Upolu Escape

Upolu Escape

See the best known attractions of Samoa by bike

160 kms 10 Days/9 Nights From $1,640 NZD pp

Explore Upolu on a 10 day bike ride

A 10 day cycle tour of Upolu with optional kayak days that takes in the popular attractions of the Island. Swim at the best beaches, snorkel over the giant clams, jump into To Sua Trench, cool off under Togitogiga falls and experience village life on this 160 km ride.

Explore the beaches and attractions of Upolu in this 10 day tour of the most populous Island. Optionally add up to 3 days of guided kayaking (two within the 10 days and one additional day pre-trip). Ride gently through coastal villages stopping regularly to observe village life and maybe join a game of village cricket before stopping for the afternoon and evening at your hotel or fale on the beach. The coast is dotted with sandy beaches that provide safe swimming and snorkelling in the lagoon. Maybe kayak to a remote island with its own sandy beach, or snorkel with turtles from our kayaks. Or add in a dose of adrenaline with some of our side trips like waterfall jumping, lava tube caving, underwater caves and coastal challenges. Travel between locations by bike, electric bike or car transfer. Highlights include:

  • To Sua Trench – leap into the pool at the bottom of this deep collapse lava tube – One of the iconic locations of Samoa
  • Piula Cave pools – swim in these freshwater pools formed by raised sea arches
  • Apia Markets
  • Kayak amongst the wild turtles or out to the private Nuusafee Island (optional extra tours)
  • Safe swimming on great beaches
  • Explore the waterfalls and pools of the main rivers
  • Fish for Giant Trevally (optional extra)
  • Snorkel over the Giant Clams

There are two longer days of cycling (35 and 32 kms) and 4 days of cycling 12-20 kms). There are opportunities to swim and snorkel every day and numerous waterfalls, pools and caves to explore along the way. As well as opportunities for kayak trips and a fishing half day.

Cyclists should be comfortable cycling 40kms in a day with some hills. While the longest two days are 35 and 32 kms, the heat makes riding a bit harder. This trip can be coordinated with flights arriving Sunday or Monday and departing Wednesday.

Accommodation is a mix of fales and motels. See FAQs for Cyclists for more details.

Alternatives:

  • If you have more time – combine the Upolu Escape with add-ons of either the van tour or kayak tours
    If you prefer to see a more traditional side of Samoa – check the Savaii Escape
Cycling

There are 4 short days of cycling (12-20 kms) and two longer days (32 and 35 kms).

Daily Transfers

Daily transfers of gear with some support.

Beaches

Legendary South Coast beaches and Namua Island

Packages Available

Regular departures for groups of up to eight. Alternatively organise your own group of 2-16 people for a private tour.

Tour Details

Cycle around Upolu over 9-10 days on quiet sealed roads staying mostly on the beaches in traditional family run Beach Fales.  

The trip is partly about the cycling, but is more about the opportunities that cycling brings to meet the locals and get to know more about the culture.  

Ride in the mornings and spend the afternoons swimming, snorkelling or relaxing on the beach at your lagoon-side fales. 

While the trip is designed as a cycle tour, it is also suitable for non-riders who can travel in the support van. This works very well for family groups with children.  We also have e-Bikes available to hire.

Cyclists should be comfortable riding 40kms a day with some hills. 

The map below also includes an elevation view.

 

Most nights are in Beach Fales (pronounced far-lays) These are provided by the villages and consist of thatched roofs, matting sides, and wooden floors.

The huts are often in the most stunning settings and allow you to sit or lie on your bed and look out across the beach to the most amazing sunsets. Breakfast and dinner are  included and served in a common dining room and the bathrooms are shared facilities. Mattresses, pillows, mosquito nets and bed sheets are included.

The fales are equivalent to a permanent campsite and the more traditional ones like Namua are often a highlight for guests. Fale resorts are changing with the times and some offer lockable rooms, corrugated iron roofs, hot showers and ensuites. However, the traditional units are often cooler and much more pleasant.

The dates for scheduled departures  (approximately monthly) will be set once a flight schedule is re-established post Covid.  Custom tours can start on any day  More details to appear on the calendar.

The Upolu Escape is available as a custom tour for groups of 2-16.  We recommend this if you are a group of four or more.

It can be modified to include extra/fewer rest days or different accommodation options.

Scheduled tours have a normal maximum of eight and a minimum of two.  Custom tours can accommodate up to 16.

A small number of upgrades to ensuite fales are available.  

Upgrades to hotels/resorts are available at some locations and is more practical on custom tours when it becomes easier to adjust the destinations to match accommodation. 

Upgrades to include up to 4 days of kayaking are easily scheduled.

Day 1

Upolu Escape - Scheduled Tour - Gear Transfer

Upolu Escape – Scheduled Tour – Gear Transfer

Cycle around Upolu
over a relaxed 9-10 days staying mostly on the beaches in family run Beach Fales. There is plenty of time to swim and snorkel, while the trip also takes in both the best known and thest less-well known attractions of Upolu. It is a combination of riding, beach adventures and a cultural experience. It is all fun.
This itinerary should be treated as inspiration as there is so much more that you can add in. Several days of kayaking, more sightseeing, more snorkelling and rest days and several on-foot adventures.

Arrival Night

Arrival Night (1 night)

Most travellers will arrive early in the evening and find a basic motel appropriate. Options to upgrade to Resort style accommodation, homestay or Beack Fales are usually available.

Pictured are the very popular Matareva Beach Fales.

Day 2

Manono Overnight Kayak

Manono Island Overnight Kayak – Early return

Arrive a day earlier and kayak to Manono Island. On this 10 km paddle we often see turtles and have an opportunity to snorkel on the reef. In the afternoon take a leisurely walk around the Island. Dogs, cars and bikes are banned and the walk always takes at least two hours as you stop to watch daily village life or join in a game of volleyball.

The kayak section is suitable for everyone in most conditions. Experienced kayakers may have an opportunity to kayak outside the reef in the deep blue water where we sometimes surprise giant loggerhead turtles dozing on the surface.

Non-paddlers can also travel by ferry.

Stay the night at Sunset View Beach Fales take the ferry back in the morning to join the regular trip by 10am.

Day 3

Matareva Beach Fales

Matareva Beach Fales (2 nights)

Set in its own private bay on a white sand beach beside a blue lagoon this well run, basic fale resort is a lovely spot to experience a beach holiday as well as the culture of Samoa. A daily program of activities includes Fiafia nights with fire dancers and various tours.

Hosts Tavita and Fiauu continue to develop the resort adding new activities and experiences. Surfing is sometimes possible (but it is onto/over the reef), the Giant clams are a short ride away and there are several nearby beaches and pools to explore.

Meals: Dinner and Breakfast included. There is a lunch menu available and on Sunday a To’anai (traditional umu lunch) is available.

Outdoor Samoa to Matareva

Outdoor Samoa to Matareva (30kms / 250m climb)

After fitting the bikes and a full briefing the 14 km gentle ride around the coast is a very pleasant introduction to village life. Or for the more adventurous there is an option to ride the trails and 4WD roads through the bush.

At Falelatai the road heads steeply uphill for 2 kms. However, when you get to the top the view over the lagoons are well worth stopping for. The downhill section is only partly sealed but after the ford, at 19kms, the road improves for the last 3 kms around the coast to Le Faga bay in Savaia home of the Giant Clams (22.5 kms to here). These giant flourescent mulluscs are almost a metre long and easily accessible via an easy snorkel in a sheltered lagoon.

This is often a good spot for lunch at one of two low-key fale resorts before travelling the last 10kms to Matareva.

Day 4

Matareva Day

Matareva Day

The resort is rapidly regaining its reputation as one of the hidden gems of Upolu. Relax on the beach, swim in the lagoon or explore the surrounding beaches. Check out the Giant Clams if you missed out yesterday.

Day 5

Vai Villas

Vai Villas (1 night)

Located beside a spring and natural pool, Vai Villas provides an introduction to Samoan village life.

The navigable creek flowing from the spring leads to a lagoon that is home to numerous turtles that breed on the sandy beaches.

Meals Included: Breakfast

Matareva to Vai Villas (13 kms gentle riding)

Matareva to Vai Villas (13 kms) and Optional Turtle kayak

Today’s ride is only 12 kms to Vai Villas which is situated on the mangroves where Lua’s hospitality and great food make it a memorable stay.

Turtle Kayak Option (see price tab for cost): After a briefing paddle down a gentle, meandering mangrove stream, taking time to observe this unique ecosystem with numerous varieties of orchids. On reaching the main lagoon we paddle along the shore line often spotting turtles as we go. We land on a sandy beach for a snack before heading out to a small keyhole entrance to the reef where we usually see several giant turtles. For those who are confident there are opportunities to snorkel here along the edge of the reef and hopefully spot the turtles beneath. If there is a big surf outside the reef the trip may be changed to spot the numerous turtles inside the reef. These are a bit smaller, but incredibly agile as they charge away from the kayaks. Paddling back there will be an opportunity for a swim before heading up the mangrove stream back to Vai Villas in time for a late lunch on the deck.

Day 6

Vai Villas to Vaiula Beach Fales (24kms)

Vai Villas to Vaiula Beach Fales (24 kms)

Today’s ride includes 36 kms of rolling country. The route follows the undulating sealed coast road and while it’s easy to focus on just getting to the destination, there is a lot to do along the way. Potential stops include the Sinalei resort for a taste of luxury, Aganoa Black sands beach for a remote sandy beach with good snorkelling and the walk to the Ma Tree. But my favourite is a long swim at Togitogiga waterfalls.

Your ride ends on the lagoon beach at Vaiula Beach fales, Tafatafa.

8 kms – Maninoa. This bay is home to Coconuts and Sinalei Resorts and both are nice places for a coffee or beer. Squeezed in the middle is Lupes which has good well priced food. Coconuts has a superb fiafia show on Saturday nights (free). Sinalei also has a good fiafia on a Wednesday night (65 Tala with dinner).

10 kms – Cross Island Road junction.

14 kms – Ma tree and Coastal Walkway. It’s a short forest walk to this tree with large buttress roots. Directly opposite is the road down to the coastal walkway. This runs along the top of the lava cliffs.

16 kms – Togitogiga Falls. One of the best freshwater swims in Samoa. The turnoff is well signposted and it’s a very short ride to the changing rooms and toilets by the falls. The pools are a good place to cool off, but the adventurous will jump the falls.

19 kms Poutasi Development Trust Arts Centre. Poutasi was destroyed in the 2009 Tsunami. John Key became actively involved with the village and as a result New Zealand funded a new village community centre and John was awarded the matai title of To’osavili. Ongoing work by New Zealand volunteers has seen the development of market gardens and art centre. Here you can try your hand at various crafts or just buy well-made local items. Judging by how long our groups spend here – it’s a popular stop.

24 kms – At Tafatafa take the second road down to Vaiula Beach Fales, Tafatafa Beach. It is clearly signposted to Vaiula Beach Fales.

Vaiula Beach Fales

Vaiula Beach Fales (2 nights)

Today’s ride includes 36 kms of rolling country. The route follows the undulating sealed coast road and while it’s easy to focus on just getting to the destination, there is a lot to do along the way. Potential stops include the Sinalei resort for a taste of luxury, Aganoa Black sands beach for a remote sandy beach with good snorkelling and the walk to the Ma Tree. But my favourite is a long swim at Togitogiga waterfalls.

Your ride ends on the lagoon beach at Vaiula Beach fales, Tafatafa.

Day 7

Tafatafa Day

Tafatafa Day

After a full schedule of riding and kayaking you may be ready for a relaxing beach day. Nugg runs a great bar and Dave

is a renowned fishing guide who can offer fishing trips inside and outside the reef.

Lava tube cave tours are run by Dave’s sons.

Nugg also runs boat based surfing, but this is usually only for experts, confident of their abilities near coral reefs.

Day 8

Tafatafa to Namua Island (29kms)

Tafatafa to Namua Island (29kms)

Get on your bikes early as there is a lot to do again today.

13 kms down the road is To Sua Trench. This collapsed lava tube is one of the picture postcard attractions of Samoa with the steep ladder leading down into the sea water pools. The trench and surrounds deserve a couple of hours at least. Take in the seascape, blowholes, beach and history along with a gentle swim in the pool.

When you eventually drag yourselves out of the pool, ride another 13 kms to Lalomanu Beach. Lonely Planet rates this one of the 10 best beaches in the world, so it’s worth stopping for lunch and a swim here. After lunch continue on another 5kms to the ferry (dinghy) to Namua Island. Leave your bikes with the resort owners.

Namua Island Resort

Namua Island Resort (1 night)

The fale resort is the only habitation on the island and is located on a sheltered sandy beach. While very basic and with no electricity, it isoften the highlight of the tour. You may find yourself alone on a tropical island with a cool breeze, sandy shore and comfortable fale.

A short steep track leads to the top of the island with views across the lagoon and out to sea where American Samoa may be visible 70kms away. The birdlife visible can include boobies, tropic birds, frigate birds and terns, while dusk reveals large flights of flying foxes heading out from their roosts to plunder mainland fruit crops. Whales and dolphins can sometimes be spotted from the lookout points.

At low tide it is possible to circumnavigate the island. Be aware that this requires dead low tide and moderate to calm seas and parts arevery slippery, so ask first. Allow 1-2 hours.

Meals available: Breakfast and dinner, lunch can be purchased

Day 9

Namua Island to Le Uaina (35kms - hilly)

Namua Island to Le Uaina (35kms – hilly)

After breakfast catch the boat back to the mainland and pick up your bikes.

The shortest and more interesting route is to continue around the coast and up Richardson Road (400m climb). This provides views of the hydro storage lake (that connects via a tunnel to the powerhouse in Faga-Loa Bay), before reconnecting with the alternative (but longer and lower) route via Lotofaga Village and Sopoaga Falls. The topography here is different from the rest of Samoa with near vertical green hillsides and the remains of several large mixed cattle and copra estates. Stop and admire the view from Le Mafa pass (but be wary of crossing the fence into the bull paddock for a better picture).

The ride down the hill can be exhilarating, but stop at the bottom to admire the Falefa Falls. From Falefa continue 2kms west on the main road to Le Uaina Beach Resort.

Le Uaina Beach Resort

Le Uaina Beach Resort (1 night)

Set on the beach beside the Piula Cave pools, Le Uaina offers a comfortable motel experience with a good pool and pleasant lagoon swimming in the nearby marine reserve. Sit on kayaks are available for the adventurous to explore the nearby Falefa Bay and Falls. The mangrove lagoon can be paddled at high tide.

The nearby Piula Cave Pools are well worth exploring.

Le Uaina has a dining area with indoor and deckside sitting options and a good menu to select from.

Meals Included: Tropical Breakfast

Day 10

Le Alaimoana Hotel

Le Alaimoana Hotel (1 night)

Le Alaimonana Hotel is cozy and friendly with a dining bar and pool facilities. The hotel is situated on the eastern edge of Apia town, conveniently close yet an arm’s length away to be relaxed.

Meals Included: Continental breakfast

Le Uaina to Apia (22kms flat)

Le Uaina to Apia – Le Alaimoana (22kms flat)

An easy riding day along the coast with the option to add a 12km side trip to Sauniatu falls.

1.2 kms – turnoff to Sauniatu Falls. 6kms of gradually deteriorating road lead to the falls which are well worth the effort.

10kms – Pudding Rock (Cape Utmau’u) a popular surfing spot (and one of the few reached without a boat).

Approaching Apia the traffic gets a bit heavier.

Le Alaimoana Hotel is located just past the Apia Park on the left hand side. The bikes can be locked at the hotel and spend the afternoon sightseeing. There’s lots to see. The Robert Louis Stevenson Museum, food and flea market and a good selection of cafes.

Day 11

Apia and Own Arrangements

Apia and Own Arrangement

Enjoy the sights of Apia before heading off on your independent travels in Samoa.

Apia has a range of excellent restaurants and coffee shops.

The fish, vege and drygoods (souvenir) markets are all worth a look. I particularly like the wide range of fish at the fish market, but it is not for everyone.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s home, Villa Vailima, has been turned into a fascinating museum and has an excellent guided tour.

The Baha’i Temple is a masterpiece of architecture with stunning views over the city.

Trip Notes

Trip Notes

ACCOMMODATION:
The fale resorts can be best thought of as camping style. They have good, waterproof roofs, solid wooden floors, matting sides, mosquito nets, bedding, pillows and mattresses. Bathrooms are shared and dining is usually from a limited or set menu. Allocation of specific fales for singles/doubles cannot always be guaranteed within your group during busy periods due to limitations with fale resort booking practices. The fale locations and the hospitality often make these the magic nights of your trip.

Motel standard accommodation provides motel/hotel like rooms with ensuite facilities.

CULTURAL SENSITIVITY – DRESS CODE:
As Samoa is a very traditional country and the people deeply religious we recommend a modest dress code when cycling through villages. Tight lycra shorts should be covered with baggy shorts (or even a skirt for women).
When kayaking it is appropriate for women to have a sarong/lava lava handy to cover up when landing. Respect is especially important on Sunday as it is traditionally a day of rest in Samoa.

Your experience and interaction with the Samoan people and their culture will be enhanced by showing this appropriate cultural sensitivity.

PRICING:
See accompanying email for pricing details

 

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"Thankyou for a wonderful holiday in Samoa. The mix of accommodation styles and rest days suited everybody very well. It is impossible to choose a favourite part of the trip as there are so many wonderful places".
Warren Gynther
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