Palolo Deep Marine Reserve

Just 5 minutes’ walk from the centre of Samoa’s capital the pale, sandy beach stretches out, fringed with palms and lapped by crystal clear water. It’s easy enough to imagine: another day in paradise! Then you dive in—swim out from the shore and over the reef and discover another world. Welcome to one of Samoa’s best kept secrets: the unique natural beauty that is Palolo Deep.

What is Palolo Deep?

Palolo Deep is a protected marine reserve just outside Apia, on the island of Upolu. Once you swim across the shallow reef, the ground drops away to form a natural aquarium. Walls of vibrantly-coloured coral encase this underwater paradise, providing a home for a rich diversity of marine life, including sea turtles, reef sharks and abundant tropical fish.

Things to do there

Snorkeling, scuba, and free diving are the main attractions at Palolo deep (if you can’t bring your own gear, snorkels and fins can be hired in the village).  Spot the prized clown triggerfish or float over the gorgeous carpets of coral. The surrounding reefs create azure lagoons perfect for diving. Once you’re finished, head back to the food hut for a well-earned smoothie, or bring a picnic to enjoy in the reserve gardens!

When to go

Make sure to plan your visit for high tide, when there’s more room to manoeuvre over the reef without damaging it (or you!). The reserve is open daily from 8am to 6pm. Since the drop-off is about 100m from shore, it’s recommended for competent swimmers. You can still swim and snorkel over the edges of the reef—closer to the beach the coral has sustained some damage from the 2009 tsunami and cyclones, but it is still eerily beautiful.


The day-to-day practicalities of the reserve are handled by the local caretaking family. They collect the 5 tala entry fee (equivalent to about $2.50 AUD), offer friendly advice or direction when needed, and also run the popular food hut. As a sign of respect (and good Samoan manners!) it’s always a good idea to ask for permission before swimming out. Food and supplies can be bought in the village if you forget to pack a picnic and there are basic change facilities available.

Are you eager to experience the wonder of Palolo Deep for yourself? Don’t hesitate. Contact us to book your Samoan adventure today!


Post by Alana Eising

Alana is a writer and a wanderer who almost always wishes she were somewhere else. That’s why she writes about the fabulous places she’s been and all the destinations left on her bucket list!