Over the past few years, several dozen basic ecotourism resorts have sprung up at Lalomanu (Aleipata), on the golden sands facing Nu'utele Island, and on a less-frequented beach at Saleapaga (Lepa). These clusters of small two-person beach fale are simple, and amenities like electricity, toilets, and running water are provided at some but not at others. As well as being great shoestring places to stay, they're a wonderful introduction to Samoan culture.
For a nightly charge you'll get fale accommodation with a mat, mattress, pillow, sheets, and mosquito net, plus breakfast and dinner. Of course, these are open thatched fale with no walls or doors, so keep valuables well stowed at night, and if you go off during the day, it's wise to pack your bags and leave them with your hosts. Hurricanes tend to wipe these places out, but they're quickly rebuilt. There's always lots of space for visitors who show up unannounced (most of the owners don't have phones anyway).
At Saleapaga and Lalomanu the bus drops you right at the gates of the resorts, while at Lefaga in southwest Upolu you'll have a long hike down to the beach (which does enhance privacy). Picnickers pay a small fee to use the facilities for the day (if you're just walking along the road and stop to sit down in an empty beach fale for a rest, someone will soon appear with a mat and the expectation of receiving the standard fee). Most day-trippers arrive on weekends, so during the week you could have the entire beach to yourself. It's lovely—the perfect antidote to Apia.
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