Without a booked excursion we had planned to play it by ear after first exploring the town of Apia a bit on foot. However the weather turned pretty bad with pouring rain. We had walked beyond where most of the tour guides were but luckily ran into one more guy who was more of a taxi driver than a tour guide. He did however know the island very well having grown up there and driven quite a few people around the island. Compared to the previous day when we'd seen only a couple of places, for about twice the money, we felt it was a very good deal and we ended up seeing much more of the island than we had expected.
Our first stop was at the beautiful Falefa Falls.
We then had two more stops where I haven't included pictures from: Lemafa Scenic Site where we could see from the mountains to the sea and Sopo'aga Falls Viewpoint which had another beautiful waterfall. You can see some of the pictures from those in the Apia, Upolo, Samoa photo album.
Next we stopped at the To-Sua Ocean Trench. We could have spent the entire day there. It had a changing area and shower and a number of holes in the ground that connected to the ocean via underground tunnels. There were numerous stairways down into the swimming holes and the ocean. If you look closely in the picture below you'll see there's actually a wooden stairway down into the swimming hole.
Next we stopped at the Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa where we bought a light snack and drinks while sitting at a table overlooking the ocean. The resort has some very nice cabins next to the shore. It would have been nice to spend a few days here relaxing, maybe with some trips to the nearby swimming holes at the To-Sua Ocean Trench.
Our next stop on the way back to Apia was at Papapapaitai Falls.
Our last stop was at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
Although Samoa is fairly close geographically to American Samoa, by this time we were actually much closer to New Zealand and Australia than the US. Since those are their main trading partners, as well as main source for tourists, Samoa has aligned itself more closely with those nations than the US. For example in September 2009 Samoa changed the side of the road they drive on from being on the right to being on the left. This was to make it less expensive for people to buy used cars from Australia and New Zealand. It also makes it easier for tourists visiting from those countries.
Two years later they changed their timezone as well. Samoa used to be in the same timezone as American Samoa, observing the same days of the week, but changed in 2011 when they skipped Friday December 30 and went right to Saturday December 31, losing one day. This was to align themselves with their largest trading partners, Australia and New Zealand since otherwise it was difficult to deal with businesses that were having their Monday when you were off work on Sunday, or were off work on a Saturday when you were on Friday.
This also meant that we had lost a day while traveling from American Samoa to Samoa. So although it only took one day to travel from American Samoa to Samoa, the date had gone from October 20 to October 22. Unfortunately this also meant we visited Samoa on a Sunday when most of the businesses and many of the tour companies were closed.