Discover Upolu’s Best Beaches
Sweeping sands lined with coconut palms and dipping into azure waters are what a getaway to Upolu is all about (as well as culture, waterfalls and paradisical swimming holes but you can get more into that in the 50 Best Things to Do on Upolu). So, what are Upolu’s best beaches? We’ve compiled all of our favourites on this list of the best beaches on Samoa’s main island.
Note, however, that we haven’t mentioned a few beaches you may have heard of, such as Matareva and Salamumu due to recent land thus access issues.
Paying for Beaches on Upolu
As with any beaches in Samoa, the land is owned by local families and communities who provide infrastructure like beach fales and access roads for the public to enjoy these beaches. To help fund and maintain these sites, however, you are usually charged a customary fee, either to access the beach and its facilities or to hire a day fale. Expect fees to be approximately ST$5-$10 per person or ST$20-$30 per vehicle. Resorts may charge more if you want to hire a resort room for the day. Sometimes purchasing something from their resort restaurant, for example, is enough payment. When in doubt, ask if it’s Ok to use the beach. For tips about respecting Samoan customs, check out our guide, Samoan Etiquette: Samoa Customs & Traditions.
1. Vavau Beach
Vavau Beach offers a secluded and stunning beach destination on the south coast of Upolu. Exclusively for day visitors, there are a number of fales set back from the white sands. Enjoy picturesque islands dotted around a shallow lagoon and soak in the scenery of the bush-clad environment that tops the coastal cliffs on all sides. Pay your entry fees at the access road. The community does a good job of keeping this beach clean.
Location: Vavau Beach Road, signposted off the Main South Coast Road between the villages of Lotofoga and Vavau on the south coast.
2. Lalomanu Beach
White sands, a turquoise lagoon, island views and breathtaking at both sunrise and sunset; Lalomanu Beach has it all. Located on the southeast corner of Upolu, Lalomanu boasts excellent views of the slanted Nu’utele Island. While the coral within the lagoon is recovering from 2009 tsunami, there’s still plenty to see within its marine reserve. Beach fales here include Taufua Beach Fales, Liti Sini Beach Resort, Lululosa Beach Fales, Siegi Ropeti Beach Fales, Valegina’s Beach Fales, Anita’s Beach Bungalows and Lalomanu Beach Fales. For more sunrise hotspots, check out the 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunrise in Samoa.
Location: Lalomanu village, along Main South Coast Road on the southeast coast.
3. Saleapaga Beach
Another sublime stretch of sand on the south coast of Upolu, just next door to Lalomanu, Saleapaga benefits from much of what Lalomanu has but is much more underrated. Backed by dramatic bush-clad cliffs and leaning into an aqua-blue lagoon, Saleapaga Beach is definitely a scenic beach option. Beach fale options include Manusina Beach Fales, Faofao Beach Fales, Jaymy Beach Fales and Sarai Seluia Beach Fales.
Location: Saleapaga village, along Main South Coast Road on the southeast coast (just before reaching Lalomanu if coming from the west).
4. Aganoa Beach
One of your more secluded beaches on Upolu, Aganoa Beach is well worth the journey (and 4WD/high-clearance vehicle). After an approximately 3 km (1.9 mi) rough dirt track through the forest with plenty of small hills – keep an eye out for kingfisher birds – you’ll reach the deep-water crescent-shaped black-sand Aganoa Beach. There are no facilities here (and often, not many other people), so be prepared to be self-sufficient and look after yourselves in case of strong currents. In fact, these conditions are what make Aganoa excellent for surfing between April and September – find out more in the 10 Best Places to Surf in Samoa. Note, this beach is not to be confused with the Aganoa surf beach on Savai’i.
Location: Signposted along Main South Coast Road at the western end of Sa’agafou village on the south coast.
5. Tafatafa Beach
Another beauty on the south coast, Tafatafa Beach is a picturesque stretch of white sand with sparkling blue waters and a great place for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, lazying in a hammock and having a bite to eat at Vaiula Beach Fales‘ Bar & Cafe. Other beach fales offering relaxation for the day include Maoto o Maa Beach Fales, Brenda’s Beach Fales and Moega Amanaia Beach Fales.
Location: Note that Tafatafa Beach is not at Tafatafa village. The turnoff to the beach is signposted along Main South Coast Road at the Latter-Day Saints Church in Malaemalu on the south coast.
6. Lefaga Beach (Return to Paradise)
The Upolu beach that has received the most screentime, Lefaga Beach, better known as Return to Paradise Beach, is the beach of the Return to Paradise Resort. The white-sand beach, scattered with rock pools and attractive lava rock formations, offers a picturesque place to relax for the day. The snorkelling is good at low tide but certainly not the best on Upolu due to not much reef protection making the water a bit choppy at times. Otherwise, visitors can get food and drinks at the resort’s restaurant. Find out more about why Return to Paradise is famous in the 5 TV Shows & Movies Filmed in Samoa.
Location: At the southern end of Cross Island Road, take the turn-off at the Return to Paradise Beach sign and continue past Matautu village all the way to the end of the road (the last part is a rocky unsealed road). Set your GPS for the resort; not the beach.
7. Na’mua Island Beach
Not just one of the best beaches on Upolu but one on an uninhabited island, Na’mua Island Beach offers a mini-escape from your island escape. Take the boat from the wharf in Mutiatele across the turquoise lagoon to this idyllic island with beach fale and bathroom facilities. There’s excellent snorkelling from the beach with the likelihood of seeing turtles. Meanwhile, on land, you can take a one-hour walk to the top of the island for amazing views. For more walks, check out the 10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu.
Location: Ferries depart from the wharf at Mutiatele (there is a signpost for Na’mua Island Beach Fales) along the Main South Coast Road on the west coast. Talk to someone in the shop opposite the wharf. Find out more about visiting this island in The Travel Guide to Aleipata Islands: Nu’utele, Namu’a, Fanuatapa & Nu’uala.
8. Maninoa Beach
Another popular resort and beach fale hub on the south coast, Maninoa Beach offers safe swimming in a sheltered lagoon. Day fales can be hired at Ocean Club Maninoa, which also has a bar/cafe on-site and kayak and SUP hire, or stop by for lunch at Sinalei Reef Resort or Coconut’s Beach Club to enjoy more of this area.
Location: Resort/beach fale entrances are signposted off Main South Coast Road between Mulivai and Si’umu villages. The best stretch of beach is just in front of Ocean Club, so take that access road.
9. Mulifanua Beach
One of the rare beaches on the northern coast that we list as the best beaches on Upolu, Mulifanua Beach is the beach of the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort. Nestled between Faleolo International Airport and Mulifanua Wharf, this beach offers safe swimming, thatched umbrellas for shade and resort facilities including a restaurant and spa – learn more about the latter in the 10 Best Spas in Samoa.
Location: Sheraton Entrance Road, signposted along Main West Coast Road on the northwest coast.
10. Palolo Deep Marine Reserve
As your token “Apia” entry into this “best beaches on Upolu”, we direct you to its best swimming spot, Palolo Deep. Although the beach aspect is not as idyllic as other entries on this list, being a coral beach rather than sand, it provides the best swimming and snorkelling in Apia. There are beach fales to lazy under for the day, while there is some spectacular snorkelling at high tide – it’s best to hire fins as it’s a 100 m (109-yard) swim from shore. Learn more about this snorkelling hotspot in The Best Snorkelling in Upolu: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.
Location: Between the Marina and Vaiala Beach (FYI, not a great beach) along Beach Road, Apia.
More About the Beaches in Upolu and Samoa
That’s it for our list of the best beaches on Upolu but it’s by no means the last of our advice! Check out the guides below for more about beaches, Upolu and Samoa:
Finally, for more advice on planning a trip to Upolu, check out The Complete Travel Guide to Upolu.