10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu
10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu

11 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu

© SamoaPocketGuide.com

Walking Trails on Upolu

Samoa’s main island is not just a destination for beaches, culture and sipping cocktails. If you prefer to explore and stay active on your travels, you’ll totally dig the walking trails snaking through the island’s rugged interior, over its coastal cliffs and on its off-shore islands. From family-friendly short walks to epic waterfall missions, there are walks to suit a range of fitness levels and interests on Upolu. Needless to say, you’ll want to be prepared with sturdy walking shoes (no flip-flops here), as well as plenty of water and insect repellent. If you’re prepared, you have some stunning vistas, epic jungles and quaint island villages to enjoy. Find out where to hike in this list of the best walks and hikes on Upolu.

Plus, don’t forget to plan the rest of your trip with The Complete Travel Guide to Upolu and Where to Stay on Upolu: The Best Upolu Accommodations.

1. O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park Coastal Walk (1-Hour Return)

Leave the beaches of Upolu behind and discover a different side of the island on the serene and secluded Coastal Walk. Protected within the O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park, the one-hour return walk winds its way through lush pandanus forest before emerging on rocky lava cliffs. With the waves crashing below, seabirds occupying the horizon, and a number of coastal sea arches to uncover along the way, this certainly is a special place to experience on foot. Speaking of, closed footwear is recommended. The trail is mostly flat, making it suitable for most fitness levels. Although the trail is very easy to follow independently, guided walks are available with Samoan Island Adventures and Manoa Tours for more natural and cultural insights. Check out more walks with guides in the 10 Best Guided Walks in Samoa.

Location: O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park. Signposted along Main South Coast Road between Sa’agafou and Saleilua. Note that the 3 km (1.9 mi) road to get to the trail car park is a 4WD road but 2WD is usually Ok if taken with care. Otherwise, you can park at the information boards along the main road and walk to the Coastal Track, which makes the walk last a total of 2h30mins return.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

2. Ma Tree Walk (15 Minutes One Way)

“Ma” meaning “shame”, the Ma Tree was named by the paramount chief of A’opo on Savai’i possibly due to the uniqueness of this tree species compared to other rainforest dwellers, such as its silver-brown patches under the leaves and its occurrence in solitary patches. Most notable of the O Le pupu Pu’e National Park‘s Ma Tree, however, are the giant buttress roots extending metres around its base. This family-friendly walk is only a 780-m (853-yard) walk from the well-established car park and information boards in the national park. For more family-friendly activities, check out the 10 Things to Do on Upolu with Kids.

Location: O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park, at the information boards (not the Visitor Centre) along Main South Coast Road between Sa’agafou and Saleilua villages on Upolu’s south coast.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

3. Togitogiga Waterfall via the Ma Tree (45 Minutes One Way)

There’s an easy way to the Togitogiga Waterfall (by parking at the O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park Visitor Centre) or the long way, the latter being ideal for those looking to make the most out of the experience. After the Ma Tree walk (see above), head east on a rough 1.35 km (0.8-mi) trail through the rainforest to the Visitor Centre. The trail isn’t as well maintained as the Ma Tree walk, so is best for fit walkers who can keep close attention to the trail. From the Visitor Centre, it’s a 5-minute walk further to Togitogiga Waterfall; a free swimming spot! Note, however, that the waterfall is sometimes dried up, especially in the dry season. Either return the way you came or loop around via the main road.

Location: Start from the Ma Tree walk, O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park, at the information boards (not the Visitor Centre) along Main South Coast Road between Sa’agafou and Saleilua villages on the south coast of Upolu.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

4. Uafato Bird Hide Trail (50 Minutes Return)

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. The best way to experience the area is to take the 4WD road to Uafato village 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.

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.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

5. Robert Louis Stevenson Tomb Trail on Mt Vaea (30-45 Minutes or 50-60 Minutes One Way)

Accessed via Vailima Botanical Garden or the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum next door, the Robert Louis Stevenson Tomb Trail not only leads you to the tomb of the famous Scottish 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.

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 driveway to the museum, continue straight until you reach an archway sign for the gardens.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

6. Falease’ela River Walk (4-6 Hours Loop)

Less of a “walk” than it is a canyoning expedition along the gorge with never-ending cascades of waterfalls, the Falease’ela River Walk is an epic excursion for the adventurous! Access this piece of river paradise with Olsen and the local boys from Lalotalie ECAT Ventures who will gladly take you through the gorge with each waterfall getting more grandiose 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. Oh, but you will get wet – soaked, in fact, so closed shoes that you don’t mind submerging in water, as well as a T-shirt and shorts that will get the same treatment, are recommended.

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.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

7. Lake Lanoto’o (2-Hour Return)

A pea-green crater lake set in the Upolu highlands, Lake Lanoto’o is also known as the “Goldfish Lake” after, well, the goldfish that live in the lake. Getting to this intriguing swimming spot is a worthwhile adventure for those who are fit and able, as there are often plenty of muddy patches to negotiate, as well as its fair share of uphill sections. Although it is possible to work through the trail yourself, we highly recommend using a guide, such as Samoan Island Adventures, Manoa Tours and Rainforest Runaway Ecotours to guarantee that you won’t get lost. Speaking of, long pants and closed footwear are recommended, as is your swimwear to change into.

Location: Lanoto’o Road, signposted along Cross Island Road approximately 7 km (4.3 mi) south of Apia. A rough 4WD access road leads to the small parking area.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

8. Mt Fiamoe (45 Minutes Return)

A great option to do before or after you’ve done the neighbouring Lake Lanoto’o Track, Mt Fiamoe offers better views across the northern and southern coasts of Upolu. From the top of the access road, you’ll climb 150 m (492 ft) high along a 1.5 km (0.9 mi) trail. Needless to say, it’s a hike for the fit who can stand going uphill in the Samoan heat. Nevertheless, the rewarding views from the top of the volcano make the exertion worth it.

Location: Mt Fiamoe Service Road, off Lanoto’o Road, signposted along Cross Island Road approximately 7 km (4.3 mi) south of Apia.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

9. Namu’a Island Summit (1-Hour Return)

On a tiny island off the shores of Upolu, hike to its summit for glorious views of the Aleipata Islands, the surrounding lagoon and the Upolu coastline. The Namu’a Island hiking trail to its peak takes approximately 1 hour through the jungle. Take the ferry from Mutiatele village with Namu’a Beach Fales and let your guide, likely Yeti, know that you want to walk to the top of the island and he’ll point you in the right direction.

Location: Namu’a Island, accessed from Mutiatele village on Main South Coast Road on the east coast of Upolu. For more information about getting there, check out The Travel Guide to Aleipata Islands: Nu’utele, Namu’a, Fanuatapa & Nu’uala.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

10. Manono Island Walk (1h30mins Loop + 1h30mins Return to Mt Tulimanuiva)

With no cars on Manono Island, which sits just a 20-minute boat ride from the west coast of Upolu, a walking trail is just about the only way to weave between the villages circumventing the island, which incidentally is a pleasant way to experience the island. While the trail takes approximately 1h30mins to walk, you’ll want to make extra time to talk to the friendly locals you’re likely to meet along the way, as well as to stop at the Grave of 99 Stones, to swim at Apai Beach and even to take a side trip up Mt Tulimanuiva where an ancient star mound awaits on top. Allow an extra 1h30mins to 2 hours for this side trip. For more about the star mound and grave, check out the 10 Best Historical Sites on Upolu.

Location: Manono Island, accessed from Manono-uta village on the west coast. See The Travel Guide to Manono: Things to Do, How to Get There & More to learn about how to get there.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

11. Malololelei Recreation Reserve (Various Times)

Excellent for birdwatching and even better for getting off the beaten track, the Malololelei Recreation Reserve offers an array of trails through 30 acres of bushland. Enjoy waterfalls, picnic areas, swimming holes and a viewing platform overlooking Apia on a series of rough trails that can take one hour to a whole day! The conservation area is one of the best spots on Upolu for spotting endemic birds, as listed in the 5 Best Places for Bird Watching in Samoa.

Location: Malololelei village. There is no signage for the reserve. Take the Cross Island Road south of Apia and past the Baha’i Temple, turning right onto Kelsey Lane. Follow the road all the way to the 90-degree bend (past the Shrine of the Divine Mercy). The gate to the reserve is located on this bend.

10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu© SamoaPocketGuide.com

More About Walks on Upolu

That’s it for our list of walks and hikes on Upolu. For more hiking ideas across the islands of Samoa, check out the following guides:

Finally, complement your walks with the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Samoa Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Samoa. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Upolu and Savai’i’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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