Coastal walk a hike worth sweating for

One of Upolu’s large nature reserves, O Le Pupu Pue National Park, doesn’t always stand out as an obvious place to spend time. 

It’s lush and green, but easy to drive straight past on the way to the beach. 

But if you pull over and slowly make your way down the road to the entrance of the trail, you’ll find yourself on the edge of a cliff; on the edge of Upolu; on the most beautiful 1.8-kilometre hike in the area.

The coastal walk starts out winding through the plush forest. It is damp underfoot and even though you know you’ve driven from the road to the after driving to the coast it can be hard to imagine where the ocean fits in.

When you reach the pandanus forest, and the sky opens up around you, that’s it. The ground stops abruptly and drops away, meeting rocks pummelled smooth by thousands of years of waves.

There are a hundred beautiful fine mats waiting to be woven out of the wealth in this pandanus forest, but instead, the leaves fall to the ground like an ocean to wade through. 

The path winds in and out of trees – some short, some tall, branches to duck under, fallen trunks to gingerly step over. 

And every now and again, the pathway leads you straight to the sea, to the pitch-black volcanic remains of the earth on the edge of Upolu.

Along the way, the coast extends outwards into the ocean revealing fantastic rock arches in the water, waves crashing through them constantly. One looks big enough to imagine a canoe paddling under it, while another is so low the waves hit the top of it.

At the end of the walk is an expansive lava field, that bends up and down, with cracks in the surface and even a frightening hole where water splashes through. As the waves beat the cliff face the wind carries the spray over you like mist in the mountains.

From the lava field, you can see left and right, the coast continues to wind its way across the island, east to Aleipata and west to Lefaga and beyond. 

For a weekend away from Apia it’s the perfect opening act: a brisk walk to get the blood pumping, and a view to remind you what a special place Samoa is. 

Things you’ll need: comfortable walking shoes, so that you can make your way over uneven ground and sometimes slippery soil; hat and sunglasses, especially if you are walking in the middle of the day, and a fully charged camera, because you won’t want to forget an inch of this hike.

The coastal hike takes approximately 20 minutes each way, with approximately 10 minutes to drive from the road to the car park. But if you’re like me and stop every five steps to admire the scenery and take endless photos, allow yourself more time.

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