Upolu’s budding metropolis of Apia, where 35,000 of Samoa’s 177,000 inhabitants live, is the perfect place to acclimatise to island life. You should definitely visit the colourful Maketi Fou (food market) on Apia’s Fugalei Street to stock up on fresh fruit like pawpaws or a bunch of sweet little ladyfinger bananas.
About a 10-minute walk from the food market is the flea market – the perfect souvenir haunt where you’ll find everything from clubs and kava bowls to lava lavas (the Samoan sarong), baskets, jewellery and authentic Samoan music.
Palolo Deep National Marine Reserve
Just around the eastern end of the Apia Wharf, Palolo is an excellent spot for snorkelling, diving and swimming.
The highlight is a sudden drop into a deep blue hole, flanked by walls of coral populated by a myriad of tropical fish.
Robert Louis Stevenson Museum & Mt Vaea Scenic Walk
The famous author came to live in Upolo five years before his death, and his mansion, Vailima, features many of his belongings, including part of his library and travel mementos.
Stroll through the lovely gardens and rainforest trails surrounding the house or take a walk up the hill to the author’s tomb at the top of Mt Vaea to enjoy splendid views over Apia.
Papaseea Sliding Rocks
The Papaseea Sliding Rocks are a must see attraction and an ideal spot for a swim or picnic. Just 6km out of central Apia, the main attraction is a 5m rock slide down a waterfall into a deep freshwater pool.
Piula Cave Pool
Located just past Saoluafata, this fresh water pool is a great place to cool off in crystal clear water with a few fish to keep you company. If you are feeling brave you can dive down and swim through a short tunnel to the adjoining pool.
Le Pupu-Pue National Park
Explore 29 square-kilometres of luscious rainforest. There are some good hiking trails including tracks to the lovely Togitogiga Falls, where you can enjoy a refreshing swim and have a picnic or venture into the Peapea Cave.
Lalomanu to Lotofaga
Possibly the most beautiful stretch of beach at the south east end of Upolo. A great place to swim and snorkel or just to enjoy some glorious sunshine on the white sandy beach.
Swimming with the Turtles
For an animal encounter with a unique twist, head to the wetlands sanctuary at Savaii’s Satoalepai village and take the plunge with half a dozen or more green turtles. They are raised here till adulthood before being released back into the ocean, where they prepare for parenthood. Be sure to ask if you can feed them!
Saleaaula Lava Fields
Along the north coast of Savaii, are the remnants of the Saleaaula village that was destroyed by volcanic eruptions from Mount Matavanu between 1905 and 1911. The ruins include a concrete Methodist church and the grave of a Catholic nun, Virgins Grave, that escaped destruction.
These impressive blowholes near Taga village on south-west Savaii are power in its purest form, propelling roaring jets of water hundreds of feet up into the air. They are particularly worth watching when locals throw coconuts into the holes which are blasted into the air. The entrance to the blowholes is at the village of Taga.
This is the best place in the world to spend a late afternoon. Situated at the western-most end of Savaii you can enjoy a walk through the rainforest, swim at a stunning sandy white beach before winding down to watch a spectacular sunset over the Pacific Ocean.