Samoa is the kind of destination that everyone wants to visit. It’s clean, peaceful (read: barely any other tourists) and breathtakingly beautiful. It’s also small enough that you can see a substantial chunk of the country in a short space of time. If you’re not convinced, read my post on why you should visit Samoa before you continue reading this.
I’ve just come back from a week in Samoa, and although I only had a week, I feel like I saw so much and covered all the main parts. So from my experience, a week in Samoa is totally doable if you’re happy to move a lot. I would recommend spending at least a week there, but if you have less time, you’ll still be able to do and see quite a lot.
Samoa is comprised of two main islands, Upolu and Savai’i. Upolu is the more populated, more lush island with (in my opinion) more things to do. The only international airport of the country is on Upolu, so you kind of have to go there, whereas Savai’i is optional. But if you have a week in Samoa you can easily explore both.
Something to note: There’s no real public transport on either island, so this itinerary is assuming you either hire a car or take taxis. I highly recommend renting a car for the freedom and ease it gives you to get around (make sure you have sorted your international driver’s license from E-ITA). The main roads in Samoa are fairly well maintained. Having Google Maps or a GPS could help as they are not too well signposted. Rent a car in Samoa.
So without further ado, this is (more or less) how I spent a week in Samoa and covered all the main spots.
Day 1: Apia (north Upolu)
Samoa Cultural Village – Cultural show in Apia
This is an awesome way to start your trip to Samoa, and learn a bit about the culture and traditions. The cultural show is organise by Samoa Tourism right by the tourism office in Apia. It is on every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30am-12:30pm. This is a free show.
>Also, don’t miss the march of the police officers in the same area at around 9am
Robert Louis Stevenson museum: tour and hike
Robert Louis Stevenson spent the last four years of his life living in Samoa, and the massive house he built when he moved there in the late 1800’s is still around now (albeit with a few renovations) to tell the tale. The house has been transformed into a museum. I highly recommend the guided tour as we learned so much about the house, Samoa’s history and of course Robert Louis Stevenson himself. It’s really not worthwhile to visit the museum without taking the tour.
After the tour, take a hike up the mountain where he is buried. Not only to visit his grave, but also for the views of Upolu that the summit offers. The hike is not too challenging and will take 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on your fitness level.
Cost: 20 tala pp
Day 2: East Upolu
This food tour is another great way to be introduced to Samoa in my opinion. In short, you get to:
- Explore the markets and pick out some food (I also bought myself a lavalava)
- Be taken to the Piula Cave Pool – a picturesque natural swimming pool where you can swim with fish and dive through a cave (if you’re brave).
- Chef John will cook up (yes, right there by the cave pool!) an amazing native Samoan meal using 100% organic ingredients, which you can enjoy at the poolside.
Chef John: 150 tala per person
Piula cave pool: 5 tala
To Sua Trench
If you have seen any picture of Samoa before, it was probably a picture of the iconic To Sua trench. Spend some time swimming in the world’s most beautiful hole, and enjoy its well-maintained surroundings and the ocean views.
Cost: 20 Tala
You can see the falls from a viewpoint or walk down a (quite muddy) path to get closer to them (which takes around an hour each way).
Cost: 20 tala
Day 3: East Upolu continued
There is another muddy walk to get to this waterfall (I can see this is becoming a bit of a trend…). But it is truly spectacular and I highly recommend it. You get to go right to where the top of the massive waterfall is and look down at the water flowing from above.
Lalomanu is one of Samoa’s many beaches that you always dream about and see pictures of, but never expect to see in real life. I recommend having lunch here and spending a relaxing afternoon chilling by the sea. You can also swim to the tiny island just off the coast.
Day 4: South Savaii
Take a morning ferry to Savaii from Upolu. The ferry terminal is located near the airport. The ferry ride takes around an hour if you’re taking the big boat, and around two if you are taking the small boat. The fee is 12 tala per person each way.
You can get a taxi when you get there, or bring your hire car for 95 tala each way.
I could have spent a whole day at these blowholes. The landscape is stunning, the blowholes are fascinating and the field is immense. It is just a truly surreal place.
Cost: 10 tala
Afu Aau Waterfall
You might be getting bored of waterfalls by this point, but you shouldn’t leave Savai’i without seeing at least one of its waterfalls – and this one is said to be the best. The landscape in Savai’i is vastly different to that of Upolu so don’t expect the same from the two islands.
Day 5: North Savaii
Salealua Lava Fields
The landscape here is similar to that of the lava field and it does feel like a surreal place to be.
Swimming with Turtles
This is an interesting, unique activity but I will leave it up to you to decide if it is something you want to participate in. This is a chance to get up close and personal with turtles. The thing to keep in mind is that the turtles are not in their natural habitat – they are kept in a rock pool as an incubator to protect the baby turtles from being poached as they grow. So in a way, it is like a turtle zoo, except you can get it and swim with them.
Cost: 5 tala
Take a hike up to Samoa’s highest peak. Note that you should allow enough time to be back by the ferry terminal before the ferry leaves for Upolu. Check before you go what time the ferries return the following day.
NB: Out of a week in Samoa, I recommend spending 2 nights in Savai’i. If you have more time, by all means stay for longer as I am sure there is a lot more to discover on Savai’i island.
Day 6: West Upolu
Here you do see wildlife in its natural habitat. I recommend bringing snorkel gear for this. You can swim out and see giant clams about 20-50m off shore. This activity is free of charge and available Monday – Saturday.
Return to Paradise Beach
Another spectacular beach, which now can only really be accessed via Return to Paradise Beach resort (they allow visitors) – I recommend taking the afternoon to swim, snorkel or just sunbathe and relax here. Tip: the west side of Upolu is also the best place to see the sunset in Samoa!
Day 7: South Upolu
Snorkelling Excursion with Manoa Tours
Manoa Tours will do a snorkelling tour of Samoa’s native reef. This is a private tour leaving in a boat from Coconuts Beach Club Resort & Spa. All the equipment and advice is provided and you get to snorkel in one of the most serene, peaceful and abundant spots in the world. You also get to see Upolu’s ‘Black Sand Beach’, which is where three seasons of Survivor Samoa have been filmed.
Cost: contact Manoa Tours
One of the only things to see in Samoa that is totally free as it is government owned (as opposed to village owned). A bunch of beautiful waterfalls and rock pools that you can jump off.
Sinalei Reef Resort cultural village tour & “Fia Fia” night
This tour is available on Wednesdays. Get taken on a walking tour through a local village. Meet the locals and find out about their way of life. You get to see them making a traditional Samoan meal in the original way – and, of course, taste it!
After that, go back to the resort to enjoy a night of traditional island dancing and demonstrations at the Fia Fia night held every Wednesday. The perfect way to end your week in Samoa!
Other options for things to do during your week in Samoa
Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
This is only listed as optional because it has to have been raining substantially before you go for you to fully enjoy it. As the name suggests, this place encourages you to slide down slippery rocks which is lots of fun. But you can injure yourself if you the pools are too shallow. So it can’t really be listed as a fixed activity, but if it’s been raining and you’ve got spare time, definitely check it out!
Hike to Lake Lanoto’o
Hike into a volcanic crater to see one of the most untouched natural lakes in the world.
This hike isn’t for everyone, simply because it is not the most well-maintained path, and you get muddy – like, really muddy. This is also covered by Manoa Tours if you would like to do it with a guide. Make sure you reserve at least 3-4 hours to finish the hike.
You get to check out the markets during the Chef John tour, but if you need to go back and explore them for food or souvenirs, they open every morning except Sunday in Apia central.
Where to stay and eat during your week in Samoa
The thing about Samoa is that it is not in their culture to eat out in restaurants. You’re not likely to find authentic Samoan food at a restaurant unless you specifically request it. If you do the Sinalei village tour and Chef John Tour mentioned in this itinerary, you will definitely get to try authentic Samoan food. But in general, the food options (unless you do your own cooking) are limited to resorts and the few restaurants in Apia.
Apia Restaurants I recommend if you are close to the city
- Sails Restaurant & Bar
- Giordano’s Pizzeria
- Krush (vegetarian/vegan)
Accomodation in Samoa:
During my trip to Samoa, I stayed in an AirBnb, which was a really good experience. I did not stay at any of the resorts I mention, but I did visit each place mentioned for one reason or another (usually to eat or have a drink). I loved all of them (and ended up wishing I was staying there each time!). The resorts and hotels in Samoa are really well run and pleasant places to be. They are usually located on a beach or with stunning views, with several restaurants and bars. The links I use below are affiliate links, which means that if you do decide to book a stay at any of them using my link, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.Firstly, if you are on a budget, or just want to get closet to the culture and meet some locals, staying in an AirBnb is a good option. There are so many options for places to stay in Samoa now! You can see everything that is currently available on the map below.
If you are spending just a week in Samoa, it might be best to stay at the same place your whole time in Upolu, and one place for your two nights in Savai’i.
Centre of Upolu
Le Manumea Resort: good location as it gives easy access to everywhere. Where I stayed (in AirBnB) was really close to this hotel. It allowed us to see almost the whole island of Upolu from this central point.
South of Upolu
Sinalei Reef Resort: this is awesome for the aforementioned cultural tours and culture night that they do. Not to mention it is a beautiful, luxurious resort
Coconuts Beach Club Resort & Spa: located on a beautiful southern beach and where Manoa Tours leave for their snorkelling tour
West of Upolu
Return to Paradise Resort: Beautiful resort with stunning views, located right on one of the best beaches of Samoa (Return to Paradise Beach).
Le Vasa Resort: Best place to have a drink and watch the sunset.
East of Upolu
For the budget conscious traveller, there is also Air BnB. There are a bunch of beach fales dotted around the islands for a more authentic experience (make sure you read my post about how to travel like a local if you want a truly authentic experience). If you aren’t staying at a resort, you might still want to check out one of these resorts during your week in Samoa for a bite to eat.
<<This post was partly sponsored by Samoa Tourism, who were a great help with organising my trip. All opinions are my own.>>
Have you been to Samoa or are you planning a trip? Comment below with your thoughts on how you would spend a week in Samoa!~