Where to Find Caves in Samoa
It’s not just all about sunbathing in Samoa! While Samoa might be known for its glorious sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and jungle-clad mountains awash in waterfalls, there’s a whole subterranean world that not a lot of people know about. With a vigorous history of volcanic activity, there are many lava tubes that have been thousands of years in the making. While some contain freshwater springs for a unique swimming hole, others have been reclaimed by nature, whether it’s the jungle vines or the sonar-utilising swiftlets that nest in these caves. See which caves you should visit, right here, in this list of the best caves in Samoa!
Samoa Caves Checklist:
- Sturdy closed shoes (no flip-flops!)
- Insect repellent
- ST$10-$30 in cash per person for your guide
- A torch (avoid shining torchlights directly at the swiftlets; red-light filters are advised).
Speaking of packing, if that’s still on your to-do list, let us help you out with the What to Pack for Samoa: A Full Samoa Packing List.
1. Laauoleola Cave (A’opo Cave)
Certainly one of the best and easiest caves to visit in Samoa, Laauoleola Cave is accessed along a well-maintained 15-minute forest trail through mahogany, ifilele, teak, kava, eucalyptus and banyan trees. As you begin to approach the entrance of the cave, also known as A’opo Cave after the nearby village, you’ll hear the unusual clicking of swiftlets flying past your head. Then, it’s up to you to decide how far you walk through the large lava tube that is said to span 5 km (3.1 mi) under the surface! It’s a short flat walk (with a few muddy patches) through the cave to the first descent, which the guides can organise a ladder should you want to continue – let them know you would like to do this before you begin the tour. The walk is fully (and casually) guided. The guide has a torch but you might want to also bring your own.
Location: A’opo village, signposted off the Main North Coast Road, central north coast of Savai’i.
2. Pe’ape’a Cave
Named after the white-rumped swiftlets that live in this ancient lava tube, Pe’ape’a Cave is believed to stretch for 1 km (0.6 mi) underground. Although the entrance to the cave is the size of a railway tunnel, guided tours can only take you a short way into the cave before it narrows and becomes too difficult to crawl through. Keep noise and torchlights low so as to not disturb the swiftlets that nest in these caves. This is another fantastic cave on Savai’i that you can couple with the 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i!
Location: Letui village, signposted off the Main North Coast Road, central north coast of Savai’i.
3. Dwarf’s Cave
Definitely the most adventurous cave tour in Samoa, Dwarf’s Cave (Nu’u le Tau) is significant to the local village for its legends. Signs from the main road point toward Paia village, where you should enquire about hiring a guide to take you through this cave. The experience takes you approximately 40 m (44 yards) into the cave, which initially has some confined spaces (not recommended if you’re claustrophobic) that will have you walking, crawling and sometimes wading or swimming. Prepare for clothes and shoes to get wet. Plus, bring a torch if you have one.
Location: Paia village. Follow signs inland off the Main North Coast Road to Dwarf’s Cave from the northeast coast of Savai’i.
4. Piula Cave Pool
Upolu might not have as many accessible caves, but this cave combined with a freshwater swimming spot is certainly a popular go-to! The crystal clear waters of the Piula Cave Pool provide a cooling swimming experience with caves to explore. There are two cave entrances connected by a short underwater tunnel. Alternatively, you can walk a few metres around the cave to find the other entrance. For more things to do while you’re in the area, check out the 50 Best Things to Do on Upolu.
Location: On the grounds of the Piula Theological College, Lufilufi village, signposted along the Main East Coast Road on the northeast coast of Upolu.
5. Ana O Vaatausili Giant’s Cave
Follow the short rocky trail from Cape Mulinuu and the Mauga Fetu Star Mound and you’ll quickly come across a hole in the ground with a sign saying “Ana O Vaatausilli” also known as “The Giant’s Cave“. Locals (or the interpretation panel) will tell you of the legend of a scrawny young man who entered the cave for three nights and emerged as a giant to fulfil his destiny of avenging his nephew who was killed by his enemies. There are many more historical sites like this on Cape Mulinuu, which we detail in the 10 Best Historical Sites on Savai’i.
Location: Falealupo Road, approximately 2.2 km (1.3 mi) south of Falealupo Beach on the northwest coast of Savai’i.
6. Tafatafa Cave
One of the lesser-known caves in Samoa, Tafatafa Cave can be accessed with guides from Vaiula Beach Fales. This 1.8 km (1.12 mi) lava tube is one you’ll need to wear your swimmers to explore, as it’s often filled with water. There are loose chambres and passages to explore before much of the way is blocked by either rockfalls or water. As always in the caves in Samoa, look out for swiftlets along the way!
Location: Tafatafa, access via Vaiula Beach Fales. The turnoff to the beach is signposted along Main South Coast Road at the Latter-Day Saints Church in Malaemalu on the southeast coast of Upolu.
7. To Sua Ocean Trench
Most know To Sua Ocean Trench for its 30 m (98 ft)-deep coastal sinkhole, but did you know there are caves at the bottom too? Those who are feeling brave can swim following a guide rope through a cave facing inland, while those feeling stupid can swim through an underwater cave and out to the coast (if it wasn’t obvious, we don’t recommend that you do the latter). Learn more about this iconic attraction in The Top 10 Sights in Samoa.
Location: Signposted along Main South Coast Road between Lotofaga and Vavau villages on Upolu’s south coast.
8. Pa Sopo’ia Cave
Most know about Savai’i‘s most visited attraction, the Alofaaga Blowholes, but did you know that there’s also a cave nearby?! If you’re interested, ask the locals looking after the blowhole site if they can show you Pa Sopo’ia Cave. The cave is believed to be an ancient pathway where the spirits of Samoa’s ancestors travelled to reach Fafa o Sauali’i at Cape Mulinuu, the final meeting place before they enter the spirit world. Learn more about Fafa o Sauali’i in the 10 Best Historical Sites on Savai’i.
Location: Taga village, signposted off the main road on the southwest coast. Note that the road to the blowholes is about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) of rough unsealed road. 2WDs will just manage but drive carefully.
9. Pe’ape’a Cave (O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park)
Yes, another “Pe’ape’a Cave” in Samoa, this used to be one of the most-visited caves in Upolu but currently, there are limited guides to show visitors. Those lucky enough to arrange a trip should expect a six-hour return expedition involving a two-hour jungle hike to reach the entrance of this long lava tube. As a branch of the Tafitoala River runs through this cave, it can be dangerous to enter after heavy rain.
Location: O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park, north of the Main South Coast Road on the central south coast of Upolu.
10. Mago Cave
Finally, Mago Cave is a cave cited on Samoa road maps but takes a bit of organising to get to. Finding the right guide from Falealupo village can be tricky, but you can start by asking at the beach fales on Falealupo Beach. Like almost all of Samoa’s caves, Mago Cave provides habitat for nesting white-rumped swiftlets. If guides can’t take you to Mago Cave, note that there are around four other caves in the area that you may be able to visit, while the “Rock House” is a more established tourist attraction that may interest cave enthusiasts. Learn more about it in the 25 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Savai’i.
Location: Take the unsealed road branching off the Falealupo Road towards the southern end of the loop road, Falealupo, northwest coast of Savai’i.
More Cave-Related Goodness in Samoa
That’s it for our complete list of the best caves in Samoa! Want to discover more stunning natural attractions? Try these:
Finally, find more items for the bucket list in the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.