Photos of Apolima, the smallest inhabited island, Samoa

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Apolima, the smallest inhabited island

Apolima is the smallest of Samoa's four inhabited islands, lying in Apolima Strait, about 7 kilometres from the coast of Savai'i and 3 kilometres to the north east of Manono. The island is actually the rim of a now extinct volcano, rising to 165 metres. The whole island is not even 1 km² in size and houses a single village, Apolima Tai, with around 75 people. The village is at the bottom of the extinct crater and surrounded by gardens and bush.

Boats, Apolima-uta
Boat crew
Approaching Apolima
 Apolima's steep coast
Entrance to the village
Weaving mats
Traditional fales
View of Apolima-tai
Young Apolima man
Apolima bay
Cutting firewood
Playing volleyball
Volleyball at dusk
Young Apolima boy
Little Apolima girl
Apolima boy portrait
Apolima girl portrait

There are steep cliffs when approaching it by boat from the village of Apolima Uta on Upolu island and the entry into the narrow strait leading to the harbour and the village shore can be tricky. There is a channel, only about 50 metres wide blocked off by Papaloto cliff, and this leaves only a narrow passage on the east side. The ocean surges straight into it and this creates a whirlpool, needing great care. But of course the locals are used to it.

Apolima retains a very traditional lifestyle; there are very few visitors from abroad as getting there is not easy and there is no organised accommodation; one would need an invitation by a local family. But as everywhere, people are very friendly and there are of course no roads or cars. Sea birds nest on the cliffs of Apolima and the coral reefs around the island are rich in fish and shell fish; whales and dolphins have been observed around here too. The people living here are self-sufficient, having everything needed to survive.