Situated in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, five and one half hours from Hawaii and Australia, Aganoa Lodge Samoa is located on the lesser known island of Savai’i Samoa. Savaiʻi is the largest and highest island in Samoa and the Samoa Islands chain. It is also the biggest landmass in Polynesia outside Hawaii and New Zealand. The island of Savai’i is also referred to by Samoans as Salafai, a classical Samoan term used in oratory and prose. The island is home to 43,142 people who make up 24% of the country’s population. The only township and ferry terminal is Salelologa, the main entry point to the island, situated at the east end of Savai’i. A tar sealed road serves as the one main highway, connecting most of the villages with local buses reaching most settlements.
Savai’i is mountainous, fertile and surrounded by coral reefs. Lonely Planet describes the Savai’i landscape as ‘spectacular tropical terrain’. The island has a gently sloping profile, reaching a maximum altitude of 1,858 metres at Mt Silisili, the highest peak in the country and the Samoa Islands chain. Volcanic craters in the highlands are strung across the central ridges from Tuasivi (literally, backbone) village in the east towards Cape Mulinu’u to the west. The lava fields at Saleaula village on the central north coast are the result of volcanic eruptions from Mt Matavanu (1905–1911). Most of the coastline are palm fringed beaches and there are rainforests, waterfalls, caves, freshwater pools, blowholes and coral reefs. There are also numerous archaeological sites, including star mounds, fortifications and pyramids such as the Pulemelei Mound in Palauli district. Archaeology in Samoa has uncovered many pre-historic settlements including sites at Vailoa and Sapapali’i.
Due to the this remote location and low levels of traditional hospitality – Savai’i remains largely unspoilt by the rampant development in most parts of the South Pacific.
In 2003 veteran Pacific explorer, Keith Martin, and wife Lanuola, opened the “doors” (though there were none) to the Aganoa Beach Retreat. The operation was rustic and unassuming, but guests enjoyed a perfect beach and pristine lagoon as two world-class waves peeled just 100 meters away. For more then a decade, Aganoa remained frozen in time while the Martins raised their young family and hosted itinerant international surfers fortunate enough to have found their way to Savai’i. In 2014 the operation was rebranded Aganoa Lodge Samoa through a partnership between the Martin’s and Pegasus Lodges. Highly-versatile San Francisco-based designer, Josef Medellin, was engaged to oversee a complete refurbishment of the facility with the goal of creating an atmosphere steeped in rustic luxury; highly designed and curated yet never for a moment forgetful of its humble roots and the beautiful simplicity of the natural environment. Today, and just as it’s been for years, guests still bask in the hospitality of the Martin family – the endless spring of Keith’s knowledge of Savai’i’s wave breaks and the warmth of Lanu’s smile – while world-class waves peel down the reef out front and Aganoa remains unchanging and perfect
The best part about a trip to Aganoa are the welcoming, lovely and genuine local people. Samoans are extremely family-orientated, predominantly religious and still very traditional — Sunday being a national day of rest. In this day and age, however, the virtual Eden-like landscape of Savai’i has not changed much. Local villages are simple with various chiefs maintaining order in each township, every home has a garden, cattle and pigs roam the properties, schooling is extremely important and the population is quite happy.
We encourage our guests to donate items to the local school whenever they visit as well as purchase locally made hand crafts on the last day of their trip. We also strive to always be a positive force in the local community through purchasing locally made building materials, labor and food, as well as contributing to the community through various sustainability initiatives and projects aimed at education and preservation of their environment without impacting their culture and way of life.