If you find yourself doodling around the southeast corner of Upola, main island of Samoa, looking for something to do, then you could certainly do a whole lot worse than pass the day at To Sua Ocean Trench, the Ma Tree, and Sopo’aga Falls.
To Sua Ocean Trench
I don’t know why they’ve called this place To Sua Ocean Trench, because there is no ocean trench involved. This is a sink hole, formed when the ceiling collapsed above an old lava tunnel.
A steep wooden ladder provides access to the water level – the ladder is quite slippery after a few dripping wet swimmers have used it, so be careful with your feet.
Ropes have been strung across and through the old lava tunnel at water level to keep you from being swept around by the surge – the sink hole is open to the sea and affected by waves; you don’t want to swim too close to the ocean side of the sink hole or you might get sucked through.
I used the ropes at first but there were quite a few others clinging to them and thoroughly blocking access, so I soon ditched the and ropes swam around without difficulty. It just took a bit of commonsense to counter the surge when required.
But if you aren’t a strong swimmer stick to the ropes.
There is a small entrance fee to access To Sua Ocean Trench – which is just off the Main South Coast Road, near the village of Lotofoga.
The grounds contain acres of manicured gardens, along with a few day fales (raised platforms for picnicking), and stunning views of the coastline.
Approximately 25km east of To Sua Ocean Trench (following the Main South Coast Road), you’ll find O Le Pupu-Pue National Park.
Inside the national park is a short hike leading to the Ma Tree.
This distinctive tree, with its enormous, sinuous, buttress roots, along with the surrounding rainforest, is part of what little native vegetation remains on Upolu. 80% or more of the native vegetation on the island has been cleared.
Although Samoa looked uniformly lush and green, most of what you see now are plantations, weeds, and exotic species. Which makes a trip to O Le Pupu-Pue National Park all the more worthwhile.
The trail to the Ma Tree is approximately 700 metres each way. It’s a rough, overgrown track, and it can be very humid and sticky in the middle of the day.
There is no entrance fee.
Sopo’aga Falls are located about half way between the Ma Tree and To Sua Ocean Trench.
The falls themselves are nice, as you can see. The surrounding vegetation can only be described as lush. Overwhelmingly, ridiculously lush.
There is a small entrance fee to see the Falls.
Practical information and how to reach To Sua Ocean Trench:
The three sites mentioned in this post are all situated on the southeast coast of Upolu, approx 50km from Apia, and 80km from Faleolo International Airport. To reach the sites either hire a car or book a tour. More transport info here.