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Apolima Country Profile Culture History Manono Nature People Savaii Upolu Visitors Info



Although much smaller than Savai'i, Upolu is Samoa's chief island with its stirring capital, international airport, industry, business, attractions, visitor facilities, and 71% of the total population. Physically, it's rather like Tahiti on a smaller scale with high verdant mountains in the background of Apia and a seaside boulevard encircling the harbor. The villages along the north coast also remind one of Tahitian villages, as do the valleys and black beaches. But Upolu is much wilder and more traditional, and less impacted by international tourism.

Although Savai'i commands a faraway mystique, Upolu is a much more beautiful and varied island, especially the eastern half. Roads wind around the coast and across the center of the island. Some of the South Pacific's finest beaches are at Lepa and Aleipata with suitable facilities for budget travelers. Waterfalls cascade from the luxuriant green hillsides and there are countless places to swim. Hikers will feel rather like Tarzans and Janes cutting paths through exuberant jungles, and time travelers will be enchanted by the easygoing Polynesian lifestyle. Upolu is an insular uncut jewel.

Apia is the capital of Samoa and the only place that you could call a city and really mean it. For all of its modern details, such as banks and burger outlets, it still retains the picturesque charm of its history. All the traders, beachcombers, pirates, whalers, and fallen missionaries who have washed up on the shores of Apia still seem to be present in Apia's slightly rundown air and the old pula trees shading the streets. From the centre of town, Apia's neat villages spread west along the level coastal area and climb up the gentle slopes towards the hills and into the valleys.

The clock tower in the centre of town, a memorial to WWII casualties, is a landmark for all those trying to orient themselves in the town centre. Just to the west of the clock tower is the Flea Market which has craft stalls selling everything from cheap clothing, to siapo (dyed bark sheets), to 'ava bowls and coconut shell jewellery. A large number of churches are scattered around Apia with the largest of them being the Catholic church on the city waterfront. The Anglican church, although smaller, has the most beautiful stained glass windows and at the Congregational Christian church are the clean-picked bones of the unfortunate Reverend John Williams.

The Aggie Grey's Hotel named after its famous and feisty owner (believed to be the inspiration for James Michener's character Bloody Mary), has fales named after movie stars that have slept there and an air of exotica. It's expensive but drinks at the bar are cheapish and the atmosphere is free. The main drag of Apia is Beach Road which follows the curve of the wide pleasant harbour. The bus station and the main market are a couple of blocks south of the city centre and the wharf lies at the eastern end of the harbour. Fagali'i Airport is a few kilometres east of Apia and can be reached by bus or taxi.

Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
Just 4km (2.5mi) from Beach Road in Apia is Vailima, the beautifully restored home of Robert Louis Stevenson now operating as a museum. There is enough memorabilia here to entertain for an entire morning but of even greater interest is RL Stevenson's tombstone at the back of Vailima and up a steep incline. His gravesite looks out over the township, the white fringe of reef and the distant horizon. After he died the people of Upolu worked 24 hours non-stop to hack a path to the top of the hill so that the body of their beloved tusitala ('storyteller') could be buried the next day with full ceremonial privileges. On the tombstone is inscribed RL Stevenson's elegy with its famous last two lines: Home is the sailor, home from the sea,/ And the hunter home from the hill. To get there take a taxi or bus from Apia.
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Upolu Island Greater Apia Central Apia

For more general information on Samoa, go to:

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We have included Samoa in some of our specials to the South Pacific, eg. our Bounty Voyage and South Sea Dream Voyage.

Another option is to create your own package to Samoa by utilizing the seperate travel components, like hotels, carrental, flights and excursions on the islands.






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Copyright text from David Stanley's guide Moon Handbooks South Pacific, published by Avalon Travel Publishing, used with permission.

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