We had an early morning alarm to wake us all up for a long and exciting trip to Savaii. We had an hour long drive to the ferry terminal and had reservations to catch the ferry from Upolu to Savaii. Anthony who was our driver from the Samoan Tourist Office, was ready and waiting for us at 6am but as is usual for our group, we didn’t have all of our packed bags and lunches ready until quarter past the hour.
We arrived at the ferry terminal about an hour early to find a long line of people waiting for a place on the boat that also fit about fifty cars and a few hundred passengers. Fortunately we did have a reservation unlike many of the others and so Anthony had to wedge the van into a lego like formation that had him only inches away from the other vehicles around him. Every little space seems to be well used in transporting as many vehicles as possible to the island.
We climbed up the steep stairwell that led to the upper decks. The second deck accommodated about 280 people in the air conditioned tourist class sitting room and 48 people in the business class area while the top deck had open air seating for almost as many. As the boat got underway an animated movie played on screen that kept the kids busy and entertained for the entire voyage. We obtained a few utensils from the concession area at the back of the room and enjoyed the cereal we had brought with us for breakfast. The hour long trip went by quickly and with a good family friendly movie to watch, we hardly noticed the rolling waves that had the boat rolling from side to side (although nothing in comparison to being on our little sailboat).
We walked off the ferry on Savaii and met up with Anthony who was just off of the boat and inside the parking area. We couldn’t resist buying two chilled coconuts for a refreshing drink to start the morning’s adventures.
Our first stop was not far from the ferry. We drove past the islands bustling Saturday morning market and on to the Afu-A-Au Waterfalls. The road was a bit slick and so we walked the last five minutes to the main falls which had us meandering up a path past the river and its multiple small little falls. The main waterfalls were absolutely gorgeous and reminded me of the setting for a movie. To one side was a tall 300 foot waterfall cascading down into a gigantic deep pool of crystal clear water. Behind the falls was a cave the kids could go back into and explore. On the other corner of the semi-circle around the pool was a series of 5 waterfalls cascading down a ten foot drop into the same pool. On the side we entered was a tall cliff the kids jumped off of into the pool and a shallow area for Teyauna to dip her feet into the water. Jaeden, Dailin, Orin and Eli spent most of their time scouting out all of the highest points from which they could jump into the water. They jumped from the ledge, a tall cliff, small cliffs and eventually from the branches of a 100 foot tall tree that reached out and over a deep section of the pool. With so many small and one large waterfall surrounding us, it was the perfect place for a family outing. It was 9:30 am when we arrived and the kids especially enjoyed fully waking up to swimming in the cool fresh water at the start of the long morning.
We continued our circle island tour with a stop at the bow-holes The waves were rolling in very forcefully along the coastline as we drove up. The little fale where the local people were collecting the admission fee was at the end of a dirt road as we reached the ocean. After paying the fee to enter the area, we brought one of the older men with us and drove along a very rough road that led to the big blow-hole. Waves were crashing so hard along the rocks on the coast that it sent a shower of water 100 feet into the air. The mist of that water sprinkled onto our car as we drove along the bumpy rock trail that hugged a little distance from the water. I was trying to film the scene but the spray was getting all over my camera which was peeking through the open crack in the window. It was incredible to see the force and power of the water crashing into the wall of lava rock.
After finishing driving the mile along the coast we arrived at another open walled fale where others were gathered. We all piled out of the van including the three people we picked up along the dirt road. The older man had a woven palm leaf basket in his hand which contained the husks of about five coconuts. We walked together to the edge of the largest blow-hole following the instructions to stay well back from the powerful blow-hole Each member of our family walked through the sea spray up to the place we were told would be save for us while the elderly man with the woven basket approached the spout of water.
He watched carefully at the waves as they approached the rock wall and then at a very precise moment, dropped the husk of a coconut into the hole. Within a second, a large spout of water 200 feet tall blew up through the blow-hole spewing water like a tall geyser. The man repeated this over and over until he had no more coconut husks left. It was incredible to see how high up the coconut would fly into the air and then fall back to the ground. The power of this blow-hole was absolutely incredible. We had a hard time heading back to the van when we were done because everyone was in such awe. The power of the ocean is incredible.
We continued on and made a stop at some beach fales to have a picnic. There was a restaurant but we had packed a meal and so we headed down to a picnic table over the sand. Alyssa had made us all pizza and it was devoured very quickly. That gave us plenty of time to just play around in the sand. Zakary was excited to have an opportunity to splash around in the shallow water. He had not had a chance to swim at the waterfalls and really was missing the water. Teyauna was happy to have her brothers just push her around in the enormous swing that was hanging thirty feet from a very tall tree overhanging the beach. As long as her brothers didn’t twist it to spin her around as they pushed her, she didn’t scream.
On the Northwest side of the island we made a stop at the canopy walkway. Many years ago a walkway was built high up between two large trees in a rain-forest. Unfortunately one of the two trees are no longer around and so a tall metal staircase has been built to replace the tree. We mounted the staircase about four stories. As we clanged up the noisy staircase the view started to open up a little bit although the forest was still dense. Once we reached the level of the walkway we crossed from the staircase about 200 feet to the large tree in the distance. It was incredible to walk along the wobbly walkway leading to the massive tree. The walkway consisted of aluminum ladders with wooden planks over top of them. These were all suspended in the air by a V shaped net held up with cables. It sure bounced around a lot! Once on the other side we continued to mount up the staircase that went up higher into the tree. We went up and up and up from one platform and staircase to another until we were way up above the canopy of the rain-forest and looking down on all of the trees. But this was not enough, Orin, Dailin and Jaeden wanted to go higher. They continued on up into the branches of the tree and probably would have kept on going if I had not called them back down to the solid ground of the top platform. I sure don’t know where they get their crazy adventurous spirit from… perhaps their mothers side of the family.
Hundreds of feet up in the trees we stopped for a photo before descending down the staircase attached to this large tree. It went all the way back to the ground so that the return path was different than the climb up. The canopy walkway was definitely a unique way to explore the rain-forests of Samoa.
It was getting late and because we had been going since very early in the morning we checked in at the Tanu Beach Fales around 4pm. These little open air raised platforms were our home for the night and follow after the traditional style homes of the Samoan people. While the beach was incredible the kids wanted to visit one last site only 5 minutes away so we whisked them off for another incredible adventure.
Our last adventure of the day was to visit a Turtle Sanctuary. Built on the edge of an inland waterway the Sanctuary is home to about 10 to 15 large sea turtles inside a large pool of water. We were given a papaya and a knife and were invited to feed the papaya slices to the many turtles in the pool. We were also allowed to jump into the water with the turtles and snorkel around the murky water. All of the kids were absolutely thrilled to get into the water to hold, feed and even swim with these large turtles.
They would come right up to us and eat right out of our hands. Teyauna even got to stand right next to one of the turtles. Jaeden, Alyssa, Dailin, Orin and Eli all had a photo taken with the friendliest of the turtles. He hung around for about 20 minutes before moving on to explore other areas of the pool. Snorkeling around I was able to follow a number of the turtles around which all were very fast swimmers and were hard to keep up with. The water itself had hot and cold sections and when I stood on the rock floor of the pool, I could feel the heat coming from the ground. It was very interesting.
After over an hour with the turtles we headed back to our beach fales for a hearty dinner before dragging ourselves to our private fales for a good night sleep. It was a long day and we were absolutely thrilled to get a little bit of much needed sleep.