Samoa is an island nation in the South Pacific, known for its endless powdery white sand beaches, emerald lagoons, magnificent waterfalls and tropical gardens. It’s also home to To Sua Ocean Trench — which literally means giant swimming hole — and this hidden gem may truly be the very best swimming holes in the world.

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To Sua Ocean Trench, Lotofaga, Samoa
Credit: Bigstock
To Sua Ocean Trench, Lotofaga, Samoa

To Sua Ocean Trench is a natural, nearly 100-foot-deep pool that lies in a lava field in Samoa’s Lotofago Village on the south coast of Upolu Island. It was formed during an ancient lava eruption when the land around it slipped away, and is made up of two large holes joined by a lava tube cave.

The main hole, which serves as the pool, is fed by a series of canals and tunnels with water from the ocean.The western side of the trench opens onto the beach that can only be accessed via a cave-like nook.

Toa Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa
Toa Sua Ocean Trench, Samoa

Swimmers make their way along the cliffside paths leading to the natural saltwater pool that’s sunken deep into the earth and surrounded by lush gardens. The sheer rock face of volcanic basalt disappears underfoot, where a ladder can then be used to descend into the hole, where the refreshing, crystal clear waters await.

 A tourist swims off the diving platform at To Sua, Samoa
Credit: Bigstock.com
A tourist swims off the diving platform at To Sua, Samoa

If you don’t have the patience to climb down the ladder, you can always leap off the edge. The crystalline waters are 90 feet in depth, so it’s perfectly safe for those who are courageous enough. No matter how you do it, cooling off in this oasis provides a fantastic respite from midday heat.

Pawpaws
Credit: Wendell Smith
Pawpaws

While the pool is ideal when temperatures are sizzling, during the early morning or evening hours when temperatures are more tolerable, you may want to check out some of the other island’s offerings. At the colorful food market, Maketi Fou, you can stock up on tasty fruits like little ladyfinger bananas or pawpaws. The flea market nearby offers everything from kava bowls to authentic Samoan music, jewelry, baskets and lava lavas, the Samoan saron.

Both Upolu and its larger neighboring island of Savaii, are thrashed by giant surf, and dotted with blowholes, sunken caves and hidden tunnels. By heading inland, you can see a number of jaw-dropping waterfalls, like Fuipisia too.

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