The Top Family Activities on Upolu
We know how hard it is to get the family, time and finances together for an unforgettable holiday to Samoa’s main island, Upolu. Let us make the rest easy for you, such as listing all of the best things to do on Upolu with kids! That’s right, we’ve picked some of the island’s best activities that kids love; all you have to do is pick your favourites (or simply do them all). From free cultural village tours to spectacular swimming holes, we have family activities on Upolu to suit a variety of tastes and budgets.
1. Check Out Upolu’s Best Family-Friendly Swimming Hole, the Piula Cave Pool
Although Upolu is blessed with a number of freshwater springs making for the most refreshing experience you can get in the hot Samoan sun, the most famous freshwater pool is Piula Cave Pool. A hit with travellers, locals, families and freshwater fish alike, the crystal clear waters provide a cooling swimming experience with caves to explore and no tides to negotiate (although, the water is deep so keep an eye on weak swimmers). There are two cave entrances connected underwater by a short tunnel. Alternatively, you can walk a few metres around the cave to find the other entrance. For more unmissable swimming pools, check out the 10 Best Swimming Spots in Samoa.
Location: On the grounds of the Piula Theological College, Lufilufi village, signposted along the Main East Coast Road on the northeast coast of Upolu.
2. Experience a Fiafia Night
Nothing captivates the kids more than watching an epic fire show! Just a small part of a fiafia night, these evening shows meaning “happy” include fire dancing, cultural dancing, singing and likely an ‘ava ceremony (kids can skip drinking this slightly narcotic drink made from the root of a pepper plant). And in true Samoan spirit, you will be encouraged to eat more than is reasonable from the buffet, which although has traditional Samoan dishes, there are usually a few western favourites should you have fussy eaters in your tribe. See which fiafia night to book yourselves into in the 10 Best Cultural Shows (Fiafia) in Samoa.
Location: All over Upolu! See the link above for specific locations.
3. Take a Day Trip to Namu’a Island
From spotting turtles on the boat journey across the lagoon to playing in the sands on an uninhabited island, a day trip to Namu’a is full of excitement and well worth treating the family to. Boats run daily (except Sundays) from Mutiatele village, taking you to a stunning island with walks, amazing snorkelling and beach fales to make sure your family gets plenty of shade. There are toilets on the island, but no other facilities, so make sure to bring any lunch or snacks along with you. For more information, check out The Travel Guide to Aleipata Islands: Nu’utele, Namu’a, Fanuatapa & Nu’uala.
Location: Take the ferry from Mutiatele (check in at the shop opposite the wharf), Main South Coast Road on the east coast of Upolu.
4. Experience the Samoa Cultural Village
“Fa’a Samoa” means “The Samoan Way” and you’ll certainly get the full flavour of the Samoan culture at this family-friendly attraction. Happening from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm, Tuesday to Friday, Samoa Cultural Village starts with a hands-on experience of weaving your own plate for the umu. You’ll then be formally welcomed with an ‘ava ceremony before seeing how a traditional umu feast is prepared. While your lunch is cooking, you’ll move between various fale to see how ‘ava bowls are carved and even witness a traditional pain-staking Samoan tatau (tattoo) being performed (you might not want to let squeamish kids look too closely). Finally, sit down with your freshly prepared umu lunch while watching a fiafia cultural performance including fire dancing. For more cultural experiences to educate the kids, check out the 10 Best Cultural Activities on Upolu.
Location: Behind the Samoa Tourism Information Centre, Beach Road, Apia.
5. Have a Blast at the Natural Playground of the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks
Try out nature’s waterslides at the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks. After walking down an anxiously high number of steps, knowing that you have to get back up them again, you’ll come across the first and biggest slide that locals call the “men’s slide”; a near verticle 5-m (16-ft) slide. Further down is the “kids’ slide”, a much less precarious slide with a little drop at the end of extra fun. Finally, at the bottom, you have the “women’s slide”. Lots of fun, lots of laughs; what’s not to love? Avoid the busiest times, which tend to be the weekends, to get optimal slide time. Note that this attraction is best for active kids; in other words, it’s unsuitable for toddlers.
Location: Se’ese’e, Faleata District on the outskirts of Apia. The access road turns off Maugafolau Road near the University of the South Pacific campus.
6. Go Waterfall Sightseeing
Upolu treats the eyes to an ungodly number of waterfalls that make for fun stops while on your family road trip. Sopoaga Falls and Papapapaitai Falls are awesome sights from their viewpoints, while Sauniatu Falls and Togitogiga Waterfall also provide the opportunity for a swim. Plan which waterfalls to visit using the 10 Best Waterfalls in Samoa.
Location: All over Upolu! Check out the link above for specific locations.
7. Get Some Beach Time In
What kid doesn’t love the beach? You’ll have nothing short of hours of fun at Upolu’s beaches, whether it’s to hunt for crabs, build sandcastles or swim in the lagoon. Some of the safest swimming beaches for families include Maninoa Beach and Tafatafa Beach, but there’s plenty to choose from in the 10 Best Beaches on Upolu. With almost all of Upolu’s main beaches having beach fales that are mandatory to hire in order to use the beach, at least you have plenty of shade to keep sun exposure under control – see our Samoa Safety Tips for more advice.
Location: All over Upolu! See the link above for specific beach locations.
8. Discover the Famous “Ma Tree”
“Ma” meaning “shame”, the Ma Tree was named by the paramount chief of A’opo on Savai’i possibly due to the uniqueness of this tree compared to other rainforest species, such as its silver-brown patches under the leaves and its occurrence in solitary patches. Most notable about O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park‘s Ma Tree, however, are the giant buttress roots extending metres around its base. This family-friendly walk is only a 780 m (853 yards) walk from the well-established car park and information boards in the National Park. For more walks, especially if you have older kids, check out the 10 Best Walks & Hikes on Upolu.
Location: O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park, at the information boards (not the Visitor Centre) along Main South Coast Road between Sa’agafou and Saleilua villages on the south coast of Upolu.
9. Snorkel Until Their Heart’s Content
Snorkelling often becomes a daily occurrence on a family holiday to Upolu thanks to its abundance of fish, coral and even turtles accessible with a quick paddle from shore. Popular places to snorkel include Lalomanu, Saleapaga and Tafatafa Beaches, while more confident swimmers will love the adventure out to Palolo Deep. Some accommodations hire snorkelling gear for a small fee, but these aren’t always great quality or well-suited to small faces. For this reason, we highly recommend bringing your own or hiring some from one of the gear rentals on the island – find out more in The Best Snorkelling in Upolu: Top 10 Places to Snorkel.
Location: All over Upolu! See the link above for specific snorkelling locations.
10. Enjoy a Resort Day
Either stay at one of the 20 Best Family Resorts on Upolu or you can pay to visit just for the day and reap the benefits of these fun-filled resorts. One of the best resorts for families, especially for day visits, is Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa with its watersports hire, trampoline, restaurant with a kids’ menu, family-friendly swimming pool and slides into the lagoon. Otherwise, there are plenty more resorts with swimming pools, watersports hire and activities, some even with kids’ clubs, to keep the whole tribe entertained. Learn more about Upolu’s kids’ clubs in The Best Kids’ Clubs in Samoa.
Location: All over Upolu! See the links above for recommended resorts and their locations.
More Things to Do on Upolu with Kids
That’s it for our list of things to do on Upolu with kids! If you didn’t find everything you were looking for on this list, then check out these other recommendations:
- 50 Best Things to Do on Upolu
- 20 Best Things to Do in Samoa with Kids
- 10 Best Water Activities in Samoa
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 and 25 Tips for Your Family Samoa Vacation with Kids.