The Complete Guide to Taking the Bus in Samoa
Icons of Samoa, the local buses are kitted out like something out of MTV’s Pimp My Ride with vibrant paint jobs, plasma-cut designs, hood ornaments and speakers booming reggae remixes. Needless to say, taking the bus in Samoa is something of an experience and ultra-cheap too should you need to make your way to a neighbouring village or across the island. There are a few “quirks” of riding the bus, however, which means that they’re perhaps not the most efficient transport method for busy tourists but if you embrace “island time” you’re sure to have a blast.
In this guide, we go over everything you need to know about taking the bus in Samoa, including bus routes, fares, timetables (?!) and more! Plus, for more ways to get around the island, don’t forget to check out our Samoa Transport Guide.
5 Tips for Taking the Bus in Samoa
- Use it for the experience and the price; not for a timely and efficient transport service
- Pay when leaving the bus and with as close to the correct change as possible
- Buses depart every 30 minutes to two hours (on Upolu) or up to three hours (on Savai’i) with no set schedule, so be prepared to go with the flow
- Avoid the bus stations in Apia around 2-3 pm when school is out as the kids can get pretty “riotous”
- Want to sit on a Samoan’s lap? Take the bus at the beginning or the end of the working day or on a Saturday when drivers push the limits of how many people they can fit on one bus!
Where to Catch the Bus in Samoa
The main bus stations for Upolu can both be found in Apia: one by the Fugalei Market off Fugalei Street and one behind the Savalalo Flea Market off Mulinuu Road. Meanwhile on Savai’i, the main bus station can be found at the Salelologa Market (in the commercial centre; turn left from the wharf, then right at Lusia’s Lagoon Chalets). Buses also meet incoming ferries at Salelologa Wharf, making this another location that’s easy to catch a bus from.
Although there may be an odd shelter for waiting bus passengers, there are no official bus stops or stations outside of Samoa’s main transport hubs; passengers simply catch a bus by waving it down from one of the main roads. That’s why it’s usually easier for first-time bus passengers (i.e. tourists) to catch a bus from Apia or Salelologa, as it’s more predictable to determine where the bus is going to go.
Samoa Bus Routes
In general, buses in Samoa will display the name of the final village destination at the top of the windscreen. Buses on Savai’i will also display the district they serve. With not too many roads in Samoa, visitors can usually work out if a bus passes their desired attraction by looking at a map. If you’re unsure, you can always ask the bus driver!
How the Buses on Upolu Work
Buses on Upolu are named after the village they serve but will drop off passengers at any village on the route between Apia and their destination village. Although not a comprehensive list, the list of Upolu buses below are the buses to the destinations that most international visitors are interested in. Note that every bus mentioned below departs/returns to the bus stations at the Fugalei Market and Savalalo Bus Station in Apia.
- Vaoala – Insel Fehmarn Hotel and Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
- Fagalii – Apia Park Stadium and the Royal Golf Course
- Seesee – Mormon Temple and Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
- Siumu – (takes the Cross Island Road) Bahai’i Temple, Papapaitai Falls, Sinalei Reef Resort, Ocean Club and Coconuts Beach Club
- Salani Falealili – (takes the Cross Island Road) Bahai’i Temple, Papapaitai Falls, Togitogiga Waterfall and Salani Surf Resort
- Falefa – Piula Cave Pools, Le Uaina Beach Resort and Falefa Falls
- Lotofaga – (takes Le Mafa Pass) To Sua Ocean Trench
- Saleapaga – Vavau Beach, Aga Reef Resort, Seabreeze Resort and Faofao Beach Fales
- Lalomanu – (takes Richardson Road) Mutiatele (ferry to Namu’a Island) Lalomanu Beach, Taufua Beach Fales, Litia Sini Beach Resort
- Faleolo – EFKS Museum and Faleolo International Airport
- Pasi O Vaa – Faleolo Airport, Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort and Mulifanua Wharf
- Manono-uta – Faleolo Airport, Mulifanua Wharf, Manono-uta (ferry to Manono Island)
- Falelatai – Faleolo Airport, Mulifanua Wharf, Le Vasa Resort, Manono-uta (ferry to Manono Island)
- Lefaga – Dave Parker Eco Lodge, Return to Paradise Resort, Faimafili Village Resort, Savaia Giant Clams and Falease’ela River Walk.
For more information on how the Upolu buses work, take a look at our guide, Taking the Bus in Apia & Upolu: Bus Fares, Routes & More.
How Buses on Savai’i Work
The first thing you need to understand about how buses operate on Savai’i is how the island is divided into four sectors, and each bus will serve only one or two of these sectors. These sectors are:
- Faasaleleaga (Sunrise Coast): Salelologa to Samalaeulu
- Itu-o-tane (Sunshine Coast): Samalaeulu to Asau
- Salega (Surf Coast): Salelologa to Taga
- Itu-Asau (Sunset Coast): Taga to Tufutafoe
Knowing which “coast” or sector of the island your destination is located in will be helpful in finding the right bus. Many buses have the village name of their final destination above the windscreen.
There are no buses that travel all the way around Savai’i. Buses travelling clockwise from Salelologa will only go as far as Asau before returning the same way (on the same or the next day). Buses travelling anticlockwise from Salelologa will only go as far as A’opo.
For more information on how the Savai’i buses work, take a look at our guide, Taking the Bus on Savai’i: Bus Fares, Routes & More.
Bus Fares: How to Pay for the Bus in Samoa
The local buses are by far the cheapest way to travel around Samoa. Bus drivers only accept cash (in the local Samoan Tala currency, of course) and this is paid at the end of your journey when you are exiting the bus at your destination. Try to give as close to the correct change as possible in case the driver can’t break a $50 or $100 note!
Bus fares are very cheap and you will never usually pay anything over ST$12 per person. Some buses have a price list at the front of the bus. To give a rough idea of fares, an approximate Upolu bus fare list is as follows:
- Around Apia – ST$0.50-$3
- Apia – Faleolo Airport – ST$5
- Apia – Mulifanua Wharf – ST$5.50
- Apia – Lalomanu – ST$7.70-$8
- Apia – Piula Cave Pool – ST$4-$5
- Apia – Maninoa (Sinalei Reef, Coconuts, etc.) – ST$7.20-$7.50
- Apia – Lefaga (Return to Paradise) – ST$6-$6.50.
As for travelling around Savai’i, some approximate fares include:
- Around Salelologa – ST$0.50-$1
- Salelologa – Faga (Amoa Resort) – ST$1.50-$2.50
- Salelologa – Asaga (Asaga Mangroves) – ST$3.50-$4.50
- Salelologa – Fagamalo (Le Lagoto, Savaii Lagoon) – ST$7.50-$8.50
- Salelologa – Manase (Stevensons, Tanu Beach Fales, Tailua Beach Fales) – ST$8.50-$10
- Salelologa – Asau (Va-i-Moana) – ST$9.50-$10.50.
Samoa Bus Etiquette
Like travelling anywhere new, there are customs to bear in mind when taking the bus in Samoa. A few bus etiquette tips include:
- To stop the bus from the roadside, simply wave to the bus driver to stop
- Let the driver know where you are going when you board the bus; they usually remember to stop when they get there
- If you see your stop coming up, however, pull the cord overhead to indicate the driver to stop. If there’s no cord, tap on the walls with some change
- Try to have the correct change ready when leaving the bus (i.e. don’t be “that guy” that pays for his ST$6 fare with an ST$50 note!)
- There’s a seating hierarchy on buses that typically palagi (foreigners) and older people sit near the front; locals will show you where to sit if the bus is full
- Just because the bus is full means it is full though; locals simply sit on each others’ laps; tourists are usually spared by sitting at the front or having luggage on their laps but if you want to avoid one of these busy bus journeys, aim for mid-morning or midday bus rides
- Wear respectable clothing knowing that you’re sharing the bus with locals.
For more customs to respect while visiting Savai’i, check out Samoan Etiquette: Samoa Customs & Traditions.
Other Bus Services in Samoa for Travellers
What are the other ways for visitors to take the bus in Samoa? There are shared airport transfers by bus and a limited selection of bus tours on the islands.
Samoa Airport Shuttles
Offering shared airport transfers in minibuses, there are several tours and transfer companies that provide door-to-door airport transfers. Find out more about airport bus transfers and alternatives in the 10 Best Airport Transfers in Samoa.
Bus Tours in Samoa
A small selection of tour companies in Samoa offer sightseeing minibus tours around the islands – ideal if you want to see the sights without having to drive yourself or if you’re only in Samoa for the day off the cruise ship, for example. You’ll even find an all-inclusive multi-day small-group bus tour of Samoa. Find out more about bus tours in the 5 Best Samoa Bus Tours.
More About Buses and Getting Around Samoa
That’s it for our complete guide to taking the bus in Samoa, including bus fares, timetables and more. For more ways to get around Samoa, check out the following guides:
- 5 Best Samoa Bus Tours
- 10 Best Car Rentals in Samoa: The Top Samoa Car Rental Companies
- Samoa Travel Times & Distances: How Long Does it Take to Travel Around Samoa?