How to Plan the Best Trip to Savai’i
As you leave the bustle of the ferry terminal for the quaint coastal villages of Savai’i, you know you’re in for a different pace. Most of the traffic is the pigs, children and iconic Samoan buses while the roads are lined with quintessential Samoan architecture of posts topped with thatched or iron rooves. Many of these villages hide mesmerising sights that only require a small entry fee to make these special pieces of paradise available: a waterfall plunging into a turquoise swimming hole, the remains of a long-forgotten church fused with lava, expansive caves home to chittering swiftlets… It’s the South Pacific not as you know it. So, come join the traditions and see the breathtaking natural wonders with the advice of our complete travel guide to Savai’i.
Frequently Asked Questions About Savai’i
We’re here to plan the best trip ever, so we won’t waste any time in this Savai’i travel guide giving you the questions that most travellers have about visiting.
Is Savai’i Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! If you have made the effort to travel to Upolu, then we definitely recommend planning a few extra days in your itinerary to visit Savai’i too. The caves, blowholes, lava fields and emphasis on village life set the island apart from Samoa’s main island.
What is Savai’i Known For?
Savai’i is historically known as the “Cradle of Polynesia“, as many Polynesian legends trace back to the homeland of “Hawiki” thought to be Savai’i. Today, the island is known for its traditional way of life and natural attractions including blowholes, caves and lava fields.
How Big is Savai’i?
Savai’i has an area of 1,694km² (654 mi²), which is larger than the neighbouring island of Upolu. Savai’i is approximately 80km (50 mi) long, while Upolu is around 74km (46 mi) long.
Is Savai’i in American Samoa?
Savai’i is an island in Samoa (also known as Western Samoa or Independent Samoa); not American Samoa. Learn about the difference between the two countries in What’s the Difference Between Samoa and American Samoa?
What Does Salafai Mean?
Salafai is the formal or classical name in Samoan for the island of Savai’i. Learn more about the Samoan language in What is the Samoa Language?
What to Do on Savai’i
Although Savai’i provides the ideal setting for relaxation, the island truly shines through its natural and historical sites. Most compelling are its dramatic volcanic formations, from lava flows through historical villages to caves working their way under the surface. Of course, snorkelling off its sandy shores is a major highlight and all the more enticing to cool off from the hot climate.
The Top Experiences on Savai’i
What are the must-dos? Here are some of the Savai’i highlights:
- Watch the power of the waves at the Alofaaga Blowholes
- Cool off at the Afu Aau Waterfall
- Enjoy a nature walk and venture through a giant lava tube at Laauoleola Cave
- Experience authentic Samoan culture at the Siapo Demonstration
- Snorkel among coral, fish and turtles
- Watch the sunset and discover historical sites at Cape Mulinuu
- Walk among lava ruins at the Saleaula Lava Field
- Catch Pacific whoppers on a fishing charter…
Rainy Day Activities
Being a tropical island, it’s no secret that Savai’i gets its fair share of wet weather. Although we’d advise “just to get on with it”, as the rain often passes quickly and the hot climate with dry you off in no time, some indoor alternatives include:
- Indulging in a tropical massage
- Watching a cultural demonstration, such as weaving, koko Samoa-making or siapo-making
- Shopping at the Salelologa Market…
… And much more that we mention in the 10 Things to Do on Savai’i on a Rainy Day.
Things to Do at Night
Yes, Savai’i does have a bit of nightlife should you want to do karaoke and dance into the early hours. Otherwise, embracing the sunset or stargazing from your beach fale are all magical ways to spend an evening:
- Stargaze among some of the world’s clearest skies
- Join a karaoke or disco night at Savai’i’s bars
- Be captivated by fire dancing and cultural performances at a fiafia night…
… And find more after-dark entertainment in The Guide to Savai’i Nightlife + 5 Things to Do on Savai’i at Night.
Where to Stay on Savai’i
Aside from our top recommendations listed beside this complete travel guide to Savai’i (or below, if you’re reading this on mobile), we’ve compiled the best accommodations and resorts based on price, suitability for couples or families, as well as more upmarket offerings. What’s more, each article is written by real travel writers; not some dodgy algorithm!
- 10 Best Resorts on Savai’i
- 10 Best Beach Fale Accommodations on Savai’i
- 5 Best Hotels on Savai’i
- 10 Best Budget Accommodations on Savai’i
- 5 Best Luxury Accommodations on Savai’i
- 10 Most Romantic Honeymoon Accommodations on Savai’i
- 10 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations on Savai’i
And for a comprehensive list, see Where to Stay on Savai’i: The Best Savai’i Accommodations.
Where to Eat on Savai’i
Although Savai’i is Samoa’s biggest island, anyone who has already visited the cosmopolitan hub of Apia would assume there are many eateries to seek out. Well… Savai’i prefers a more traditional way of life, where locals would rather cook for each other or buy a $10 barbecue from their neighbour than sip coffee at a local cafe.
The whole dining situation is laid out in The Food Guide to Savai’i: Places to Eat & Food Tours, which is also a must-read if you consider yourself a foodie.
Dining at Beach Fales
For travellers staying in Savai’i’s beach fales, a generous breakfast and dinner are all part of your host’s hospitality where food is enjoyed family-style in a dining fale.
The Best Cafes and Restaurants on Savai’i
While restaurants and cafes are few and far in between on Savai’i, that’s not to say that they don’t exist. Some of our favourites include:
- Adria’s Cafe (Lalomalava)
- Harbourside Cafe & Pizza Bar (Salelologa)
- Taefu T. Matafeo Store Asaga (Asaga)
- Amoa Restaurant (Amoa Resort, Faga)
- Vailili Restaurant and Leilina’s Pizzeria (Le Lagoto Resort, Fagamalo)
See complete listings of our top dining recommendations in The Best Places to Eat on Savai’i: 10 Best Restaurants on Savai’i.
Things to Do on Savai’i for Foodies
- Join the koko plantation tour with Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge
- Tour Florence’s Farm
- Browse local produce and try local snacks at the Salelologa Market
- Indulge in an umu feast at Aganoa Lodge or Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge
- See an abundance of local fruit and vegetables on a Village Walk…
… For elaboration on each activity, check out the 11 Best Foodie Experiences on Savai’i.
Self-Catering on Savai’i
As for self-catering, convenience stores might be in abundance around the island but almost no accommodations have cooking facilities (but if you’re determined, we have a Savai’i resort mentioned in the 10 Best Self-Catering Accommodations in Samoa).
Budget Holidays on Savai’i
Many would argue that the best way to experience Savai’i is on a budget. With most attractions having very reasonable entry fees, not to mention the beach fale experience provides excellent value for money considering food is often included, you’re sorted on Savai’i if visiting on a backpacking or budget trip. The Complete Travel Guide to Savai’i on a Budget has plenty of tips to keep you on track, while The Top Cheap Eats on Savai’i will make sure the food budget is reasonable too.
Things to Do on Savai’i on a Budget
- Cool off at the Afu Aau Waterfall
- Relax and snorkel at Falealupo Beach
- Wander among the Falealupo Church Ruins
- Check out the unique Mu Pagoa Waterfall
- See fascinating cave birds at Pe’ape’a Cave.
Find out more about each activity in the 25 Free & Cheap Things to Do on Savai’i.
Cheap Accommodation on Savai’i
Any of the beach fales on Savai’i comfortably fit into the budget category, while a lodge and a hotel fill up the remaining spots. Check them out in the 10 Best Budget Accommodations on Savai’i.
Luxury Holidays on Savai’i
Although Savai’i is much more down to earth than some of its flashy counterparts in the South Pacific, travellers looking to elevate their experience by staying in more upmarket resorts, or even travelling in the VIP Lounge of the ferry over, certainly have the option. If you want to sprinkle in some special activities like private beach dining, fishing charters or guided island tours, there’s room for that too. Find out more about planning an indulgent getaway with The Luxury Guide to Savai’i.
Luxury Activities on Savai’i
- Dive among the turtles and nudibranchs on the John Williams V wreck dive with Dive Savai’i
- Explore Savai’i with ease on a private island tour with Savai’i Tours or Amoa Resort
- Treat yourself to a private fishing charter at the Amoa Resort or Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge
- Get unique cultural insight on a private or small-group experience at the Siapo Demonstration, Amoa Resort or Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge
- Indulge in a beachfront massage at Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge.
Dive deeper into these activities in the 5 Best Luxury Experiences on Savai’i.
Luxury Accommodation on Savai’i
Savai’i’s most upmarket resorts are 3 stars and only just encroaching into the 4-star category. Nevertheless, they can provide a beautiful experience, even if, for example, your air-conditioning isn’t working or the full dinner menu isn’t available. Discover the island’s most high-end options in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodations on Savai’i.
Weddings, Honeymoons and Romantic Getaways to Savai’i
Begging for exploration to scout out amazing natural attractions, Savai’i is the ideal place for couples to adventure together and reconnect along the way. Even if you’re celebrating a special occasion, Savai’i wedding, honeymoon and anniversary services will make your time extra special in paradise. There’s a lot to go through, so check out The Wedding, Honeymoon & Romantic Getaway Guide to Savai’i to ensure your trip is ignited with romance.
Romantic Activities on Savai’i
- Treat your loved one to a private dining experience at Le Lagoto Resort or Jet Over Hotel
- Take a tiki tour around the island together
- Enjoy a “beach glamping” experience in a beach fale
- Buddy up on a scuba diving trip
- Test your teamwork in a double kayak.
Get plenty more ideas from the 10 Most Romantic Things to Do on Savai’i.
Romantic Accommodation on Savai’i
From upmarket resorts with infinity pools to humble beach fales in paradisical locations, whatever you consider “romantic” you’re bound to find something to suit on Savai’i. Our top recommendations can be found in the 10 Most Romantic Honeymoon Accommodations on Savai’i.
Weddings on Savai’i
Your wedding is made as easy as an island breeze thanks to several resorts offering enticing wedding packages for couples looking to tie the knot in paradise. Check out the hottest resort and wedding hall venues in the 5 Best Wedding Venues on Savai’i. Plus, learn about the rest of your wedding formalities in How to Plan a Wedding in Samoa.
Family Holidays on Savai’i
Forget babysitting; forget kids’ clubs. Savai’i offers a family holiday destination where tribes often leave better connected. Savai’i offers so many waterfalls, caves, beaches and lava fields that leave all ages in awe. If you seek a bit of relaxation, however, there’s that too with a few resorts boasting the likes of swimming pools and restaurants to take the pressure off mum and dad. It’s an adventure the whole family will never forget, so get planning with The Complete Travel Guide to Savai’i for Families.
Family Activities on Savai’i
- Watch the awesome Alofaaga Blowholes
- Snorkel among coral, fish and turtles
- Explore the Saleaula Lava Fields
- Head out on a family kayaking excursion
- 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.
Family Accommodation on Savai’i
That effortless resort holiday awaits on Savai’i or you could even opt for a family set-up in a large beach fale. There are plenty of options, so get browsing the 10 Best Family Resorts & Accommodations on Savai’i.
Adults-Only Holidays on Savai’i
This is the part in our complete travel guide where we would usually lay out your “adults-only” options for resorts and holiday homes. With no adults-only resorts on Savai’i, however, you’ll have to set your sights back on Upolu if you’re looking for that child-free accommodation experience. That’s not to say that Savai’i is swarming with kids; rather, Savai’i isn’t particularly swarming with tourists as it’s much much less visited than its sister island.
Activities on Savai’i for Adults
There are, however, plenty of tours and activities where you’re highly unlikely to share them with overenthusiastic children. These include:
- Private fishing charters with Amoa Resort (18+ only)
- Scuba diving with Dive Savai’i
- Heading to the clubs and karaoke bars
- Indulging in a spa treatment at Aganoa Lodge or Va-i-Moana Seaside Lodge
- Hiking up Mt Silisili.
Learn more about all of these activities and much more in the 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i.
More About Savai’i
That’s it for the complete travel guide to Savai’i but by no means the end of our Savai’i advice! Check out the following guides for more Savai’i goodness:
- 10 Best Beaches on Savai’i
- 10 Best Day Tours of Savai’i
- 10 Best Tours on Savai’i
- 10 Best Historical Sites on Savai’i
- Sightseeing in Savai’i: Top 10 Sights on Savai’i
- The Best Snorkelling in Savai’i: Top 8 Places to Snorkel