How to get to Samoa

Located in the central South Pacific Ocean, roughly halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, the options of getting to Samoa align with its far-flung tropical island aesthetic. The only way to get there – unless you're travelling on a cruise or a private boat – is to fly. You can fly direct from several destinations in Australia and New Zealand, and also Fiji.

Flying to Samoa

Faleolo International Airport (APW) is Samoa's main airport, located around 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the capital city of Apia on the island of Upolu. There are direct flights to Faleolo every week from Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, Fiji and American Samoa with several airlines including Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, Samoa Airways and Fiji Airways, as well as indirect flights from Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth via Nadi in Fiji. Talofa Airways also operates flights between Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga

Below are average flight times to Samoa:

  • Tonga – 1 hour 30 mins
  • Auckland – 3 hours 45 mins
  • Brisbane – 4 hours 45 mins
  • Sydney – 5 hours 15 mins
  • Melbourne – 7 hours 45 mins
  • Perth – 9 hours

It's worth noting that airlines usually put on more flights during the dry season to meet higher demand, but it's best to book your flights well in advance to avoid paying higher prices or missing out altogether, particularly if you're travelling during the peak tourist season between June and September.

How to get around Samoa

Once you arrive, it's easy to travel around and between the two main islands of Upolo and Savai'i thanks to the local ferry and bus services. Not to mention the fact that the Samoan islands are very small, with Savai’i, the largest island, being just 80 kilometres (50 miles) long and 40 kilometres (25 miles) wide.

Ferry

The easiest way to travel around the archipelago is by ferry. The Samoa Shipping Corporation runs twice-daily services between Mulifanua Wharf in Upolu and Salelologa Wharf in Savai'i. You can either travel as a foot passenger or in a car, and the crossing takes 60 to 90 minutes depending on sea conditions. There's a canteen onboard where you can grab refreshments, as well as outdoor seating on the deck which is a great spot to soak up the views. There are also weekly crossings from Apia to Pago Pago in American Samoa.

It's a bit more of a mission to travel to the other two inhabited islands of Apolima and Manono as there are no public ferries. If you want to venture off the beaten path and explore these less populous, but equally beautiful islands, you'll need to organise or wait for a boat at one of the jetties. However, it's often the case that the boats depart only when there are enough people, so you might need to hang around for a little while!

Buses

If you're staying put on Upolo or Savai'i, we highly recommend getting around the islands by bus. Sure, it might be convenient to hire a car, but catching the local bus will be way more memorable. You can spot Samoa’s colourful buses from a mile off, and it's easy to find the right bus as they’re named with the destination rather than a number. The main bus terminals in Apia are behind the market in Fugalei, and opposite the flea market at Savalalo. On Savai’i, it's located next to the Salelologa market. There are no designated bus stops, so get ready to wave down the driver from the side of the road when you want to get on, or yell at the driver or pull the cord hanging from the roof of the bus when you want to get off.

Bus fares cost around ST $12 (approx. USD $4.50) and you will need to pay the driver in cash when you board the bus (so make sure you have spare change). There is a bus schedule, but they tend to run on island time so don’t expect to be anywhere in a hurry – not that you would be when you’re on holiday in paradise. Another thing to note: buses don't run on Sunday as it's considered to be the day of rest for Christian Samoans.

Bicycle

Hiring a bicycle is another popular way to get around. Not only it is good to get active, but it’s also a great way to explore at a slower pace and really immerse yourself in Samoa's tropical beauty. You can take it easy on the coastal ring roads which are mostly flat, or ride up some of the steeper trails inland. Most of the main roads on Upolo and Savai'i are sealed, but be wary of the odd pothole here and there.

Taxis

Sometimes it’s easier to hop in a taxi to get from A to B, and there are plenty of them in Samoa. Simply flag one down at the side of the road and jump in. Just be aware that taxis in Samoa aren’t usually metered, so you’ll need to agree on a price with the taxi driver beforehand. That said, they’re generally affordable with short trips costing around ST $10 (or USD $4), while a taxi ride to Faleolo International Airport from Apia will set you back roughly ST $70 (USD $26).

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