Last updated on March 9th, 2022
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 7 days in Samoa sample itinerary that gives you the option of spending your entire week in Upolu Island or include a trip to Savaii Island for a few days.
Before we begin, having a car will be crucial to see everything that’s mentioned in this sample itinerary within the allotted time. Day 2 in Upolu and days 5-6 in Savaii 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.
Planning a visit to Samoa? Check out the Samoa travel guide collection, where you’ll find in-depth travel guides to Samoa’s main islands, sample itineraries, and essential planning tips!
All places mentioned in this itinerary can be found on this companion map. Click on the image to open in Google Maps:
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.
Start your first day in Samoa at the fish market. Arrive early to watch the fishermen unload the nightly catch of yellowtail tuna, lobsters, and crabs. Walk to the clock tower at the bottom of Vaiea Street and position yourself in front of the Mulivai Catholic Cathedral just before 9 am.
Every weekday morning at 9 am, a siren signals the start of the Samoa Police Band’s flag-raising ceremony. They proudly march from headquarters to the grassy field behind the clock tower, wearing lavalava skirts and displaying patriotic love for their beloved Samoa.
When the show wraps up, enter the Mulivai Catholic Cathedral. The interior wouldn’t shame the cathedrals of Europe and if you’re in Apia on a Sunday, I highly recommend morning service.
Staying in the same area, head to the Samoa Cultural Village for a 10:30 am free tour that’s not to be missed. 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 women’s hairdos.
The tour will take you through various stations 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. The informative and interactive tour will put the rest of your visit to Samoa in the right context. Lunch is included and you can purchase Samoan art directly from the artists at bargain rates.
Walk from the cultural village to Samoa’s main market – the Maketi Fou. 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.
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 to the market’s food court for a greasy snack before catching the bus back to their village.
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. Buses 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.
To wrap up the sightseeing portion of the day in style, take a taxi or bus to the Papaseea Sliding Rocks (T20 entrance). As its name suggests, the purpose of your visit 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.
Your hire car will be dropped off by the folks at AA Rentals. Drive on the Main East Coast Road (though running along the north coast of Upolu) to the Piula Cave Pool (T5 entrance). I strongly suggest getting here early in the morning. Why? The incredibly transparent water of this pool will be fully appreciated when there’s nobody else around. The natural pool is fed by water trickling from the highlands and its residents include weird-looking silverfish and even eel. Here’s what it feels like swimming in the Piula Cave Pool. Pure magic!
The coastal road then turns into the Richardson Road, eventually leading to the Le Mafa Pass. This scenic road cuts through the mountains and offers sensational views of a lush valley that meets the blue ocean.
Continue on the Le Mafa Pass road to Fuipisia Waterfall (T7 entrance). Park the car and walk along the trail eventually reaching the very top of this 55-meter high waterfall. The views from up here are scary and exhilarating, offering a close look at nature’s awesome forces at work.
A little further down the road is my favorite waterfall in Samoa – The Sopoaga Waterfall (T10 entrance). Secretly emerging from the jungle, the waterfall magically cascades from one pool to another before feeding the river. The lush vegetation around leaves no margin of error for your thoughts – this must be what paradise looks like!
At the fork in the road, head east on the south coast road to the To-Sua Ocean Trench (T20 entrance). This natural swimming hole is the face of Samoa in travel brochures and lists of places to visit before you die (so here’s your chance).
After you’re done swimming, head above ground for a picnic lunch. There’s also a path that leads you to the sea smashed coastline for additional fine views.
If you want to hit the beach, Vavau Beach is right next door (T20 entrance) and Viula Beach is on the way to our next stop (T10 entrance). Vava’u is one of Samoa’s prettiest beaches and Viula is not too bad either, but these are optional stops. In any case, our next official stop is at the Togitogiga Waterfall. A path running through the tropical garden leads to a series of cascading pools. Unlike the To Sua Ocean Trench, this place will be empty on a weekday so enjoy the swim.
Just before turning back to Apia on the Cross Island Road, stop at the Ma Tree Walk. A short and easy hike through the rainforest will bring you to this massive mape tree with enormous roots fanning out in all directions. Quite ubiquitous in French Polynesia, this tree is a rarity in Samoa.
Take a right on the Cross Island Road and stop at the viewing area for the Papapapaitai Falls. At 100 meters, this is the highest waterfall in Samoa and it’s often covered in clouds.
From the falls, you’ll begin descending from the highlands to Apia, stopping at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (T20 entrance). The Scottish author of Treasure Island is revered by Samoans, having greatly advocated on their behalf for independence and immersing himself in local life. Stevenson came to Samoa hoping its tropical climate would help with his tuberculosis. The beautiful mansion he built is the present-day museum, and you can also hike to the top of Mount Vaea just next to the mansion to visit his grave and to enjoy panoramic views of Apia.