Scenic, Historical and Cultural Sights on Savai’i
Exploring is all part of the joys of travelling and it’s no different on the island of Savai’i. From breathtaking natural attractions like waterfalls and caves to historical sites left by an ancient Polynesian civilisation, there is certainly a mix of noteworthy sights on Savai’i. Add some spots to your itinerary with this list of the best places for sightseeing on Savai’i.
For more Savai’i advice, head over to the 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i and find a place to stay in Where to Stay on Savai’i: The Best Savai’i Accommodations.
1. Alofaaga Blowholes
An icon of Savai’i and Samoa, it’s no surprise that the Alofaaga Blowholes tops this list of the best sights on Savai’i. Watch a spectacular show of wave power between 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 1.5km (0.9 mi) of rough unsealed road. 2WDs will just manage but drive carefully.
2. Afu Aau Waterfall
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 15-20m (49-66ft) 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 650m (711-yard) drive on a flat dirt road to the car park with a toilet block and changing room. With a reasonable entry fee, this one easily makes it onto the 25 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Savai’i.
Location: Palauli village, signposted off the main road on the southeast coast.
3. Laauoleola Cave (A’opo Cave)
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 5km (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. There are a lot more caves on Savai’i, so learn more about them using the 10 Best Caves in Samoa.
Location: A’opo village, signposted off the main road on the northern coast.
4. 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 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 900m (984 yards) over an exposed lava flow to the striking lava cliffs.
Location: Saleaula village, signposted off the main road on the northeast coast.
5. Cape Mulinuu and its Historical Sites
Down a flat dirt road (suitable for 2WD) and through coconut groves on the far west coast, Cape Mulinuu is home to a number of historical sites, including 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 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 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 2.2km (1.3 mi) south of Falealupo Beach on the northwest coast.
6. Mu Pagoa Waterfall
Samoa’s only waterfall that tumbles into the Pacific Ocean, 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.
7. Salelologa Market
Peruse a wonderous array of locally crafted carvings, woven bags and fans, handprinted lavalava (sarongs), coconut jewellery and much more at the Salelologa Market. A sight easy to visit straight off the ferry, Salelologa Market also hosts fruit sellers with their mounds of pineapples, bananas, taro, coconuts, breadfruit, pumpkins and the list goes on. 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.
8. Mataolealelo Pool
Freshwater pools can be found in most villages lining the coast of Savai’i. The most famous, however, is Mataolealelo Pool. The village pool is associated with the Samoan legend of “Sina and the Eel”, which is the story of the first coconut tree. The pool is split into two sections: one for the men and the other for women and children. Either way, the feeling of fresh springwater during a day of exploring in Savai’i’s hot climate is ultra-reviving. What’s more, the site is well maintained with changing rooms and bathrooms.
Location: Matavai village, signposted off the main road on the northeast coast.
9. Safotu Catholic Church
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 which, with true dramatic Catholic flair, is 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.
10. John Williams Memorial
Standing in front of the London Missionary Society (or Congregational) church in Sapapali’i village is the stone memorial commemorating the landing of British missionary John Williams who arrived in 1830 to introduce Christianity to Savai’i. He came at a time of war when he successfully converted the victorious Malietoa Vainu’upo, who accepted the Christian message as a fulfilment of an ancient prophecy of a new religion by the goddess Nafanua. Thanks to Maleitoa’s example, many Savai’ians were encouraged to convert. It wasn’t until some 45 years later that other missionaries started arriving on Savai’i to establish missions. For more historical landmarks, also check out the 10 Best Historical Sites on Savai’i.
Location: Sapapali’i village, along the main road on the east coast.
More About Sightseeing on Savai’i
That’s it for our list of the top 10 sights on Savai’i but is by no means the end of all the sights available. Get more inspiration for things to see on Savai’i with the following guides:
- 10 Best Beaches on Savai’i
- 8 Best Cultural Activities on Savai’i
- The Best Snorkelling in Savai’i: Top 8 Places to Snorkel
Finally, add more to your itinerary using the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.