10 Days In Samoa

July 20, 2016

Welcome to beautiful Samoa, where a proud Polynesian culture and nature at its absolute best are guaranteed to make this a memorable holiday. I spent nearly a month in Samoa while backpacking across the South Pacific Islands. Here’s a 10 days in Samoa sample itinerary that combines the best of its main islands, Upolu and Savaii.

Before we begin, having a car will be crucial to see everything that’s mentioned in this sample itinerary within the allotted time. However, if you cannot rent a car for the entire stay, do so only for days 2-3 and 8-9 as they absolutely require a car, or else you’ll need to sample a few points by hitchhiking, cycling or using the bus (an experience in its own right). Also note the entrance fees at almost every stop, a normal occurrence in Samoa as most land is historically owned by villages. Lastly, if you’re staying at beach fale accommodations, breakfast and dinner are almost always included in the price.

Visiting Samoa? Start planning your trip with the Samoa Travel Guide, filled with essential planning tips and in-depth information about all the highlights mentioned in this sample itinerary.

top 10 things to do in Samoa - Post Promo

10 Days In Samoa Itinerary Map

Click on the image to open in Google Maps:

10 Days In Samoa Itinerary Guide Map

Day 1: Exploring Apia

Where To Stay?

The centrally located Talofa Inn feels like your home away from home. This bed and breakfast offers clean (and air-conditioned rooms), a tropical breakfast, and always a warm smile from your hosts. Here’s a full review of the Talofa Inn and other recommended accommodations in Upolu.


Your first day in Samoa will be spent exploring its vibrant capital city. Start the morning bright and early at the local fish market, where fishermen unload their nightly catch. Continue to the clock tower at the bottom of Vaiea Street and position yourself in front of the Mulivai Catholic Cathedral just before 9 am for an interesting show that’s about to begin.

Fish Market Apia Samoa Tuna

Apia clock tower Samoa

Every weekday morning, the Samoa Police Band proudly marches from its nearby headquarters to the grassy field behind the clock tower for the raising of the flag ceremony. The cops wear lavalava skirts and the whole affair is a very patriotic display of affection for their beloved independent nation.

Samoa police band marching in apia

Since you’re already here, walk across the road and enter the Mulivai Catholic Cathedral. If you’re in Apia on a Sunday, come for church service and witness the strong sense of community. In any case, the church’s exterior and its interior wouldn’t shame the cathedrals of Europe.

Catholic Church Apia Samoa interior

Back across the road, head to the Samoa Cultural Village for 10:30 am free tour, rain or shine. This is an absolute must-visit attraction, graciously put on by the tourism office. The two-hour village tour is guided by Samoans that are as real as they come, with men sporting traditional tattoos and hibiscus spicing up the women’s hairdos.

Samoa Cultural Village tour Apia - guides

Samoan Cultural Village Apia ava ceremony

The tour will take you through various stations in the village such as traditional food preparation in an earth oven (umu), an ava (kava) ceremony, a beautiful dance show, tattoo, woodworking, and siapo making (tapa cloth). Along the way, you’ll learn about fa’a Samoa – the Samoan way. This ancient code of behavior is the invisible force that influences the lives of every Samoan, from the chief system to extended family life.

Samoan Cultural Village Apia making umu

Samoan Cultural Village Apia making siap

The informative and interactive tour will put the rest of your visit to Samoa in the right context so I highly recommend it. Lunch is included and you can purchase Samoan art directly from the artists at bargain rates.


It’s likely around 1 pm by now. Walk from the cultural village to the Maketi Fou, Samoa’s main market. This covered market is an oasis of tropical fruits and vegetables from around the island. If you’re still a little hungry, you can buy ready to eat taro, breadfruit, and palusami and really act like a local. Of course, you could just buy a few giant avocados, sweet star fruit, and honey mangoes for later.


Now is the perfect time to head to Apia’s third market – the flea market. This covered market is the best place to buy Samoan souvenirs, sarongs, and island fashions. You’ll get here just in time as school wraps up and students flock the market’s food court for a greasy snack before catching the bus back to their village.

buying souvenirs apia flea market samoa

Walk across the road towards the central bus station. Samoan busses are an attraction on their own and a great way to not only get from point A to B but also to discover yet another layer of Samoan culture. Busses are totally pimped out, always with music blasting and if you ride one of these, you’ll witness the unique seating etiquette that demonstrated just how well Samoans get along with each other.

Bus in Samoa collage

If you want to see more at this point, walk along Beach Road for awesome views of Apia. The road will eventually lead to the Palolo Deep Marine Reserve where the best snorkeling in Samoa can be found. In any case, the road is also where you’ll find the Seafood Gourmet Bar & Grill and Cocktails On The Rocks, great options for dinner and drinks.

Palolo Deep Marine Reeserve Apia Samoa underwater

Day 2: Cross Island Road


This will be a busy day that requires a car. AA Rentals conveniently delivers the car to your Apia hotel with prices starting at T120 per day. We’ll start at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (T20 entrance). The Scottish author of Treasure Island came to Samoa hoping its tropical climate would help with his tuberculosis. He built a beautiful mansion that serves as the present-day museum. A short hike from the mansion, Stevenson is buried atop Mount Vaea, a good spot for panoramic views of Apia and the blue ocean.

Robert Louis Stevenson Museum Apia Samoa veranda

Continue on the Cross Island Road and look for the sign to the Papapapaitai Falls lookout. This 100-meter waterfall is the highest in Samoa but often covered in clouds that quickly form in the deep gorge.

Papapapaitai Waterfal Samoa

As you reach the main South Coast Road, visit the Ma Tree. The easy 15-minute walk will lead you through the forest to the base of this massive mape tree, with its overgrown roots fanning out in every direction. It’s something straight out of a fairytale, ubiquitous in French Polynesia but rare in Samoa.  

Ma Tree Walk Samoa giant tree roots


From the Ma Tree Walk, you can drive to the Aganoa Black Sand Beach if you have a 4X4, or continue hiking along the Coastal Walk. Just follow the signs from the main road and hike for about one hour along sea smashed cliffs.


Further east on the South Coast Road, head to the Togitogiga Waterfall. Part of a recreation reserve, a path that runs through a tropical garden leads to a series of lovely cascading pools. Ancient Samoan warriors loved swimming here and it’s also not a bad spot for a picnic lunch.

Togitogiga Waterfall Samoa

If you want to hit the beach before heading to our final stop, drive to Vaiula Beach (T10 entrance). The beach is lovely and good for swimming. There’s a restaurant that may or may not be open, depending if guests are staying at the beach fales.

We’ll now drive back towards Apia passing the Papapapaitai Falls once again. Driving through Apia, we’ll end our day at the Papaseea Sliding Rocks (T20 entrance). As the name suggests, the fun is to slide down the smooth volcanic rock down to the pool. Just check water levels before sliding down, as it can be a bumpy landing in the dry season.

Papaseea Sliding Rocks Samoa


Back in Apia, treat yourself to some pizza and beer on the deck of Georgie’s Pizzeria or surprisingly good Indian food at Tifaimoana Indian Restaurant.



  1. Hello! My boyfriend and I are planning a 10 day trip to Samoa and love your itinerary. Just a quick question about the rental cars. From your cost spreadsheet it looks like you only rented a car for two days on each island – is that correct? How did this work? Any information about the rental cars would be appreciated! Thanks so much.

    1. Talofa Emily!

      Thanks for the feedback. Since you’re traveling for 10 days and as a couple, I would recommend having a car for the entire time. I was on a long trip and traveling alone, so I mostly used to bus to get from point A to B (a recommended experience just for the sake of it). I rented cars for very targeted days where I went on road trips to cover a large ground. Hope this helps. Happy travels, Samoa is incredible!

      1. Thanks for the quick response! Did you return the rental car back to Apia? For example – you rented a car on days 2 & 3 but stayed the third night in Lalomanu. So did you return the car to Apia and then take the bus from there? Your website is awesome by the way!

        1. Hi Emily

          I stayed a full month in Samoa and prepared a few sample itineraries. As mentioned in the article. It’s best to have a car for the full stay, however, if you cannot for some reason, there are those specific days for which a car is a must if you wish to do what is written. If renting in Apia, you’ll need to return the car there and then take a bus to Lalomanu. Specifically in Lalomanu and a lot of the more popular spots (major hotels, beach fales in Manase on Savaii and others), you can rent a car directly from your hosts.

  2. Hi.
    Thanks for the very useful sharing of Samoan knowledge.
    Unfortunately this year we are limited to go to Samoa around Christmas holidays time.
    Any idea of how busy it will be?
    We’re prepared to go through few rainy days but hope to manage to move around without queuing too much.

    1. Talofa Ramon!

      My guess is that the islands will be busy as many family members living in New Zealand will be coming home for the holidays. This would just mean having to book your air ticket long in advance and perhaps slightly a slightly “busier” scene at the beaches. Happy travels!

  3. Thank you for this really complete article !! We’ll go to Samoa during Christmas (as we have 2 weeks off), so do you reckon we’d need to book the accommodation in advance ? Because I’ve heard that booking in advance is not really common there so I was wondering what would be best !

    Also, as we are probably gonna take a flight back also from Apia, it means that we’ll need to go back to Apia, do you know how long we need to plan to go from Manase Beach back to Apia ?

    1. Talofa Cindy

      You are right that normally there isn’t a huge requirement to book accommodations in advance in Samoa, however, this is not the case if you want to stay in resorts and/or if you’re planning to travel during the Christmas season.

      Manase to the ferry would take about 60-90 mins by bus, then the ferry is about 60 minutes and finally, a bus to Apia is about 30-45 mins. Add to that waiting times. I would factor about half a day to get back to Apia but do check the ferry schedule which could be affected by the holidays.

      Enjoy beautiful Samoa!

      1. Thank you for your quick reply !! I’m going to try to book the most of accommodations then as we’ll travel during the Xmas season… Do you think it’s doable to stay in one place for the first week in Upolu (to be more convenient for the booking) and then one place for the week in Savaii ? And then move from our accommodation to the different places you’ve advised ?
        Thanks !

        1. Staying in one place on either islands will def work but it’s best if you have a car. Busses are quite common in Samoa but they’ll probably run infrequently and in any case, only go from a specific area to Apia and back so you kind of have to “connect” in Apia most of the time.

  4. I’ve just checked the accommodations and some fales you advise are not available to be booked online.. Do you think we’ll manage to have spots even during Christmas or is it too risky ? I’d love to go with the flow for some days, but I also don’t want to end up in an expensive hotel because there’s no room available elsewhere :/

    And another question, can we bring our tent and camp on the beaches or elsewhere ? That could also be a solution in case we don’t find accommodation !

    Thank you for your answer !

    1. you can book these places via email or online for the “higher-end” spots. Maybe just book in advance for Christmas itself and then “wing it” for the other days just to be on the safe side. I think you’ll always be able to find an available beach fale somewhere but a lot of them are of poor quality.

      Regarding the tent, I can’t recall seeing that option offered at the beach fales. You cannot just pitch a tent on the beach as 99% of beaches in Samoa are private property owned by villages.

  5. Hello again Avichai,
    2 years after reading your incredible trip reports from the Pacific, I am now planning a trip to one group of the Pacific Islands. Since I am gonna use a RT award ticket from Tokyo to the Pacific, I can choose almost any destination in the Pacific (Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, French Polynesia…).
    Right now my plan is to combine Samoa and American Samoa, and after reading some trip reports on other websites, I have some concerns regarding the Samoas.
    I’d be grateful if you could contact me (in case my email address is visible to you).

  6. What a great guide! Made my life much easier to plan 10 days in Samoa.

    I have short question: how about getting to the ferry to Namua by bus from Apia? Is it feasible or rather car is necessary?
    Thanks !

    1. Hi Jakub. You can take a bus to the village across the island (tell your driver you’re going to Namua). Just coordinate the pickup with your hosts before (by email or phone).

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