The island of Upolu is the smaller
of the the 2 main islands that make up Samoa, and is where the
international airport and the capital, Apia, is located.
The island is 75km/47m long and
almost 75% of the Samoan population, just under 150,00, live
here with around 40,000 living in or around Apia itself.
Upolu itself, and especially the capital, Apia, are more
westernised than quieter Sawai'i, and has a more modern way life,
though you still have to bear in mind that unless it is made or
grown here in the islands, everything else has to be brought in by
ship or plane, so the variety of goods, and their price, is not
going to be the same as at home!
Although Upolu has a more modern
feel, many of the local population still have traditional beliefs
and way of life, and the village chiefs still have a lot on
influence over local government decisions. Only chiefs with
the Matai title (head of a family) can become a Member of
Parliament. Every village and town has its own
Christian church and almost every islander goes to service on
Sunday, a day of rest, so shops, bars and some restaurants may not
be open Sundays.
The main road runs right around the
coastline of the island, and although you can easily go all the way
round in a day, there are plenty of villages, secluded beaches and
stunning waterfalls to delay your journey, and they are worthy
Around the town of Apia, there are
sacred burial grounds, the 19th century Moamoa Cathederal, many
churches, several historical buildings and memorial sites,
picturesque parks and gardens, and the Robert Louis Stevenson
Museum. The famous Scottish writer settled on Upolu in 1890
with his family, and became a well respected, influential member of
the community and was revered by the local leaders, so much so that
when he died, aged just 44, the chiefs kept watch over his body all
night, then buried him on a sacred spot on Mount Vaea, overlooking
Elsewhere on Upolu, you can visit
local markets and shops, tour through tropical rainforests and
small local villages, up mountains and down valleys, and stop for
photos, or even a swim and some beautiful waterfalls.