The Most Unusual Things to Do in Samoa
What is so special about Samoa? At first glance, the country does seem like another tropical paradise with beaches and swaying coconut palms in the South Pacific. But those who dig a little deeper, i.e. find this list of the most unique things to do in Samoa, will discover there are some more unique and unusual experiences to get stuck into. From watching the local Police force become a brass band marching through the streets of the capital every morning to sighting birds that behave like cave bats, there are some truly unique and different experiences to be had. We cover some of the quirkiest in this list!
1. Spend the Night in a Beach Fale
Certainly not unique in Samoa, as about a third of accommodations are beach fales, but unique to the islands of Samoa, beach fales are iconically and quintessentially Samoan. Elevated on the sands and traditionally constructed with woven blinds and roofs made from palm fronds, beach fales offer a true beach camping and cultural experience. What’s more, they are run by local families who provide home-cooked meals so you can also try some of the 20 Foods to Try in Samoa. Learn more about the experience in our Essential Tips for Staying in a Beach Fale in Samoa.
Location: All over Samoa! Check out locations in the 20 Best Beach Fale Accommodations in Samoa.
2. See a Bird That Thinks it’s a Bat
Samoa is home to several endemic bird species but the most unique is the pe’ape’a or the white-rumped swiftlet that lives in just about every cave in Samoa and uses echolocation to fly around in the dark. Learn more about the pe’ape’a in the 20 Animals & Birds Found in Samoa and learn more about their habitats in the 10 Best Caves in Samoa.
Location: All over Samoa! Some of the best caves for seeing swiftlets, however, as on Savai’i, which you can learn more about in the link above.
3. Walk Among Lava Ruins at the Saleaula Lava Field
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 300 m (328 yards) west following the sign and you’ll encounter the mysterious and unusual “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 of Savai’i.
4. Watch the Royal Samoan Police Marching Band Each Morning in Apia
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 unique sight not to be missed, some might say! For more Apia antics, take a look a the 25 Best Things to Do in Apia.
Location: Between the Police Station HQ and Government Building, Beach Road, Apia.
5. Scratch Your Head at Moso’s Footprint
An unusual attraction but one 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. For more fun sights on Samoa’s largest island, take a look at the 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i.
Location: Signposted approximately 6 km (3.7 mi) down Falealupo Road from Falealupo-uta village on the northwest coast of Savai’i.
6. Experience Samoa’s Natural Waterpark, Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
That’s right, you don’t need waterslides and log flumes in Samoa when it’s got its own natural waterpark right outside of the capital! 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 of the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks 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 slope with a little drop at the end for extra fun. Finally, of course, you have the “women’s slide”. For more weird and wonderful activities on the main island, take a look at the 50 Best Things to Do on Upolu.
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.
7. Visit Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, One of the Eight Baha’i Temples
Mashriqu’l-Adhkár is not only an incredible piece of architecture among immaculate grounds but it’s one of only eight Baha’i Houses of Worship in the world – that’s certainly unique enough for us to put it on this list of unique things to do in Samoa! The temple has nine symmetrical sides which domes 28 m (92 ft) high. Surrounding the majestic structure are 20 acres of manicured grass, some 60 species of flowers and all sorts of native plants and trees. The visitor centre has information panels about the history of the Baha’i Faith, the Houses of Worship around the world and more. The house is open from 6 am to 6 pm daily, while a public interfaith service with a Samoan choir and refreshments is held every Sunday at 10 am.
Location: Malololelei village along the Cross Island Road, approximately 8 km (5 mi) south of Apia.
8. Jump Between Freshwater and Saltwater in a Matter of Minutes
All over Samoa, you’ll spot crudely concreted walls on the coast. This isn’t some form of erosion prevention but they are usually where underground freshwater emerges at the sea, ideal for having a freshwater dip! So, you can have a dip in the ocean then refresh and rinse off the saltwater in a freshwater pool in a matter of minutes! These pools are known as a vai taele in Samoan, which are usually free for a dip, or you can easily find commercial freshwater pools, such as the famous Piula Cave Pools or Mataolealelo Pool, as listed in the 10 Best Swimming Spots in Samoa.
Location: All over Samoa! See the link above for recommendations and specific locations.
9. Experience Palolo Rising
A natural and cultural phenomenon that happens only once or twice a year, at the same time at the same phase of the moon, “Palolo Rising” is where reef worms essentially behead themselves to release their tails along with their reproductive organs to the water’s surface in order to mate. Pretty weird, ay? What’s more, locals flock to the reefs before dawn to collect this seafood delicacy! We know you want to know more, so check out How to Experience the Palolo Season in Samoa to scratch that itch.
Location: The reefs of Samoa on the waning October or November moon.
10. Find Samoa’s Smallest Church
Sure, there are a lot of grand churches and cathedrals that steal all of the limelight in Samoa but give some love to one of Christianity’s more humble structures. The First Samoan Full Gospel Pentecostal Church in the village of Satupaitea on Savai’i holds the title of Samoa’s smallest church! For more churches to investigate, take a look at the 10 Best Churches in Samoa to Experience as a Visitor.
Location: Main South Coast Road, Satupaitea, Savai’i.
More Unique Things to Do in Samoa
Now that you know some of the most unusual and unique things to do in Samoa, discover more different or exclusive experiences in the lists below:
- 10 Best Hidden Gems in Samoa
- The Top 20 Natural Wonders in Samoa
- 20 Most Unique Accommodations in Samoa
Finally, see how the experiences compare to, well, everything in Samoa in the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.