This is the larger of Samoa’s two main islands, but Savaii has fewer people than Upolu and is even less well developed. This is another volcanic shield island, and remains active (last eruption – 1911, lasting for four years). The island has a gently sloping profile, rising to a height of 1.860 m (6.100 ft) at Mount Silisili, and the evidence of lava flow is everywhere, often giving the landscape a dramatic quality. This really is the South Sea island that tourism forgot, with hardly any visitor-orientated development. But there is some basic accommodation, and an occasional low-key resort to be found by the determined traveller, whose reward will be some spectacular scenery and a close encounter with laid-back living, Polynesian style.
Salelologa on the island’s southeastern corner has the airport, wharf and a colourful market. Otherwise it’s pretty much a workaday place with little to attract the visitor. It’s another matter south of town, where the Tafua Peninsula has a huge accessible crater and wonderful views of the wild coastline, which can be followed by a trip to the peninsula’s lovely Aganoa Beach. Actually ‘accessible’ is a significant word in a Savaii context. There are irregular buses and a few expensive taxis, so the best plan is to hire a car and explore at leisure. Even then, the road system leaves a lot to be desired, but a circumnavigation of Savaii on the coast road will deliver some wonderful surprises – unspoiled traditional villages, huge churches, amazing lava formations, beautiful beaches and shimmering lagoons.
Population: 45.000 (2007 estimate)
When to go: Any time of year – even in the rainy season (November to April) there are plenty of sunny days. There are occasional hurricanes between December and March.
How to get there: A local flight from Apia on Upolu, or by ferry (fast or slow) from Mulifanua in western Upolu.
Highlights: Falealupo Rainforest Preserve, offering canopy walkways.
The Alofaaga Blowholes, near the village of Taga.
Lava landscape at Sale’aula.
Strolling round the picturesque little town of Asau, before trying to spot the bay’s numerous turtles. Pulemelei Mound, Polynesia’s largest archaeological site – the grand pyramid is 60 m (200 ft) long and 15 m (50 ft) high.
You should know: Samoa’s proximity to the international dateline means it is the last place on earth to see the sun set. Watch it from Falealupo on Savaii, one of the world’s most westerly villages.