A Self-Drive Day Tour of Savai’i’s South 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 south coast will ensure you make the most of this Polynesian paradise! Rent a car or scooter or even hire a driver and hit the South Coast Road to explore stunning waterfalls, see cultural demonstrations, check out the famous blowholes, be mystified by historical sites, and swim/snorkel at the island’s most famous beach. You don’t need to hire a guide, as this self-guided day trip on Savai’i’s south 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 south 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 South Coast Using This Self-Guided Itinerary
This self-guided one-day itinerary of the Savai’i south coast has you exploring the north coast of the island independently. To get around, you will either need to rent a car, scooter or private driver. Tips on where to hire 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 Palauli
Distance: 13.5 km (8 mi), Drive time: 20 minutes.
Tafua Crater Side Trip Distance: 11.5 km (7 mi), Drive time: 18 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.
There are not many dining opportunities on the road today, so we recommend fuelling up at the Harbourside Cafe & Pizza Bar – just about the only restaurant in town – before hitting the road.
Side Trip: Salelologa to Tafua Crater
Head west on the South Coast Road now, where hikers and keen birdwatchers can take a side trip into the Tafua Rainforest Preserve. Guides at Tafua-tai village can take you on a hiking trail to Tafua Crater. For details on how to organise it, check out the 6 Best Walks on Savai’i. Return back to the main road the way you came.
Salelologa to Palauli
For a shorter trip, and the one we recommend to most, simply travel from Salelologa west to the village of Palauli. Look out for the sign for the Siapo Demonstration opposite Palauli College where you can enjoy a refreshingly authentic demonstration of how locals make and paint canvases from the bark of a mulberry tree. What’s more, you’ll also come away with your own piece of siapo artwork.
Next door to the siapo demonstration is the entrance to Afu Aau Waterfall. Pay your entry fees then make your way up the unsealed road to a car park and changing area. Then, it’s a short stroll through the forest to a glorious waterfall and swimming hole.
Palauli to Taga
Distance: 27 km (17 mi), Drive time: 35-40 minutes.
Head back on the South Coast Road now, travelling west and keeping an eye out for a convenience store and bakery on your righthand side. This provides another opportunity to grab some snacks for the road. We like their pineapple halfmoon pies (Paifala).
A little further, look out for “Samoa’s smallest church”, the First Samoan Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in the village of Satupaitea on the lefthand side of the main road.
Another waterfall opportunity awaits just before the road bridge between Puleia and Gautavai villages, Mu Pagoa Waterfall. It’s easy to miss with no road sign, but it’s a neat natural attraction to watch the Lata River fall into the Pacific Ocean.
From the waterfall, it’s another 17-18 km (10.5 mi) passing through numerous villages until you reach the village of Taga and the sign for the unsealed road to access the Alofaaga Blowholes. Pay your entry fees (there may be two separate payments), then watch seawater burst from between the volcanic fissures on the coast. Ask the attendants to put a coconut over the blowholes for extra drama (but mind your head).
Taga to Falealupo-uta
Distance: 43 km (27 mi), Drive time: 55 minutes.
Continue north on the South Coast Road now where there’s the opportunity to fuel up at the Lata Service Station and admire the rows of coconut plantations as you pass through the villages.
After a 20-minute drive from the blowholes, you’ll reach Satuiatua Beach Resort which has some fantastic snorkelling at high tide, as described in The Best Snorkelling in Savai’i. Their restaurant may be open for lunch, if you’re feeling peckish.
A further 20 km (12 mi) up the road, a worn sign indicates Faiaai Beach. A long set of concrete steps takes you down to the narrow stretch of white sand lined with coconut palms.
The roads stretch over the high volcanic cliffs of the southwest coast now where, approximately 15 km (9 mi) past Faiaai Beach, is the lookout for Lovers Leap. It’s sometimes overgrown, but if you’re lucky, you’ll get breathtaking views from a clifftop vantage point of the water surging into a small but dramatic cove below.
Stick to the main road until you reach the village of Falealupo-uta, your access to the final part of your Savai’i south coast journey.
Falealupo-uta to Cape Mulinuu
Distance: 12 km (7.5 mi), Drive time: 25 minutes.
Falealupo-uta to Falealupo Beach
From Falealupo-uta village, take the fork in the road left to follow Falealupo Road where the first attraction you’ll stumble upon is Moso’s Footprint. Check out the 2 m (6.6 ft)-long foot-shaped depression with an unusual legend.
Between Moso’s Footprint and Falealupo Beach are the ruins of Falealupo’s Historic Catholic Church which was destroyed by the waves of Cyclone Ofa in 1990.
Just as you reach Falealupo village, a sign points to the “House of Rock” where guides will lead you down a rough trail (better to wear closed footwear rather than your flip-flops) to a partially collapsed lava tube. Some local guides are eager to share the legends of this cave if they’re available.
Next, sweeping white sands and glorious snorkelling await at Falealupo Beach. If you’re not staying here overnight, hire a day fale at the Falealupo Beach Fales or Se’eti Beach Fales with more than a kilometre of sand to enjoy. Learn more about the beach fales in the 10 Best Beach Fale Accommodations on Savai’i should you want to stay the night.
Falealupo Beach to Cape Mulinuu
At the westernmost point of Savai’i, accessed via a flat dirt road (suitable for 2WD) through the coconut groves, Cape Mulinuu is home to the historic Mauga Fetu Star Mound, Ana O Vaatausili Giant’s Cave and Vaisuatoto Well – all of which are outlined in the 10 Best Historical Sites on Savai’i. If there are locals around taking entry fees, they are usually happy to tell you about the legends of these historical sites. Otherwise, the interpretation panels here are sufficient enough.
Across the road from the historical sites is a gorgeous beach with rock pools including Fafa o Sauali’i, which is said to be the place where the spirits of Samoa depart to the afterlife. As the sun sinks to the west, its rays cast a reflection upon the sea that forms a golden pathway upon the waters, said to be the pathway of the spirits. Needless to say, the sunsets from here are magnificent.
To return to the main road, it’s best to return the way you came if you’re in a low vehicle, as the circular road is not in as good condition.
More About Planning a Self-Guided Day Trip on Savai’i
That’s it for our self-guided day trip of the Savai’i south 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.