I’m expecting a bit of a crowd when I arrive at the Sua Ocean Trench, arguably the most famous place in Samoa. But as it transpires, there are only three other people swimming here – and before I’ve slipped into my bathers, even they’ve disappeared. Of course, I’m not complaining – if there’s one thing better than swimming somewhere as beautiful as this, it’s swimming here alone.
For the record, I’ve swum in some pretty nice places: Boracay in the Philippines, the Adriatic Sea and the Barrier Reef come to mind, not to mention some stunning hotel pools. However, the Sua Ocean Trench is perhaps the most spectacular spot of all.
Located near the village of Lotofaga on the south side of Samoa’s main island, Upolu, the Sua Ocean Trench is a 30-metre deep natural crater that has been converted into a swimming area. Think a sinkhole, but one with pretty plant-covered walls and crystal clear waters at its base.
Indeed literally translated “giant hole”, the Sua takes just one hour to reach by car from the Samoan capital, Apia. It’s a lovely drive too, winding through lush hills, by the occasional waving villager and past glimpses of the ocean.
But despite being arguably the biggest tourist draw card in all of Samoa (edging the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum - an ode to the writer who spent his final years here), the Sua is a quiet place.
Perhaps people miss the faded road sign, which acts as a marker to the attraction but is only visible when heading east on the main road.
Or maybe, this is just the way of Samoa, a paradise untouched by mass tourism.
Whatever the reason, those who do make the effort to visit the Sua, are grateful for the tranquility.
Swimming in the Sua isn’t without its challenges though. Awaiting those who have made it this far is a tricky final path to the trench, which involves negotiating a tall, slippery looking wooden ladder down the steepest and longest part of the descent.
But it’s a step worth taking. As incredible as the view of the hole from above is, the view looking up from the surface of the water, which gently shifts with the tide, is even more stunning.
Located nearby are lovely Fagaoneone Beach, Fuipisia Falls and some wonderful blowholes. But the Sua trench is the star attraction here, and it’s one that lives up to the hype – minus the crowds, of course.
The Sua Ocean Trench is open 7 days a week from 7am to 6pm.
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