"Return to Paradise" Beach

Upolu is the most important of Samoa's islands. The Region of Upolu also includes all other islands of the country apart from the so-called "big" island of Savaii. Upolu was formed by a massive volcano, but there have been no recent eruptions. The island is 75 kilometres long and contains Samoa's capital, Apia, which is in the middle of the north coast and Faleolo International Airport, which is towards the western end of the island. The island is fringed by reefs and has some beautiful beaches. Inland is hilly, with tropical vegetation and numerous waterfalls.

Upolu was affected by a major tsunami on 29 September 2009. Twenty villages in its eastern, southeastern and southern sides were destroyed or badly damaged. Deaths exceeded 100 and more than 3000 people were made homeless. Considerable tourism infrastructure was affected but several facilities have already been rebuilt. In addition to its impact on land, the tsunami also had considerable impact on the area's coral.


Apia is the capital of Upolu, situated on the north coast. This is a rapidly modernising city, backed up with considerable history. The population is close to 40,000.

Other destinations

There are many attractive villages throughout the island and on Manono island. Upolu also has some interesting natural reserves, lovely waterfalls, good diving and snorkelling and fantastic beaches. For more information see SEE, below.


Be respectful whilst traveling around the villages and the quiet outskirts of Upolu. Samoa is a very traditional society and it is important to respect Fa'a Samoa, the "Samoan Way". See Samoa.


The Samoan language is the official language, but many Samoans can speak good English.

Get in

Most visitors arrive by plane at Faleolo International Airport. For more information, see Samoa

Get around


Old traditional buses are a must do. They are quite cheap, but can be uncomfortable. Buses leave from two locations in Apia: behind the flea market on the waterfront and next to the produce market "Marketi Fou". Ask the drivers for information on which buses to catch to your planned destination.

Car rental

You can hire cars from Apia, sometimes for less than 50 Tala a day. Rental companies include:

Papaseea Sliding Rocks

Fill the tank in Apia as opportunities for refills are limited elsewhere.


Piula Cave Pool


  • Aquasamoa (Based at Aggie Greys Resort),  +685 45662. Organizes diving trips and is a qualified PADI instructor.


Most restaurants are in Apia or at the hotels around the island.

The usual kinds of European, Asian and fast foods are available, but be sure to try the "umu", which is made in a traditional pit-oven, using red hot lava stones heated by charcoal. Whole pigs, fruits, chickens, fish, etc., are placed among the rocks for many hours, and covered with banana leaves. The food has an absolutely delicious smoked flavour, and meats are as tender and juicy as possible. Traditional food can be purchased from Apia. If you must, you can also visit the only fast food outlet in Samoa, McDonalds, which is located on Centre Road, Apia.


Vailima is the local beer. Bottled water is recommended.

See Samoa for more information.


In addition to hotels in Apia there are some good resorts, guest houses and fales on other parts of the main island and outer islands. Some hotels damaged by the tsunami are still recovering and are not listed here.




Stay safe

Do not walk alone at night, and stay with people you know and trust. Free roaming dogs can be a safety problem in the capital Apia. The Government of Samoa (GoS) passed the Canine Control Act in 2013 as an initial step toward addressing dog management. Most dogs ignore you and don't see you as a threat if you ignore them.

Go next

No visit to Samoa is complete without a visit to Savaii. This is the larger but less developed of the two main islands.

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.