Activities, Attractions and Must-Dos in Apia
What are the must-dos in Apia? This neat little capital in the South Pacific provides all the entertainment and conveniences urbanites will love while still offering a quintessential Samoan ambience. Between its markets, eateries, museums and even free cultural demonstrations, accessing the real Samoa is effortless. Not to mention, there are several natural attractions that just beg to be discovered on the city’s doorstep. Then again, if you want to dine, shop, party or even gamble, all of that is here too. All in all, there’s never a dull moment in the capital of Samoa, so plan the ultimate city escape with this list of the best things to do in Apia!
Before we begin, make sure your trip-planning is complete with the Where to Stay in Apia: The Best Accommodations in Apia and The Food Guide to Apia: Places to Eat & Food Tours.
1. Immerse in Local Traditions at Samoa Cultural Village
“Fa’a Samoa” means “The Samoan Way” and you’ll certainly get the full flavour of the Samoan culture at Samoa Cultural Village. Happening from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, Tuesday to Friday, the cultural village starts with a hands-on experience of weaving your own plate for the umu. You’ll then be formally welcomed with an ‘ava ceremony before seeing how a traditional umu feast is prepared. While your lunch is cooking, discover how ‘ava bowls are carved and even witness a painstaking Samoan tatau (tattoo) being applied in the traditional way. Finally, sit down with your freshly prepared umu lunch while watching a fiafia cultural performance including fire dancing. Oh, and did we mention it’s free? Epic!
Location: Behind the Samoa Tourism Information Centre, Beach Road.
2. Discover the Incredible Snorkelling Spot of Palolo Deep
At first glance, it might not look like much. But 100 m (109 yards) off the shores of Apia and under the lagoon’s surface hides an amazing array of marine life that will make you squeak in your snorkel. Hire snorkelling gear from the kiosk at Palolo Deep and swim out to the white buoy to see an underwater trench thriving with staghorn coral, hundreds of tropical fish, starfish, octopuses and, if you’re lucky, perhaps even some turtles. The latter is more likely to be seen near the tiny island – just so you know. Note that the water is way too shallow for enjoyable snorkelling when it’s not close to high tide, so plan your visit accordingly. For more sweet snorkelling spots, check out The Best Snorkelling in Samoa: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.
Location: Between the Marina and Vaiala Beach along Beach Road.
3. Experience Culture, Cuisine and Crafts at Apia’s Markets
The markets of Apia are certainly worth perusing whether it’s for retail therapy or cultural ambience. The largest market in Samoa and a hotspot for all sorts of cultural goings-on, Fugalei Market is a sight not to be missed. The Flea Market is a more compact version and specialises more in crafts, while the Samoa Women’s Association of Growers (SWAG) Market is a cute Saturday gathering, and the Night Market on the last Friday of the month is a street food storm. As you can see, there are plenty of amazing markets to go through, so check them out further in the 8 Best Markets in Samoa.
Location: All over Apia! See the link above for specific locations.
4. Slide Down the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks!
Try out Apia’s very own natural waterpark at the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks! After walking down an anxiously high number of steps, knowing that you have to get back up them again, you’ll come across the first and biggest slide that locals call the “men’s slide”; a near verticle 5-m (16-ft) slide. Further down is the “kids’ slide”, a much less precarious slide with a little drop at the end of extra fun. Finally, at the bottom, you have the “women’s slide”. Lots of fun, lots of laughs; what’s not to love? Avoid the busiest times, which tend to be the weekends, to get optimal slide time. For more affordable attractions like this, check out the 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Apia.
Location: Se’ese’e, Faleata District on the outskirts of Apia. The access road turns off Maugafolau Road near the University of the South Pacific campus.
5. Learn About Samoan History at the Falemata’aga Museum of Samoa
The donation-based Falemata’aga, Museum of Samoa has an impressive collection of historical artefacts from across Samoa and the South Pacific. If you don’t want to sift through it all yourself, free guided tours are available with passionate guides to show you through six different galleries (in air-conditioned rooms, might we add) boasting 3,000-year-old Lapita pottery, colonisation history and even a small art exhibition, there’s plenty here to keep you occupied for as long as you wish. Get more of a museum fix from the 5 Best Museums in Samoa.
Location: Vaitele Street (look out for the large mural on the building).
6. Take a Tour of the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum…
Another museum in Apia that’s well worth scouting out, the impeccably maintained grounds and villa of the famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1895), who lived in Samoa for the remaining four years of his life, are preserved for visitors to enjoy today. While “Villa Vailima” has had a few makeovers over the years, the home has been filled with replicas to represent what this classic colonial home would have looked like. That’s not to say there aren’t a few original trinkets, books and personal belongings to admire, as well as stories to immerse in while taking the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum tour with one of the museum’s incredibly knowledgeable guides.
Location: Signposted along Cross Island Road in the village of Avele, just south of Apia.
7. … Then Hike Up Mt Vaea to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Tomb
Accessed via Vailima Botanical Garden (see point #8) or the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, the Robert Louis Stevenson Tomb Trail not only leads you to the tomb of the famous author on Mt Vaea but reveals both fairytale-like rainforest and outstanding views of Apia. There are two routes to choose from; the 30-minute rough and steep way or the 50-minute easier way that zigzags its way to the top. The latter passes by a magnificent banyan tree. Whichever you choose, good walking shoes are recommended. Check out more places to stretch your legs in the 15 Best Walks & Hikes in Samoa.
Location: RLS Museum – Signposted along Cross Island Road in the village of Avele, just south of Apia. The walk can be found at a clearing in the forest between the Garden Toilets and the museum (you’ll see the sign for the Tomb Track). Vailima Botanical Garden – Instead of turning down the lane to the museum, continue straight until you reach an archway and sign for the gardens.
8. Explore Vailima Botanical Garden
Encompassing 12 ha (30 acres) of native, introduced and naturalised plant species, Vailima Botanical Garden offers a wonderful free space to explore in Apia. The information centre here provides more details about the biodiversity of the gardens, while the freshwater pool and waterfall of the Loimata o Apaula stream is a pleasant place for a refreshing dip. You can also start the Tomb Trail (see above) from here.
Location: Follow signposts for the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum along Cross Island Road in the village of Avele, just south of Apia. Instead of turning down the lane to the museum, however, continue straight until you reach an archway and sign for Vailima Botanical Garden.
9. Potter Around Matagialalua Friendship Park
A neat little area on the Apia waterfront, Friendship Park offers an attractive park for a stroll, to catch the latest community event and to let kids loose at the playground if you’re travelling as a family. Explore the Mangrove Tidal Garden with boardwalks and bridges to mosey over, watch locals battle it out at the sports courts, and head down to the amphitheatre to catch a free gig or event. For more family-friendly spaces in the city, check out the 10 Things to Do in Apia with Kids.
Location: On the waterfront behind the Government Building on Beach Road.
10. Watch the Royal Samoan Police Marching Band
Each weekday morning from around 8:45 am, the Royal Samoa Police Band brings the streets of Apia to life with trumpets, trombones and drums as they march along Beach Road from the Police Station Headquarters. At 9 am, they raise the Samoan flag on the lawns of the Government Building before marching their merry way back to the Police Station. A sight not to be missed! For more quirky attractions like this, check out the 10 Most Unique Things to Do in Samoa.
Location: Between the Police Station HQ and Government Building, Beach Road.
11. Indulge in a Spa Treatment
Apia boasts a number of day spas for you to effortlessly find your zen. From cultural therapeutic massages to top-of-the-line beauty treatments, there are spas in Apia to truly make yourself feel 100%! What’s more, there are some very reasonable massage rates going around, so compare your options with the 5 Best Spas in Apia and start reviving. Plus, find more experiences you can enjoy undisturbed in the 8 Adults-Only Activities in Apia.
Location: All over Apia! See the link above for recommendations and their locations.
12. Reel in the Big Ones on a Fishing Charter
Swap a day of hustle and bustle in Apia for a day out on the water reeling in Pacific pelagics, from tuna to masimasi. Fishing is a way of life here on the islands, so there’s no lack of experienced fisherfolk who can show you the lines on a private fishing excursion. Troppo Fishing Adventures is your go-to charter in Apia, but new ones are cropping up all the time, so check them out in the 10 Best Fishing Charters in Samoa.
Location: Apia Marina, Beach Road.
13. Tee Off at Apia’s Golf Courses
Find sanctuary at one of Apia’s two tropical golf courses. The Faleata Golf Course and Royal Samoa Country Club are both park courses boasting 18 holes of challenges each winding through the coconut palms. Find the most suitable course for you in The Complete Guide to Golf in Samoa.
Location: Faleata Golf Course – Talimatau Road. Royal Samoa Country Club – Plantation Road.
14. Experience a Fiafia Night!
“Fiafia” means “happy” in Samoan and fiafia nights follow an equation that can’t help but put a smile on your face! Many will start with an ‘ava welcoming ceremony before guests are treated to a buffet of Samoan staples (just like the ones in the 20 Foods to Try in Samoa), as well as some international favourites. Once your stomach is gleeful, the show can get underway with cultural Pacifika dancing and, usually the highlight of the show, siva afi which is Samoa’s very own knife fire-dancing in the homeland where Polynesian fire dancing originated!
Location: All over Apia! Make your selections, as well as find out their locations, in the 10 Best Cultural Shows (Fiafia) in Samoa.
15. Spend the Day Shopping
Home to talented craftspeople who have passed down techniques from generation to generation, Samoa certainly entices with unique woodwork, gorgeous siapo paintings, hand-printed clothing, natural beauty products and much more – just see the 10 Best Souvenirs from Samoa for an idea of the amazing handicrafts and skincare products available. With this in mind, browsing the craft and body care shops of Apia is a very viable way to spend some time in the city. Check out the retail highlights in The Guide to Shopping in Samoa + The Best Places to Shop.
Location: All over Apia! Check out the links above for shopping recommendations and their locations.
16. Have a Look Inside the Immaculate Conception Cathedral
This striking cathedral looming over the Apia Harbour is undoubtedly one of the most awe-inspiring in Samoa, from the outside and within. Inside 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! For other impressive churches to visit, check out the 10 Best Churches in Samoa to Experience as a Visitor.
Location: Beach Road opposite the Samoa Tourism Information Centre.
17. Check Out the Apia Clock Tower
Standing in plain sight at Apia’s main roundabout on Beach Road, the Apia Clock Tower is not only an interesting photo opportunity but it commemorates the Samoan soldiers that died during World War One. Reading the plaque at the base of the clock tower, however, can be dangerous due to traffic, so check out the Falemata’aga, The Museum of Samoa (see above) to see the full text including the 60 names of those that died during the war.
Location: Beach Road roundabout, near the Government Building.
18. Take a Tiki Tour Down the Mulinuu Peninsula to See its Historical Sites
On the Mulinuu Peninsula lining the Apia Harbour are a number of historical memorials to make for an interesting side trip from town. From the tombs of various heads of state to memorials to Samoa’s German affiliations to commemorating Samoa’s independence, many representations of Samoa’s political history can be found here. Learn more about the individual memorials in the 10 Best Historical Sites in Apia.
Location: Mulinuu Peninsula, Mulinuu Road.
19. Treat the Tastebuds at Apia’s Cafes or Restaurants
An obvious thing to do in Apia but one still worth mentioning is dining at Apia’s cafes and restaurants. Some of its best establishments are the cafes, with highlights being Nourish Cafe and RiVaiv Cafe with healthy (and obviously naughty) meals in quaint garden settings, while dine-in restaurants like Paddles Restaurant and Bistro Tatau rarely fail to impress. You can even go vegan at the Krush Juice Lounge or try the best coffee in town at the Coffee Roaster. Compare all of your best options in the 10 Best Restaurants in Apia and the 10 Best Cafes in Apia & Upolu.
Location: All over Apia! See the links above for recommendations and their locations.
20. Join Chef John for a Food Tour
Speaking of food, combine sightseeing with gourmet island dining with Chef John Tours. Chef John offers both half-day and full-day tours from Apia, visiting Apia’s fish, fruit and vegetable markets where you’ll pick out your own produce. After stopping to snack on the best keke pua’a (steamed pork buns) on the island, you’ll arrive at the refreshing swimming spot of the Piula Cave Pool where John will put on an impressive show of sprucing up a gourmet lunch with the ingredients bought at the market. Finally, you’ll cool down with a stop at a local ice cream shop that John deems is the best on the island! The full-day tour also includes stops at To Sua Ocean Trench, Lalomanu Beach and the Togitogia Waterfall, which you can find out more about in the 50 Best Things to Do on Upolu.
Location: The tour includes accommodation transfers from Apia.
21. Abseil Down a Waterfall
Samoa is renowned for its waterfalls, but only in Apia can you experience one through abseiling! Furthermore, you’ll get to discover a waterfall that rare few visitors get to see with Tropical Tours Samoa. After a 30-minute explainer and testing your new-found skills on a 3 m (10 ft) drywall, you’ll tackle a technical abseil down an epic 11 m (35 ft) waterfall! The experience is made all the more rewarding with a refreshing swim at the bottom, as well as some morning tea. Also, learn about their SUP tours in the 10 Best Places for Stand-Up Paddleboarding.
Location: Accommodation pick-ups are included in the tour.
22. Work on Your Wellness with a Yoga Class
While it can be pretty easy to get caught up in all of Samoa’s adventure activities, don’t forget to work on your wellness too. Apia is a beautiful place in Samoa to do yoga. Either join a class, such as on weekday mornings at Taumeasina Island Resort, or book Yoga Samoa for a one-on-one or group session at your chosen accommodation. Discover all of your options in the 10 Best Places to Experience Yoga in Samoa.
Location: Taumeasina Island Resort – Taumeasina Road, Taumeasina.
23. Discover Apia’s Vibrant Nightlife
Whether your vibe is kicking back with sundowner cocktails or dancing into the wee hours, Apia has the bars and nightclubs for an unforgettable night out. The Apia Marina is where much of the party is if you want to mingle with locals and expats. Plan your night using The Guide to Apia & Upolu Nightlife + 5 Things to Do on Upolu at Night.
Location: All over Apia! See the 10 Best Bars in Apia for recommendations and locations.
24. Try Your Luck at Samoa’s Only Casino
Unmissable on the Apia Harbour, mainly because it’s a multi-storey bright white building right next to the historic Aggie Grey Hotel, Whitesands Casino is Samoa’s only casino. The gambling joint is exclusively open to internationals, so take your passport to have access to gaming tables, slot machines and two bars, while live DJ sets usually add to the ambience on Friday and Saturday nights. The casino is open from 2 pm to 2 am daily. Samoa Scenic Tours offers free transfers between Apia accommodations and the casino, should you need a ride.
Location: Beach Road, Apia (next to Aggie Grey’s Hotel).
25. Experience a Sunday To’onai
To’onai is a traditional Sunday lunch in Samoa, which brings in family and friends not only to eat together but to prepare the meal with each family member having a different role to play. Hotels in Apia also host Sunday to’onai which, admittedly, will be more about eating than cooking for the visitor. Try dishes like palusami and food that has likely been cooked in an umu at accommodations like the Lava Hotel, Taumeasina Island Resort and Insel Fehmarn Hotel. To’onai buffets usually start at midday; be sure to book your spot. If you’re lucky (and friendly enough), your resort staff may invite you to their church service and then to their family home for a more authentic to’onai experience. For more ways to spend your Sunday, check out the 10 Things to Do in Samoa on a Sunday.
Location: Lava Hotel – Mulinuu Road, Mulinuu Peninsula. Taumeasina – Taumeasina Road. Insel Fehmarn – Falealili Street.
More Things to Do in Apia
You didn’t think that was all of the things to do in Apia, did you? Well, we’ve squeezed in more experiences across the following articles:
- 10 Most Romantic Things to Do in Apia
- 10 Best Foodie Experiences in Apia
- 12 Things to Do in Apia on a Rainy Day
Finally, add even more to your itinerary by using our other whopping list of 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.