Travel: Stop time in Savai'i

By Mike Yardley

Just 20km west of the most inhabited Samoan island of Upolu, Savai'i is the third-largest Polynesian island after New Zealand and Tahiti.

You can hop-scotch your way between the islands by plane or onboard one of the distinctly unglamourous ferries, which is a 90-minute connection. Most of the island villages are speckled along the main coast road, and what I particularly love about Savai'i are the untouched glimpses of traditional life in which you can immerse yourself.

As you tootle by the villages, you'll see locals dozing in their fales or bathing in communal rock pools. Pigs scamper about, meals are routinely cooked in umu pits and horses are tethered on the roadside.

Time stands still in Savai'i. The island has been blessed with geological marvels and a rich marine life. Lap up the foaming magnificence of the Alofaaga Blowholes, which are best seen at high tide. Locals may demonstrate the power of the waves by "feeding" the blowholes a coconut, which is duly sent sky-high by the forces of the sea.

Stop by the Saleaula lava fields, where Mt Matavanu erupted 102 years ago, leaving a moonscape of 50sq km of wrinkly lava tongues.

You can hire the local guide Doctor Craterman - a walking library on island history. But nothing compares to the experience of swimming with the turtles. Hop in the lagoon for a graceful natural encounter.

- Hamilton News

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