Here we are, crossing villages and tropical rainforests in the heart of the South Pacific, the biggest of Samoan islands. The capital Apia, Faleolo International Airport and the ferry station located West of the island. But also one of the most beautiful beaches of the country such as Lalomanu Beach and Matareva Beach. Distances in car are not very important so it is worth renting a car in order to take the most of your trip, as the very “flexible” bus timetables can make you lost some of your precious time. As for us, we had to stay in the main island of Upolu as we couldn’t make it to Savai’i due to the lack of any free car spot in the ferry crossing the two islands for the entire week we were there! So we focused our trip on Upolu.
Our first stop, where we stay three nights at Taufua Beach Fales is Lalomanu beach. Around 2 hours driving from Apira, Lalomanu beach looks radioactive blue, the idyllic post card from South Pacific. Very quite (as in many places in Samoa, the coast is protected from the ocean thanks to a lagoon, good as waves can be quite rough some time). Therefore it is an excellent place to swim, particularly for families and young children. Nevertheless, if you are pasionated about surfing, make sure you are a very good surfer and the waves directly go to the reef, next to the lagoon. Pretty harsh.
The hotel Taufua Beach Fale is directly facing the beach and you can sleep listening to the nice sound of waves in traditional fales (houses on stilts) which are open or closed. Fees are a cheap, around 100 Australian dollars per night with a breakfast and a buffet dinner. Also mentionning you will have a free traditionnal show, the “Fiafia night” which is highlighted by pretty much every resort in Samoa, particularly the famous dance with fired sticks. Pacific islanders are excellent juggling with them.
Here it is quiet and relaxing. Not much to do except sunbathing, swimming, cannoeing and reading a good book. An ideal place for us, and a way to escape Australian winter in the middle of July. And with your rental car, you will be able to go everywhere, from villages to villages, discovering typical swimmimg spots (although you won’t find as beautiful as Lalomanu beach we guess!). But do not miss To Sua Ocean Trench. This blue hole is accessible through a quite steep ladder (be careful, it can be slippery as well and the next hospital is faaar away…). This is where we saw the most tourists in Samoa, as this is THE place to see in Samoa. We also enjoyed the weather as July-August is supposed to be the best period of the year to visit South-Pacific islands (even if it rained quite a lot while we were there), as hurricanes can be terrible in this part of the world, try to avoid January-February. Indeed, the main road built around the island was completely destroyed at a point where huge rocks fell down from the mountain, preventing us from going further. Hopefully, a small road was created between the rocks and the ocean so cars could keep going but this was the significant evidence Mother Nature can be terrible in these remote islands.
So continuing our trip we head off to Matareva beach, where is located the smarted named Matareva Beach Fale, around the same kind of “no luxury but ok” as the previous one. Actually in these islands you don’t need anything. A small fale, shinning sun and warm and relaxing waters are pretty much all what you need as you want to escape the bustling life of urban cities. Fales are facing the beach. We rested and took the opportunity to go cannoeing and flying my drone! We saw again beautiful waterfalls (such as Togitoga) but you need to pay to see them (around 15 talas per person, we didn’t like that although we can understand it given the modest conditions in which the vast majority of Samoans live in).
To sum up, Samoan holidays quiet and relaxing, ideal to be away from our daily urban life, always rushing everywhere. A nice feeling to be alone in the world, far from everything physically and mentally, sharing good moments with friendly locals. Also, we admired the rainforests of this wet island even if it was supposed to be “dry season”, following the travelling lifestyle we were expecting: No luxury and cold showers (if you prefer more comfort, head off to Cook islands or French Polynesia) but a quiet feeling of authenticity and calm.
Where did we sleep?
- Taufua Beach Fale, our first accomodation where we spent the first three nights is on Lalomanu Beach and is an excellent quality-price resort. Breakfast and dinners are included (with also a restaurant cooking burgers, fish and chips, curry rice…not very healthy but ok if you are starving at lunch time). Possible to rent kayaks. Smorkelling is quite disappointing with dead reef but blue water and waking up thanks to waves sounds will make you forget anything. Basic bathrooms and cold showers are located on the other side of the road, behind the fales. Nice Fiafia nights, would recommend it.
- Matareva Beach Fale: We go there driving on a very bumpy road driving for 20 minutes (you will drive slowly not to damage your rental car) in the middle of tropical jungle. Exotic! A lot of heavy rains during our stay there, and overall more expensive but less friendly than the previous resort. Food is quite good however as breakfasts and dinners are also included and a nice bar on the beach with cocktails 15 talas during the happy hour. A good resort then, next to a village as you will meet with locals easily. But be prepared as roosters will wake you up very early in the morning! Good quality snorkelling, protected reef.
We didn’t stay at other resorts, with more luxury than these ones, but be aware it is possible like Return to Paradise hotel with swimming pools or the Sea breeze resort (but given the quality of the warm sea waters, we didn’t see the point of having a pool.