Rent a Taxi or Rent a Car in Samoa?
Samoa is an island nation that is much more enriching to explore than simply lazying by the pool in the same resort all day. But those dramatic waterfalls, glorious beaches, lava fields and blowholes are not going to reach themselves. For most, renting a car to explore the islands is an obvious go-to, but what about using one of the many taxi drivers available for day hire? Which one will save you money and which one will you find the most enjoyable? We go over the pros and cons of renting a car and using a taxi, as well as tell you the best scenarios to use both, in this complete guide!
An Intro to Car Rental and Taxi Hire in Samoa
Before we get into which transport method is better, we’ll quickly introduce what each service is and how they work in Samoa.
Car rentals involve hiring a vehicle to drive yourself for an agreed-upon duration. In Samoa, a Samoa driving license is mandatory to legally drive on the roads, so overseas visitors will need to obtain a Temporary Driver’s License. Hirers are also responsible for making sure the vehicle is returned with a full tank of fuel and the vehicle is in the same state it was picked up. You can take more of a deep dive into the requirements of car rental in What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa.
Taxis in Samoa are predominantly used for driving from A to B and paying one flat fee for the trip (taxis in Samoa do not use meters). However, many taxi drivers are also available to be hired for the day, such as for sightseeing trips. Learn more about how they work in both How to Hire a Driver in Samoa and Taxis in Samoa: Taxi Fares, How to Use & More.
Comparing the Cost of Car Rental and Taxis in Samoa
The biggest consideration for most of us is the price. Which is cheaper in Samoa, car rental or taxis? Check out the list of prices below to get an idea of transport costs via rental cars and taxis.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Car for a Day in Samoa?
Depending on the type of vehicle you hire, the base cost of car rental in Samoa can be anywhere between ST$90-$300. For the sake of this comparison, we will compare the cost of our recommended vehicle type: a budget SUV vehicle (see why in How to Drive in Samoa). Car rental for just one day in a budget SUV is approximately ST$130-$150 per day.
Additional mandatory costs to take into consideration:
- Purchasing the Temporary Driver’s License – $21
- Fuel tank top-up at the end of your trip – Our experience shows that this roughly comes to ST$25-$35 if travelling approximately 125 km (78 mi), such as a loop on the east side of Upolu.
Total: Combining all the costs above, you can expect to pay ST$180-$210 for your transportation in Samoa for one day in a budget SUV. This does not include any additional services like vehicle delivery outside of Apia, insurance excess reduction, etc.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Taxi for a Day in Samoa?
Individual taxi drivers have their own rules when it comes to pricing for a full-day private driver + taxi hire. However, most will fall between ST$160 and $200 for a full day of sightseeing. There are no extra costs involved for the passengers except perhaps gratuities, which are not an expectation in Samoa but are at the discretion of the customer (see Samoa Tipping & Tax Guide for Travellers for more advice).
Which is Cheaper, Hiring a Car or a Taxi Driver?
As you can see, hiring a taxi driver for the day is very comparable to renting your own car in terms of cost. It is, however, possible to reduce the daily cost of car rental by choosing the very cheapest type of vehicle on the car rental market, usually a compact Toyota Yaris or IST, starting at around ST$90 per day.
Therefore, if you want to base your decision purely on price, it’s best to go with the cheapest car rental you can find. See The Cheapest Car Rentals in Samoa to see the companies with the best deals. Plus, check out the 10 Ways to Save Money on Car Rental in Samoa for more tips.
(Hint: If you want to go even cheaper, how about hiring a scooter? Check out Scooter Hire in Samoa: Where to Rent, Cost & More for more details).
Car Rental in Samoa: The Pros and Cons
An easy way to see if car rental is right for your holiday is to simply weigh the pros and cons of renting a car in Samoa.
Car Rental Pros
- Ultimate freedom; go where you want when you want
- Privacy; it’s just you, your loved ones/friends and the road
- Cost-effective for weekly hire; many car rental companies have discounted weekly rates that make car rental cheaper per day compared to taxi hire
- Good for families; baby seats are usually available to hire.
Car Rental Cons
- Driving can be stressful; Samoa has a few road hazards that you might not be used to
- Navigation can be hard; Samoa is lacking in directional road signs.
For more information on hiring a car, head to What You Need to Hire a Car in Samoa.
When to Rent a Car
If the pros and cons don’t help you make up your mind, then there are certain situations where it might make more sense to hire a car in Samoa rather than use taxis.
One such circumstance is if you plan on doing a road trip around Upolu and Savai’i, staying in a new accommodation each night or every other night. For instance, travelling around both of Samoa’s main islands makes a fun five-to-seven-day trip, staying in various resorts or beach fales along the way. Get inspired for your road trip with our The Best Samoa Itineraries for 5 Days and The Best Samoa Itineraries for 7 Days.
Another is if you are staying somewhere far off the tourist trail, then hiring a car from the nearest town or airport for a few days is likely to be more reliable and cheaper than using taxis.
Taxis in Samoa: The Pros and Cons
And on the taxi side of the argument, here are the pros and cons of using a taxi in Samoa.
- Stress-free; someone else drives the foreign roads and navigates for you
- Cheap in town; taxis are very cheap for travelling around Apia
- Driver hire; some taxis can be hired for the day, providing good value for sightseeing
- Get advice from a local; your driver may be willing to recommend places to eat and lesser-known attractions along the way.
- Finding the right taxi driver for sightseeing can be difficult; not all speak good English, offer the right price, etc.
- It’s harder to pre-book a taxi driver for sightseeing; it’s something that is usually easier to organise once you arrive.
When to Use a Taxi
There are certain situations where using a taxi makes more sense than hiring a car in Samoa. For instance, if you’re staying in Apia, then using a taxi to get around the town is incredibly cheap; cheaper than hiring a car.
Additionally, if you plan to do perhaps just one or two longer sightseeing trips in Samoa, then it is likely to be more cost-effective to hire a driver for the day.
More About Renting a Car or Using a Taxi in Samoa
That’s it for our comparison between renting a car and using a taxi in Samoa. For more transport tips, take a look at the following guides:
- 10 Best Car Rentals in Samoa: The Top Samoa Car Rental Companies
- 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in Samoa
- Samoa Travel Times & Distances: How Long Does it Take to Travel Around Samoa?
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in Samoa Transport Guide: 14 Best Ways to Get Around Samoa.