The Travel Guide to Apolima: Things to Do, How to Get There & More ๐Ÿ๏ธ
The Travel Guide to Apolima: Things to Do, How to Get There & More ๐Ÿ๏ธ

The Travel Guide to Apolima: Things to Do, How to Get There & More ๐Ÿ๏ธ


How to Plan a Trip to Apolima

Sighted by many on the ferry crossing between Samoa‘s two main islands but visited by very few, Apolima is perhaps Samoa’s most intriguing island. Behind the volcanic crater cliffs lies a village of just 100 people where life is self-sufficient and has mostly gone unchanged for centuries. Getting here is a bit of a technical mission, not only to organise but for boats to land on the very narrow beach between the otherwise impenetrable volcanic cliff fortress. But once you arrive, you’ll be made to feel like royalty with unmatched generosity from the locals.

So, how do you plan a trip to Apolima? Here’s the complete travel guide to Apolima, including how to get there, things to do, where to stay and more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Apolima

Weโ€™re here to tell you everything you need to know about Apolima in Samoa, so we wonโ€™t waste any time in this Apolima travel guide giving you the answers to the questions that most travellers have about visiting.

Where is Apolima Located?

Apolima is one of the islands located in the Apolima Strait in Samoa, approximately 5.6 km (3.5 mi) from Samoa’s main island, Upolu. Learn more about the location of Samoa in our guide, Where is Samoa Located?

Can You Visit Apolima Island?

Yes, you can visit Apolima Island, but arranging a visit can be difficult with no conventional tours to the island. Getting to Apolima is usually a case of asking around or hoping to get lucky at the boat ramp in Upolu’s Apolima-uta village. See “How to Get to Apolima” below for more on the subject.

What is Apolima Known For?

Apolima is known for being the fourth-largest and least populated inhabited island in Samoa. The island has a large volcanic crater where the island’s only village is located within. Learn more about Samoa’s other islands in What are the 9 Islands of Samoa?

What is the Population of Apolima?

The population of Apolima is approximately 100 people across 20 different families which, along with Manono, represents around 0.5% of the population of Samoa. For more population statistics, check out Who are the People of Samoa? Ethnicity, Population & More.

What Does Apolima Mean in Samoan?

The name “Apolima” is said to have derived from “Apo i le Lima” meaning “Poised in the Hand”, referring to a Samoan legend where a spear was used by a prince to kill his brother. The wound the spear caused is the small entrance to Apolima Island.

How Big is Apolima?

Apolima has an area of approximately 5 kmยฒ (1.9 mi).

The Travel Guide to Apolima: Things to Do, How to Get There & More ๐Ÿ๏ธ©

How to Get to Apolima

Apolima only receives approximately 30 tourists a year and it’s easy to see why considering the not-so-straightforward logistics to get there.

Transport to Apolima From Upolu

From Upolu, you can arrange a contact to get to the island through the Samoa Tourism Authority; best enquired through their Visitor Information Centre in Apia or by phone rather than via email.

Alternatively, when boats do depart for Apolima, it’s from a village called Apolima-uta on the northwest coast of Upolu. Simply asking the attendants at the boat landing for a boat transfer is a good place to start if you want to arrange a trip to the island.

Transport to Apolima From Manono

From Manono, the island neighbouring Apolima which you can learn more about in The Travel Guide to Manono, boats to Apolima may be able to be arranged with families there, particularly the hosts of Sunset View Fales. They also may be able to arrange for you to stay with the chief of the village there (see “Where to Stay on Apolima” below).

How Long Does it Take to Get to Apolima?

From the mainland, Upolu, it takes approximately 35 minutes to get to Apolima via a small boat. Part of the journey is across a lagoon, while the remaining is across open water. Needless to say, seasickness remedies are advised.

The Travel Guide to Apolima: Things to Do, How to Get There & More ๐Ÿ๏ธ©

Things to Do on Apolima

Visiting Apolima is experiencing a slice of life in a small community on an isolated island. Needless to say, there are no organised tours. Anything that you do on Apolima will be arranged by your hosts or whoever youโ€™re savvy enough to get talking to. Just mingle with the community and see what adventure you get up to.

5 Things to Do on Apolima

The typical activities visitors get up to on Apolima include the following:

  1. Meet the locals – Apolima doesn’t often get visitors so expect a lot of attention, especially from the local kids
  2. Hike to the Apolima Lighthouse – Locals can show you the trail that leads to 315 concrete steps to a lighthouse and a spectacular viewpoint. It takes approximately 15-20 minutes to go up; 10 minutes to come down.
  3. Swim – At the entrance of the crater and village is a small beach where you can go for a swim
  4. Eat traditional Samoan food – Apolima doesn’t have many modern appliances, like electric or gas ovens, but rather uses kitchen huts where food is cooked over an open fire or umu. Host families will make sure you’re well-fed while you’re on the island.
  5. Tour a traditional village – Simply walking around the village of Apolima and witnessing the open housing structures among forests alive with birds in coconut and fruit trees is an interesting way to spend your time here.

See more typical Samoan experiences in the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.

The Travel Guide to Apolima: Things to Do, How to Get There & More ๐Ÿ๏ธ©

Where to Stay on Apolima

Although Apolima doesn’t have any formal tourist accommodation, there is a fale that is set aside for visitors to the island.

The guest fale accommodation is the large concrete and tin-roofed vibrantly painted fale that greets you as you get off the boat on Apolima. The fale belongs to the family of the island’s chief.

A woven mat topped with a foam mattress with bedsheets is laid out on the floor per visitor at one side of the fale, while a dining table where breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served is on the other side. The fale also has a closed bathroom with a shower and toilet.

The Travel Guide to Apolima: Things to Do, How to Get There & More ๐Ÿ๏ธ©

Facilities on Apolima

Apolima doesn’t have many trappings of modern-day life; so no cars, no roads, no hospital and not even a shop. Villagers here live a very self-sufficient lifestyle which has gone mostly unchanged for hundreds of years. That is, of course, with the exception of some newer materials to construct fales, such as tin roofs and concrete, as well as power tools to make the job less painful.

What Apolima does have, however, is not only access to electricity but electricity that is fully generated by solar power since 2006! When staying at the guest fale detailed above, you will be able to charge your appliances. Learn more about Samoa’s electricity in Samoa Electrical Outlets & Power Plugs.

More About Apolima and Samoa

Thatโ€™s it for our complete travel guide to Apolima. For more of the less-explored islands to visit, check out the following guides:

Finally, for even more tips, check out The Best Samoa Travel Guide and the 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Samoa Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in the South Pacific over 10 years ago with nothing but a backpack and a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to explore a paradise such as Samoa. She knows the islands inside out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience Upolu and Savai’i’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also the editor of several other South Pacific travel guides.

Was this article useful?