A Self-Drive Day Tour of Savai’i’s North Coast
Have a day to spend on Savai’i and don’t know what to do with it? This one-day itinerary of Savai’i’s north coast will ensure you make the most of this Polynesian paradise! Rent a car or scooter or even hire a driver and hit the North Coast Road to explore stunning snorkelling spots, stop by quaint cafes, explore caves, check out lava fields and even stretch your legs on volcano hikes. You don’t need to hire a guide, as this self-guided day trip on Savai’i’s north coast lays out the top sights and attractions on an easy-to-follow route complete with maps.
Needless to say, you don’t have to stop at everything we recommend on this Savai’i north coast itinerary (only a hardcore tourist would), so feel free to pick and choose the attractions that appeal the most to you. You can either enjoy this one-day itinerary as a one-way trip, staying at the accommodation recommended, or by returning the same way, which gives you more opportunity to hit as many attractions as possible.
How to Get Around Savai’i’s North Coast Using This Self-Guided Itinerary
This self-guided one-day itinerary of the Savai’i north coast has you exploring the north coast of the island independently. To get around, you will either need to hire a car, scooter or private driver. Tips on where to rent vehicles, as well as how to hire a driver can be found in the following guides:
- What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa
- The Top Savai’i Car Rental Companies
- Scooter Hire in Samoa: Where to Rent, Cost & More
- How to Hire a Driver in Samoa
For more transport options, check out our Savai’i Transport Guide: 9 Ways to Get to (& Around) Savai’i.
Salelologa to Asaga
Distance: 25 km (15.5 mi), Drive time: 35 minutes.
Starting where most road trips begin on Savai’i, Salelologa Wharf, don’t leave the hub of the island without visiting Salelologa Market. It’s a quick side trip to the commercial centre of town, boasting an array of local produce, handcrafted souvenirs and some cheap local eats.
Salelologa to Sapapali’i
Head north of the North Coast Road where you’ll start to pass some of Savai’i’s grandest churches. For breakfast/brunch/lunch, stop by Adria’s Cafe in Lalomalava for international meals, cabinet food like paninis and sweet treats.
As you leave Adria’s Cafe and continue north, there are some tempting roadside fruit stalls to check out before reaching the grand EFKS Sapapali’i Church and the John Williams Monument, commemorating the missionary who brought Christianity to Savai’i. Right behind the monument is a freshwater swimming pool that is well worth a dip before returning back on the road.
Sapapali’i to Lano
Continue north past Savai’i’s largest hospital, Maleitoa Tanumafili II Hospital, and you’ll soon reach one of the island’s most upscale resorts, Amoa Resort. You could stop by for lunch here instead or simply check out its lagoon deck – a stunning place to watch the sunrise.
Further north, you’ll reach a long stretch of white sand known as Lano Beach. Either visit for an hour or two using one of the day fales or join the friendly hosts of Lauiula or Joelan Beach Fales to stay in their ultra-spacious traditional-style beach fales overnight. With the reef quite far from shore, there’s safe swimming near the beach.
The next village north is Asaga, home to the Asaga Mangroves canoe tour which is a worthwhile experience if you manage to get it organised. See the Top 10 Kayak Tours to learn more.
At the northern end of Asaga, Taefu Taulagi Matafeo Store is also a cosy cafe with a lush garden setting to enhance sipping on espresso and tucking into some cake. Find out more in the 10 Best Restaurants on Savai’i.
Asaga to Manase
Distance: 30 km (19 mi), Drive time: 35 minutes.
Asaga to Saleaula
The stretch of road between Asaga and Saleaula is pretty uneventful but at least scenic as you leave the coast and cross lava fields with regenerating forest. You’ll pass through the village of Mauga, which sits around a crater. According to local legend, the well in the middle of the crater would dry up if any of the village women had been unfaithful. A bore has since been installed in the crater to invigorate the well (and hopefully the village’s women).
A further 5 km (3 mi) up the road, you’ll see signposts for the Saleaula Lava Fields, home to the LMS Church engulfed in lava flow, as well as the mysterious “Virgin’s Grave”. There are walkways to various parts of the lava field, both to a wetland jetty and a coastal lookout, so take the time to explore.
Saleaula to Fagamalo
The Main North Coast Road will take you back to some coastal villages now, with Fagamalo being a noteworthy stop. Here, you have a couple of resorts with restaurants open for casual visitors, Le Lagoto Resort and Savaii Lagoon Resort. Behind Le Lagoto is Dive Savai’i which offers scuba diving trips, as well as turtle snorkelling trips on the lagoon. There are ATMs here also if you need to take out some cash.
Neighbouring Fagamalo is the tourist hotspot of Manase, which has the largest collection of beach fales on the island, as well as the resort, Stevensons on Manase which provides another dining opportunity. Manase Beach provides some interesting snorkelling and good potential for spotting turtles. Note that you’ll need to pay your beach fees by hiring one of the beach fales. Find out more in the 10 Best Beaches on Savai’i.
Manase to Vaisala Bay
Distance: 40 km (25 mi), Drive time: 50 minutes.
Mt Matavanu Side Trip Distance: 19 km (12 mi), Drive time: 35 minutes.
Manase to Safotu
Head west on the North Coast Road to Savai’i’s most populated village, Safotu. Here, marvel at the Catholic Church, the first of its kind constructed in Samoa.
Side Trip: Dwarfs Cave and Mt Matavanu
From Safotu, intrepid travellers can take a detour inland to check out Dwarfs Cave with guides from Paia village or further to Mt Matavanu, which is the volcano responsible for the lava flows found at the Saleaula Lava Fields. The summit of Mt Matavanu can be accessed via 4WD or by parking at the bottom of the 4WD track and walking the rest of the way. Find out more in the 6 Best Walks on Savai’i.
Return the way you came to get back on the North Coast Road and Safotu.
Safotu to Matavai
Back on the main road, continue west to the village of Matavai where signs indicate the entrance to Mataolealelo Spring. The freshwater pool is associated with the Samoan legend of “Sina and the Eel”, yet provides a seriously revitalising dip after a day exploring in the hot sun. On the downside, men and women cannot swim in the same pool and the price is per vehicle, which can make this a pricier attraction if you’re just travelling on your own.
Matavai to A’opo
As you continue west, the North Coast Road leaves the coast once again through some established forest on top of a lava-formed landscape.
Just off the roadside is Pe’ape’a Cave, which is a small lava tube to see the unusual nesting swiftlets that use sonar to fly in the dark.
Further along the road, you’ll come across A’opo village where, those looking for a multi-day mission, can begin their ascent up Mt Silisili, as described in the 6 Best Hikes on Savai’i.
Coming out the other end of A’opo, you’ll reach the A’opo Conservation Area and Laauoleola Cave. The guided experience begins with a 15-minute nature trail through the forest before heading through a large lava tube. Going to the first descent of the lava tube is enough for some, but those wanting to go further through the cave can opt to take a ladder – just let your guide know. More details on all of the caves discussed in this itinerary can be found in the 10 Best Caves in Samoa.
A’opo to Asau Bay
Back on the road, it’s now a steep descent back to the coast where the large village of Asau is located in Asau Bay. Should you need to cool off, you’ll easily spot the large Asau Pool on the coast.
From Asau village, continue west around Asau Bay where you’ll reach Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge offering a range of accommodation options should you want to spend the night and continue exploring Savai’i tomorrow (perhaps using A Self-Guided Day Trip on Savai’i: South Coast Itinerary?) Va-i-Moana also offers fishing charters and koko plantation tours, as well as a restaurant.
Asau Bay to Vaisala Bay
Just a few more kilometres west is a bit more to see, such as the white sand beach of Vaisala Bay out the front of the rather rundown Vaisala Hotel. Nevertheless, the Vaisala Hotel has an a la carte menu should you be feeling peckish. They also provide alternative budget accommodation. Otherwise, simply enjoy their short coastal walk here and/or snorkelling from the beach.
More About Planning a Self-Guided Day Trip on Savai’i
That’s it for our self-guided day trip of the Savai’i north coast. For more details about the sights visited on this one-day itinerary of Savai’i, these other articles should do just the trick!
- Sightseeing in Savai’i: Top 10 Sights on Savai’i
- 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i
- The Food Guide to Savai’i: Places to Eat & Food Tours
Finally, don’t miss a thing on the “big island” with The Complete Travel Guide to Savai’i.