Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia Samoa Savaii

edit

Introduction

Savaiʻi is the largest (area 1700 km2) and highest (Mt Silisili at 1,858 metres) island in Samoa and the Samoa Islands chain. The island is the fifth largest in Polynesia, behind the two main islands of New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands of Hawaii and Maui. The island of Savai'i is also referred to by Samoans as Salafai, a classical Samoan term used in oratory and prose. The only township and ferry terminal is Salelologa, the main entry point to the island, situated at the east end of Savai'i. A tar sealed road serves as the one main highway, connecting most of the villages with local buses reaching most settlements.

Top

edit

Geography

Savai'i is mountainous, fertile and surrounded by coral reefs. Lonely Planet describes the Savai'i landscape as 'spectacular tropical terrain'. The island has a gently sloping profile, reaching a maximum altitude of 1,858 metres at Mt Silisili, the highest peak in the country and the Samoa Islands chain. Volcanic craters in the highlands are strung across the central ridges from Tuasivi (literally, backbone) village in the east towards Cape Mulinu'u to the west. The lava fields at Saleaula village on the central north coast are the result of volcanic eruptions from Mt Matavanu (1905-1911). Most of the coastline are palm fringed beaches and there are rainforests, waterfalls, caves, freshwater pools, blowholes and coral reefs. There are also numerous archaeological sites, including star mounds, fortifications and pyramids such as the Pulemelei Mound in Palauli district. Archaeology in Samoa has uncovered many pre-historic settlements including sites at Vailoa and Sapapali'i.

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

Beaches

On Savaii, the most popular and accessible beach is at Manase - a good beach for swimming due to its gentle gradient, low current and shallow water. Beaches towards the Western end of the island are wilder and in more dramatic settings. Falealupo can justifiably claim to be the last beach in the world - the furthest west you can stand before the international date line.

Waterfalls

Olumoe, one of the most perfect tropical waterfalls.

Alofa'aga Blowholes

Also known as the Taga Blowholes, by the village of Salelologa on Savaii, these are the second most powerful blowholes known in the world. The little cafe by the rocks sells coconut shells - get your timing right and watch the force of the blowholes rocket the shells into the sky.

Falealopu Canopy Walkway

A short walkway suspended high above the canopy in a small forest reserve at Falealopu on Savaii. The walkway is strung between two fascinating trees - a tall Floribunda and a gargantuan Banyan. For a small fee, it's possible to sleep on the platform at the top of the banyan.

Salea'aula Lava Fields

A dramatically bleak area covered in black rock, once a community but covered in lava by the eruption of the Matavanu volcano in 1906. The only building still standing from the village is the church. It's possible to explore the 'lava tubes', caves formed underneath the lava.

Top

edit

Events and Festivals

Independence Day

On the 31 May every year, Samoa celebrates its independence from New Zealand administration. The entire country gets into the festive mood on this day, with traditional dances, artwork, cuisine, and music available for all locals and tourists. Even the smaller villages get into the spirit of this occasion, so visitors can enjoy Samoan Independence wherever they stay.

Top

edit

Weather

Savaii has a hot and humid tropical climate. Temperatures hoover around 30 °C throughout the year and never drop much lower than 23 or 24 °C at night. Temperatures are slightly higher during the wetter November to March period and slightly lower between April and October. This last period is the best season to visit as it rains less (but still significantly) and there is almost no chance of hurricanes, which can strik from December to March. There is always some relief of the heat by constant sea breezes. Note that the interior of Samoa might be slightly cooler because of its height.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Plane

Polynesian Airlines flies between Apia on Upolu and the island of Savaii several times a day. There are two airports served on Upolu and tow on Savaii. Also, there are flights between the two airports on Savaii.

By Boat

There is a car ferry service between Upolu and Savaii, plying the 22 kilometres across Apolima Strait between the two islands. Tickets cost ST9/65 per person/car. Large ferries depart the Mulifanua Wharf on Upolu and the Salelologa Wharf on Savai'i every two hours between 6:00am and 4:00pm Wednesday to Monday, while a smaller ferry services this route at less regular intervals on Tuesday. Vehicles should be prebooked through the Samoa Shipping Corporation. The voyage takes about 1 hour.

Top

edit

Getting Around

By Car

You can rent cars on Savaii.

By Bus

Buses travel on the island, but have no fixed schedule.

Top

edit

Eat

Samoan food is not highly spiced or seasoned. It uses ingredients that are relatively unfamiliar to most Westerners, such as breadfuit, taro (or talo), taro leaves, cooked green bananas and raw fish.

  • Umu - The umu is the traditional method used for cooking. A fire is built and stones placed on it. When the fire is down to the embers the ingredients, such as green bananas, breadfruit, taro, fish, palusami and pork are placed on the stones. It is then covered with banana leaves and left to cook.
  • Oka is the way Samoans prepare raw fish. It consists of small bits of fish that are marinated in a mixture of lemon juice, coconut cream, salt and finely chopped onions.
  • Palusami is made from taro leaves and coconut cream. The coconut cream, onions and some taro are wrapped in whole taro leaves and cooked in an umu. Well cooked, this can be unforgettable and you should not leave Samoa without trying it.
  • Corned beef - Samoa rapidly adopted this import and it is widely used as an accompaniment to Umus and other dishes.

Top

edit

Drink

No significant gathering in Samoa, whether official or for pleasure, is complete without the 'Ava (or kava) ceremony at the beginning. Kava's biological name is Piper methysticum, which means intoxicating pepper. The roots of the plant are used to produce a mildly narcotic drink that is passed around meetings following strict rules. However, you do not need to participate in a Samoan cultural event to try it. On some days it can be purchased at Apia's central market (marketi fou). The local beer is Vailima beer. It's cheap and you can buy it everywhere.

Top

edit

Sleep

With the explosion in accommodation it is now less necessary for those wanting to visit the remoter parts of Samoa, particularly Savaii, to stay in villages, which was fairly common in the past. However, this is still possible. If you want to stay in, or even just visit, a village it is important to remember not to offend local culture. There is also a good range of resorts, hotels and guest houses on Savaii. A large number have been constructed in recent years.

Top

Savaii Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Savaii

This is version 1. Last edited at 9:34 on Jul 17, 17 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License