Getting from Upolu island to Savai’i Island is pretty straight forward. We caught a taxi from Lalomanu to the ferry terminal at Mulifanua Wharf (about a 2 hour drive) and then bought our tickets at the counter there for about NZ$5. The trip takes about an hour and a half, and it’s a lucky dip whether you get a nice ferry or a very old one, but both are comfortable enough. Once we arrived on Savai’i we caught a taxi to Manase Beach (about a 1 hour drive). We stayed at Tailua Beach Fales on a recommendation from a fellow traveller and it cost us NZ$30 for a fale, including breakfast and dinner. This place was great! It is really small and the family who runs it are incredibly nice and attentive. The fresh fish cooked in coconut every night accompanied with bread fruit was incredible! We adored our time here and highly recommend it.
Manase Beach is very beautiful and our days were spent in a cycle of eating, snorkelling, reading, snorkelling, reading and eating. It was a lifestyle we relished. The reef here was a lot more protected from the 2009 Tsunami so the snorkelling was great! On one of the days we jumped on a dive boat for about NZ$50 and just snorkelled off the side. It was a good morning spent and we saw some more turtles.
On one of the days we organised a car rental from the family we were staying with for about NZ$60 and went for a drive around the island. It took us the whole day as we kept stopping at all the sights. There are a bunch of different waterfalls you can stop at for some much needed swims, and they were always deserted. One of our highlights was the Alofaaga Blowholes. This place is really cool, on our way to them we passed a fale with an elderly man sitting in it who waved us down. He didn’t speak much English but next thing he was hopping into our car with a bag of coconuts. Okay, we rolled with it. Once we got to the blowholes he taught us how to through the coconuts into them at just the right moment so that they would go flying into the air. It was a lot of fun and Andrew was in his element. After a generous tip was given to the man, we then carried on around the island.
On our trip around the island we discovered that there are a lot of beautiful beaches, pigs roaming free everywhere, a lot of lava fields, awesome old school buses and a crazy amount of churches (mainly Morman). It was a great thing to do while we were here and we learned a lot from it.
Another neat thing about staying at Tailua, is that it is just down the road from Stevenson’s Resort, where, if you desire, you can get a cheap massage (we did) and some delicious cocktails (of course we did). Tanu Beach Fales was also down the road, which was a lot bigger and busier than Tailua, but it did have a bar that we visited a few nights.
I can barely put into words how much we enjoyed our time on Savai’i, and Samoa in general. Andrew and I both agreed that it was our favourite place we had visited and we can’t wait to come back! I highly recommend foregoing the usual Hotel/Resort way of visiting Samoa, and stay instead at locally owned fales. You will find the experience much more rewarding and enjoyable (no groups of crazy kids annoying you) and much easier on the wallet.
Editor’s Note: Visited Samoa in 2014, updated in 2017.