A Self-Drive Day Tour of Upolu’s West Coast
Have a day to spend on Upolu and don’t know what to do with it? This one-day itinerary of Upolu’s west coast will ensure you make the most of this Polynesian paradise! Rent a car or scooter or even hire a driver and hit the Main West Coast Road to explore off-shore islands, quad bike or mountain bike through plantations, snorkel with giant clams, dine at various resort restaurants, and even jump from waterfalls. You don’t need to hire a guide, as this self-guided day trip on Upolu’s west coast lays out almost all of the tours and attractions on an easy-to-follow route complete with maps.
Needless to say, we recommend picking and choosing the attractions and tours that appeal to you the most, as it would be near impossible to squeeze in everything.
How to Get Around Upolu’s West Coast Using This Self-Guided Itinerary
This self-guided one-day itinerary of the Upolu west coast has you exploring the west side 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 Upolu 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 Upolu Transport Guide: 11 Ways to Get to (& Around) Upolu.
Apia to Mulifanua
Distance: 36 km (22 mi), Drive time: 50 minutes.
Apia is a destination in itself with a wealth of attractions that you could spend the whole day exploring. Speaking of which, check out A Self-Guided Trip Around Apia: One Day Itinerary to do just that. Today’s itinerary starts in the city centre on Beach Road from the Samoa Tourism Information Centre.
Apia to Mulifanua
Head west out of Apia along Vaitele Street, where you can stop for breakfast at RiVaiv Cafe, as recommended in our 10 Best Cafes in Apia & Upolu. The road soon turns into Main West Coast Road where you have a smooth stretch of highway to enjoy.
When you reach Le’auva’a, swap the rental car or scooter for an ATV and blaze through Upolu’s rugged inland plantations with Wolfpac ATV Tours. Find out more in The Best Off-Road Tours in Samoa.
Straight after the manicured gardens of Malua Theological College is the entrance to the EFKS Museum. Peruse an array of sculptures and paintings at this impressive art gallery and wander around its lagoon gardens.
Those travelling in groups of at least four people are eligible to tour the Ifiele’ele Plantation with its coconut demonstrations, tastings of organic fruit products and more. Find the plantation signposted off the main road in Fasito’outa.
Next should be the familiar sight of Faleolo International Airport and immediately after is the entrance of the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort. Pop in for lunch or, for those feeling like an adventure, visit the Pure Ocean dive shop for magnificent dive trips and snorkelling tours around Manono Island.
Mulifanua to Lefaga Bay
Distance: 30 km (19 mi), Drive time: 50 minutes.
Mulifanua to Manono-uta
The Main West Coast Road now passes Mulifanua Wharf, which is where ferries depart for Savai’i, then follows the coast south through Mulifanua village. On your lefthand side, you’ll spot the base of Outdoor Samoa which offers a range of cycling and kayaking tours, including a kayaking tour to Manono Island, as well as a cycling day tour covering much of this itinerary, should you want to experience it in an alternative way. Find out more in The Ultimate Guide to Mountain Biking in Samoa.
For more opportunities to explore Manono Island, ever tempting you with its views from the west coast road, Le Vasa Resort in Manono-uta village offers day tours by boat to the island. They also have tours to the uninhabited Nu’ulopa Island just behind Manono, while their restaurant, on the other hand, presents one of the more appealing places to stop for lunch on this itinerary. Learn more in the 10 Best Restaurants on Upolu.
Directly beside Le Vasa Resort is the jetty to where daily boats to Manono depart, should you want to visit the island (and the walking trail that circumvents it) independently.
Manono-uta to Lefaga Bay
You now have a very varied and scenic drive to enjoy as you continue south on the Main West Coast Road, between its quintessential Samoan villages with their grand churches and the Faleatai Saddle as it rises 200 m (656 ft) above sea level to unveil grand views of the lagoon and its reef system.
As you descend into Lefaga Bay, cross the ford of the Falease’ela River and you’ll come across Lalotalie ECAT Ventures. Olsen and the boys run an epic waterfall tour here with waterfall jumps and jungle hiking. More details can be found in the 10 Best Adventure Tours in Samoa.
Stick to the coast as you enjoy the scenery of Lefaga Bay and you’ll soon arrive at the Giant Clam Sanctuary in Savaia village. Pay your entry fees and don your snorkelling gear to swim among these impressive molluscs located within the area cordoned with white buoys (more details are in The Best Snorkelling in Upolu). It’s best to aim for high tide.
After your swim, continue hugging the coast towards Matautu village and follow the signs to Return to Paradise Resort. Either have some lunch at Faimafili Village Resort or Return to Paradise, the latter on one of the beaches used in the 1950s Hollywood film that the village still raves about to this day.
Lefaga Bay to Maninoa (+ O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park)
Distance: 22 km (14 mi), Drive time: 30 minutes.
O Le Pupu Pu’e side trip distance: 12 km (7.5 mi), Drive time: 20 minutes.
Lefaga Bay to Maninoa
It’s time to make your way back to the main road, which has now turned into the Main South Coast Road. Head east where the road is pretty uneventful for around 30 minutes until you reach the resort and beach hub of Maninoa. Take your pick of several accommodations boasting their own restaurants, from the casual beach bar setting of Ocean Club to the fine dining over-the-water restaurant of Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa. Speaking of spas, both Coconuts Beach Club and Sinalei offer indulgent day spas should you want to pamper yourself.
Side Trip: O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park
If you have a little more time in your day, providing you haven’t done a trip to Manono or scuba diving, etc., then you may as well take a short detour to see one of Samoa’s most scenic beaches.
Continue east on the Main South Coast Road until you spot the sign for Aganoa Black Sand Beach. Pay your beach fees and take the unsealed road (high-clearance vehicle only) to reach the crescent-shaped black sands lined with verdant jungle.
Return back to the main road and continue a little further east into the O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park. You’ll come across a roadside parking area with information boards and access to the family-friendly Ma Tree Walk, taking you to an impressive buttress tree.
Opposite the Ma Tree entrance is an unsealed road to the Coastal Walk, a 1-hour gander through the pandanus forest which opens up onto coastal cliffs with views of tremendous sea arches. All of these walks are described in detail in the 10 Best Walks on Upolu.
Once you’re done combing the coast, return west on the Main South Coast Road and begin the final stint of this Upolu west coast itinerary, the Cross Island Road.
Maninoa to Apia (Cross Island Road)
Distance: 24 km (15 mi), Drive time: 35 minutes.
Maninoa to the Baha’i Temple
The return trip to Apia will be via the Cross Island Road with a few more exciting stops to conclude your Upolu east coast road trip.
From Maninoa, head north where a viewpoint of one of Samoa’s highest waterfalls, Papapapaitai Falls, can be found approximately 7.5 km (5 mi) up the Cross Island Road.
Just a little further north and signposted down an unsealed road are the hiking trails to Lake Lanoto’o and Mt Fiamoe, which you can learn more about in the 10 Best Hikes on Upolu.
An art gallery and vegan cuisine can be enjoyed at the Tiapapata Art Centre, which is your next attraction along the Cross Island Road. Down Kelsey Way are the nature trails of Malololelei Recreation Reserve, while just north of the art centre is the easy-to-spot Baha’i Temple whose gorgeous gardens and information centre are open to the public.
Baha’i Temple to Apia
The suburbs of Apia begin to make themselves known as you descend the Cross Island Road and enter Vaoala then Vailima where the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and neighbouring Vailima Botanical Garden are located. Take the Tomb Trail to get wonderful views of Apia along a verdant forest trail.
Your journey finally ends where it began, in the heart of Apia where you probably should get a well-deserved drink or a bite to eat. Check out suggestions in the 10 Best Restaurants in Apia and 10 Best Bars in Apia.
More About Planning a Self-Guided Day Trip on Upolu
That’s it for our self-guided day trip of the Upolu west coast. For more details about the sights visited on this one-day itinerary of Upolu, these other articles should do just the trick!
- Sightseeing on Upolu: Top 10 Sights on Upolu
- 50 Best Things to Do on Upolu
- The Food Guide to Upolu: Places to Eat & Food Tours
Finally, don’t miss a thing on Samoa’s main island with The Complete Travel Guide to Upolu.