If you thought Upolu was mellow, try the tiny, tranquil island of Manono on for size. Canines and cars have been banished here, and the only things that might snap you out of a tropical reverie are occasional blasts from stereos and the tour groups that periodically clog the island’s main trail.
It’s obligatory for visitors to do the 1½-hour circumnavigation of the island via the path that wends its way between the ocean and people’s houses. They’re friendly sorts here; expect to be greeted with a cheery ‘malo’ a dozen or so times.
The trail winds through Lepuia’i, where you’ll see the two-tiered Grave of 99 Stones. Translated from the Samoan, the name actually means ‘Grave of the Missing Stone’ and is dedicated to high chief Vaovasa, who was killed after an unsuccessful attempt to abduct his 100th wife from Upolu. The missing stone at the grave’s centre represents the missing wife. The trail’s most beautiful section is Manono’s less-populated northern edge, where little bays offer terrific views of Apolima. Apai village has the island’s best beach.
If you follow the path behind the women’s committee building in Salua, you’ll eventually end up on top of Mt Tulimanuiva (110m), where there’s a large star mound. Nearby is the grave of Afutiti, a chief who was buried standing up to keep watch over the island. Allow 90 minutes to two hours for this side trip.