If you want to get around on the cheap while in the Pacific, you will find yourself using one of the Samoan bus. They are very interesting. I think they remember me of the jeepney in the Philippines. They are like everything in Samoa though: bigger!
The concept is pretty straight forward. It is a highway enjoyable experience that gets you from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time. Having traveled to over four dozen countries, it is not always the case that travel is enjoyable or even works.
With that said, this is not the Greyhound in the United States. There is no app that helps you plan a trip or you can forget booking online. However, few should expect that is a small tropical country in the middle of the South Pacific, right?
How riding a Samoan bus works
Basically, it works like bus system anywhere. There is a terminal. It does not look like one but it is an over sized parking lot on the backside of the market. Buses will line up there and you just find the one you need.
You get on the bus and you will pay the driver whatever the fare is (normally under $2 USD) to get anywhere you are going. Most close routes are about two tala or 80 cents American.
The only thing to know is buses going on the North Coast towards Faleolo Airport and Mulifanua Wharf (boat to Savaii) are at the market and the buses going to the South Coast are over at the Old Flea Market. (Update: the Flea Market burned down so this might have changed)
Once you find the right bus and get on, it is a waiting game. The driver will want to get the bus as full as he can or as full as he thinks people are waiting around on the road before leaving. This can be 5 minutes or an hour. He is the driver so you are at his mercy ultimately.
After the waiting is over, he will be on the road and you are getting to enjoy riding the Samoan bus!
They love their stereos!
One thing about the drivers is they spend alot of money on stereos and the youth love it. It turns into a concern sometimes with everyone singing along. It is quite the unique thing if you really think about it. It is nothing like I have seen in America; that much is for sure.
It will be a mix of American, British, and local Samoan music coming out of the deep bass under the back seat of the bus.
I realize the older backpackers might not enjoy it as much but it is part of your Samoan experience, right?
Buses stop around 5pm
The only real issue with buses are after about five in the evening. The drivers goes home until the morning and you are no option but to use a taxi at that point. The bus system in Samoa seems to be very religious about running from six in the morning to five in the evening.
There is no buses at all on Sundays. Samoa is deeply religious. With that said, almost everything is closed on Sundays and there is no need for bus service. Wherever you find yourself on Saturday at 5pm is where you will stay until Monday morning.