The island of Upolu is the second largest of the Samoan islands, 75 kilometres long with an area of 1,125 km², but the most populous; about 135,000 people live here. Samoa's capital Apia is situated on the north coast and this is where most commercial activity takes place.
Samoa's Faleolo International Airport is 40 kilometres west of Apia on the north coast. It started as an airfield built by United States Navy SeaBees during World War II and in 1977 people could still stand along the runway waving at the passengers; now there is a proper terminal here. There is also Fagali'i Airport on the eastern side of Apia, for flights by light aircraft to Pago Pago.
Heading 4 kilometres south from Apia on the Cross islands Road is the village of Vailima where the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of works like Treasure Island and Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, lived the last years of his life in "Villa Vailima". started in 1890. It became the German Governor's residence until 1914 and after independence was Government House, the official residence of Samoa's Head of State. It was severely damaged during Cyclone Val in 1991 but beautifully restored and is now a museum. Robert Louis Stevenson was buried by his Samoan friends on top of 472 metre high Mount Vaea in a tomb, overlooking Apia.
Further up south along the Cross Island Road, in Tiapapata, 8 kilometres from Apia, is the Baha'i House of Worship in its beautiful gardens. Designed by Iranian-Canadian architect Husayn Amánat, the building with its 28 metre high white dome was completed in 1984. Further inland, in thick jungle, is 100 metre high Papapapaitai (or Tiavi) Falls, visible from a viewing point along the road. There are many more spectacular waterfalls, also along another cross-island road further east, leading south from the village of Falefa. A waterfall close to Apia, popular with visitors is Papase'ea Sliding Rocks where they may slide down big rocks and splash into a waterhole.