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Samoa

Main attractions

Scenery with a part of Mu Pagoa Falls seen, Samoa
Scenery with a part of Mu Pagoa Falls seen / Sarah Kelemen, . CC BY 2.0

This country basically consists of two large (by Polynesian standard) islands - Savai'i and Upolu. Samoa is true Polynesia - and many believe - the cradle of Polynesia.

Natural and cultural heritage of Samoa is rather rich and some landmarks are truly surprising. The highlights of Samoa are:

  • Lava caves and associated phenomena - the numerous volcanoes of Samoa have created wast lava fields. Here have formed numerous interesting caves - lava tubes with sinkholes, waterfalls, powerful springs, archaeological heritage. In some places the interaction of waves and lava tubes has created some of the most spectacular blowholes in the world.
  • Archaeological heritage - interesting are the ancient star mounds and the caves which served as a kind of ancient towns with hundreds of stone platforms for cave dwellers. Country is rich with the sites of legends.
  • Waterfalls - here are located many spectacular waterfalls - not just steep rapids but true, vertical plunges in romantic, spectacular jungle setting.

Natural landmarks

To Sua sinkhole, Samoa
To Sua sinkhole / Neil Liddle, . CC BY 2.0

Lava caves and sinkholes

  • Ana Pe'ape'a at Tapuele'ele - Fa'asaleleaga. One of the deepest caves in Samoa - 74 m deep. Entrance in this lava cave is an impressive sinkhole, 25 m deep, with a diameter of 100 m.
  • Ana Va'atausili (Vaatausili Cave) and Blood Well - Vaisigano. A lava cave with a 2 m deep pool. The cave is taboo - its water often is red. According to the legends of local people this is blood of warriors. Water is colored by numerous small Cladocera crustaceans.
  • Salamumu Cave 1 (Ana Pe'ape'a) – A’ana. 3 487 m long lava tube cave - the longest known cave in Samoa. Contains artefacts by people who lived here in prehistoric times - stone platforms. In the cave were living hundreds or thousands of people during the war times. Cave contains unusual form of lava, which has a consistency of soft cheese. When walking on such lava, people sink into it.
  • Tafatafa Cave (Ana Pe'ape'a at Tafa-Tafa) – Atua. 1.8 km long lava tube.
  • To Sua and Tolesua - Atua. Two adjacent sinkholes - windows in large lava tube. To Sua sinkhole is 30 m deep. Sinkholes are filled with marine water. Contains an endemic shrimp Hamalpheus acanthops.
Sopoaga Falls, Samoa
Sopoaga Falls / Joshua Eckert, . CC BY 2.0

Waterfalls

  • Fuipisia Falls - Atua. Free falling, 55 m high waterfall in lush jungle.
  • Mu Pagoa Waterfall - Palauli. Low but wide waterfall, where the largest river in Samoa falls directly in the ocean. Unusual, beautiful landscape.
  • Papapapai-Tai - Tuamasaga. Magnificent, free falling 100 m tall waterfall plunging into a deep pool.
  • Sinaloa Waterfall – Palauli. The tallest waterfall in Samoa - 180 - 250 m tall waterfall, sliding down along a nearly vertical cliff. Located in a beautiful jungle setting in the most pristine area in Samoa.
  • Sopoaga Falls – Atua. Impressive waterfall with a single, free falling stream.
Alofa'aga Blowholes, Samoa
Alofa'aga Blowholes. The coconut is blown up in the air / Neil Liddle, . CC BY 2.0

Other natural landmarks

  • Alofa'aga Blowholes (Taga Blowholes) - Palauli. Some of the most powerful blowholes in the world, water fountains rise up to 30 m high. These blowholes exist thanks to a system of lava tubes, which reach ocean here. Local tourist guides put the coconuts in the holes and they are blasted high in the air.
  • Central Savai'i Rainforest - mainly in Palauli. The largest (72,699 ha) remaining rainforest in Polynesia. In this exotic forest are located more than 100 volcanic craters, some with recent lava fields. Amazing cloud forests constantly covered with fog. Numerous endemic species of plants (e.g. trees Abutilon whistleri, Metrosideros gregoryi, Syzygium christophersenii, Syzygium graeffei, Syzygium vaupelii, Psychotria bristolii, Reynoldsia pleiosperma, blueberry Vaccinium whitmeei and many others) and animals, new ones still are discovered. Magnificent scenery with tall waterfalls, cliffs.
  • Mata o le Alelo – Gaga’ifomauga. Legendary natural spring, flowing out of lava cave.
  • Piula Cave Pool – Atua. Natural spring pool flowing out of lava cave.
  • Saleaula Lava Field - Gaga'emauga. A lava stream from Mount Matavanu, which buried 5 villages. Especially impressive are the ruins of church, filled with lava. "Virgins Grave" is a burial place of nuns which miraculously was not covered by lava.

Man made landmarks

Cave dwellings

  • Falemauga Caves (Falemaunga) – Tuamasaga. Two giant caverns in a collapsed lava tunnel, a site of prehistoric settlement. Here was built a system of rock platforms – in total 159 platforms made of stones. Found also herds. The Large Falemauga Cave is 545 m long.
  • Seuao Cave – Tuamasaga. 570 m long lava tube cave with well preserved remnants of human settlement, including some 250 m long sequence of stone platforms.
Ak Muni Mound, one of Vailele Mounds, Samoa
Ak Muni Mound, one of Vailele Mounds / The University of Auckland, . Public domain.

Mounds

  • Mulifanua star mound – Aiga-i-le-Tai. A mound with ten extensions, resembling a ten-pointed star - an example of the numerous star mounds of Samoa. Such star mounds were built mostly in 1700 - 1900 AD. Excavations did not find any post holes or burials. The purpose of this impressive construction is unknown.
  • Pulemelei Mound (Tia Seu Mound) – Palauli. The largest man-made mound in Pacific. This pyramid shaped mound is made of stone, up to 12 m high, with 65 x 60 m long sides. Built around 1100 – 1400 AD.
  • Vailele Mounds – Tuamasaga. Group of eight mounds formed like a rectangular, cut pyramids. The largest mound is the 12 m high Laupule mound. Built around 1600 AD.

Other archaeological monuments

  • Fale O Le Fe'e - Tuamasaga. Ruins of a megalithic structure. Some 60 large natural columns of basalt lie on the ground, forming a distinct elliptical structure with a smaller structure at one side. Largest basalt column is 1.75 m long. Age and purpose of the structure is unknown.
  • Mulifanua Ferry Berth site – Aiga-i-le-Tai. The oldest known human settlement in Polynesia. The site is located 2.25 m below the sea level and here were found Lapita pottery sherds made around 1 000 BC.
  • Paia Dwarfs Cave - Gaga'ifomauga. A small lava cave. According to the local legends here life dwarves and their footprints can be found often.
Sapapali'i Church, Samoa
Sapapali'i Church / Sarah Kelemen, . CC BY 2.0

Churches

  • Safotu Church - Gaga'ifomauga. Magnificent church with two towers, built in Neo-Baroque style.
  • Sapapali'i Church - Fa'aselaleaga. Sapapali'i is the first village where a Christian missionary - John Williams - arrived in 1830. Now here is built very impressive church.

List of described attractions by division

Samoa consists of two large islands and is divided into 11 districts.

Savai'i

Fa'asaleleaga (Safotulafai)
Gaga'emauga (Saleaula)
Gaga'ifomauga (Safotu)
Palauli (Vailoa)
ArrowSinaloa WaterfallWaterfall
Satupa'itea
Vaisigano (Asau)

Upolu

A'ana (Leulumoega)
Aiga-i-le-Tai (Mulifanua)
Atua (Lufilufi)
Tuamasaga (Afega)
Va'a-o-Fonoti (Samamea)

Map of Samoa

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