Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery


Enchanting Upolu may be small in size, but it’s huge on options. Beach-bumming or bushwalking? Resort cocktails or billiard-hall beers? Diving or do-nothing? Whatever floats your holiday boat, odds are you’ll find it here.

Home to the international airport, the capital city and the bulk of the country’s population, Upolu is where nearly all travellers begin their Samoan sojourn. The majority get their first glimpse of local life on the 35km drive from the airport to Apia, where a procession of tidy villages, incongruously large churches and rickety fruit stalls line perhaps the slowest highway in the world (the speed limit is 40km/h).

Most visitors devote themselves to the dazzling strips of sand skirting Upolu’s southern shoreline, with forays into pristine offshore lagoons that shelter colourful coral groves and schools of fish; the ethereal To Sua Ocean Trench attracts those keen on the surreal swim of a lifetime. But Upolu also has its fair share of terra firma treasures: the tangled rainforest of the interior, rough coastal cliffs formed by the cooling of lava rivers and fascinating craters and caves. The urban delights of Apia shouldn’t be neglected either, not if you fancy the odd boogie, movie, or the country’s best eating and drinking establishments.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout 'Upolu.