Everything You Need to Know About Surfing in Samoa
Samoa has long been a destination for seasoned surfers in the South Pacific who prefer to keep it their best-kept secret. Waves are heavy, hollow and uncrowded, yet organising a surf trip isn’t such as mission thanks to the small but well-established selection of surf camps on the southern shores of the country’s two main islands. Those who are keen to learn, on the other hand, have a place here too with at least one surf operator offering lessons in paradise.
On the flip side, surf customs with the local villages are a bit of a hurdle; there are customary beach fees to pay, as well as surf fees on top. What’s more, surfing is not allowed on Sundays. Needless to say, the surf scene is a bit complicated if you’re going out on your own. Luckily, the surf camps and independent surf guides can not only handle all of that but provide boat transfers to the best waves.
So, plan the ultimate surf-cation in the South Pacific with this ULTIMATE guide to surfing in Samoa!
5 Tips for Surfing in Samoa
Before we jump into the guide, here are just a few quick tips and things you need to know about surfing in Samoa:
- Surfing in Samoa is only suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers – you need to at least be able to comfortably pull into a barrel wave
- Beginners can find one operator that offers surf lessons in Samoa, Manoa Tours, however, Samoa’s wave conditions don’t make it the best place to learn
- It is generally frowned upon to surf on a Sunday
- Samoa is not a cheap surf destination; anywhere you go on your own you’ll not only have beach access fees to pay but there are usually extra charges for surfing (ST$10-$40 per person); while most breaks are only accessible by boat (ST$50-$80 per person)
- Bring your own gear and backups! There is little to no opportunity to hire boards and there’s only one surf shop in Apia.
As long as you keep all of the above in mind, you’re sure to have a blast surfing Samoa’s amazing waves. For more general tips for visiting Samoa, make sure you also take a look at the 30 Tips for Travelling in Samoa.
When to Surf: The Best Seasons for Surfing in Samoa
Samoa has two distinct seasons, the dry and the wet season, which each bring their own characteristics to the surf scene.
Samoa’s dry season, from May to October, brings the most consistent and largest swells from the south, making this the best time of the year to hit the country’s most popular surf spots along the south coasts. On the downside, tradewinds can often spoil some of the waves in the afternoons, making it better to surf in the mornings during this time of year. Some surf guides may be able to take you to more sheltered breaks, however, like Nu’usafe’e Island and Boulders.
The wet season is from November to April but the best time to surf during this season is between February and April. The prevailing swells at this time come from the North Pacific, which although are not as big as during the dry season, open up more surf breaks, particularly along the northern coasts. What’s more, the dwindling tradewinds make for more glassy and unspoiled waves.
Go into much more detail on Samoa’s surf seasons in The Best Time to Surf in Samoa.
Where to Surf: Surf Breaks in Samoa
While new surf breaks are often discovered (and kept secret) in Samoa, there are a few great surf spots found across Samoa’s two main islands: Upolu and Savai’i. For all of the reef breaks ranked, head to the 10 Best Places to Surf in Samoa.
Surfing in Upolu
Home to Faleolo International Airport, Upolu is the easiest island in Samoa to get to. With that, the island is well equipped with a tourism infrastructure to plan an effortless surf holiday.
You’ll find multiple surf camps and resorts working with surf guides, particularly along the south coast. Although there are some breaks you can paddle to, most are only accessible by boat, which is why it’s highly recommended to stay at a surf lodge – see the 7 Best Surf Resorts & Lodges in Samoa – or book a surf guide and boat – see the 6 Best Surf Operators & Guides in Samoa.
Surfing in Savai’i
Take the ferry over the Apolima Strait and you’ll arrive at Samoa’s largest yet less populated island, Savai’i, where traditions play a major role (so, remember to avoid seeking out surf spots on a Sunday).
While the list of surf breaks isn’t quite as brimming as Upolu, Savai’i’s surf scene is still excellent where it has been established, particularly around Aganoa Beach, which is essentially the territory of the upscale Aganoa Lodge, and the down-to-earth villages of Satuiatua and Salailua.
Surfboard Hire, Surf Shops and What to Pack
Erm, well, this is awkward. We absolutely recommend that you bring your own surfing gear to Samoa. Surfboard hire is inconsistent in where it is available and is usually not of very good quality. What’s more, there is only one surf shop in Samoa, Horizon Surf Shop in Apia, which is more of a surf aesthetics shop than a go-to for gear – although, they do have a small assortment of wax, leashes, reef shoes, rash vests and swimwear. With this in mind, we also recommend bringing your own backup gear too.
What to Pack for Surfing in Samoa
- 1 all-rounder surfboard
- 1 fish or semi-gun surfboard
- 1 reef shoes/booties
- 1 or 2 rash vests (we like sustainable Sharkskin rashies)
- 2 bottles of reef-safe sunscreen (see 10 Best & Reef-Safe Sunscreens)
- Tropical wax
- Ding repair kit
- Extra fins
- Board bag
And for the rest of your Samoa packing list, take a look at What to Pack for Samoa: FULL Samoa Packing List.
Learn to Surf in Samoa
Considering most of the breaks in Samoa have dangerous characteristics such as shallow reefs, heavy hollow waves and strong currents, it is certainly not a suitable place for beginners or the inexperienced to surf on their own.
On the other hand, surf lessons are available for first-timers, as well as those wanting to hone their skills, with Manoa Tours. Your instructor is first aid and lifeguard certified and knows the surf breaks of Samoa like the back of his hand, so you’re in good hands. You’ll either surf at a safe beach break or at a reef break where the waves are small and the tide is high enough to reduce the risk of injury.
Long soft boards are provided during the lessons, so this is the rare time for surfing in Samoa when you won’t need your own gear. However, we still highly recommend wearing a rash vest (rashie) if you have one, which is also great for snorkelling – see the 20 Essentials You Need to Pack for Samoa.
Where to Stay: Surf Camps in Samoa
From beach fales with locals keen to show you some casual surf spots to dedicated surf camps with their own boat and guides to upscale resorts that happen to work closely with surf operators, there’s a wide variety of vibes when it comes to surf stays in Samoa.
Budget Beach Fale Surf Camps
- Vaiula Beach Fales – Beach fales with its own surf guides and boats
- Sina PJ Beach Fales and Surf – Beach fales in a village stay with locals who can show you where to paddle to enjoy some casual surf
- Lupe’s Beach Fale – Units on Maninoa Beach offering surf packages.
Mid-Range Surf Camps
- Salani Surf Resort – Dedicated surf camp with ensuite units, surf guides and boat
- Maninoa Surf Fales – Hotel-style rooms or beach fales with surf guide and boat packages
- Troppo Fishing Adventures – Liveaboard surf experience.
Luxury Surf Resorts
- Aganoa Lodge – Surf lodge on Savai’i with surfing off the beach, surf boats and all-inclusive meals
- Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa – Luxury resort working with Manoa Tours to offer surf trips
- Coconuts Beach Club Resort & Spa – Luxury resort working with Manoa Tours to offer surf trips.
More About Surfing in Samoa
That’s it for our ultimate guide to surfing in Samoa! Although we’ve hit many of these links already in this Samoa surf guide, here’s a quick reminder of some tips you might be interested in:
- 10 Best Places to Surf in Samoa
- The Best Time to Surf in Samoa
- 6 Best Surf Operators & Guides in Samoa
Finally, when you’re not surfing, make sure you tick some of these off the 101 Best Things to Do in Samoa: The Ultimate List.