The Complete Guide to Taking the Bus on Savai’i
Icons of Samoa, the buses on Savai’i 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/techno remixes. Needless to say, taking the bus on Savai’i 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 on Savai’i, including bus routes, fares, timetables (?!) and more! Plus, for more ways to get around the island, don’t forget to check out our Savai’i Transport Guide.
5 Tips for Taking the Bus on Savai’i
- Use it for the experience and the price; not for a timely and efficient transport service
- The easiest places to take the bus are after ferry arrivals at Salelologa Wharf and at Salelologa Market
- Pay when leaving the bus and with as close to the correct change as possible
- Buses depart every 30 minutes to three hours with no set schedule, so be prepared to go with the flow
- 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!
Savai’i Bus Routes: Where to Catch the Bus on Savai’i
Buses chug along the roads of Savai’i throughout the day, starting around 6 am until around 4/5 pm. The main bus station for the island 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 and at least predictable to know at what time (see our Samoa Ferry Guide for ferry timetables).
Although there may be an odd shelter for waiting bus passengers, there are no official bus stops or stations outside of Salelologa; 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 Salelologa, as it’s more predictable to determine where the bus is going to go.
Savai’i Bus Names and Where They Go
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 day or the next). Buses travelling anticlockwise from Salelologa will only go as far as A’opo.
Bus Fares on Savai’i
The local buses are by far the cheapest way to travel around Savai’i. 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 usually never pay anything over ST$12 per person. On Savai’i, some buses have a price list at the front of the bus. To give a rough idea of fares, an approximate Savai’i bus fare list is as follows:
- 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.
Savai’i Bus Timetable
Erm, what timetable? That’s right, Savai’i‘s bus services don’t necessarily run on timetables. When the bus sets off is at the discretion of each individual bus driver, most of which are certainly on island time. What’s more, just because the bus has “left the station”, so to speak, doesn’t mean you’re on your way, as stopping at the fuel station or supermarket or making a loop around town in an attempt to pick up more passengers are all possibilities before your bus journey actually gets underway.
Each village destination on Savai’i has around three buses, so when one bus has left the station, there’s usually another one on its way.
In short, the buses on Savai’i are only worth considering if you know that you have a lot of time to spare; certainly not if you’re visiting Savai’i off the ferry for just a day. If travelling to cross the island and get back the same day, make sure you catch the earliest bus possible and don’t rely on being able to get a bus back to your destination after 3 pm.
Savai’i Bus Etiquette
Like travelling anywhere new, there are customs to bear in mind when taking the bus on Savai’i. 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.
More About Buses and Getting Around Savai’i
That’s it for our complete guide to taking the bus in Savai’i, including bus fares, timetables and more. For more ways to get around Samoa’s big island, check out the following guides:
- Savai’i Transport Guide: 9 Ways to Get to (& Around) Savai’i
- 5 Best Car Rentals on Savai’i: The Top Savai’i Car Rental Companies
- Samoa Travel Times & Distances: How Long Does it Take to Travel Around Samoa?
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Taking the Bus in Samoa: Bus Fares, Routes & More.