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Samoa Travel Guide

Savai'i Map

Savai'i Island

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Savai'i is just 20 km northwest of Upolu across the Apolima Strait. Although 50 percent larger and higher than its neighbor, Savai'i has less than a quarter as many people.

If you thought Upolu was laidback, Savai'i is slow. This unspoiled big island offers ancient Polynesian ruins, waterfalls, clear freshwater pools, white beaches, vast black lava fields, massive volcanoes, innumerable churches, and traditional Samoan life.

Most of the villages are by the seashore, strung along the fully paved circuminsular highway, and they're a pleasure to stroll through when the kids decide to leave you alone. Yet for an island, a visit to Savai'i is not sea-oriented since many of the attractions are away from the coast.

Savai'i is the largest island in Polynesia (outside of Hawaii and New Zealand). Though about the same length as Upolu, it's 50 percent wider with broad lava plateaus in the interior. Most of the northeast side of this high volcanic island was transformed in the great eruptions of Mt. Matavanu between 1905 and 1911, which buried much fertile land and sent refugees streaming across to Upolu. Vast tracts of virgin rainforest survive despite agricultural clearings and heavy logging, but in 1998, large areas in the west were destroyed by forest fires facilitated by the drought associated with El Niño.

Coral reefs are present along the east coast from Salelologa to Pu'apu'a, on the north coast from Saleaula to Sasina, then from Asau to Vaisala, and on the south coast at Palauli.

Expect to pay a customary fee to a responsible adult (not a child or teenager) to use a village beach. Most sightseeing attractions also have small admission fees. Make sure your cash isn't accessible to strangers while you're swimming or sleeping on Savai'i.