The Best Surf Breaks From Upolu
The most populated island in Samoa, Upolu has a well-established surf scene yet waves remain blissfully uncrowded. Most of the island’s barrels can be found along the reefs of the south coast, which is where you’ll find a number of surf resorts and boat operators eager to take you out. If the southern surf is not on, however, then you have a few hidden gems wrapping around the less explored east coast, as well as the northeast coast stretching towards Apia. Discover some of the island’s best surf breaks in this list of the best places to surf on Upolu!
One you can keep an eye on from the resorts and beach fales of Maninoa (Coconuts Beach Club, Sinalei Reef, Ocean Club and Lupe’s Beach Fale), Coconuts is a solid fast hollow outer reef righthander. It needs a decent southwest swell and a northeasterly wind to be at its best. While most get to this wave by boat, you can also do an epic paddle of around 825 m (900 yards) to get to it. Find out more about the accommodations mentioned in the 7 Best Surf Resorts & Lodges in Samoa.
Location: Maninoa, right in front of Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, south coast of Upolu.
Close to Coconuts, Wackas is a 5 to 8-minute boat ride out southwest of Maninoa Beach, located off the river mouth of Tafitoala village. Wackas is a fun left with many faces. However, it’s not quite protected from southeasterly tradewinds so you might want to get out there early. This one is a favourite for those staying at Sina PJ Fales and Surf.
Location: Tafitoala village, on the south coast of Upolu.
3. Boulders – Aganoa Beach
If you want bigger waves, breaks like Boulders are located just a 10 to 12-minute boat ride east from Maninoa Beach or you can drive down the 3 km (1.9 mi) 4WD road to Aganoa Black Sand Beach and make your way from there. Perfect when there’s a big south swell, this wave can get two to four times overhead! When you’re not ripping this lefthander, enjoy the stunning location of one of the most beautiful bays on Upolu, as listed in the 10 Best Beaches on Upolu. It’s best to attempt this one between April and September. On the downside, this is just about the only break that gets crowded on good swell days during the surf season. Note, don’t get this beach mixed up with Aganoa Beach on Savai’i, as listed in the 6 Best Places to Surf in Savai’i.
Location: Off the east coast of Aganoa Black Sand Beach, signposted along Main South Coast Road at the western end of Sa’agafou village on the south coast of Upolu. Remember to pay your fees.
A favourite of the Salanai Surf Resort, Salani Right boats multiple take-off spots and will barrel at any size. South is the preferred swell direction, while the wave is longer with a southwest swell and shorter with a southeast swell. Ride into the large and clearly defined channel to ride back up. On the other hand, Salani Left is a long fast-breaking barrel ride over a coral reef, best rode at medium tide with a southeast swell.
Location: Salani, end of Salani Road, southeast coast of Upolu.
5. Tiavea Bay
Take a break from the famous south coast waves for the secluded and serene Tiavea Bay on the east coast. After a 4.6 km (2.9 mi) drive through the lush Uafato Conservation Area on a 4WD road, you’ll emerge at the often secluded paradise and beach of Tiavea Bay. There are a few breaks to choose from here, with the most consistent and playful being by the cobblestone river mouth. Further out, there are some more challenging righthanders and a fast, hollow and somewhat unreliable lefthander.
Location: The turn-off for Tiavea Bay can be found along Richardson Road, on the east side of Upolu. The 4WD road to the bay is approximately 4.6 km (2.9 mi). You may be asked to pay a couple of customary fees as you cross various family lands.
A favourite among the locals who inhabit the northern coast packed with villages, as well as Apia, Luatuanu’u has a number of popular breaks easy to access from shore such as its main rock righthander beside Puddling Rock. Nearby is also the not-so-reliable Waterfalls break close to shore which is usually better on low tides.
Location: Cape Utumanu’u, off the coast of Luatuanu’u, Main East Coast Road, on the northeast coast of Upolu. See the image below for a reference point.
7. Nu’usafe’e Island (The Island)
Although not the most reliable lefthander, this sheltered surf break off a paradisical uninhabited island is often a good go-to when other spots are blown out by tradewinds. Off the reef of Nu’usafe’e Island, also known as The Island, this break offers awesome lefthand barrels if there’s some southeast swell. If the surf is not on, check out more things to do on the island in The Travel Guide to Nu’usafe’e: Things to Do, How to Get There & More.
Location: Off the coast of Poutasi on the south coast of Upolu. See the link above for ways to get to Nu’usafe’e by boat and kayak.
8. Tafatafa (Rustys)
A reeling righthand break, Tafatafa, also known as Rustys, is easily accessible by boat from Vaiula Beach Fales and from Salani Surf Resort. The fast righthander can be a long ride on a southwest swell or ride shorter sections on a southeast swell. The break also needs northerly winds, so it’s best to head out early or late. Learn more about the accommodations mentioned in the 7 Best Surf Resorts & Lodges in Samoa.
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 of Upolu.
The broken-up reef along the southeast coast, Aufaga village attracts surfers with its smaller swell left and righthanders before tradewinds blow them out. Surfers looking to pamper themselves can stay at the adults-only Seabreeze Resort, where you can paddle to some waves from. This area is best tried during the peak surf season, May to October.
Location: Best accessed from Seabreeze Resort or Aufaga village further east, southeast coast of Upolu.
Finally, another break on the north coast and closest to Apia, Lauli’i has fun and rippable walls for the average surfer. The righthander needs a big swell to break so it can wrap around the reef with plenty of easterlies in the wind. Nearby is also the monster barrel known as Dragons Breath.
Location: Lauli’i, Main East Coast Road, northeast coast of Upolu.
More About Surf in Upolu
That’s it for our guide to the best surf breaks and places to surf in Upolu. For more tips to help plan the perfect surf-cation, take a look at the following guides:
- The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Samoa
- The Best Time to Surf in Samoa
- 10 Best Places to Surf in Samoa
Finally, when you’re not surfing, make sure you tick some of these off the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.