Upolu is the second largest island in Samoa, formed by a massive basaltic shield volcano which rises from the seafloor of the western Pacific Ocean. There are a number of natural attractions on Upolu, ranging from scenic walks to unique swimming holes to a Bahai Temple.

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About Upolu

General Information about Upolu

Upolu is an island in Samoa, formed by a massive basaltic shield volcano which rises from the seafloor of the western Pacific Ocean. The island is 75 kilometers long, 1,125 km² in area, and is the second largest in geographic area as well as the most populated of the Samoan Islands. Upolu is situated to the east of the "big island", Savai'i. The capital Apia is in the middle of the north coast with Faleolo International Airport at the western end of the island.

Things to do in Upolu

Visit To Sua Ocean Trench

Image Source: Samoa Images. To Sua Ocean Trench
To Sua Ocean Trench

One of the most popular things to do in Lalomanu is exploring the extinct volcanic crater. From behind the hospital at Lalomanu, you can take a short, steep walk to the crater. It is worth the walk to ride one of the crater's flying foxes and take in the spectacular island views. A short distance away from Lalomanu is the To Sua Ocean Trench, a natural swimming pool located in Lotofaga village. This 98-foot deep hole was the result of the volcanic eruption when much of the ground fell away. It is now a famous Samoan attraction, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Surrounded by a verdant landscape, the pool's waters are crystal clear and filled with tropical fish. Visitors must climb down the ladder to get safely into the pool.

Lalomanu Beach

Some of the most beautiful Samoan attractions can be found in the Aleipata district on the east coast of Upolu. The beaches all along the coast are perfect for Samoan activities like snorkelling, diving and fishing. One of the best spots for snorkelling is Lalomanu Beach, which is located on the southeastern end of Upolu. The beach has rich coral lagoons where you can observe incredible ocean life. The lagoon goes all along the south coast to Lotofaga. It is a protected marine reserve filled with an impressive magnitude of tropical fish species. You can choose to use a snorkel and flippers or a scuba tank to observe them. But Lalomanu doesn't just appeal to snorkelling enthusiasts. With its endless stretch of white sand, it's a great spot for those who want to lay out all day soaking up the sun or take a long stroll on the beach.

Nu'utele and Namua Islands

From Lalomanu Beach you can enjoy beautiful views of Nu'utele Island, which is the largest of the Aleipata Islands. If you want to venture out, you can take a short boat ride to Nu'utele and explore all the beauty it has to offer, including its seabird nesting grounds. Samoan activities such as snorkelling and sea kayaking are available on the island. You could also head off to Namua, a small uninhabited island located north of Lalomanu. At Namua you can experience some of the best snorkelling in Samoa, with the unique chance to get up close to endangered green turtles and eagle rays.

Scenic Tours

There are also many great areas to explore on the north east coast of Upolu. The scenic drive along the coast is an adventure in itself, passing by green forests, plantations, traditional Samoan villages and waterfalls. One of the highlights on the journey is the Piula Cave Pools, which is situated under the theological college in Lufilufi Village. It's worth making a stop here to experience the clear waters of the spring cave pool, which first originated from an old lava tube. There are underwater caves to explore and plenty of tropical fish to see. It's also a great spot to just relax and have a picnic.

With so much to do and see, a road trip around Aleipata and Lalomanu is one of the best ways to start your Samoan vacation. There are guided scenic drives available for those who would like an extensive tour of the area and are usually bookable through your Samoan accommodation provider.

Visit the Aganoa Black Sand Beach

This deep-water sandy crescent beach offers safe swimming, snorkeling and picnicking. Access by land is a challenging 4WD only track, though boat excursions are available from the resorts in Maninoa village nearby. Extra caution is advised for swimmers as currents are somehow stronger during some parts of the year.

Visit the Bahai Temple

One of only eight in the world, the Baha'i' House of Worship is a place of prayer and meditation open to people of all backgrounds. Since its dedication in 1984 it has received thousands of visitors from all parts of the globe. With nine symmetrical sides and entrances, the distinctive architecture of the House of Worship embodies grace and beauty.

Particularly striking is the main auditorium, with its majestic dome soaring 28 meters (92 feet) high and inset with converging lines of mirrored glass. The House of Worship sits above 20 acres of carefully maintained prayer gardens, which host more than 60 species of flowers, plants, and trees all native to Samoa. Interspersed with footpaths and bridges, the gardens can be the scene for personal reflection, or simply a stroll through the natural beauty of Samoa. Also located on the grounds are the Visitors' Information Center for those interested in knowing more about the House of Worship or the Baha'i' Faith, a book and gift shop, and toilet facilities. A public interfaith prayer service is held at the House of Worship every Sunday morning at 10:00. It features prayers and holy writings from a selection of world religions, as well as a Samoan choir.

Take The Costal Walk

Due to illegal logging in the national park, the gate from the main road into the national park is usually locked. You will need to contact the MNRE (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment) to obtain the key. Though the road leading to the car park is very rough and should only be attempted with a 4WD, it is only a 30 minute walk to the car park from the main road.

From the car park the first view point takes a three minute walk, where you can see the magnificent waves crashing against the cliff. The walk then takes you through the magnificent Pandanus forest.

While in the Pandanus forest, you can see two small islands with amazing shape. At the end of the Coastal walk lies a huge lava field where you can see Nu'usafe'e, Nu'utele and the Aleipata Islands.

The Coastal Walk is a relatively easy walk, about one hour for a regular hiker. However, the trail is on rough lava rocks and we recommend that you walk carefully. Please wear sturdy walking shoes.

Take the Falease'ela River Walk

The Falease'ela River Walk is an exhilarating hike that should not be missed by those looking for adventure and wishing to experience Samoa's pristine natural environment. The guided tour takes you through river bed and banks of the Liua le Vai o Sina River, located in Falease'ela in Lefaga Bay. It is a wet and wild adventure, but what more could you ask for on a hot day in Samoa.

The tour takes anywhere from three to six hours depending on your pace. Your guides will lead you up and around waterfalls and lava formations that have formed this magnificent natural setting.

If you take the tour, you will be telling all your friends that Samoa has a lot more to offer than beautiful beaches, and they should not miss out on the Falease'ela River Walk.

Visit Sopoaga Waterfall

Image Source: Samoa Images. Sopoaga Waterfall
Sopoaga Waterfall

A stunning garden and picnic site overlook these powerful falls as they plunge deep down into a gorge. They are situated off Le Mafa Pass Road, towards southeastern Upolu.

Sopoaga Falls is also located at Lotofaga village. Splendid gardens fill the surrounding area, Along side the path to the viewing area, are many different types of Samoan plants and trees which are labeled by their Samoan and scientific names. There is also an area for umu demonstrations and coconut husking. A small entrance fee is charged. If there is no one on site to collect the entrance fee there is an honesty box available where visitors can pay.

Visit The Falefa Falls

The waterfall is approximately 30 meters from the viewing area and can currently only be accessed by swimming. The viewing area has a table and benches, perfect for an afternoon lunch. The Falefa Bridge also provides good viewing of this site.

Visit The Fuipisia Falls

Just north of the Sopoaga Waterfalls in southeastern Upolu, a 10-minute walk from the main road will take you to this magnificent 55 metre high jungle waterfall.

This stunning breathtaking falls is situated in the village of Lotofaga. A few river flows are encountered before reaching this enticing striking waterfall. A small fee is charged.

Visit the Togitogiga Waterfall

Image Source: Samoa Images. Togitogiga Waterfall
Togitogiga Waterfall

Swimming holes separate these cascading waterfalls, surrounded by lush tropical gardens. It's a popular swimming spot and place to linger for a picnic, plus there are changing rooms and toilets you can use. There is also a recreation area ideal for games such as rugby and volleyball for those with their own equipment.

This waterfall is located in the village of Saleilua and is a situated few miles away from the Le Pupu Pue National Park. The fall is known to be used as a swimming area for the great warriors of Samoa in the past. The best time for viewing and swimming is during the wet season which is usually from November to April.

Visit La Mafa Pass

This scenic inland drive will take you high up into the mountains of Upolu, from the northern through to the southern coast. The pass offers many vantage points for spectacular views in all directions, be it over mountains, the ocean or both. Archaeologists have also discovered several ancient village sites in this area.

Take the Ma Tree Walk

The Ma Tree Walk is a 700m walk through the tropical rainforest within the O le Pupu Pu'e National Park. At the end of the walk you will encounter the amazing Ma Tree with huge roots that extend out for meters in all directions. The walk can extended from the Ma Tree with another 1.4km walk to the Togitogiga visitors center, though this walk isn't maintained making it extremely rough, it should only be attempted by the experienced hiker.

Visit Manono Island

Serene Manono Island, with no vehicles or dogs, is a pleasant stop for any tropical island lover. Take a leisurely stroll around this paradise and visit the historic grave of 99 stones and the amazing ancient star mound. A magnificent stroll around the whole island viewing the lush beautiful gardens with cooling trade winds will not exceed more than two hours.

Visit Papapapaitai Falls

A vantage point just off the Cross Island Road offers a spectacular view of the Papapapai-Tia Waterfall cascading into a deep gorge. It is referred to as one of the longest waterfalls in Samoa. A perfect sunny and clear day will reveal the majestic fall and its surroundings.

Visit Pe'ape' a Cave

The Pe'ape'a Cave is located deep within the O le Pupu Pu'e National Park, a guide can be organised with the MNRE and is highly recommended. The cave can only be explored in the dry season (April to November).

After about an hours walk through the dense jungle there is a dry river bed, a few hundred meters down the river bed brings you to the entrance of the cave where there are dozens of pe'ape'a (little swiflets) flying around the entrance.

Some agile rock climbing brings you down into the immense cave, after about half an hour climbing through the pitch black cave you will come to the opening on the other side.

A torch, good footwear and plenty of water are recommended.

Visit The Piula Cave Pool ( Fatumea Cave Pool)

Piula Cave Pool, also known as Fatumea Cave Pool, is a remarkable and refreshing freshwater cave pool, located beneath an historic Methodist Church at the Piula Theological College. It connects two caves via a small underwater entrance. It is an excellent place for family picnics. Please note that the pool is closed on Sundays.

A well maintained restroom and shower facilities are available on site. There is a bulletin board by the pool which has informational posters on protecting marine life. Please be considerate when visiting the pools and abide by the following regulations:

  • Don't walk across the cricket field. Follow the main road
  • Alcohol and illegal drugs are not permitted
  • All visitors must pay entrance fees
  • Secure your belongings. The college is not responsible for any lost items
  • Nudity is strictly forbidden
  • Swimwear is allowed only in the pool area
  • No fishing in the pool and conservation area
  • No diving or jumping into the pool
  • There is no lifeguard on site
  • Place all rubbish in the bins
  • Do not feed the fish

Visit Sauniatu Waterfall

Sauniatu Waterfall is located on the well maintained Sauniatu LDS Compound in the north central part of Upolu. It is approximately a 12-15 minute drive from the main road in Saoluafata. At the top of the stairway down to the waterfall are concrete benches for guests to relax on. The stairway has a much needed railing that guides visitors down the slippery steps to the swimming area. Visitors should be careful when entering the water as it is a slippery base at the bottom of the steps. Sauniatu Waterfall is ideal for small groups looking to cool off on a hot day or have a picnic.

There are also a number of villages on Upolu that can be visited.

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