Exploring Upolu | #TCTalofa

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My Samoan adventure continued as I headed out to explore the island of Upolu.

The nation of Samoa is comprised of the most westerly islands of the Samoan Archipelago. The easterly islands represent American Samoa, a US protectorate (which I didn’t visit on this trip). There are two main islands in Samoa (the nation): Upolu and Savai’i. Although Savai’i is considerably larger, the vast majority of the population lives on Upolu, in and near the capital, Apia. During my trip, I visited Upolu, Savai’i and the tiny island of Manono. Here’s a roundup of awesome stuff I got to see and do beyond Apia while touring Upolu.

Accommodation

On Upolu, I stayed at three resorts and visited another one for a looksee. One – Taumeasia Island Resort – I spoke about in my last post about Apia – the others are listed below.

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Seabreeze Resort

Located off Upola’s Main South Coast Road in a little hidden cove (about an hour from Apia and two hours from the airport), Seabreeze Resort is Samoa’s highest rated and most award-winning accommodation provider. Before I even bedded down for my first night, the reasons why were obvious to me. From the musical greeting upon arrival and the massage treatment in my villa moments after checking in to watching a humpback whale breach out at sea while eating my breakfast and going on a guided tour of nearby Vavau village, everything about my few nights at this small boutique resort was a delight.

Each member of staff went out of his or her way to ensure they made my acquaintance and let me know that anything I might require was a simple request away. My villa, one of 11, was as comfortable and attractive as it was panoramically situated to take in a glorious ocean view from bed or outdoor hammock. Little touches, like the sweetest (and quirkiest) turndown service I’ve yet to encounter, and grand gestures, such as a heartfelt and frisky fiafia (traditional Samoan dinner show, kind of like a Hawaiian luau) with mandatory audience participation, came together with exuberance and sincerity for a relaxing stay. I left enlivened and feeling appreciated as a guest.

As wonderful as lounging around Seabreeze was, the best thing about it was how perfectly placed for checking out many of Upolu’s most fascinating sites including the must-see To Tua Ocean Trench and Lalomanu Beach.

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Lupe Sina Treesort

The South Pacific’s only “treesort” Lupe Sina offers visitors the chance to stay in one of two treehouses with outstanding views of forests and ocean. I didn’t stay here but really enjoyed having a look and getting to see masterfully constructed treehouses and massive banyan trees on the property. Lunch here was a treat as well. The seared opah (moonfish) was delish!

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Return to Paradise Resort

I spent my last couple of nights in Samoa at Return to Paradise Resort. It was a smart option for the end of my trip and not only because the resort is only 30 minutes from the airport. Family-run with all staff employed from the local community, the restful resort is located on a lovely little lagoon with vibrant coral reef, tide pools and a mix of white sand and black lava rock. Food and drink were tasty during my visit and enjoyed in an attractive thatched roof pavilion on an outcrop over the water. Hospitality was topnotch.

The resort and its beach are named for the 1953 Gary Cooper/Roberta Haynes film Return to Paradise, which was filmed here.

Sightseeing and Activities

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To Sua Ocean Trench

The mother of all swimming holes, To Sua Ocean Trench is a geographic formation consisting of two giant holes joined by lava tube. One is dry, but the other 30m deep hole is filled via lava tube with vivid blue tidal water from the ocean. Accessible by ladder, the hole is a refreshingly unique place to take a dip and definitely one of the most stunning sights I’ve ever seen in my life. The area is a great place to admire Upolu’s rugged coastline as well.

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Lalomanu Beach

At Upolu’s southeastern point is picturesque Lalomanu Beach, a long strand of white sand lined with beach fales and yielding views of small islands just out of reach. An idyllic setting for snorkeling, frolicking, or whiling away time however you prefer, it’s a top spot for a hearty and scenic lunch. I savoured my fish and chips (with a side of papaya) at Taufua Beach Fales open-air bar and restaurant on the beach.

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Coastal Walk

Part of O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park, this short but spectacular cliff top walk encompasses pandanus forest, expansive lava fields with surreal rock formations and massive sea cliffs in view for much of its route. It’s easy to walk the couple of miles of this loop – just watch your step for roots and rocks along the path.

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Togitogiga Waterfall

Also inside O Le Pupu Pu’e National Park and only a quick drive upland from the Coastal Walk, these cascades surrounded by lush vegetation are a fun place to play – and to get out of your comfort zone. I had a blast splashing around and jumping from different levels (but not the daredevil highest) of cliffs into the pools.

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Piula Cave Pool

On the coast behind the Piula Theological College along the Main East Coast Road is Piula Cave Pool, a freshwater spring pool and lava tube cave – yet another fantastic place to swim on this amazing island.

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Fuipisia Waterfall

In the mountains near the village of Lotofaga, the top of this ginormous 55m high waterfall can be reached by a few minutes walk along a manicured path through the jungle and is an excellent place for bird watching and getting a sense of how wild and remote Samoa is.

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Manono Island

I sailed out to this tiny island on a guided tour with Samoa Scenic Tours. In between Upolu and Savai’I and about 20 minutes sail from the west point of Upolu, Manono is without dogs or cars and very few people. But those who live there are especially friendly to visitors and are happy to demonstrate their traditional way of life.

Stay tuned for more Talofa Samoa posts coming soon. Faafetai!

About tikichris

London-Based Writer/Photographer
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