Upolu Island (1,125 km²) is the most important island of Samoa, although the largest island in the archipelago is Savaii. Upolu is also the most populated island with 140,000 inhabitants. Along the north coast of the island is the capital of Samoa, the city of Apia, which is the only city in the archipelago.
The island is of volcanic origin and its interior consists of not too high mountains. The highest peak is Monte Fito, in the center of the island, which reaches an altitude of 1,100 meters.
Particularly interesting is the inland landscape, with waterfalls and a lush jungle. While the south coast of the island is dotted with white beaches, some areas of the island are national parks. The island is very fertile and is intensely cultivated with coconut palms, bananas and cocoa. Other resources include fishing, forestry and breeding.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: WHAT TO VISIT IN UPOLU
The capital of independent Samoa is a small town that seems to have emerged recently from the colonial era, in the streets of Apia you can breathe an atmosphere of tranquility and relaxation. The parade of the Samoa police band, which every day of the week at 7.50 plays the national anthem, is very impressive, while the national flag is raised.
The center of Apia has some interesting colonial-style buildings, such as the Catholic cathedral (1885-1905), the Immigration Office (built during the German period), the Prime Minister’s Department and the court buildings, the Torre dell ‘ Clock, the historic Hotel Aggie’s Gray, etc … The center of all Apia’s commercial activities is the market, the Maketi Fou, which is open 24 hours a day, and is definitely a place to visit.
There are numerous places of cultural and historical value in Samoa, but for those whose stay is short, a visit to Vailima and Mulinu’u would be the most rewarding.
This is the historic home of Robert Louis Stevenson called “Tusitala” (storyteller) by the Samoans. When Stevenson passed away, his residence became the official seat of the Head of State. Stevenson’s Tomb with his immortal Requiem carved on his grave can be visited by going up the path equipped with suitable shoes, especially during the rainy season. The uphill path is divided into two parts both lead to the tomb, there is a shorter path that can be traveled in just 35 minutes and a longer and more scenic path, which can be covered in 55 minutes.
Five minutes west of Apia is the historic Mulinu’u peninsula. This strip of land less than two kilometers long is the site of the traditional burials of the royal house of Samoa. Here are also the new Parliament Building, the German monument commemorating the raising of the German flag and the memorial tombs of the Foreign Naval Forces whose members died in the disastrous hurricane in 1889.
Papase’ea “Sliding Rock” is about 5 miles from Apia. Visitors may experience at a small charge the thrill of sliding down on a natural rock waterchute into a cool shaded pool.
About six miles from Apia this black sand beach is idea for surf enthusiasts. However, swimmers are cautioned to be extra careful of an undertow especially during heavy surf.
FALEFA FALLS, MAFA PASS, FUIPISIA FALLS, SOPOAGA FALLS, AND THE DISTRICT OF ALEIPATA
Departing from Apia a lovely 40-mile drive along the east coast threads through some of the most colourful scenary on the island and takes the visitor at the end of 18 miles to Falefa Falls. The drive continues over Mafa Pass which commands a breath-taking view of the shoreline then passes Fuipisia Falls, a magnificent 180 ft. waterfall, and then Sopoaga Falls immersed in the green of their gorge. The drive ends at the village of Amaile in Aleipata district at the eastern tip of Upolu. The Aleipata district has some of the most beautiful beaches on the island (Lalomanu).
CROSS ISLAND ROAD AND TIAVI FALLS
The cross island road from Apia in the north to the coastal village of Siumu in the south cuts across the middle of the island of Upolu.
LEFAGA AND SALAMUMU VILLAGES
On the south west coast of the island of Upolu is the pretty seaside village of Lefaga where, in 1952, the American film “Return to Paradise”, starring Gary Cooper, was filmed.
ISLAND OF MANONO
Take a trip around the island of Manono, the legendary Bali Hai, with its beautiful clear water. Land on one of the beaches for lunch. Pass the island of Apolima and Nuulopa. The boat leaves from Manono-uta near Cape Lefatu.
FATUMEA OR PIULA CAVE POOL
The Fatumea Pool is located at Piula Methodist Theological College, on the east coast, only a half-an-hour drive from Apia. It is an oval-shaped natural pool with fresh cool crystal clear water flowing from a cave beneath the church.
A crater lake teeming with gold fish about 12 miles from Apia is difficult to reach, but amply rewards the effort. A guide to the lake could be recruited at the visitor’s hotel.
CENTRAL GROUP COCOA PLANTATION
Located about 3 miles inland from Apia is an interesting illustration of one of Samoa’s chief agricoltural products. It was in here that the renowned “Lafi 7”, the highest producing hybrid cocoa in the world was first developed.
MULIFANUA COCONUT PLANTATION
The largest copra plantation in the Southern Hemisphere lies 25 miles west of Apia and the drive passes through native villages which give a close up of life in these islands.