Hiking and Walking on Upolu

Hiking and walking on Upolu is a great way to explore Samoa’s beautiful natural environment. There are many different walks on the main island of Upolu. There are walks to suit all ages and abilities. Some are in National Parks, some are guided, some are quite easy and some are not for the faint-hearted!! All offer magnificent scenery and the chance to be amongst nature.

Ifiele’ele Plantation is a great place to stay if you want to explore Upolu and do some hiking and walking on your Samoan holiday.

Hiking and Walking in Samoa, Starting from Ifiele’ele Plantation…..


Serene Manono Island is a 20min boat ride from the mainland of Upolu, departing from Manono-uta village. A footpath or narrow dirt track follows the coast and weaves in and out of the local villages. There are no dogs or cars on the island so the walk is fairly quiet, although you are likely to be befriended by local children along the way. There is an ancient star mound and historic grave of 99 stones in the middle of the island but you would need a local to show you where it is, or at least point you in the right direction. It takes roughly 2 hours non stop to circumnavigate Manono on foot, but you would probably want to stop to chat, snorkel or swim along the way. Take a picnic or buy your lunch from Sunset Guest House on the eastern side of Manono, or at one of the tradestores on the island.


Directions:                From Ifiele’ele drive back towards the airport, past Mulifanua wharf and Le Vasa until you see the villa of Manono-uta. Look for a small wharf and the ‘Car Park to Manaono’ sign.

Duration:                   Fit – 1 .5 hours, Less fit – 2 hours

Level of Difficulty:    Easy

Opening Hours:         Any time of day

Admission:                 The walk is free. The boat costs $50 each way for up to 4 people and $60 for 6 people. The fare includes niu and tour guide plus lunch if you wish.

Contact:                      Tausisi on 7791615

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The Falease’ela River Walk is probably the most adventurous walk on Upolu. It is an exhilarating hike that provides not only adventure but takes you into the depths of Samoa’s pristine natural environment. The guided tour takes you through the riverbed and banks of the Liua le Vai o Sina River, located at Falease’ela in Lefaga Bay. For thrill-seekers, there are a series of waterfalls ranging in height from 2 to 25 meters dotted along the walk. The brave-hearted can take flying leaps from any of these into deep pools below.

The tour takes anywhere from 3 – 6 hours and is expertly guided by Olsen and Fly, who will lead you up and around waterfalls and lava formations that have formed in this magnificent natural setting. Fly is the younger and more acrobatic guide and he will perform jaw-dropping climbs and jumps. Those who prefer a more leisurely trek can opt to watch others jump. Olsen is always happy to share his wealth of knowledge about Samoa’s natural environment and life in Samoa, including the legend of Sina and the river.


Directions:                 From Ifiele’ele, head to the Aleisa Rd and then take the Leulumoega Cross Island Road to the south coast. As you head down the hill look for the sign for Savaia at the 4-corner. Turn right and go all the way to the coast. Turn right again and follow the coast until you reach Lalotalie River Retreat immediately before the river ford.

Duration:                   3 to 6 hours

Level of Difficulty:    Difficult. – reasonable fitness level required.

Opening Hours:        Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday preferred. Otherwise by arrangement. Walk starts at 9.00am or 1.30pm during daylight savings.

Admission:                 $85 per person for groups of 4+, smaller groups by arrangement

Contact:                      Olsen or Jane on 7748759


A short walk of about 700m through tropical rainforest within the O le Pupu Pu’e National Park will bring you to the amazing Ma Tree with its buttress roots that extend out from the main trunk for meters in all directions. Like giant lace folds, the roots form virtual rooms at the base of the tree. You can either return along the same track or continue on from the Ma Tree with another 1.3km walk all the way to the Togitogiga Visitor Centre. This trial is not maintained and is quite rough – for experienced hikers only.


Directions:                 From Apia, take the Cross Island Road all the way to the south coast. Turn left and proceed for about 15 minutes until you see the signs for the Ma Tree on the left hand side.

Duration:                   30 minutes return

Level of Difficulty:    Easy but be mindful of where you put your feet.

Opening Hours:         Daily

Admission:                 Free

Contact:                      21054, Alex 762 6233


Coastal Walk


Also part of the O le Pupu Pu’e National Park, is the spectacular cliff top Coastal Walk. As the name suggests, the walk meanders along cliff tops lining the coast. At first you walk through tropical rain forest with Pandanus trees high above the ocean. Several vantage points offer breath-taking views of waves crashing through arches and other formations in the cliff face below. Eventually you arrive at an open lava field with more waves crashing all around. The Coastal Walk is a great place for spotting sea life and birds. About 1hr return walk from the car park or 2.5hr return walk from the main road.


Directions:                 From Apia, take the Apia Cross Island Road all the way to the south coast. Turn left and proceed for about 15 minutes until you see the signs for the Coastal Walk on the right hand side of the road. The signs are directly opposite those for the Ma Tree and if the gate is unlocked you can drive several kilometres down the dirt road to the car park. If the gate is locked and you are still keen to do the walk, allow an additional 1.5 hours.

Duration:                   1 hour return from the car park. 2.5 hours return from main road.

Level of Difficulty:    Easy but be mindful of where you put your feet.

Opening Hours:         Daily

Admission:                 Free

Contact:                      21054, Alex 762 6233


Within the O le Pupu Pue National Park is the walk to the Pe’ape’a Caves. The cave is a lava tube formed thousands of years ago and home to a small bird known in Samoan as pe’ape’a, or the white-rumped swiftlet. Park management recommends doing the walk with a guide, which can be arranged at the visitor information centre once you arrive at the park. You need mosquito repellant, good shoes and a torch or headlamp for inside the cave. You can swim in the cool water in the cave. After heavy rains, park management will not allow visitors to walk to the cave as the track will be wet and muddy and the river crossings may be risky. If conditions are right, you can do a round trip taking in several sites within the National Park: the Mound, Peapea Cave, Pa Tonga (Tongan wall), the Ma Tree and the Coastal Walk. Or there is a 12 km walk to Mt Fito offering magnificent views of geological features such as volcanic craters, steep ridges, deep valleys and waterfalls.


Directions:  From Apia, take the Cross Island Road all the way to the south coast. Turn left and proceed for about 15 minutes until you see the signs on the left hand side for the Pupu Pue National Park.

Duration:                   3 hours return depending on how long you spend at the cave

Level of Difficulty:    Moderately difficult with some river crossings

Opening Hours:         Monday to Sunday, 8am – 5pm

Admission:                 Free

Contact:                      21054, Alex 762 6233


The Vailima Botanical Garden encompasses about 12 ha (30a) and protects a variety of species – native, introduced and naturalized – representative of the flora of the archipelago and the Pacific basin. It is an excellent place for a day visit to relax and enjoy nature and its tranquilities.

The walk to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Tomb atop Mt Veaa takes about 30mins going the short way though the terrain is quite steep and can be very slippery when wet. The other option to the top is a 50min walk weaving through dense tropical rainforest and passing a magnificent Banyan tree. Either way, water and good shoes are recommended.

Within the gardens near the car park there is a Visitor’s Center and a natural swimming hole that was once Robert Louis Stevenson’s pool but is now available for anyone to relax and cool off after a strenuous walk up the mountain.

The Robert Louis Stevenson’s Museum is located alongside the Botanical Gardens. Tours of the home provide much insight into the life of the famous Scottish author who spent his final years in Samoa. His beautiful mansion ‘Vailima’ has been converted into a museum set within lush gardens and is open to the public. Tours of the museum are conducted approximately every 20 minutes and last about 20 minutes.


Directions:                 Take the Apia Cross Island Road up the hill towards Vailima. About 5 kms from Apia, the turn-off to the Botanical Gardens is immediately before the well-marked entrance to Robert Louis Stevenson museum.

Duration:                   Short Walk – 45 minutes one-way, Long Walk – 1 hour one-way, Circular Route – 1 hour 20 minutes

Level of Difficulty:    Mid level – reasonable fitness level required.

Opening Hours:         Walking trails; 24/7.

Museum; Mon-Fri: 9am – 3.30pm; Sat: 8am – 12noon

Admission:                 Walking trails; free

Museum Tours; $20 per adult, $5 per child under 12

Contact:                      Phone – 20798, villavailima@gmail.com


At the very top of the Cross Island Road between Apia and Siumu in the district of Taivi is Lake Lanoto’o – part of the Lake Lanoto’o National Park and recognized internationally as Samoa’s own Ramsar Wetland. Lake Lanoto’o lies in a volcanic crater in Upolu’s highlands and is accessed by a walk through tropical rainforest offering stunning views and great bird watching. The lake is teeming with goldfish that were introduced by German settlers who enjoyed houseboats on the lake for weekend retreats during the years that Samoa was under German administration.


Directions:                 From Apia, turn right off the Cross Island Road at the very top of the mountain onto a sealed road just after the pink fale, also on the right.  Follow this road to the end.  Proceed along the rough 4WD track until you reach a fenced paddock. Park here and start walking in a westerly direction alongside the fence.

Duration:                   2 hours return

Level of Difficulty:    Medium

Opening Hours:         Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm

Admission:                 Free

Contact:                      21054, 67200

Pink fale just before the turn off if coming from Apia
Turn off to Lake Lanoto’o


Malolololelei Recreation Reserve is located in the hills overlooking Apia and consists of 30 acres of bushland that has been turned into a nature reserve.  The park offers a variety of walking tracks, waterfalls and natural swimming pools as well as stunning views over Apia, a picnic area and a chance to see native flora and fauna including the near extinct Manumea (tooth-billed pigeon).  The area is home to a diverse number of native species which makes it an ideal place for conservation, education and eco-tourism.


Directions:             From Apia, take the Cross Island Road toward Vailima.  Go past the Shrine of the Three Hearts in Voala and turn right at Kelsey Lane.  Follow this road all the way to the end where it takes a 90 degree left-hand bend.  The gate to the Reserve is at this corner.

Duration:               There are many different walk in the Reserve so you can spend anything from 1 hour to all day.

Level of Difficulty:  Ranges from easy to moderately difficult.

Admission:              Free

Contact:                   Bluebird Lumber & Hardware 22747 or MNRE 28680, 67200

Kelsey Lane – Turn off to Malololelei Recreation Reserve
Map of Walks and Features in the Reserve

Hiking and Walking in Samoa is a great way to see the natural environment….

Things to remember when hiking and walking in Samoa

Wear light, loose fitting clothing to stay cool and good shoes.  Take plenty of drinking water.  Do not litter.

*Prices current at February 2017

Sources: First-Hand Research, Samoa Tourism Authority (www.samoa.travel)