The Pacific Island nation of Samoa is typical of the type of place you would imagine South Pacific islands to be: tropical, green, sparsely populated, beautiful corals, attractive lagoons, and palm-fringed white beaches.
Samoa has ten islands within its realm, eight of which are quite tiny plus two main islands. Most of the population lives on the island of Upolu, but its neighbour, Savai’i is larger and less densely populated, and an ideal place for that South Pacific vacation.
If you discount New Zealand, which is considered to be Polynesian as it was first populated by Maoris, and Hawaii because it is above the Equator, then in terms of area Savai’i is the largest South Pacific island. It is also the more laid back of the two main Samoan islands. Whilst life on Upolu is hardly as frenetic as that in Manhattan, because Samoans don’t mind living life at a casual pace, Savai’i is just that bit more relaxed and, of course, less crowded.
South Pacific islands tend to be either formed by volcanic activity, or are atolls that have built up gradually over time. Savai’i is definitely volcanic, and was created by fluid lava flows. It has the largest shield volcano in Polynesia, and has over 100 craters within its boundaries. The last volcanic eruptions occurred when Mt Matavanu became active over 100 years ago. Here you can explore the Saleaula lava fields, an area of over 50 square kilometres that is covered in great tongues of cooled lava.
Fortunately, volcanic soil is very fertile, so the interior of Savai’i is covered by dense rainforest, and is rich with many different varieties of flora and fauna. The coastline is dotted with many fine beaches from which coral reefs are easily accessible, making Savai’i an ideal place for those who love to snorkel or dive, or who have a penchant for water sports.
The town of Saleloga is also the main port where the ferry terminal is located. A daily passenger and vehicle ferry plies the Apolima Strait to Mulifanua on Upolu. The voyage takes about 90 minutes, and you get some great views of the islands from on board ship.
Apart from the one town, most people reside in traditional villages. Although there are some magnificent resorts on Savai’i, many of the villages also welcome guests who stay in beach fales, simply thatched huts that are usually quite basic.
Most tourists head for the northern part of the island, as this is where the resorts tend to be located. Even so, there are plenty of opportunities to explore other parts of the island and to find a quiet spot where you can be at one with this gorgeous piece of paradise.