The Complete Guide to Hiring a Car in Samoa
For complete freedom to explore the main coastal and cross-island roads of Samoa, you’ll need to hire a car. Explore at your own pace and stop by glorious beaches, intriguing historical sites, magical waterfalls and much more on a road trip around the islands. But what do you need to hire a car in Samoa? Find out in this complete guide to car hire in Samoa, including where to hire, the cost, road rules and other essential tips!
What Do You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa?
There are two main requirements needed for hiring a car in Samoa relating to the driver’s age and driving license.
How Old Do You Need to Be to Hire a Car in Samoa?
Drivers must meet the minimum age requirements of the car rental company, which in Samoa is no younger than 21 years old. A very limited few rental companies have further restrictions for drivers under the age of 25, such as an unfavourable insurance deal or a young driver’s fee.
The Temporary Driver’s License for Samoa
Although not a direct requirement for hiring a car in Samoa, having a Temporary Driver’s License is a requirement for legally driving on Samoa’s roads. Therefore, many car rental companies will either sell or assist in obtaining a Temporary Driver’s License for those with a full overseas license. You cannot drive on Samoa’s roads with a provisional license, for instance.
More on the driver’s license requirements can be found in Can You Drive in Samoa With an Overseas License?
Where Can You Hire a Car in Samoa?
Out of Samoa’s 10 or so islands, there are only car rental companies on the main islands, Upolu, and Savai’i.
Car Hire on Upolu
Car hire is a big business on the island of Upolu with almost all of the island’s car rental companies operating out of the capital, Apia. When hiring a vehicle, you will usually go through the vehicle inspection process, have assistance with obtaining the Temporary Driver’s License if you’re from overseas, and be asked to either have your credit card pre-authorised for the “bond” or to pay a refundable ST$500.
Car rental companies typically have a set daily rate for rentals, but weekly deals such as paying six days when renting for seven are common. Basic insurance is sometimes included in the daily rate otherwise, it’s an additional daily fee of ST$10-$30. There are also fees for picking up vehicles at the airport, for baby seats (if available), and for additional drivers but not for dropping off vehicles at accommodations within the Apia area.
In terms of driving on Upolu, most roads that visitors are using are sealed and easy to drive on but there are some access roads to attractions and accommodations where it is better to have a high-clearance vehicle like an SUV. See typical distances travelled on Samoa’s main island in Upolu Travel Times & Distances: How Long Does it Take to Travel Upolu?
For a full comparison of all of the car rental companies on Upolu, head to the 10 Best Car Rentals in Apia & Upolu: The Top Upolu Car Rental Companies.
Car Hire on Savai’i
There are around five car hire companies on Savai’i, which are a mixed bag of old-school businesses operating out of a kiosk in Salelologa and others operating out of some of the island’s resorts and hotels. Savai’i car rental companies tend to have much smaller fleets than those on Upolu, so vehicles can be booked out quickly. Therefore, we recommend booking ahead where possible. Alternatively, almost all vehicle rental companies on Upolu allow hirers to transport vehicles on the car ferry between Upolu and Savai’i – which often works out to be the most convenient and cost-effective option.
As for roads, most roads on Savai’i are sealed but, like Upolu, some attraction and accommodation access roads are better suited to high-clearance vehicles. Check out how long it takes to drive around in Savai’i Travel Times & Distances: How Long Does it Take to Travel Savai’i?
For a full comparison of all of the car rental companies on Savai’i, see the 5 Best Car Rentals on Savai’i: The Top Savai’i Car Rental Companies.
The Vehicles You Can Hire in Samoa
A wide range of vehicle types is available to hire in Samoa. Most rental cars are secondhand Japanese imports, usually of the brand Toyota, while you’ll also find South Korean and American imports. While there are many late-model vehicles for rent, even some as new as 1-5 years old, there are still many rental cars in Samoa that are up to 20 years old. In short, don’t be surprised if you get an old vehicle.
Vehicles available to hire in Samoa include:
- Compact cars, such as a Toyota IST or something similar
- SUVs, such as a Hyundai Tucson or something similar
- Pickup trucks (utes), such as Toyota Hilux or something similar
- People movers, such as a Toyota Voxy or something similar
- Minivans, such as a Toyota Hiace or something similar
- Scooters, such as a Yamaha Mio or something similar.
We list all of the vehicle models in our car rental comparisons, starting with the 10 Best Car Rentals in Samoa: The Top Samoa Car Rental Companies.
Do You Need a 4×4 in Samoa?
Most tourists do not need a 4×4 in Samoa. However, it is recommended that you rent at least a high-clearance vehicle, as some unsealed access roads to attractions such as the Alofaaga Blowholes, Coastal Walk and Aganoa Beach are not suitable for town cars or scooters. You’ll find that the majority of cars for rent in Samoa are SUVs (sports utility vehicles) with budget and premium options available.
The Cost of Car Rentals in Samoa
Car rentals can be pretty affordable in Samoa. Each rental vehicle has a day rate, while other associated costs may include baby seat hire, insurance excess reducers, airport delivery, etc. Additional mandatory costs include the Temporary Driver’s Permit, fuel, as well as fees if you don’t return the vehicle with a full fuel tank or return the vehicle late, excessively dirty or make any other breaches of the rental agreement.
Day Rates for Car Rentals in Samoa
Note that some companies reduce their day rates when hiring for 7+ days.
- Compact car/day – ST$90-$130
- Compact SUV/day – ST$130-$150
- Mid-range SUV/day – ST$160-$220
- Pickup truck/day – ST$260-$320
- People mover/day – ST$160-$220
- Minivan/day – ST$250-$300
Additional Costs for Renting a Car in Samoa
- Petrol/litre – ST$3.30-$4.20
- Diesel/litre – ST$3.60-$4.50
- Temporary Driver’s License/month – ST$21
- Airport delivery – ST$60-$85 (some companies offer this for free under certain conditions)
- Ferry/return – ST$160-$190 (+ ST$25-$50 if booked through car rental company)
- Accommodation delivery/Apia – FREE
- Accommodation delivery/Lefaga – ST$70-$120
- Accommodation delivery/Si’umu – ST$60-$70
- Accommodation delivery/Lalomanu – ST$100-$180
- Additional driver/day – ST$10
- Insurance/day – ST$0-$30
- Baby seat/day – ST$0-$25
- Unlimited kilometres – FREE
- Roadside assistance – FREE (if available)
- Bond (refundable) – ST$300-$500
- Credit card fee – ST$5 per day/3-5% of the payment total.
Learn more about the typical price of car rentals in The Cost of Renting a Car in Samoa: Full Car Rental Cost Breakdown. For the cost of scooter rentals, on the other hand, check out Scooter Hire in Samoa: Where to Rent, Cost & More.
Hitting the Road
Your car rental only really gets started when you put your keys in the ignition and hit the road! However, Samoa’s roads might have different rules than what you are used to. Certain rules, like driving on the left side of the road and who to give way to at uncontrolled intersections, might throw you off, so make sure you’re aware of the traffic laws.
Some important road rules to remember include:
- Drive on the left side of the road
- The maximum speed limit is 56 kmh (35mph) or slower in Apia and villages – signs usually indicate the speed limit in a given area
- At roundabouts, give way to vehicles approaching from the right
- All vehicles are allowed to make a free left free turn at all intersections when clear, except where controlled by traffic lights with left turning lights
- When turning right, give way to an oncoming vehicle turning left
- You may pass or overtake on the right half of the road when overtaking a vehicle travelling in the same direction as you, there is no immediate traffic coming from the opposite direction, and only on broken line markings on the road (not an official road rule, but a couple of quick sounds to the horn before passing or overtaking is customary)
- At an uncontrolled T-intersection, all traffic from a terminating road (bottom of the T) should give way to all traffic on a continuing road (top of the T); remember “Top of the T goes before me!”
- It is illegal to leave any part of a vehicle on or over any footpath
- If you are involved in an accident, whether directly or indirectly from the use of your motor vehicle, you must stop your vehicle unless it is unsafe for you to do so. In which case you must drive directly to the nearest Police Station and report the accident.
To learn more about driving on the islands, see How to Drive in Samoa + 10 Road Rules You Need to Know. Plus, check out our safety tips in the 10 Safety Tips for Driving in Samoa.
More About What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa
That’s it for our guide to hiring a car in Samoa. For more car rental tips, check out the following guide:
- Which is Better, Renting a Car or Using a Taxi in Samoa?
- 10 Ways to Save Money on Car Rental in Samoa
- Scooter Hire in Samoa: Where to Rent, Cost & More
Finally, compare renting a vehicle with more ways to get around Samoa using the Samoa Transport Guide: 14 Best Ways to Get Around Samoa.