Low-Impact Tours and Tours About the Natural Environment in Samoa
With countries like Samoa being on the front line of climate change, more of us realise how important it is to appreciate and protect the natural environment. Most of Samoa’s attractions are wonders of nature, from the iconic To Sua Ocean Trench to the magnificent waterfalls, but how can you experience them in a less impactful way? We not only go through Samoa’s natural attractions that are protected for tourism purposes, rather than being exploited for their natural resources, but we also list some of the tours that boast environmental initiatives for a more feel-good experience. Check them out in this list of the best eco tours in Samoa.
1. Lalotalie ECAT Ventures
Working closely with the local village of Falease’ela to preserve the natural environment and local traditions, Lalotalie ECAT Ventures (ECAT standing for Eco Cultural Adventure Tourism) is your true ecotourism venture in Samoa. Their village has many incredible conservation stories that you can read on newspaper clippings on display at their base, perhaps while waiting to do their signature Falease’ela River Walk?
Less of a “walk” than it is a canyoning expedition along the gorge with never-ending cascades of waterfalls, the 3-4-hour experience is an epic excursion for the adventurous! The team will gladly take you through the gorge with each waterfall getting more grandiose (and higher) than the next! If you’re feeling brave, the boys can show you the best jumping spots – even as high as 20 m/66 ft (they’ll certainly be doing it) – but you’re in no way pressured to do the crazy if you prefer to swim and take in the rainforest scenery that is preserved as a conservation area. Alternatively, ask about their full-day coastal tour hike to untouched beaches or paopao (canoe) ride through the oldest mangrove forest in Samoa.
Location: Falease’ela village in Lefaga Bay on the southwest coast of Upolu. Lalotalie ECAT Ventures’ base is beside the ford on Main South Coast Road.
2. Rainforest Runaway Ecotours
Laidback, authentic and extremely knowledgeable, Rainforest Runaway Ecotours offers a range of tours to enjoy the natural environments of Upolu. Join Manu for a day of doing your style of adventure, whether it’s snorkelling from the boat, hiking to volcanic crater lakes or the usual island tiki tour with stops at the bucket list To Sua Ocean Trench to the more adventurous waterfalls to visit. What makes it “eco” is that Manu has a wealth of knowledge about the local culture, flora and fauna you’ll be encountering, ensuring that you make the most out of the sites you’re visiting. Just let him know if a nature focus is what you’re more interested in, as he also offers surf tours amongst other guided experiences.
Location: Maninoa, central south coast of Upolu. Pick-ups included from central south coast accommodations.
3. Outdoor Samoa
For a low-impact way to explore Samoa, hit up the team from Outdoor Samoa which offers a range of day tours to multi-day holiday packages to explore the country by kayak or by bike. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you’ll be saving a significant amount of carbon emissions by choosing to ride the island roads by mountain bike or e-bike compared to hiring a car or even jumping on a guided driving tour. Multi-day packages have you staying in authentic beach fales; one of the most sustainable accommodation types also. Jump more into the details of a cycling tour or freedom bike hire in The Ultimate Guide to Mountain Biking in Samoa, while more on kayaking is detailed in Kayaking in Samoa: Top 10 Kayak Tours & Places to Kayak.
Location: Outdoor Samoa is based in Mulifanua, along the Main West Coast Road, west coast of Upolu. Some multi-day tours include airport transfers.
4. Samoa SUP Tours
Another low-impact way to enjoy a day in paradise, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a peaceful and enjoyable way to explore the coast. With Samoa SUP Tours, paddle over the butter-flat waters surrounding the uninhabited islets of the Aleipata Islands or opt for a hike up to Lake Lanoto’o with your inflatable SUPs in your backpack. A good in-between is a peaceful paddle through mangrove forests, with a rotation in locations in order to keep the impact on these fragile ecosystems to a minimum. For something truly unique, Samoa SUP Tours also offers night SUP experiences, which you can learn more about in the 10 Things to Do in Samoa at Night. As for more SUP options, take a look at the SUP in Samoa: 5 Best Paddleboarding Tours & Locations.
Location: Tours depart from Apia with Apia pick-ups included.
5. Uafato Bird Hide Trail
One of the oldest geological areas in Samoa, the Uafato Conservation Area encompasses 2,500 ha (6,178 acres) of native forest containing some 380 species of plants and 19 species of birds, including Samoan’s national bird, the manumea (tooth-billed pigeon). A fantastic eco-tour of the area is from the remote village of Uafato where guides of the Uafato Bird Hide Trail can take you on a 25-minute one-way walk through the forest to a specially constructed bird hide elevated on a high ridge in the forest. Learn more about bird watching in the 5 Best Places for Bird Watching in Samoa.
Location: Uafato village, approximately 13 km (8 mi) off Richardson Road on the east coast of Upolu. Note that the road is unsealed and a 4WD or a high-clearance vehicle is the most suitable for access. There is an information panel about the trail in the village with contact details for the hike (760 5200). Otherwise, ask at a fale near the sign to make arrangements.
6. Laauoleola Cave and Nature Walk
Rainforest, caves and unique wildlife: Laauoleola Cave has it all for the nature-lover! Follow your local guide 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 Laauoleola Cave, also known as A’opo Cave, 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. Laauoleola is not the only cave, so get more of your subterranean fix in the 10 Best Caves in Samoa.
Location: A’opo village, signposted off the Main North Coast Road, central north coast of Savai’i.
7. Tafua Crater Guided Walk
The crater of an extinct volcano lies in the heart of the Tafua Rainforest Preserve, a lush tropical oasis on Savai’i. On a 1-hour walk to the Tafua Crater, your guide will endeavour to point out Samoa’s fascinating and rare wildlife, such as the manumea and flying foxes. The top of the crater provides awesome views of the surrounding coastline and villages. Bring acceptable walking shoes and binoculars if you have them. For more guided tours offering a more eco experience, take a look a the 10 Best Guided Walks in Samoa.
Location: Tafua-tai village, southeast coast of Savai’i. From Maoto village on the main road, take the road to the coast which is approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) to Tafua village. Guides are best hired via the Savai’i Samoa Tourism Association.
8. Savaia Giant Clam Sanctuary
Giant clams might have been introduced to establish an aquaculture industry in Samoa, but the village of Savaia has put aside a marine reserve in their lagoon in order for visitors to encounter these magnificent creatures through snorkelling. Pay your entry fees, go down the steps and slip on your mask, snorkel and fins for an adventure with giant clams at the Savaia Giant Clam Sanctuary! You’ll be amazed at how gargantuan these molluscs can get as you explore the waters beyond the buoys – best admired at high tide, might we add.
First, you’ll need to swim over a section of sand before reaching the white buoys that cordon off the marine reserve area. You’ll see hundreds of small clams forming a pleasingly shelly pattern on the floor, while you might also be lucky to see a turtle or two. Swim around a little bit more (keeping an eye on a reference point on land, as there can be a little bit of current) and it won’t be long until you find the giant clams! Needless to say, you shouldn’t touch these feisty shellfish… For more amazing snorkelling spots, also take a look at The Best Snorkelling in Samoa: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.
Location: Savaia village along Main South Coast Road (nearby Le Valasi’s Beach Fales) on the southwest coast of Upolu.
9. Mt Silisili Guided Hike
Samoa’s highest mountain and a multi-day adventure, Mt Silisili provides an awesome eco-excursion on Savai’i. As long as you have your own tent, food, jacket as it gets cooler as you go up in altitude, and any other gear you usually hike with, A’opo village can supply the guide for this low-impact experience. The trail encompasses plantations, the lush A’opo Conservation Area rainforest, and an impressive crater ridge with orange and white moss clinging to fragile lava rocks. Check out the 6 Best Walks & Hikes on Savai’i for the full track details.
Location: A’opo village on the north coast of Savai’i. Organise guides through the Savai’i Samoa Tourism Association.
10. Samoan Island Adventures
Specialising in guided hiking tours on Upolu, as well as sightseeing day tours with jam-packed itineraries providing real bang for your buck, Samoan Island Adventures is a good go-to for day tours of Samoa. Their most popular tour is “The Pristine Waters of Upolu” and it’s no wonder with many of Samoa’s bucket list experiences being on the agenda: Piula Cave Pool, Lalomanu Beach, Papapapatai Waterfall and To Sua Ocean Trench. You’ll also admire or even swim at a couple of lesser-known waterfalls.
Aside from focussing on exploring Samoa’s natural wonders, the tour supplies filtered water bottle refills rather than the usual case of plastic bottled water. The tour also includes Apia transfers, fresh fruit, sandwiches for lunch and all of the attraction entry fees.
For alternative tours, check out their Volcanic Crater Lake Hike and Swim and National Park Lava Cliffs and Black Sand Beach. Similar tours to this are listed in the 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Samoa.
Location: Apia Marina, Apia. Pick-ups are included for Apia accommodations.
More About Eco Tours in Samoa
That’s it for our list of the best eco tours in Samoa, but it’s by no means the end of our advice on how to enjoy a more sustainable experience of the islands. Take a look at the following guides for more tips:
- 31 Ways to Travel More Sustainably in Samoa
- 5 Best Eco-Resorts in Samoa
- 10 Best Nature & Wildlife Tours in Samoa
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Guide to Ecotourism in Samoa.