What Films and TV Shows Were Filmed in Samoa?
Where have you seen those beaches and glorious waterfalls before? Well, if you have watched any reality TV shows about castaways in the last 15 years or old romances from the ’50s then you might have seen Samoa on film. Samoa has appeared in, admittedly, mild quantities on TV and cinema screens over the years. Find out what and where in this list of TV shows and movies filmed in Samoa!
And if you’re looking for more famous places, albeit not TV-famous but perhaps Instagram-famous, then also check out our list of The 10 Most Famous Places in Samoa.
1. Return to Paradise (1953)
Topping our list of movies and TV shows filmed in Samoa, the 1953’s Hollywood romance drama Return to Paradise is perhaps the most iconic movie to be filmed on the islands, at least, for Samoa.
The filming for this movie, about an American drifter who comes to a remote Polynesian island controlled by a strict missionary group, famously took place on a beach in Matautu, Lefaga on the southwestern coast of Upolu and is now known as Return to Paradise Beach with its very own resort with the same name. Return to Paradise Resort & Spa still proudly screens the movie at one of their fales on occasion or you can borrow a USB stick with the movie from reception! Learn more about the beach over in the 10 Best Beaches on Upolu.
2. Survivor US
Not one but a whopping four seasons of the hit CBS show, Survivor, were filmed on the islands of Samoa. The long-running American TV show, where contestants outwit, outplay and outlast each other while stranded on a deserted beach in order to win a $1 million prize, used Samoa as a stranding site for seasons Survivor: Samoa (2009), Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains (2010), Survivor: South Pacific (2011) and Survivor: One World (2011).
The tribe beaches used for Samoa and Heroes Vs. Villains can be found on the southwest coast of Upolu around a now privately-owned beach in Lefaga. Return to Paradise Beach (yes, the same used for the 1953 movie) was used for challenges, as well as the opening of Heroes Vs. Villains.
There are many more filming locations across Samoa. However, we’ll leave you will some of the rewards that the Survivors went on that visitors can also enjoy: the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, Papase’ea Sliding Rocks, Alofaaga Blowholes (Savai’i) and Afu Aau Waterfall (Savai’i).
3. Australian Survivor
Australia’s version of the hit reality TV show, Australian Survivor also did its time in Samoa. Seasons 3 and 4 were both filmed on the island of Upolu at locations such as Aganoa Beach, then the show returned in 2022 for Season 10. For the tenth season, much of the filming took place at and around the Matareva Beach Fales (Lefaga). For more information about Aganoa Beach, check out the 10 Best Beaches in Samoa.
4. Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets
One last rendition of everyone’s favourite castaway TV show, Survivor South Africa came to Samoa to film its seventh season, Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets. The reality show, which aired in 2019, took 39 days to film on the island of Upolu.
5. Three Wise Cousins (2016)
For a movie with a big emphasis on Samoan culture and locations, Three Wise Cousins is a good go-to to get a feel for Samoa. The 2016 comedy follows a New Zealand-born Samoan whose crush rejects him as she only likes “real” Pacific Island men. With that, he turns to his two cousins in Samoa to teach him the way of his motherland.
More About Filming Locations in Samoa
Want to learn more about the TV show and movie locations we just discussed in this list? Check out our guides:
- 50 Best Things to Do on Upolu
- 50 Best Things to Do on Savai’i
- Where to Take Pictures in Samoa: 10 Best Photography Spots
Finally, plan your entire trip to Samoa using our trusty and comprehensive guide, The Best Samoa Travel Guide: Plan a Trip to Samoa the EASY Way.