How To Visit To-Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa
To-Sua Ocean Trench must be Samoa’s most Instagramed spot. I’m sure there are other holes like this on earth but where else can you swim in a giant swimming hole that is connected to the ocean? Sorry I should say – where can you do it in beautiful clear WARM water?? Actually if you know of any apart from To-Sua, please tell me in the comments below.
Swimming in To Sua Ocean Trench was divine. It was one of the best things we did on our trip to Samoa for sure. Read on for all the info on how to visit To-Sua Ocean Trench.
What is To-Sua Ocean Trench?
To-Sua Ocean Trench is a stunning natural swimming hole located in the village of Lotofaga in Samoa. This unique geological formation is essentially a giant sinkhole, surrounded by lush greenery and connected to the ocean through an underwater cave system.
The trench is approximately 30 meters deep, with crystal-clear turquoise water, making it a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling. The name “Tto-Sua” translates to “big hole” in Samoan, which aptly describes it.
The formation of To-Sua Ocean Trench is a result of volcanic activity, which is prevalent in the Pacific region especially Samoa. Over time, the ceiling of a large lava tube collapsed, creating the sinkhole that is there today.
The trench is filled with saltwater from the ocean, and the water level rises and falls with the tide. The underwater cave system connecting the trench to the ocean allows marine life to enter, adding to the allure for snorkelers while also keeping the water clean.
How to get down into To-Sua Ocean Trench
To access the swimming hole you do have to make your way down a very steep ladder which I wouldn’t recommend you do without shoes. It is a little slippery close to the bottom (but not terribly so) however the rungs are very narrow and close together so you have to move pretty slowly. Doing this in bare feet wouldn’t be the easiest thing you did that day, so reef shoes or sandshoes would be your best bet.
There are signs telling you that no more than one person should be on the ladder at any one time and people do seem to be respectful of this. In saying that though we were in Samoa after their recent measles outbreak and it was very quiet so we didn’t have crowds of people to contend with.
To-Sua actually means “giant swimming hole” in Samoan so it is very aptly named. The trench is located inside lovely native gardens in the village of Lotofaga on Upolo (Samoa’s most populated island). As an odd little side note, To-Sua does have a hyphen in the name so even though you will find it looking for To Sua, anyone from Samoa will correct you about the spelling.
What to see snorkelling in To-Sua Ocean Trench
As you stand on the platform with the ladder behind you, if you swim to your right you can swim through to that end of the hole until you can see out the top of the sinkhole and up to the sky. We were there on an incoming tide and you can really feel the tide pushing you against the rocky beach at that end. Once you move 10-15 metres away from the shallow however, the current isn’t detectable at all.
While we didn't see too much marine life there were some fish and you will find them mostly in the shade of the hole walls. If you snorkel around the edge of the hole close to the walls you will see more fish life than in the middle of the trench.
While the water is cool it is far from cold and was the perfect temperature to swim in the hot Samoan summer. We must have spent at least an hour swimming and snorkeling in To-Sua before climbing back out up the ladder to the lovely gardens.
What to be aware of swimming in To-Sua Ocean Trench
- Looking left from the ladder and platform, there is a cave that leads to the ocean, however I wouldn’t even attempt to swim through this. It is very difficult to get clear information on how long the passage is and with the intense wave action you should NOT attempt this.
- Remember there is no life saving here. Close to the cave at the ocean end, the currents of the incoming or outgoing tide are very strong. Please be aware of what the tide is doing before you commit to getting too close to the ocean opening.
If you aren't a great swimmer the pull from an outgoing tide could put you into quite a panic. I imagine it would feel something like a rip, so again, if you aren't a spectular swimmer maybe stay away from Ta Sua's ocean tunnel unless you know it's an incoming tide.
- Please be respectful: Bathing suits are only to be worn for swimming in the trench. ASAP you come up out of the trench please cover up immediately. Samoa is a culturally reserved country and it is NEVER appropriate to walk around in your bikinis.
- The ladder down to the trench is steep and can be slippery at the bottom. I would highly recommend going down the ladder in your sandles or thongs (flip flops for non Aussies). The rungs are tough timber and can be pretty brutal on bare feet.
Should I swim in To-Sua Ocean Trench if I am not a good swimmer?
There are a few ropes that criss cross the trench and are used for swimmers to support themselves out of the water so as long as you can swim, you should be OK to swim in To Sua. There is a rope that goes directly from the deck at the bottom of the ladder so you can jump in and immediately have the safety of a rope to use.
Is To-Sua Ocean Trench OK for children?
There were a few children there when we visted the ocean trench and they were doing fine, so yes it is OK for children. If you have snorkels for the kids they will have even more fun. While there isn't any reef or too many colorful fish it is always fun to snorkel and it will enable them to swim through to the sink hole rocky beach with you.
Of course be aware that if it gets busy you will need to be able to spot them amongst the other kids.
Does To Sua Ocean Trench get busy?
To-Sua Ocean Trench is one of the most popular tourism destinations in Samoa so yes it can get very busy. I've seen photos of the swimming hole with 50 or 60 people swimming and from what I could see there didn't seem to be anyone limiting numbers in the water.
They may limit numbers at the gate on entry when they are very full however I couldn't find any information about that either at the trench or online. There isn't a booking system, it is just entry when you get there so I would suggest you try and go either very early when they open, or later in the afternoon.
We visted in December 2019 when Samoa was in the grip of a very nasty measles outbreak. It was so quiet not only everywhere else in Samoa, but especially in To Sua. There were about 5 or 6 people there when we arrived and they left shortly after which meant that for about half an hour we were swimming in To-Sua Ocean Trench with no other people. What bliss!
I felt very bad for Samoa with regard to their measles outbreak, but visiting in the wake of one of these medical events made sure that we were often the only people at many of the locations we visited. Bad for Samoa – Fantastic for us.
How long will I need at To-Sua Ocean Trench?
I would say you will need at least an hour for a quick visit, a swim and to take some photos. This will of course depend on the number of people at the trench. The more people, the longer you will probably need.
Along with the ocean trench, there is also some benches where you can sit and enjoy your lunch & a lovely garden which is great to wander around and view the tropical plants.
There is also a little beach with some rock pools that you can get down to, however the day we were there the ocean was reasonably unforgiving so I didn't venture into the rock pools. At the right tide or on a calmer day sitting in the rock pools letting the ocean water flow over you would be amazing.
FAQs About To-Sua Ocean Trench
How much does it cost to get into To-Sua Ocean Trench?
Entry fee is $20 Thala each which is about $10AUD or around $7 USD.
What are the Opening Hours of the trench?
To-Sua Ocean Trench is open from Monday-Saturday 8.30am-5.00pm and Sunday 12.30pm-5pm. Samoa is a christian community and Sunday morning is reserved for church.
Can I take my camera to To-Sua?
While camera’s and go-pros are allowed, drones are not and it would pay to not flash your camera gear around too much. They are very weird about people photographing it for “commercial use”. I’m not sure how this takes away from the value of To-Sua but they are strict about it.
Artur our guide from Samoan Highland Adventures did advise us to carry our GoPros down in our bag and we didn’t have any challenge snorkeling with them on. However, I did take some photos from the top with my Olympus camera and a security guard did approach me about what I was going to use the photos for. I just told him they were photos of our holiday and he left me in peace.
If you have noticed that I have used “To Sua” (without the hyphen) here & there in my post, it is purely for those who aren't aware of the hyphen. I searched for To Sua before I realised it was hyphenated, so this is to help those who need the info but miss the hyphen to get what they need.
How To Get to to Sua Ocean Trench
To-Sua Ocean Trench is about an hours drive from Apia, depending on traffic of course. You could hire a car in Apia for your stay or of course do a day tour which will usually visit multiple locations. We used Samoan Highland Adventures and loved their day tours. We had heaps to do but it wasn't so packed that we were groaning by the end of the day. See if you can get Artur as you guide.
I would suggest combining the Ocean Trench with other sightseeing and make a full day of it. If you were staying in Apia, I would make Piula Cave Pool your first stop, then make your way over the island via Richardson Road and stopping at Falefa & Fiupisia Falls for a swim.
You can also check out Sopo'aga Falls Viewpoint off this road. After To-Sua if you head east around the edge of the island (a beautiful drive anyway) you could stop of the coloured Fales on Lalomanu Beach for lunch and yet another swim. From there it is probably only 40 mins back to Apia.
Check out my Samoa Destination Page for all the info, posts & places to visit in Samoa.
Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 103 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes. Learn more about Jenny and her travels.