What to Do for Cheap (and Even Sometimes for Free) on Savai’i
You know what they say: the best things in life are free. Or, at least in Savai’i, the best things in life have a small entry fee… Savai’i has a staggering number of natural and historical attractions, from magnificent waterfalls to glorious beaches to spooky lava caves. With that, there’s seemingly an endless number of cheap things to do (but we’ve managed to narrow it down to 25 free and cheap things to do on Savai’i). Enjoy!
Why Do You Need to Pay Entry Fees for Attractions on Savai’i?
Unlike in many countries, all land in Samoa is owned by local families and communities rather than government organisations. While many families have made amazing attractions on their land available for visitors, funding is required to maintain sites, the roads that access them, the fales for visitors’ use, as well as other community projects.
Entry fees for Savai’i’s attractions range from ST$2 to $20 per person, children under five sometimes go free, and some sites charge per vehicle from ST$20 to $40.
1. Cool Off at the Afu Aau Waterfall – CHEAP
One of the most stunning waterfalls and swimming holes in Samoa (and the South Pacific) awaits down a short and gorgeously maintained jungle trail on the southeast side of Savai’i. Enjoy a refreshing dip in the aqua-blue waters at the base of the 15-20 m (49-66 ft) Afu Aau Waterfall. Pay your fees at the fale just off the main road (the entry sign is easy to spot) then it’s a 650 m (711-yard) drive on a flat dirt road to the car park with a toilet block and changing room.
Location: Palauli village, signposted off the main road on the southeast coast.
2. Enjoy a Nature Walk and Venture Through a Giant Lava Tube at Laauoleola Cave (A’opo Cave) – CHEAP
The 15-minute forest trail through mahogany, ifilele, teak, kava, eucalyptus and banyan trees is just the beginning… As you begin to approach the entrance of Laauoleola Cave, you’ll hear the unusual clicking of swiftlets as they move in and out of the caves. 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.
Location: A’opo village, signposted off the main road on the northern coast.
3. Experience Authentic Samoan Culture at the Siapo Demonstration – CHEAP
While visiting the Afu Aau Waterfall (see point #1), don’t miss this amazing and refreshingly authentic cultural experience right next door. Stop at the sign for the “Siapo Demonstration” where you’ll be invited into a local family’s fale for a demonstration of traditional canvas-making and painting techniques. You can even give it a go yourself! From cutting down the young mulberry tree to leaving with a completed piece of Samoan siapo (also known as tapa), the demonstration lasts approximately 45 minutes. For more ways to immerse in the Samoan culture, check out the 8 Best Cultural Activities on Savai’i.
Location: Palauli village, signposted off the main road on the southeast coast (near the Afu Aau Waterfall).
4. Watch the Power of the Waves at the Alofaaga Blowholes – CHEAP
An icon of Savai’i and Samoa, the Alofaaga Blowholes put on a spectacular show of wave power between the fissures of volcanic rock on the coast. Although a treat at any time, the best time to go is high tide. It’s a short but rugged walk that can be slippery, so sturdy shoes are best. Note that you may have to pay two entry fees (totalling approximately ST$10 per person) as the attraction crosses two family lands. Locals will sometimes put coconuts on the blowholes for extra drama. It’s worth asking for directions to the culturally significant Pa Sopo’ia Cave also at the site.
Location: Taga village, signposted off the main road on the southwest coast. Note that the road to the blowholes is about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) of rough unsealed road. 2WDs will just manage but drive carefully.
5. Walk Among Lava Ruins at the Saleaula Lava Field – CHEAP
Discover the remnants of the destructive Mt Matavanua 1905-1911 eruption at the enchanting Saleaula Lava Field. It’s a short walk to the lava field’s most striking feature, the LMS Church which sits in ruins with a lava flow solidified right through its arching entrances. Walk approximately 300m (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. Past the church ruins is an attractive wetland viewpoint, then head back on the trail and go northeast for approximately 900 m (984 yards) over an exposed lava flow to the striking lava cliffs.
Location: Saleaula village, signposted off the main road on the northeast coast.
6. Relax and Snorkel at Falealupo Beach – CHEAP
Sweeping white sands and glorious snorkelling await at Falealupo Beach. Either stay the night or hire a day fale at the Falealupo Beach Fales with more than a kilometre of sand to enjoy. Their shop sells drinks and snacks should you want to spend the afternoon, while snorkelling gear is available to hire for an acceptable price. The snorkelling is fine from the beach, but the best parts are further out where the beach fale offers a snorkelling tour (note that this costs an extra ST$50+). Discover more of the island’s best sandy spots in the 10 Best Beaches on Savai’i.
Location: Falealupo village off Falealupo Road on the northwest coast. Turn off the main road onto Falealupo Road at Falealupo-utu village.
7. Watch the Sunset and Discover Historical Sites at Cape Mulinuu – FREE/CHEAP
From Falealupo, it’s worth then continuing on the flat dirt road (suitable for 2WD) through the coconut groves to Cape Mulinuu to see the historic Mauga Fetu Star Mound, Ana O Vaatausili Giant’s Cave and Vaisuatoto Well. If there are locals around taking entry fees, they are usually happy to tell you about the legends of these historical sites. Otherwise, the interpretation panels here are sufficient enough. Finally, catch the sunset from the beach and rock pools of Cape Mulinuu just across the road from the historical sites for a spectacular show (weather permitting) at the westernmost point of Samoa. For more stellar sunset spots, check out the 10 Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Samoa.
Location: Falealupo Road, approximately 2.2 km (1.3 mi) south of Falealupo Beach on the northwest coast.
8. See Glorious Trees on the Falealupo Nature Trail – FREE
An easy yet insightful stroll on the way to Falealupo Beach, the Falealupo Nature Trail is a 400 m (437-yard) trail taking you through a rainforest reserve with interpretive panels to tell you more about the magnificent flora seen along the way.
Location: Signposted approximately 2.5 km (1.6 mi) down Falealupo Road from Falealupo-uta village on the northwest coast.
9. Scratch Your Head at Moso’s Footprint – CHEAP
Not an attraction that you’ll need to make a lot of time for, Moso’s Footprint is a simple hop-out-of-the-car stop on the way to Falealupo Beach. The 2 m (6.6 ft)-long foot-shaped depression has an interpretation panel beside it describing the legend of Moso who stepped his right foot onto Savai’i, extending his left foot across the Pacific onto Suva in Fiji. The sign also describes the geological interpretation.
Location: Signposted approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) down Falealupo Road from Falealupo-uta village on the northwest coast.
10. Wander Among the Falealupo Church Ruins – FREE/CHEAP
Between Moso’s Footprint and Falealupo Beach is another attraction that was free when our research team last visited but apparently there are sometimes villagers taking a small entry fee to see this site. Either way, you’ll get to view the ruins of Falealupo’s Historic Catholic Church which was destroyed by the waves of Cyclone Ofa in 1990. Discover more of Savai’i’s historical sites in the 10 Best Historical Sites on Savai’i.
Location: Cape Vaitoloa, Falealupo Road on the northwest coast.
11. Hear the Legends About the House of Rock – CHEAP
Guides will lead you down a rough trail (better to wear closed footwear rather than your flip-flops) to a partially collapsed lava tube. While an old legend speaks of the “Rock House” being made as a result of a housebuilding competition between the village’s men and women (and the women won), more recent history tells of the lava tube protecting villagers from cyclones. Some local guides are eager to share the stories if they’re available.
Location: Falealupo Road, signposted at the northern end of Falealupo Beach on the northwest coast.
12. Snorkel with Turtles at Manase Beach – CHEAP
One of the most popular beaches on Savai’i and one of the best places in Samoa to see turtles in their natural environment, Manase Beach is another area to entice. The beach fales just beg for you to stay longer, so either stay overnight or just for the day (see fales in the 10 Best Beach Fale Accommodations on Savai’i). Bring your own snorkelling gear otherwise, Tanu Beach Fales has some for hire. Be careful of tidal conditions, and avoid swimming near the reef passages.
13. See the Unique Mu Pagoa Waterfall – CHEAP
Samoa’s only waterfall that cascades into the Pacific Ocean below, Mu Pagoa Waterfall offers a unique natural attraction on Savai’i. It might not be the highest waterfall but it’s still an impressive sight to see the Lata River suddenly falling into the ocean with the swell crashing against the cliffs below. This cheap natural attraction is not signposted, so is therefore easy to miss. For more waterfalls to chase, check out the 10 Best Waterfalls in Samoa.
Location: Between Puleia and Gautavai villages on the southeast coast. Take the driveway/road that turns toward the coast immediately before entering the road bridge from the east side. A local should come out of one of the nearby fales to greet you.
14. See Fascinating Cave Birds at Pe’ape’a Cave – CHEAP
Named after the white-rumped swiftlets that live in this ancient lava tube, Pe’ape’a Cave is believed to stretch for 1 km (0.6 mi) underground. Although the entrance to the cave is the size of a railway tunnel, guided tours can only take you a short way into the cave before it narrows and becomes too difficult to crawl through. Keep noise and torchlights low so as to not disturb the swiftlets that nest in these caves. Check out more caves to explore in the 10 Best Caves in Samoa.
Location: Signposted off the roadside just south of Letui village on the northern coast.
15. Shop and Mingle with the Locals at the Salelologa Market – FREE/CHEAP
While this attraction in Savai’i’s main town, Salelologa, is free to visit, the cost is only how much you decide to spend! At the Salelologa Market, peruse a wonderous array of locally crafted carvings, woven bags and fans, handprinted lavalava (sarongs), coconut jewellery and much more. There’s also a small food court section selling cheap baked goods and fried food that won’t send you too far over budget – see The Top Cheap Eats on Savai’i.
Location: Salelologa in the commercial centre to the south of town – turn left off the ferry then right past Lusia’s Lagoon Chalets.
16. Va-i-Moana’s Koko Plantation Tour – CHEAP
See where your Whittaker’s Chocolate originates (if you’re from New Zealand) on Va’ai family’s koko (cocoa) farm. Departing from Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge, the Koko Plantation Tour has you seeing the koko cultivation process from seedlings to dried cocoa beans. The tour also includes a demonstration on how to make koko Samoa (Samoan hot chocolate) with tastings!
Location: Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge, between Auala and Asau villages on the northwest coast.
17. Refresh at a Freshwater Village Pool (Vai Taele) – FREE
Just about the only free activity on Savai’i (in most instances) is cooling off at a village’s freshwater pool, known as a vai taele in Samoan. Easy to spot as you’re travelling along the coast, village pools have a manmade concrete barrier to contain some of the fresh springwater/protect swimmers from the tide. Some pools to look out for include Vaga Freshwater Pools (Lefagaoali’i), Vai Safe’e (Safotu) and behind the John Williams Memorial (Sapapalii).
Location: All over Savai’i!
18. Cool Off at Samoa’s Most Famous Village Pool, Mataolealelo Pool – CHEAP
Speaking of freshwater pools, the most famous on Savai’i is Mataolealelo Pool. The village pool is associated with the legend of “Sina and the Eel”. It is split into two sections: one pool for the men and the other for women and children. Note that prices are per car, so if you’re travelling solo or as a couple, the attraction will feel a little pricey compared to others on this list. Otherwise, the site is well maintained with changing rooms and bathrooms. The main thing is the feeling of fresh springwater on a hot day… Ahhh!
Location: Matavai village, signposted off the main road on the northeast coast.
19. Check Out Safotu Catholic Church – FREE
After (or before) having a dip in the Mataolealelo Pool, visit the neighbouring village of Safotu to check out one of the most significant churches on Savai’i. Safotu Catholic Church is Samoa’s first Roman Catholic Church, made from bleached coral and impeccably maintained for an interesting visit. Learn more about Samoa’s churches in The Guide to the Religions in Samoa.
Location: Safotu village, easily spotted along the main road on the northeast coast.
20. Go on an Adventure at Dwarf’s Cave – CHEAP
Certainly the most adventurous cave tour in Samoa, Dwarf’s Cave (Nu’u le Tau) is significant to the local village for its legends. Signs from the main road point toward Paia village, where you should enquire about hiring a guide to take you through this cave. The experience takes you approximately 40 m (44 yards) into the cave, which initially has some confined spaces (not recommended if you’re claustrophobic) that will have you walking, crawling and sometimes wading or swimming. Prepare for clothes and shoes to get wet. Plus, bring a torch if you have one.
Location: Paia village. Follow signs inland off the main road to Dwarf’s Cave from the northeast coast.
21. Hike Mt Matavanu – CHEAP
For those looking for an interesting hike and a volcano to climb, try Mt Matavanu. Mt Matavanu can be found on the north coast and was the volcano responsible for the 1905-1911 eruptions that sent lava flowing 13 km (8 mi) along the coast. Organise a hike with a guide from the village of Safotu. You can either drive (20-25 minutes) or walk (2-3 hours) up the 4WD track to the summit, providing the opportunity to spot flying foxes and take in magnificent views of Savai’i’s western villages.
Location: Approximately 10 km (6 mi) inland from Safotu village on the road that passes through Paia. A 4WD is recommended for driving to the summit. Otherwise, guides can be hired for hiking via the Savai’i Samoa Tourism Association.
22. Enjoy Some Bird Watching at the Tafua Crater – CHEAP
On this 1-hour walk to the Tafua Crater, your guide from Safua Tours will endeavour to point out Samoa’s fascinating and rare wildlife, such as the manumea (tooth-billed pigeon) 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.
Location: Tafua-tai village. 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.
23. Paddle Among the Asaga Mangroves – CHEAP
A very special experience if you can get it organised (book through the Savai’i Samoa Tourism Association or Samoa Tourism Authority), villagers at the Asaga Mangroves offer guided canoe/kayak trips through their glorious mangrove forest. Although guides are not often fluent in English, they’ll point out interesting aspects of the forest as they go. The relaxed 10-15-minute paddle terminates at a freshwater spring where a refreshing dip awaits!
If there’s no one there providing tours when you arrive, you can walk alongside the stream to a volleyball net where a short trail leads to the freshwater spring.
Location: Tours depart from the road bridge in Asaga village (there is a sign for the Asaga River Pool and Beach Fales) on the northeast coast.
24. Be Amazed by the Views at Lover’s Leap – FREE/CHEAP
As you’re tiki touring along the scenic southwest coast of Savai’i, stop by the Lover’s Leap lookout. It’s sometimes overgrown, but if you’re lucky, you’ll get breathtaking views from a clifftop vantage point of the water surging into a small but dramatic cove below. There is a small fale within the barricade where there is sometimes someone to take the small entry fee. Most of the time, however, you’ll find it unoccupied.
Location: Along the main road at the northern end of Falelima village, just past the Mormon Church, on the southwest coast.
25. Explore the Lagoon by Kayak or SUP – FREE/CHEAP
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a beach fale or resort that doesn’t have at least a couple of kayaks to hire. Depending on where you stay, there is a small hire fee or they are free for guests to explore the lagoon until their heart’s content. Be careful of strong currents near reef passages.
Location: All over Savai’i!
26. When in Doubt, Go for a Snorkel – FREE/CHEAP
Visiting Savai’i and not snorkelling is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. Fish, coral, starfish and even turtles are abundant off the coast of Savai’i, so take the opportunity for a snorkel outside of your beach fale or resort whenever you can (if conditions aren’t too rough, of course). Accommodations usually hire out snorkelling gear for around ST$15, but we always recommend having you’re own as you don’t know what state the hired snorkelling gear will be in. Find recommended snorkelling gear in the 20 Essentials You Need to Pack for Samoa.
Location: All over Savai’i!
More About Budget and Free Things to Do on Savai’i
That’s it for our list of free and cheap things to do on Savai’i, but there are a lot more freebies to be found in our other guides:
- 50 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Samoa
- 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i
- The Complete Travel Guide to Savai’i on a Budget
Finally, don’t forget to The Complete Backpacking Guide to Samoa on a Budget and Samoa Travel Budget: How Much Does a Trip to Samoa Cost? to plan more of your trip.