How to Plan a Family Trip to Savai’i
It’s true; only the more adventurous families journey on the ferry to Samoa’s big island, Savai’i. But those that do come away with the best memories of their Samoa getaway. Waterfalls, caves, culture: it’s all here on the island that swaps the flashiness of resorts found in the rest of the South Pacific for genuine hospitality and sharing of cultures. There are no kids’ clubs or babysitting here. This is a place where adventuring and relaxing together are part of what makes Savai’i one of the most underrated family holidays. Now plan yours with this complete travel guide to Savai’i for families.
10 Family Tours and Activities on Savai’i
What does a family getaway to Savai’i look like? Here’s a quick overview of just 10 things to do on Savai’i with kids:
- Have a splash at the Afu Aau Waterfall
- Watch the awesome Alofaaga Blowholes
- Snorkel among coral, fish and turtles
- Explore the Saleaula Lava Fields
- Get the imagination running at Laauoleola Cave
- Spend the day at the beach
- Head out on a family kayaking excursion
- Take part in a weaving demonstration at Amoa Resort or at the Siapo Demonstration
- Let the kids loose at a village or resort pool
- See the bizarre Moso’s Footprint.
We go into detail on all of those points in the 10 Things To Do on Savai’i with Kids. Otherwise, keep on reading for more inspiration…
How to Get to Savai’i
Savai’i lies a mere 17 km (10.6 mi) west of Samoa’s main island, Upolu, and the country’s international airport. There are no flights to Savai’i so your introduction to the island is as authentic as it gets by taking the ferry across the Apolima Strait. Luckily, Malifanua Wharf is a 5-minute drive from Faleolo International Airport, making it an easy transition from your flight (providing flight times are favourable; if not, the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort provides a lavish stay nearby or choose the more budget-friendly Transit Motel).
The ferry crossing, which passes the glorious islands of Manono and Apolima and is often good for spotting seabirds and schools of fish to keep kids entertained, takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes. For more information, check out our Samoa Ferry Guide.
How to Get Around Savai’i
Savai’i has a well-maintained sealed road of roughly 176km (109 mi) around the perimeter of the island. There are limited car rentals available on the island or you can bring your rental vehicle on the ferry from Upolu. Alternatively, taxis are readily available, the buses are a hoot, or some accommodations can arrange transfers from the ferry terminal. Find out more about your transport options in our Savai’i Transport Guide.
Family Activities on Savai’i
Savai’i is definitely a destination for families who want to relax and adventure together. Scouting out the amazing natural swimming holes, caves and waterfalls is a must for active tribes. Otherwise, a day by the pool or on the beach is sufficient enough for most.
Afu Aau Waterfall
Who doesn’t love a good 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 Afu Aau Waterfall where there are plenty of shallow and deeper sections and rocks to climb for an awesome natural playground for kids. 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.
For more waterfalls to find, check out the 10 Best Waterfalls in Samoa.
An icon of Savai’i and Samoa, the Alofaaga Blowholes put on a spectacular show of wave power between the 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, while it’s worth asking for directions to the culturally significant Pa Sopo’ia Cave also at the site.
See more of Savai’i’s top attractions in the 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i.
Saleaula Lava Fields
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. Walks are mostly flat and suitable for most mobile and energetic kids.
Savai’i is home to quite a few exciting caves, with the best one for kids being Laauoleola Cave. The enchanting 15-minute forest trail down a well-maintained track is just the beginning… As you begin to approach the cave entrance, 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. Otherwise, just the first portion of the cave is exciting enough for little ones. The walk is fully (and casually) guided. The guide has a torch but you might want to also want to bring your own.
Savai’i’s Best Beaches
Beaches are always a reliable go-to for a family day of fun. Savai’i has a wonderous selection of white-sand beaches scattered around the island’s perimeter, with highlights being Falealupo, Manase, Faiaai, Lano (safest for young kids) and Satuiatua. Some convenience stores sell kids’ beach toys like buckets and spades and inflatables that will provide hours of fun. Otherwise, swimming, snorkelling and crab hunting are some other simple ways for the whole family to enjoy their time. Note that beaches have entry fees on Savai’i, usually the rate to hire a beach fale for the day.
Check out the 10 Best Beaches on Savai’i for recommendations and locations.
More Things to Do on Savai’i
Of course, there are plenty more family-friendly activities, which we continue listing in the 10 Things To Do on Savai’i with Kids. Savai’i, however, has a lot more to offer between forest hikes, scuba diving, cultural experiences and much more. If you have teens or simply different interests, then take a look at the 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i for a greater pool of experiences.
Family-Friendly Restaurants on Savai’i
Although self-catering is an option at the Savaii Lagoon Resort, eating out at one of the very limited cafes or resort restaurants is just about your only option for dining on Savai’i. Resorts, such as Amoa Resort, Stevenson at Manase, Savaii Lagoon Resort and Le Lagoto Resort have crowd-pleasing menus with something to suit all ages but these come at the expected resort meal prices. Otherwise, there are a couple of cafes in or close to Salelologa which are worth a trip out.
Harbourside Cafe & Pizza Bar
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Harbourside Cafe & Pizza Bar is a reliable and crowd-pleasing dining option in Salelologa. Needless to say, the pizzas are what drive the locals here, but you might also want to try it out for its fresh sashimi, mega “Savaii Burger”, seafood platter or fish and chips. Find this attractive establishment within walking distance of Salelologa Wharf heading north (opposite the Savai’i Tourist Information Centre).
A quaint Western-style cafe in the village of Lalomalava (east coast), Adria’s Cafe delights with coffee, cake and meat-lover meals to see you through your morning or afternoon. Enjoy eggs or pancakes for breakfast or opt for a hearty beef and eggplant lasagne or teriyaki bowl for lunch. Kids will likely love the chicken and chips, fish and chips or burgers.
In the airy dining fale of the Amoa Resort, enjoy an internationally inspired menu with pleasingly local ingredients at the Amoa Restaurant. It’s your chance to try a refreshing Samoan oka, taro nachos garnished with seagrapes or stick with the classics such as local pan-fried fish or New Zealand striploin beefsteak. Kids will be happy with the burger and pizza menu. Top it all off with one of the many cocktail options (happy hour is 5-7pm daily) or a refreshing vai tipolo.
Vailili Restaurant and Leilina’s Pizzeria
Locals love it for the “best thin-crust pizzas on Savai’i”, while those feeling more adventurous will find an eclectic menu of meats and seafood. Join in at the Vailili Restaurant of the Le Lagoto Resort for Thursday fiafia nights and the Sunday Polynesia barbecue with a string bad (both events depend on resort occupancy so be sure to book ahead).
More Dining Options on Savai’i
That’s not all of Savai’i’s dining options, so check out the full list in The Best Places to Eat on Savai’i: 10 Best Restaurants on Savai’i for more hotel restaurants, fast food restaurants and more.
More About Savai’i for Families
That’s it for our complete travel guide to Savai’i for families, but is by no means the end of our Savai’i advice! Check out the following guides for anything we might have missed:
- 20 Best Things to Do in Samoa with Kids
- Fun Facts About Samoa for Kids
- The Complete Travel Guide to Upolu for Families
Finally, if there’s any part of your family vacation that you haven’t planned, you’re likely to find the right advice in The Complete Travel Guide to Samoa for Families, as well as the 25 Tips for Your Family Samoa Vacation with Kids.