Aleipata Islands: Namu'a, Nu'utele, Fanuatapa & Nu'uala FULL Guide
Aleipata Islands: Namu'a, Nu'utele, Fanuatapa & Nu'uala FULL Guide

Aleipata Islands: Namu’a, Nu’utele, Fanuatapa & Nu’uala FULL Guide


How to Plan a Trip to the Aleipata Islands in Samoa

A scattering of four uninhabited islands off the east coast of Samoa, the Aleipata Islands provides the ultimate Robinson Crusoe experience. While Namu’a and Fanuatapu are on a barrier reef and easy to access from across the turquoise lagoon, Nu’utele and Nu’uala are less hospitable being out on the open ocean. Within the reef, however, is an amazing ecosystem of coral that is regenerating nicely since the 2009 tsunami and where turtles are often sighted.

So, how does one plan a trip to Namu’a, Fanuatapu, Nu’utele or Nu’uala? Find out in this complete travel guide to the Aleipata Islands of Samoa.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Aleipata Islands

We’re here to tell you everything you need to know about the Aleipata Islands in Samoa, so we won’t waste any time in this Aleipata Islands travel guide giving you the answers to the questions that most travellers have about visiting.

How Many Islands are the Aleipata Islands?

There are four islands in the Aleipata Island group: Namu’a, Fanuatapu, Nu’utele and Nu’ulua.

Where are the Aleipata Islands Located?

The Aleipata Islands are located off the southeast coast of Samoa with a distance of between 800 m (875 yards) and 1.3 km (0.8 mi) from Samoa’s main island, Upolu. Learn more about the location of Samoa in our guide, Where is Samoa Located?

Can You Visit the Aleipata Islands?

Yes, you can visit the Aleipata Islands. The easiest island to visit is Namu’a, with trips running daily except Sunday, while Fanuatapu can also be visited by boat or kayak. Nu’utele and Nu’ulua are much more difficult to get to and are rarely visited.

What is the Population of the Aleipata Islands?

All of the Aleipata Islands have no permanent residents, therefore the population of the Aleipata Islands is zero! Discover more about where the people of Samoa live in our complete guide, Who are the People of Samoa? Ethnicity, Population & More.

How Big are the Aleipata Islands?

Combined, the Aleipata Islands have an area of approximately 1.7 km² (0.7 m²). Check out the guide below for more information on the area of each individual island.

Aleipata Islands: Namu'a, Nu'utele, Fanuatapa & Nu'uala FULL Guide©

Namu’a Island

If there’s only one island you’ll visit in the Aleipata Islands, it’s likely to be Namu’a. On the edge of a beautiful turquoise lagoon, Namu’a Island juts out of the reef with volcanic rock covered in verdant forest, except for a small white-sand beach. There are beach fales here to make the island either for a day or overnight visit. Namu’a is also home to some of the best snorkelling in Samoa, especially as you have a good chance of seeing turtles.

How to Get to Namu’a Island

Namu’a Island can be accessed by boat operated by Namu’a Island Beach Fales; the only beach fales on the island.

Boats depart from the village of Mutiatele, on the east coast of Upolu. The wooden wharf where boats depart is easy to spot with the “Namu’a Island Beach Fales” sign standing between it and the Main South Coast Road.

If no one is at the wharf when you arrive, inquire at the colourful shop opposite: these guys run the tours.

Boats don’t run on any particular schedule; just when passenger demand is there. There are often several trips that run throughout the day. When you want to go back to the mainland, simply let Yeti or one of the guides on Namu’a know.

Boat trips last approximately 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the tide and if the boys manage to catch a turtle to show you (don’t worry, they release it straight after).

How Much Does it Cost to Go to Namu’a Island?

Day trip costs are approximately ST$50, including return boat transfers (prices are subject to change). Overnight stays, including transfers, fale accommodation, breakfast and dinner cost approximately ST$150 (prices are subject to change).

Facilities + Tips for Visiting Namu’a

Facilities on Namu’a include simple beach fales, which are equipped with woven mats to sit on when you arrive. There are also two toilets and a shower. When it comes to food, towels, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, etc. you must bring your own.

Note that there is no option to hire snorkelling gear, so it’s highly advised that you either bring your own or hire some on Upolu – more advice is available in The Best Snorkelling in Upolu.

Snorkelling is best done at mid-to-high tide. On the other hand, walking around the perimeter of the island is best done at low tide.

5 Things to Do on Namu’a

  1. Snorkel – The best spots are right off the beach and between the series of white poles that mark a marine reserve area
  2. Spot turtles – You’ll either see them when snorkelling or on the boat ride over
  3. Walk to the top of the island – It’s approximately a 1-hour return hike to reach the island’s highest point. The viewpoint is a good place to spot whales (between August and November) and dolphins. Ask your guides to point you to the trail
  4. Walk around the island – For a flat walk, you can get around the coast of the island at low tide
  5. Relax on the beach – Whether it’s under the shade of a fale or on the sands.

See more typical Samoan experiences in the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.

Where to Stay on Namu’a

Namu’a is the only island in the Aleipata Islands with formal accommodation to stay overnight. Beach fales are operated by Namu’a Island Beach Fales, the same company that also provides day trips.

There are five open fales, all of which are on the beach. Guests share a communal toilet and shower block, while breakfast and dinner are served in a large dining fale.

If you haven’t stayed in a beach fale before, be sure to check out our Essential Tips for Staying in a Beach Fale in Samoa, as the experience is very different from your average accommodation.

Aleipata Islands: Namu'a, Nu'utele, Fanuatapa & Nu'uala FULL Guide©

Fanuatapu Island

Sitting on the lagoon’s edge off the eastern coast of Upolu, Fanuatapu is the smallest of the Aleipata Islands at an area of approximately 15 ha (37 acres).

Although nowhere near as popular to visit as Namu’a, those who are determined can take a boat or a kayaking tour to Fanuatapu.

How to Get to Fanuatapu

Despite Fanuatapu not being the conventional tour of Namu’a Island Beach Fales, the operator that offers boat tours to Namu’a can also organise boats to Fanuatapu on request.

Boats depart from the village of Mutiatele, on the east coast of Upolu. The wooden wharf where boats depart is easy to spot with the “Namu’a Island Beach Fales” sign standing between it and the Main South Coast Road.

If no one is at the wharf when you arrive, inquire at the colourful shop opposite.

Kayaking Tours to Fanuatapu

Alternatively, Fanuatapu is on the itinerary of Outdoor Samoa‘s multi-day kayaking tours. Their 6-10-day fully guided kayak tour takes you to the islands of Namu’a and Fanuatapu, as well as other islands across Samoa including Manono and Nu’usafee, which you can learn more about in What are the 9 Islands of Samoa?

As for more about kayaking in Samoa, check out Kakaying in Samoa: Top 10 Places to Kayak.

Things to Do on Fanuatapu

Other than the privilege to be one of the very few that visits this uninhabited island, things to do on Fanuatapu include checking out its only manmade structure, the automated lighthouse. Snorkelling around the island is also particularly good with thriving coral gardens to explore.

Aleipata Islands: Namu'a, Nu'utele, Fanuatapa & Nu'uala FULL Guide©

Nu’utele Island

The largest of the Aleipata Islands, Nu’utele is the island most can see from shore and certainly the most photographed as the backdrop to the popular Lalomanu Beach.

How Big is Nu’utele?

The island is a volcanic tuff ring formation and has an area of approximately 1.15 km² (0.44 mi²) making it the largest of the Aleipata Islands.

The History of Nu’utele

The social history of Nu’utele is that high chiefs from local villages are buried there, while between 1916 and 1918, the island served as a leper colony until the residents were relocated to Fiji.

Nu’utele Seabird Habitat

Today, along with the neighbouring Nu’uloa Island, Nu’utele is an important conservation area as a nesting habitat for seabirds.

How to Get to Nu’utele Island

Due to strong currents and the weather conditions needing to be just right to land on the island, getting to Nu’utele is a rare endeavour. Getting to Nu’utele mainly relies on organising a trip with the locals. Coconuts Beach Club Resort has been known to take tour groups over there when the conditions have been just right.

Things to Do at Nu’utele

The main things to do at Nu’utele can be found around the island, which are fishing and scuba diving. Although there are no commercial operators offering these activities at this particular location, experienced anglers and divers may be able to organise something with the locals.

Aleipata Islands: Namu'a, Nu'utele, Fanuatapa & Nu'uala FULL Guide©

Nu’ulua Island

Located some 1.3 km (0.8 mi) off the mainland of Upolu, Nu’ulua neighbours the island of Nu’utele. In fact, many people miss sighting this small island that seemingly hides in the shadow of the much larger Nu’utele. The island is only approximately 25 ha (62 acres).

How to Get to Nu’ulua

Getting to Nu’ulua is as difficult, if not more so, than getting to Nu’utele, which means hardly any visitors get the chance to set foot on the island. The sea conditions and currents are rough around the island, making a boat landing quite challenging.

Nu’ulua Seabird Habitat

Along with the neighbouring Nu’utele, Nu’uloa is an important conservation area as a nesting habitat for seabirds.

More About the Aleipata Islands and Samoa

That’s it for our complete travel guide to the Aleipata Islands, including Na’mua, Fanuatapu, Nu’utele and Nu’ulua. For more of the less-explored islands to visit, check out the following guides:

Finally, for even more tips, check out The Best Samoa Travel Guide and the 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Samoa Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Samoa. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Upolu and Savai’i’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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