On the last few days of our trip on Samoa, we hired some cars and went to see some of the sights of Samoa that are more easily accessed by road.
We picked up the first car in Salelologa, on Savai’i. It was a small Toyota Vitz, which is a Yaris. We go it early, then headed to the supermarket to buy food for lunch, then on to the road!
I was driving as Chris’ driving licence is in German (annoyingly for licences not in English, people require a translation or an international licence to drive in certain countries). I was very excited as this was the first long distance bit of driving I would do since passing my driving test. In Samoa, they also drive on the left and have right hand drive cars, and the car was an automatic, so it was very easy to get going.
The first stop was the Afu Aau Falls. This is a very beautiful site, with a curved wall of rock, coated in a curtain of bright green foliage, surrounding the waterfall. The waterfall is a little way from the road, along a bumpy, muddy and uneven track. You don’t need a four wheel drive to get there, but it would certainly have been more comfortable. We made it without sliding or bottoming out the car. In part thanks to Chris constantly telling me to slow down!
We drove on. I was beginning to really enjoy the driving despite the weather becoming a bit cloudy, with splashes of rain. We eventually found the Mu Pagoa falls. As with all of these attractions, we had to pay a small amount to see it (usually 5 – 10 Tala) – this money went to the family that owned the land that the attraction was on. In the case of the Mu Pagoa falls, we had to walk across a family’s quite dirty, animal-strewn yard to view the falls. They were very atmospheric with the tall palm trees behind. We also saw a small shoal of fish jumping in and out of the waves in the sea next to us!
The rain continued, but the roads were very clear. The rpute round Savaii is very easy as there is basically one road around the entire island and hardly any traffic. We stopped at a few more places: the black sand beach, which had black sand (as you might have guessed), and some gorgeous black cliffs with waves crashing against them.
After the cliffs, we reached our next main destination – the Alofaga Blowholes. These are some really cool rock formations on the south coast of Savaii which shoot water high into the air as it comes in with the waves. They are very cool and very hard to photograph – partially because the fountain happens quite quickly, partially because it was cloudy when we went and partially because you get sprayed by a mist of seawater!
My attempt at a photo is below!
We also stopped at Lover’s Leap, a viewpoint on the south coast. It had an odd story behind it – apparently a blind old woman and her daughter were ignore by the rest of their family, so they jumped off the cliff and as they hit the water, they turned into a shark and a turtle and swam off happily. How lovely.
My favourite part of the road trip came when we drove around the west most tip of Samoa. The weather improved, so we were driving in the sun, then we turned onto the road that takes you round the tip. It was “unsealed”, so at first it was a slightly gravelly road surface, but eventually it became mainly sand, coconuts and pot holes! It was so beautiful out there though, with the coconut palms gently shading us as we drove along, a breeze coming through the car windows and slivers of golden sand, showing through the trees.
There was also a beautiful old church at the end of the island. I just loved how tranquil that area was. There was hardly anyone there, just beautiful, sparkling sea and a mixture of sandy and rocky beaches. It looked like paradise.
We circled round to the north coast and drove back round and down the east coast of Savai’i. This is the busiest bit of Savai’i. It isn’t busy, but it is lined with towns and fales as well as a few resorts. There is a lovely church in one town which has a slightly vintage charm. We stopped there for some photos.
That night, we drove back to our fale in Salelologa – we had driven around 200km. When we filled up, ready to give the car back, it cost only 25 Tala! The day had been so much fun – what an experience! We stayed the night, the went to return our car and take the ferry back to Upolu in the morning. During the drive either to or from our fale, we were chased by a pack of loose dogs who got far too close to the car for comfort! It seems that the main driving hazard in Samoa is rogue animals – you find yourself watching out for sudden dogs, pigs, cows, horses and chickens crossing!
We didn’t do too much when we arrived back at Olivia’s accommodation in Apia – in part because the electricity was off and they were out of gas – not great given that we were hungry! We mainly walked around sorting out the car for the next day and I read.
The next day, we picked up our slightly bigger car to explore Upolu! We drove east, towards Lalomanu, cutting away from the sea onto the Le Mafa Pass.
On a steep, windy road just off the pass is a lookout point to what is, in my opinion, the best view in Samoa. I stayed for ages taking photos. The pointy green hills surrounded the beautiful bay below. Wow.
Just across the road from that view is the other one.
We carried on over the pass, and soon came to the Fuipsia waterfall, which cost a whole 10 Tala each. We had to walk along a very muddy “path” and also cross a small stream to get there, but the view down was worth it! it was a lovely high waterfall with it’s own rainbow. As we stood there admiring the view (I had finished taking photos), a bird flew past. I considered getting my camera out, but thought ‘nah’. This was a mistake because the bird was not a bird, but a Samoan Flying Fox!
We carried on to the To Sua Ocean Trench, but it wasn’t open yet, so we carried on driving round to a lovely beach – nearly as far round as Fao Fao, where we stayed at the start of the trip. The beach was lovely and sunny. After a little while, we drove back to To Sua.
We were the first people to get to To Sua. We paid our 20 Tala entry and went in to take photos! It was empty and especially photogenic! We had a long look and took photos for a while, then went and got our lunch and ate overlooking the sea.
I got changed and went for a swim, climbing down the 10m high ladder into the beautiful cool pool! It is connected to the sea underground, so it has a tide, but it is very gentle. It is very beautiful inside the pool – it has cliffs where it meets the water, some are quite red. There is also a cave through to another opening, but I didn’t feel like swimming all the way through. My favourite thing to do in the trench was starfish on my back and look up at the sky through the oval opening above me – I could have stayed in there all day!
Eventually, we left and drove to another waterfall with the wonderful name of Togitogiga, which is fun to say. It looked like a good place to swim, if one had the time.
The last place we stopped was the Papapapaitai falls. The light wasn’t in the best place for a photo, but apparently the valley is usually filled with clouds, so at least we could see it. This waterfall is very tall – if you look, you can see a house to the left of the waterfall in the photo below!
We returned the second car and went back to the accommodation to pack and get ready to leave.
Samoa was such a cool place to visit for me – I had never been anywhere like it! The island lifestyle is wonderfully chill, the people are so devout and friendly (if a little old fashioned) and it was truly eye-opening to be in a place where being white makes you the minority.
Maybe I’ll go back, maybe not, but Samoa will certainly stay with me in my memories!