The Best Churches in Samoa to Visit
Even if you’re not religious, attending a Sunday church service in Samoa is not to be missed. It’s a way to have an authentic Samoan experience where you’ll join the locals dressed in their finest attire and be immersed in the powerful harmonies that fill the coral limestone or intricately carved timber halls.
The religion most represented in Samoa is Christianity with around 97% of the population identifying with one of Samoa’s Christian denominations, such as the local Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (Ekalesia Faapotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa or EFKS), as well as Roman Catholic, Church of the Latter-Day Saints, Methodist and more. Religion is sacred in Samoa, where Sundays are widely considered a day of worship and rest. You can learn more about the finer details in The Guide to Religions in Samoa.
So, whether you want to snap up some photos of Samoa’s most mind-blowing architecture or immerse yourself in the harmonies of a Sunday church service, these are the best churches in Samoa to experience as a visitor.
5 Tips for Going to Church in Samoa
- Wear respectable clothing – ideally, long trousers and shirts for men and skirts/dresses that cover the knees for women (preferably with the shoulders covered too)
- Ask for the time of the English Sunday service of the church you decide to attend; there’s usually an early morning and evening service entirely in Samoan, while English services tend to take place from 9 am or 10 am
- It is not respectable to take photos inside the church while it’s in service – taking photos outside is perfectly acceptable though
- Have some small change available, known as offerings, to donate to the church; they will pass around a small bag for donations
- Although we list some of the “grandest” churches on this list, we simply recommend experiencing a service at the church closest to your accommodation where the singing will be no less moving. Some resorts even offer shuttles to their nearest churches:
1. Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Perhaps one of the most-photographed churches in Samoa, you can hardly miss this striking cathedral looming over the Apia Harbour. The inside of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral boasts an ornate timber ceiling and vibrant stained-glass windows. The original church was constructed in 1884 with the most recent reconstruction estimated to have cost ST$13 million, so go have a visit for the love of funding! Either pop in on a weekday throughout the day if there’s not an event on or join the Sunday church service from 9:30 am.
Location: Beach Road opposite the Samoa Tourism Information Centre, Apia.
2. EFKS Sapapali’i
Attend a service or snap up some photos of the EFKS Sapapali’i Church, widely regarded as the home of Christianity in Samoa. The church is where John Williams and his fellow missionaries introduced Christianity to Savai’i. A monument to John Williams can be found opposite the church just across the road. Learn more about the history of Christianity in Samoa in The Guide to the Religions in Samoa.
Location: Sapapali’i village, North Coast Road, east coast of Savai’i.
3. Safotu Catholic Church
Located in Savai’i’s most populated village, Safotu Catholic Church is Samoa’s first Roman Catholic Church, made from bleached coral and impeccably maintained for an interesting visit.
Location: Safotu village, North Coast Road, northeast coast of Savai’i.
4. Mashriqu’l-Adhkár Baha’i House of Worship
For something rather unique, Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is not only an incredible piece of architecture among immaculate grounds but it’s one of only eight Baha’i Houses of Worship in the world. The temple has nine symmetrical sides which domes 28 m (92 ft) high. Surrounding the majestic structure are 20 acres of manicured grass, some 60 species of flowers and all sorts of native plants and trees. The visitor centre has information panels about the history of the Baha’i Faith, the Houses of Worship around the world and more. The house is open from 6 am to 6 pm daily, while a public interfaith service with a Samoan choir and refreshments is held every Sunday at 10 am.
Location: Malololelei village along the Cross Island Road, approximately 8 km (5 mi) south of Apia.
5. EFKS Vavau
Only moments away from resorts such as Seabreeze Resort, Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa and Faofao Beach Fales, the EFKS Vavau Church provides a quintessential Samoan church experience at their Sunday morning mass. Again, this reinforces our advice to simply attend the church service closest to your accommodation or where your resort staff recommends. Some guests have been known to be invited to a Sunday to’onai after the service, which you can learn more about in the 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Samoa.
Location: Vavau, Main South Coast Road, southeast coast of Upolu.
6. Malua Theological College
Among the lush grounds of Malua, where you’ll also find the reputable EFKS Museum awash in Samoan artwork, the Malua Theological College is also home to a striking church where Samoa’s ministers are trained until their services are called to become the official minister for a local village.
Location: Malua, Main West Coast Road, northwest coast of Upolu.
7. Lepea Catholic Church
Another striking Catholic Church in Samoa, St Theresa’s Jesus The Child Lepea Catholic Church is one of the latest additions to the church scene of Samoa and cost some ST$10.5 million to build! Needless to say, you can see where the funding went with its towering stained glass windows depicting Biblical scenes with characters of Samoan descent. Stop by at night to see the windows lit in all of their splendour.
Location: Papaseea Road, Lepea, Apia.
8. Our Lady of the Rosary – Catholic Church in Siusega
Made famous as the “Prime Minister’s Church”, Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church is not just a popular locale to experience a Samoan church service but to also snap up as a striking landmark on the outskirts of Apia.
Location: End of Alafa’alava Road opposite Tuanaimato Sports Complex, Siusega, Apia.
9. EFKS Salelologa
The closest church to Savai’i‘s most bustling hub with the island’s ferry terminal, restaurants and accommodations like the Jet Over Hotel, Kuki’s by the Harbour, Ieu and Winnie’s Islands View Motel, Lusia’s Lagoon Chalets and Salafai Backpackers, the EFKS Salelologa might be the ideal church to attend a Sunday church service while staying on the island.
Location: Salelologa, South Coast Road, southeast coast of Savai’i.
10. LMS Saleaula Church
Certainly for the sight rather than the church services (they’re a little quiet these days), discover the remnants of the destructive Mt Matavanua 1905-1911 eruption at the ruins of an old LMS Church at the enchanting Saleaula Lava Field. It’s a short walk to the church which sits in ruins with a lava flow solidified right through its arching entrances. Walk approximately 300 m (328 yards) west following the sign and you’ll encounter the mysterious “Virgin’s Grave” where the lava flow is said to have avoided the grave of a young girl.
Location: Saleaula village, signposted off the main road on the northeast coast of Savai’i.
More About Church in Samoa
That’s it for our list of the best churches in Samoa to experience as a visitor or tourist. Experience more of the culture of Samoa with the advice of these guides:
- 15 Best Cultural Activities in Samoa
- 15 Best Historical Sites in Samoa
- 10 Things to Do in Samoa on a Sunday
And tick more experiences off your bucket list with the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.