It's easy for visitors to get out and about in Samoa with many types of transport options available. In fact, you should encourage your customers to try out the different ways to get around as they can often be a fun part of the experience for their very own unique reasons. From scenic ferry trips to colourful lively local buses, here is an overview of transport options in Samoa, so you can give your customers the best advice on how to get from A to B (and what it will cost).
Car and passenger ferries operated by Samoa Shipping Corporation enable visitors to travel between the two main islands of Upolu and Savai’i while catching glimpses of smaller islands along the way. Terminals are located at Mulifanua Wharf on Upolu and Salelologa Wharf on Savai'i, and the crossing takes 60-90 minutes. For an additional fee of ST$18, a VIP ticket allows passengers to access a lounge onboard which offers air conditioning, tea, coffee, and a snack.
Walk on ferry tickets can be purchased at the Mulifanua (Upolu) and Salelologa (Savai’i) ferry terminals with one-way fares for children aged 2-12-years-old ST$6 and for adults, ST$12. Tickets can only be purchased in cash.
Visitors wishing to take a car on the ferry will need to book and pay for their ticket in Apia at Shipping House (besides Paddles restaurant). Alternatively, it might be possible to arrange ferry bookings through vehicle rental companies. Depending on the size of the vehicle, fares are between ST$80-ST$110 each way and bookings include the driver only. For additional passengers travelling in the car, tickets must be purchased at the ticket office at Mulifanua Wharf. You should also advise your customers that vehicle check-in closes one hour before each scheduled departure.
To reach Manono Island, boats operate from Manono-Uta on Upolu Island’s western end, near Le Vasa Resort. There is no set timetable and trips are arranged on-site along with any other passengers who may be waiting.
When visitors take a bus in Samoa, they will temporarily step out of the tourist realm into the ‘real Samoa’ with all its warmth and glory. Exploring the islands on Samoa’s brightly coloured buses doesn’t just provide an inexpensive transport option, but a memorable and fun cultural experience.
There are no bus stops but catching a bus is as easy as waving it down and pulling the cord along the roof of the bus to get off. All buses are named with their destination, but visitors are advised to ask the driver if they’re unsure.
You should also warn your customers that buses in Samoa run on ‘island time’, so they’re not appropriate if they need to be somewhere at a specific time. The bus timetable is flexible, to say the least, and it’s not unheard of for buses to stop at supermarkets and wait while passengers do their shopping.
First-timers, and anyone unsure of the bus routes, can choose to board a bus at the main terminals. In Apia, the main terminals are located behind the food market in Fugalei and opposite the flea market at Savalalo. Fares are usually a maximum of ST$12 per person and payments are in cash only.
There are lots of taxis throughout Upolu and Savai’i and they are an easy and inexpensive way to get around. Visitors to Samoa should be advised that taxis aren't metered, so it's important that they agree on a fare with the driver before they depart. The minimum fare is ST$3, and as a guide, a fare from Faleolo International Airport to Apia should cost around ST$60-70. For short trips around town, fares range from ST$3-12. In some cases, visitors may be able to negotiate a decent day rate that compares favourably with a hire car.
The most convenient way to get around Samoa is by renting a car. With so many off-the-beaten- track activities, hiring a car offers the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle, so visitors can freely travel around according to their own schedules. Local hire companies cater to all group sizes, from 16-seater vans to four-wheel drives for off-road exploring.
In Samoa, people drive on the left-hand side of the road and the speed limit is 40km/h in towns and villages and 56km/h on the open roads. You'll need to advise your customers to embrace island time when driving in Samoa, and they should always keep their eyes peeled at night for animals they might not expect to see at home.
All visitors intending to drive in Samoa will need a temporary drivers’ license from the Transport Enforcement Division of the Ministry of Police. They can check with the rental car company whether they offer the license on-site, or they can also apply for their license at Faleolo International Airport.
Before they travel, advise your customers to inspect their vehicle at the depot before they drive away, noting any existing scratches or dents. Renting a car from Faleolo International Airport includes an additional ST$2 fee to leave the car park - payable by cash only.
Travelling by bike is another great way to experience Samoa. Both islands have easy to navigate coastal ring roads but there are also tracks suitable for mountain biking for the adventurous. There are even bike tours which are a great way for visitors to get orientated or be guided through a particular part of Samoa.
Bikes can be rented from some resorts and Outdoor Samoa on Upolu and Savai'i. You will also find companies that offer a bag carry service or full support vehicle if you think your customer might enjoy the cycling rather than balancing packs and provisions.
Some people might prefer to rent a scooter which will allow them to duck and dive between traffic - well, traffic Samoan style! It also offers a fabulous open-air experience, so visitors can enjoy Samoa’s natural beauty as it should be – with blues skies above, gorgeous beaches to one side, and lush green vegetation to the other. Helmets are a must.
Samoa’s main roads are generally sealed, but cyclists and drivers alike will encounter many patched-up sections and potholes. Cyclists should Be advised to head out as early as they can in the morning before the heat of the day builds. Bike locks Should always be carried by cyclists to ensure their safety and security of their hire bike when left unattended.