The island of Savai’i offers a wilder experience of Pacific life than ‘Upolu. Apart from being the largest island in Polynesia outside New Zealand and Hawai’i, it’s also mostly uninhabited, which means there’s more spectacular tropical terrain at hand and less signs of modern life to be encountered while you’re exploring it. Most of the island’s villages are speckled along the main coast road and, as you drive, bus or walk through these, you’re liable to see locals dozing in large fale (traditional thatched house) and bathing in communal rock pools; a remarkable assortment of weathered churches; pigs scampering about, their tails swishing feverishly as they root around in the dirt or sand; and horses tethered by the roadside or being bathed in the sea, particularly along the island’s east coast.
Away from the villages and their traditional ways is a wonderfully rough, legendary landscape awaiting discovery. Scattered across the island are numerous archaeological sites - fortifications, star mounds and ancient platforms - many of which have been swallowed up by the nearly impenetrable jungle. Savai’i is studded with about 450 craters, many of them along the island’s central ridge, and the more accessible of these allow you to peer into the depths of a huge, silent, overgrown caldera. Violent eruptions a century ago coated much of the island’s northeast with lava - pick your way through the fields of charred, broken rock and imagine what the heat must have been like. To top it all off, there are also magnificent waterfalls and hiking trails secreted within old plantations, untouched rainforests blanketing remote peninsulas, and furious blowholes making their presence felt along the stormy coast.