timing and force of these enormous water cannons is unpredictable so if you get too close you’ll almost certainly get soaked, but that’s all part of the fun.
During the day locals will be at the blowholes selling you coconuts which they then throw into the blowholes as they erupt, blasting the coconuts tens of meters high up into the air. Catching one is something you’re allowed to brag about afterward, just make sure it doesn’t land on your head or your bragging rights instantly get revoked.
Entrance fee: 5 WST
After visiting the blowholes it is time to make your way to your accommodation for the night in the small settlement of Falealupo on the western side of the island. This is a bit of a drive, but other than the gorgeous views from the car window and a few tiny villages there is nothing noteworthy along the drive from the blowholes to Falealupo.
In Falealupo you’ll find arguably the nicest beach on Savai’i and one of the best beaches in Samoa. What’s even better is the reef in the water.
Once you put your snorkeling mask on and dive under about 20 meters out, you’re gliding through a completely different world full of bright colourful fish and funky shaped coral.
End your day by watching the most incredible sunset from the beach. As Falealupo is the westernmost point of Savai’i, you have an unobstructed view of the sun going down over the ocean, giving the sunset all sorts of spectacular colours.
Stay at Se’eti Beach Fales
Day 2 in Samoa
6. Hike to the Mt. Matavanu crater
In 1911, Mt. Matavanu erupted, spewing streams of lava Savai’i over for 6 years straight. Yes, 6 years! Ever since this eruption the volcano has been dormant, so it is safe to go up the mountain to the crater now.
To get to Mt. Matavanu, you can walk from the village of Safotu over the road through the jungle that leads to the start of the walking track going up the mountain. Walking to this point takes about 3 hours one way, but if you’re not into hiking we suggest driving this part, which takes about 20 minutes but depending on the amount of rainfall in the previous days you might need a 4WD.
Next to the start of the walking track stands a small fale, this is where Da Crater Man will greet you with a wide smile. Da Crater Man has been living here by himself since 2000, maintaining the track to the crater and guiding tourists to the summit. From this point on Da Crater Man, or Se’u which is his real name, will accompany you up the walking track to the crater and can tell you everything about the volcano and the eruption.
The walk to the summit takes about an hour from Da Crater Man’s fale, and from the top, you have a breathtaking view over the whole northern and eastern part of the island, showing Savai’i’s glistening shorelines and rugged volcanic landscape.
Entrance/guide fee: 20 WST
7. Swimming with wild turtles in Manase
You might have heard about “Swimming With Turtles”. This place is said to be a turtle sanctuary where they rescue sick or wounded turtles and nurse them back to health. But we strongly believe that this is not the case and that they have taken the turtles out of the ocean for commercial purposes.
Whatever the case, we’re not a fan of watching animals in confinement. Fortunately, we’ve found a way better alternative only five minutes away.
Just in front of the village of Manase lies the most stunning reef in all of Savai’i. Yes, even more impressive than the one in Falealupo! And the best part is that wild sea turtles come to the reef to eat every around high tide.
You can find the turtles in the water between Stevenson’s Resort and their neighbour; Tanu Beach Fales. When you see the turtles remember that they are still wild animals so be respectful. You can look at them, swim with them and you should definitely enjoy being in the water with them, but don’t touch the turtles and don’t harass them.
Stay at Stevenson’s Resort at Manase for a bungalow just meters from the water where the turtles swim or Tanu Beach Fales for a budget option without walls.
Day 3 in Samoa
8. Sale’aula Lava Fields
Today you’ll be making your way back to the island of Upolu, but before doing that, make a stop at the Sale’aula Lava Fields. When Mt. matavanu erupted, this area was hit the hardest and locals have opened a small open-air museum to show visitors how massive the impact of this volcanic eruption was.
In the museum, you’ll find the remains of a church that was covered in lava and now looks like a scene out of a post-apocalyptic zombie movie, and the grave of a virgin girl that is said to be unscathed by the lava.
While the museum can be interesting to walk through, for us the big eye-catcher are the lava fields that stretch for kilometers along the coast. Drive a little bit further to the east from where the open-air museum is and you’ll see the lava fields alongside the road. Park up in a safe spot next to the road and simply walk onto the lava fields. This otherworldly landscape gives you a real idea of how massive the scale of this volcanic eruption was.
Entrance fee: Free for the lava fields - 5 WST for the museum
9. Ferry to Upolu
The same way you went from Upolu to Savai’i, you’ll go back from Savai’i to Upolu; with the ferry. Try to get the ferry around noon, then make your way to Apia and explore the capital of Samoa a bit. We recommend checking out the Cathedral standing at the waterfront in the middle of Apia which is without a doubt the most impressive building in the city.
10. Dinner at Paddles in Apia
The restaurant Paddles in famous in all of Samoa and everyone loves it, because they serve the best Italian food you’ll find in the Pacific. This restaurant that is located close to the waterfront near Apia’s habor, has won the ‘Best Restaurant In Samoa’ award twice already. Everything on the menu is truly delicious (we’ve tried it all), and the host Giovanni will make your evening unforgettable.
Stay at Taumeasina Island Resort for pure luxury. This resort is built on its own island just off of Apia’s town center. Upon check-in you’re even greeted with a drink and a flower garland to give you that tropical island feel. For a budget alternative try Safe as Fort Knox for a whole house for the price of a hotel room anywhere else in the city. And the hosts, Adria and Adolf, are the most friendly and hospitable people you can imagine.
Day 4 in Samoa
11. Samoa Cultural Village
In the center of Apia sits a big fale. This is the Samoa Cultural Village. Every Tuesday - Friday between 10:30 and 12:30 visitors are invited to join for a quick insight into Samoa’s culture and traditions.
You’ll make your own food bowl, you’ll be shown the preparation of the umu (food cooked in an earth oven), arts and crafts, and traditional tattooing (not for the faint-hearted). The tour ends with eating the food that was just cooked in the umu, out of the bowl that you made yourself while enjoying traditional Samoan song and dance.
Entrance fee: The tour is free, but bring some cash for a donation at the end.
12. Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
There are many incredible reefs full of marine wildlife all around Samoa, but the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve takes the crown. As soon as you get into the water you’re already surrounded by small clusters of coral and little fish shooting away in every direction.
Swim about 50 meters out from the shore, and then the seafloor suddenly drops and you’re greeted by a whole new underwater world. Every square centimeter is covered by the most vibrantly coloured coral and there are exotic fish everywhere. From schools so big that they block out the light as you swim through them to little pufferfish that suddenly quadruple in size, this spot is snorkeling heaven.
Entrance fee: 5 WST - make sure to go around high tide as the first part is quite shallow.
13. Papaseea Sliding Rocks
On the outskirts of southern Apia are the Papaseea Sliding Rocks. Small waterfalls have smoothened the rocks through thousands of years of erosion, and if you don’t mind a few bruises and scratches you can now slide down on them.
Going down these rock slides is great afternoon activity on a sunny day, but make sure to check if there has been enough rainfall first. During the dry season there generally isn’t enough water to slide down on nor enough water to land safely into the pools at the bottom of the slides.
Entrance fee: 5 WST
Day 5 in Samoa
14. Forest café & waterfall
It is time to make your way down over the Cross Island Road and start exploring more of Upolu. We suggest stopping at the Forest Café for breakfast and some good coffee.
From the café’s terrace you look out over a stream, and can hear the sound of a waterfall in the distance. You can follow a little path alongside the stream to get to this waterfall. Don’t let the size of the stream fool you, as it suddenly drops down the very high waterfall. Watch your step!
15. Papapapaitai Falls
A bit further down the Cross Island Road you get to the Papapapaitai Falls. This is the highest waterfall in Samoa dropping down 100 meters into a gorgeous lush ravine, making you feel like you’re looking at a scene out of Jurassic Park.
Unfortunately, the falls are only viewable from a viewpoint next to the road, but that doesn’t make it any less of an epic sight.
16. Return to Paradise Resort
Let’s take an afternoon to relax. And for that we recommend checking out Return to Paradise Resort. This place has all the comfort of a full size resort, without having to empty your wallet. Located on the south coast, it has a beautiful coastline that alternates between sandy beach and rocky points, good food, and a very entertaining Fiafia night with the best fire knife show on the island.
Day 6 in Samoa
17. Chill on the beach
If you stayed the night at Return to Paradise Resort, you might as well relax on the beach a bit longer since you’re in a Paradise after all. Take it easy today, there is no rush. You’re on holiday after all!
18. Giant Clam Sanctuary
Close to Return to Paradise Resort, in the small village of Savaia, lies the Giant Clam Sanctuary.
When we first heard about it, we didn’t think much of it. Just a bunch of clams didn’t seem too exciting. But more and more people kept mentioning it so we decided to check it out and it blew our minds!
About 50 meters from the shore, in a marked area, hundreds of colourful giant clams the size of armchairs sit on the ocean floor. The ocean is only a few meters deep here, so you can easily dive in between them. Its pretty cool to see them slam shut as you swim past and to realise that these massive stone-like things are actually alive.
Entrance fee: 10 WST
19. TogigagIga Waterfall
After visiting the giant clams, head east along the south coast and stop at the Togigagiga Waterfall. Bring your swimwear, because the pool under this waterfall is the perfect spot for a refreshing dip in the water.
The waterfall cascades over three levels, and if you manage to get to the middle level, you can then jump over the bottom falls into the plunge-pool.
Day 7 in Samoa
20. Sopo’aga Falls
Start your day easy and go to the Sopo’aga Falls. These fall are a lot like the Papapapaitai Falls; you can also only view it from a viewpoint, it is also big, surrounded by lush greenery and also drops into a ravine.
With a drop of 54 meters it isn’t as high as the Papapapaitai Falls, but the scenery is at least as impressive. Around the viewpoint are perfectly manicured gardens full of native plants.
Entrance fee: 5 WST
21. To Sua Ocean Trench
Time for something really exciting, the To Sua Ocean Trench! For us, it was seeing pictures of the To Sua Ocean Trench that piqued our interest in Samoa, and the real thing definitely didn’t disappoint. This is Samoa’s most popular and iconic attraction, and guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your trip.
This 30-meter deep swimming hole filled with crystal clear salt water, surrounded by lush jungle hanging down the edges of the trench is one of the most unique places to swim in the world. Get here during high tide and to jump from the ladder into the water (at your own risk) and make sure to pack your GoPro or any other waterproof camera, because you’ll want to take pictures!
No trip to Samoa is complete without a dip in the stunning To Sua Trench!
Entrance fee: 20 WST
22. Lalomanu Beach
Drive further east to Upolu’s south-eastern tip to find Lalomanu Beach. This beach is widely regarded as the nicest beach in all of Samoa and is even voted as one of the top 10 beach destinations in the world by Lonely Planet.
Lalomanu Beach offers a seemingly endless strip of white sand beach, a perfect turquoise coloured lagoon full of marine wildlife, and views over mysterious looking islands not far off the coast. Because of its location, you can also see both sunrise and sunset from here, and they are spectacular.
Stay at Taufua Beach Fales
Day 8 in Samoa
23. Sunbath or kayak
I’d say it is time for a beach day, you’re on a tropical island after all! Spend your morning sunbathing on Lalomanu Beach, swim in the warm waters of the lagoon, or grab a kayak from Taufua Beach Fales and see if you can paddle to that mysterious island called Nu’utele Island just off the coast. There are all sorts of stories going round about it, maybe you can find out which ones are true.
24. Namu’a Island
A 10 minute boat ride from Lalomanu lies Namu’a Island. This little island is what you picture when you think of a deserted tropical island, except that there is actually an accommodation option on this island, and it is absolute paradisiacal bliss.
Go snorkeling in the lagoon in front of this island which is said to be the absolute best spot to see wild sea turtles, hike up the hill for a stunning view, or just chill on the beach with a coconut.
Day 9 in Samoa
25. Fuipisia Waterfall
Make your way back to the mainland from Namu’a Island and follow the road west to the Fuipisia Waterfall. This waterfall is lesser known and a bit hidden away, making it all the more interesting if you ask us. It is actually two waterfalls dropping down 55 meters right next to eachother, and the best thing; you can swim at the top, close to the edge (just don’t get too close)! From the top you’ll have a spectacular panoramic view into the river valley.
Entrance fee: 10 WST
26. Piula Cave Pool
Follow the road north until you reach the north coast, here you’ll find the Piula Cave Pool. Unlike in the To Sua Ocean Trench, the water here is freshwater, and it’s also a lot colder than what you’ve gotten used to in Samoa by now. On the cliffs above the cave opening sits a monastery, and with the ocean on the other side it is a really picturesque spot.
The coolest feature however, lies deeper inside the cave. Swim into the darkness of the cave untill you’ve reached the end. Then, if you’re a good swimmer and if you’re brave enough, dive through a short submerged tunnel to reach another cave opening on the other side. You might want to take an underwater torch to see where you’re going though ;).
Entrance fee: 5 WST
27. Last night in Apia
Make your way back to Apia for your last night in Samoa. If you still have some money left in your budges we’d suggest to splurge a little bit and go for a more luxurious place to stay the night. Usually the more luxurious resorts have some type of entertainment in the evening, and how much fun would a Fiafia night be on your last night in Samoa?!
Stay at Taumeasina Island Resort
Day 10 in Samoa
28. Breakfast at Nourish
Good coffee is hard to find in Samoa, but this place in Apia has it! They also serve very tasty breakfast food (try the pancakes!) and delicious smoothies. You’re probably wondering why we only tell you about this place now, as you’re about to leave Samoa. Well, if we had told you about it before, you would have gone here every morning and wouldn’t have seen much of Samoa!
29. Old Apia Market
After breakfast, stroll down to the Old Apia Market, hidden away just off Apia’s main road in something that resembles a big barn. This buzzing market is filled with little stalls selling the best local produce, fresh fish caught that morning, and all sorts of other stuff. Browse around and get some souvenirs, like a wood carving that is crafted for you on the spot.
Drive, taxi, hitchhike or take the bus to Faleolo International Airport and prepare for your flight out of Samoa. Don’t forget to smile and wave to all the friendly locals that you pass on the road, they’ll surely smile and wave back.
Typical costs of travelling in Samoa
Samoa caters to different budgets and we’ve found it cheaper than many of the surrounding Pacific Islands. It is definitely possible to visit Samoa on a tight budget!
The below breakdown is in the local currency, the Samoan Tala (WST). Ad the time of writing one Samoan Tala is approximately 0,36 USD.
You can save considerable amounts of money by staying in fales which usually cost about 70-90 WST per person and generally include breakfast and dinner. Mid range accommodation ranges from 150-200 WST per night and Samoa has plenty of great resorts in the 300WST + range.
Costs of food
Most fales also operate as restaurants and a meal there will cost 10-20 WST. A meal in a resort or an independent restaurant in Apia will cost 25-50 WST. A beer will cost 5-7 tala and a soft drink is priced in the 2.5-3.5 range. Barista coffee in Samoa is hard to find and quite pricey usually in the 8-12 WST range.
Costs of transportation
The cheapest form of transportation is the local bus which will get you from one side of the island to the other for 5 WST max. Taxi rides within Apia are usually capped at 5 WST but longer rides will get very expensive very quick and you need to be prepared to bargain. Car rental is available from 100WST per day.
Getting around in Samoa
Navigating in Samoa is rather easy as there aren’t that many roads. Both Savai’i and Upolu have one main road that circumnavigates the whole island, and Upolu has three additional roads that cross the island. Generally speaking, there are 4 options for transport to get from A to B.
Rental car - Having a rental car is by far the easiest way to get around on Samoa. If you’re planning on driving around both islands then we recommend getting your rental car on Upolu at the airport, as rental cars are about 25% cheaper on Upolu than on Savai’i.
Public bus - Busses in Samoa are colourfull, funny looking things and riding on them is cheap and an experience in itself. Timetables mean nothing to bus drivers and don’t be surprised if the bus you are on doubles as a delivery truck and stops regularly at roadside food stalls to take food orders for passengers. One of the busses we were on took a detour to a steelyard, loaded the aisle full of building supplies, and dropped them off at a building site along the way. None of the local passengers seemed surprised. If you’re planning to take the bus from bus terminals where the bus routes start from, make sure that you’re quick because all the locals take the bus, and when it is full it leaves. And by full we mean that people will be sitting on each other’s lap.
Hitchhike - Now we understand that most people heard horror stories about hitchhiking and feel very uncomfortable doing so, but let us assure you that those horror stories do not apply to Samoa. Here hitchhiking is as safe as it can be and considered a perfectly normal everyday sight. Most locals will happily give you a ride in exchange for some good conversation if they’re heading in the same direction, so don’t be afraid to stick that thumb out!
Taxi - We’ve put the taxi down as the last option because we feel that it is the least viable option in Samoa. Taxis are rather expensive and really only worth it for transport within Apia or to go to/from the airport. On top of that, taxis are so few outside of Apia that you probably won’t be able to catch one unless you’ve booked it through your accommodation. So unless you have no other choice, you’re better off with any of the other three options.
Best time to visit Samoa
Samoa is fairly humid and hot year round averaging 28-30°C (84-86°F). There are two distinct seasons, wet and dry.
As expected, dry season is also high season for tourism and at its peak it can get busy and pricey. The best time to visit is at the very beginning (May to mid-June) or very end (October to mid-November) of the dry season.
What to pack for your holiday in Samoa?
Samoa is a tropical paradise so it goes without saying that you should pack your swimwear and a beach towel. The majority of your clothes should be light summer garments but we also recommend you take a light cardigan just in case.
Samoa is also very traditional and religious. While bikinis and crop tops are fine in the resorts, it’s recommended you dress more respectfully elsewhere.
Don’t forget to pack your snorkelling gear as the conditions in Samoa are fantastic. We also recommend you pack a pair of water shoes so you don’t cut your feet on the corals or on the rocks while exploring the waterfalls.
There are not many shops outside of Apia and to be honest the choice is limited even there so pack your sun protection, toiletries and some snacks as well as you might not be able to buy what you want on the go.
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Samoa is a true jewel of the Pacific and you can’t go wrong here for a unique, tropical holiday. We’re sure that if you choose to go to Samoa, it will become your new favorite travel destination! If you still have any questions or doubts, don’t be shy and let us know in the comments ;).
Know someone who’d like to go to Samoa too?