A Guide to Catching the Ferry to Savai’i
Although most travellers get to Samoa by arriving on the island of Upolu, just a short ferry ride over a strait is the lush, peaceful and cultural haven of Savai’i. Savai’i has no airport (or, at least, the airfields are no longer in use), so the only way to make the trip to Samoa’s largest island is to take the ferry. Luckily, there’s only one ferry you need to know about, which has regular schedules and reasonable rates to make getting to Savai’i as easy as an island breeze. Find out everything you need to know about taking the ferry to Savai’i in this guide.
6 Tips for Taking the Ferry to Savai’i
- Yes, you can take your rental vehicle on the ferry, including scooters and bicycles. Drivers of cars get on the ferry for free, as a driver is included in the vehicle ticket
- Book your ticket in advance if travelling in a vehicle; vehicles that haven’t booked can only board if there’s space and may have to wait until the next sailing
- The wharf ticket offices close one hour before scheduled departure for vehicles and 30 minutes before departure for passengers, so make sure you arrive and purchase your tickets before then
- Don’t stay in your vehicle throughout the sailing; although you’re allowed to and many passengers do, the safety aspects of this are dubious. Vehicles are tightly parked and you will unlikely be able to leave your vehicle once the sailing is underway
- Take some seasickness tablets if you’re prone to seasickness
- Enjoy the view! There’s plenty to see on the Savai’i ferry, between the Apolima Islands and wildlife like fish and seabirds. The best photo opportunities are on the upper passenger decks.
What are the Ferries that Travel to Savai’i
Ferries to Savai’i are run by the Samoa Shipping Corporation (SSC). They operate two vessels that run back and forth from Savai’i; the MV Lady Samoa III (the big ferry) and the MV Samoa Express III (the express ferry). Choosing a ferry won’t make too much difference to your sailing; apart from Lady Samoa III has a VIP Lounge and a wider variety of seating areas for foot passengers.
Both ferries travelling to Savai’i have canteens to purchase snacks and drinks. There are also toilet facilities, although we recommend you “go” before you board, as the toilet facilities are a bit yucky, especially on a rolling ship.
The MV Lady Samoa III has the widest variety of seating areas for passengers, including an air-conditioned indoor lounge, an outdoor lounge upstairs, and a VIP lounge.
The MV Samoa Express III has much smaller indoor and outdoor seating areas toward the back of the vessel. Vehicles are in the open air, so this ship tends to be a more comfortable option if you’d like to do what many Samoans do and stay in your vehicle throughout the sailing.
For a more comfortable crossing, SSC offers a VIP Lounge (Business Class) aboard the MV Lady Samoa III. The lounge boasts air-conditioning, food in the form of sandwiches, noodles and snacks, hot and cold beverages, and a bathroom and TV. VIP passengers also get priority boarding.
Where to Take the Ferry to Savai’i: Where Do the Ferries Leave From?
The ferry between Upolu and Savai’i travels across a stretch of water called the Apolima Strait, between Mulifanua on Upolu and Salelologa on Savai’i.
Ferry Terminal on Upolu
Ferries to Savai’i arrive and depart from Mulifanua Wharf on the island of Upolu. Mulifanua Wharf is located on the northwest coast of Upolu, less than five minutes drive from Faleolo International Airport and approximately 50 minutes from Central Apia.
Mulifanua Wharf has facilities, such as food outlets, bathrooms, long-term parking and an ATM machine. Buses and taxis wait outside of the terminal to transport passengers around the island, but usually, straight to Apia.
Ferry Terminal on Savai’i
Ferries to Upolu arrive and depart from Salelologa Wharf on the island of Savai’i. Salelologa is Savai’i’s main commercial centre and is located on the southeast coast of the island.
For travel times and distances to each of the wharves on the islands, take a look at Samoa Travel Times & Distances: How Long Does it Take to Travel Around Samoa?
Savai’i Ferry Timetables
Ferries between Upolu and Savai’i operate seven days a week, 365 days a year unless announced otherwise by SSC (perhaps due to unsafe weather, for example). Any cancelled sailings are usually posted with at least one to three hours’ notice on the Samoa Shipping Corporation Facebook Page.
Ferry timetables for Savai’i are available on the Samoa Shipping Corporation website and are usually updated every month. We highly recommend that you go to the SSC website for schedules when planning your trip. However, an approximate schedule for the Savai’i ferry is similar as follows:
Ferry Timetable Departing Mulifanua (Upolu)
- Weekdays – 6 am, 10 am and 2 pm
- Saturday – 6 am and 2 pm
- Sunday – 1 pm.
Ferry Timetable Departing from Salelologa (Savai’i)
- Weekdays – 8 am, 12 pm and 4 pm
- Saturday – 8 am and 4 pm
- Sunday – 3 pm.
How Long Does the Ferry to Savai’i Take?
The ferry between Upolu and Savai’i takes between 60 to 90 minutes each way.
How Much Does it Cost to Take the Ferry to Savai’i
Travelling on the ferry is relatively inexpensive. Vehicles can be pre-booked before departure (this is recommended, otherwise, you’ll be on hold until a space on the ferry becomes available – which may be the next sailing). The driver of the vehicle is included in the price of the vehicle ticket.
Passengers cannot book in advance and must buy a ticket from the wharf ticket office upon arrival. Note that the ticket office closes 30 minutes before the scheduled departure.
- Adult passenger: ST$10
- Child (2-12 years) passenger: ST$5
- Infant: Free
- Cat A vehicle (10-12 ft): ST$80
- Cat B vehicle (12-15 ft): ST$95
- Cat C vehicle (15-18 ft): ST$100
For a more detailed price rundown on vehicles, including taking bicycles and scooters, as well as fares for the VIP Lounge, head over to How Much Do Ferries Cost in Samoa?
Where to Book Your Vehicle Ticket for the Savai’i Ferry?
It is highly recommended that you book your vehicle in advance, as spots on the ferry can fill quickly on the day. Reservation options include:
- Via email (email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org)
- The SSC office in Apia (Beach Road, Matautu-Tai, next to Paddles Restaurant)
- Through certain vehicle rental companies.
Note that passenger tickets cannot be booked; only vehicles. Driver fares are included in vehicle tickets.
Frequently Asked Questions About Taking the Ferry to Savai’i
If you haven’t found the answer to your question about taking the ferry to Savai’i, then perhaps this list of frequently asked questions will help!
How Long is the Ferry From Apia to Savai’i?
There is no ferry from Apia to Savai’i. Ferries on Upolu (the island where Apia is located) depart for Savai’i from the west coast of the island, at Mulifanua Wharf, approximately 35 km (22 mi) from Apia. The ferry between Mulifanua Wharf and Savai’i takes 60 to 90 minutes.
What Time Do I Need to Be at the Ferry Terminal for Savai’i?
Vehicles are required to check-in at the ferry terminal on both Upolu and Savai’i at least one hour before scheduled departure. Passengers must purchase tickets at the ferry terminals at least 30 minutes before departure.
Can You Buy a Return Ferry Ticket for the Savai’i Ferry?
Return tickets are available for the Savai’i ferry, but are the same price as buying two one-way tickets. However, you still need to check-in vehicles with a return ticket an hour before departure.
Can I Take a Rental Car on the Ferry to Savai’i?
Yes, you can take a rental car on the ferry to Savai’i and many people do. If you have a doubt, however, you can always inquire with your chosen rental company. For more on car rentals, see What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa.
Can I Take a Bicycle on the Ferry to Savai’i?
Yes, you can take a bicycle on the ferry and no prior booking is required. However, you must still check-in with your bicycle at the vehicle entrance. You will need to pay a passenger plus bike fare – see How Much Do Ferries Cost in Samoa?.
Can I Take a Wheelchair or Pram/Stroller on the Ferry to Savai’i?
SSC can provide priority boarding and a lift to accommodate wheelchairs and prams. Passengers should advise if they need this assistance when purchasing their ferry ticket.
More About Taking the Ferry to Savai’i
That’s it for our complete guide to taking the ferry to Savai’i. For more transport-related advice, take a look at the following guides:
- Savai’i Transport Guide: 9 Ways to Get to (& Around) Savai’i
- Samoa Ferry Guide: How to Use the Ferry for Interisland Travel in Samoa
- 10 Island Day Trips & Island-Hopping Tours in Samoa
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in our Samoa Transport Guide: 10 Best Ways to Get Around Samoa.