Savaii

Savaii (Savai'i) is the larger, but less developed, of the two main islands of Samoa.

Understand

Western tip of Savaii

Many people say that Savaii is the 'real' Samoa. It is certainly less developed, with no real towns as such, just a series of small villages with people living in traditional huts. You don't have to worry about getting lost on Savaii if you're driving - only one (well-paved) road runs around the island. Every few miles you will likely pass a colonial style church, while the coastline will regularly change between volcanic black ash, pristine white sand beaches, and dramatic cliffs.

Overall, visit Savai'i if you want a more authentic and unspoiled Samoan experience away from the Internet cafes and McDonald's of Apia.

Talk

The ferry between Upolu and Savaii at Salelologa

English is widely understood, but it doesn't hurt to know a few Samoan phrases.

Get in

Most people reach Savaii by small car ferry. The only alternatives are sailing there yourself or chartering a flight from Apia to one of Savaii's two airfields (there are usually no scheduled flights although at the end of 2010 Polynesian Airlines was operating two flights a week from Fagalii Airport close to Apia). The ferry journey takes 1 hour 15 minutes from Mulifanua Port (towards the most western edge of Upolu) to Salelologa on the southeast of Savaii. There are a maximum of five sailings a day, usually every 2 hours with the first at 06.00 and the last at 16.00. The ferry schedule can be found here. Price for foot passengers is SAT12.00.

While no recent accidents have been reported, it should be noted that several government travel warnings have been issued about the safety of this ferry - relating specifically to overloading, and the threat of heavy vehicles moving during the voyage. In reality though, it is the only feasible way to reach Savaii, and so the final decision is up to you.

If you do decide to use it, it's very likely that you'll be one of the few foreigners on board. Locals are therefore likely to strike up a conversation. Don't be concerned - this is almost always innocent and driven purely by curiosity.

If you are planning a short excursion to Savai'i then it's better to pack a small overnight bag and leave your main suitcase back at the Travellers Lounge in Apia. Dragging your suitcase onto the ferry and around Savai'i could be rather awkward.

Get around

The main highway on Savaii

By bus

The main means of getting around in Savaii are the brightly colored, pop-music blaring local buses. A one-way fare costs a maximum of WS$7 if you head to the northwest, with closer destinations being much less. The fare is paid to the driver at the end of the journey. Most buses depart from the markets in Salelologa. There are also some buses which meet the ferry at the Salelologa wharf. Buses in Savai'i tend to fill up quickly and you might find yourself sitting on the lap of a local! This is quite an experience for westerners.

By taxi

Generally your best bet. They are cheap and plentiful. Do agree on a price ahead of time, none of the taxis have meters!

By rented car

You need to obtain a local licence, which is very easy to get from the Transport Control Board at the police station in Apia (international licenses are not accepted) or from just next to the exit from Customs at the airport. Some car rental companies also provide this service. Licence endorsement costs SAT12. Renting a car is possible but not economical unless you will be driving it a lot every day. They are particularly handy if you plan to visit the Falealupo Peninsula, which does not have good public transport. Car hire companies include: PK Rentals (pkrentals@samoa.ws); Salafi (apia_lua@ipasifiki.net) and Savaii Car Rentals (cars@lesamoa.net).

By bicycle

Possible and quite enjoyable. Most of the island is flat and there is only one main road that circumnavigates the island. So there is no chance of getting lost. There are a few small steep sections near A'apo and Asau.

By hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is not very common, but can be a fun and entertaining way to travel like the locals at the back of a UTE. Almost all people will stop if you request a ride and many of them will go out of the way to drop you at your destination.

See

Blowholes in Savaii

Do

A lava field and palm trees on the coast of Savaii

Circumnavigate the entire island over a few days or a week (although it is possible to do in day) and admire the wonderful lush scenery and contrasting coastline. Head to the most westerly point of the island, which is only a few hundred miles from the international date line - and drop off the edge of the map!

Eat

Dinner?

Most places to eat are attached to hotels or guest houses. There are few independent restaurants or bars and the ones that do exist are almost all close to Salelologa.

Drink

Sleep

Budget

Beach fales are an enjoyable and inexpensive way to stay in Samoa. A list can be obtained from the Samoa Tourism Authority (info@samoa.travel), but the best way to know where to stay is to ask other travelers. Samoa is not very big and tourism is limited, so you will bump into the same people once in a while making it easy to exchange information

Mid-range

Splurge

Stay safe

Church in Matavai

Savai'i is a safe destination. Crime rates are low and people very helpful and friendly. With some common sense precautions, one should encounter few problems.

There is a hospital just north of Salelologa.

Connect

There is a lava hotspot at the CTC in Salelologa. Look for the yellow building opposite the jet over hotel. Several, but not all, beach hotels offer internet. Raci's Beach Club (see DRINK, above) claims to be the most westerly (i.e. closest to the International Dateline) internet cafe in the world.

Go next

You can't really visit Savaii without seeing something of the rest of Samoa. Spend a couple of days in Apia and then take a trip round Upolu.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, September 16, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.