Upolu Map, Samoa
Three-quarters of independent Samoa's 175,000 people live on Upolu Island, which also hosts the capital of Samoa, Apia. Scenically, it's not unlike the island of Tahiti with green volcanic peaks dropping into coconut plantations and picturesque seaside communities.
About half of Samoans live in Apia or along the coastal plain between Faleolo International Airport and the capital. The rest reside in small villages around Upolu. Tiny Manono and Apolima islands off western Upolu are also inhabited.
The top Upolu beaches are Lefaga, Salamumu, Saleapaga, and Lalomanu, all easily accessible from Apia by bus or car rental.
Surfers, hikers, snorkelers and scuba divers will enjoy Samoa, and traditional Samoan culture is alive and well. For travel to Samoa's largest island Savaii, there are car ferries from Mulifanua every couple of hours.
The most famous Apia hotel is Aggie Grey's, where the weekly island night feasts are spectacular. Recently, Aggie Grey's Lagoon Beach Resort and Spa opened between the airport and Mulifanua.
Top resorts on Upolu's south coast include Coconuts Beach Club and Sinalei Reef Resort near Siumu. Numerous family-run beach resorts all around Samoa offer inexpensive places to stay and eat for the less demanding Samoa traveler.