Tarzan Falls

Yona / Santa Rita / Cotal Conservation Area, Guam, Micronesia

About Tarzan Falls


Hiking Distance: 2 miles round trip
Suggested Time: allow at least 2 hours

Date first visited: 2022-11-21
Date last visited: 2022-11-21

Waterfall Latitude: 13.396
Waterfall Longitude: 144.72037

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Tarzan Falls is one of Guam’s better known waterfalls, where even one of my coworkers who was from the island knew about this waterfall though he doesn’t typically go hiking on his visits there.

Indeed, this was a striking 40ft waterfall (though it looked a lot bigger) that can spread out and cover a significant part of the underlying bedrock depending on how much water was in the Ylig River.

Tarzan_Falls_096_11202022 - Tarzan Falls
Tarzan Falls

The picture you see above was from our visit in late November 2022, which was technically Guam’s “Wet” Season (typically July to December), but we actually enjoyed pretty decent weather on the days leading up to our experience.

Although perhaps the most well-known and accessible waterfall on Guam is likely the Talofofo Falls, which was privately developed, I found Tarzan Falls to be the most accessible of the natural waterfalls on the island.

In fact, this waterfall was described in the “The Best Tracks on Guam” book as a “good beginner’s hike”, but I think these adjectives depend on who’s doing the describing.

That’s because I learned that it may be a beginner’s hike if you’ve done a lot of hiking on Guam, but I don’t think it’s as easy as the book (and some locals) would lead you to believe.

Tarzan_Falls_039_11202022 - Our guide Chris waiting for Tahia and Julie to carefully make their way down a fairly steep and slippery part of the hike to Tarzan Falls
Our guide Chris waiting for Tahia and Julie to carefully make their way down a fairly steep and slippery part of the hike to Tarzan Falls

While the length of the route was a modest 2 miles round-trip (according to my GPS logs), we still encountered false trails, a lack of signage, steep and slippery terrain, some exposure to blood-drawing vegetation, and extensive stretches of mud.

I’m sure that with some persistence and phone apps like GaiaGPS or AllTrails, we’d eventually figure it out on our own.

However, I was glad that I had hired a trekking guide as it was the only hike that my wife and daughter did on Guam, and I knew that their safety was very important (especially after I had experienced Tak’hilo Falls earlier).

Trail Description – Hiking To The Top Of Tarzan Falls

The hike to Tarzan Falls starts besides the Cross Island Road (see directions below).

Tarzan_Falls_008_11202022 - Tahia and Julie following our guide Chris past this road barricade at the start of our hike to Tarzan Falls
Tahia and Julie following our guide Chris past this road barricade at the start of our hike to Tarzan Falls

Although there was signage and a fence with an apparent trail immediately behind where our guide parked his van (underneath a bunch of trashed shoes flung up to the power lines), that was not the way to go.

Instead, we actually had to briefly walk back towards a 4wd track fronted by a road barricade (to help reforest the Cotal Conservation Area), where we then went behind it to continue towards a tall wind turbine surrounded by fencing.

At this point, we went to the left of the wind turbine, where we then picked up a 4wd track.

We had to be careful not to follow the 4wd track (I noticed a colored tape on a blade of vegetation) leading to the right of the wind turbine, because that one went to the Tarzan Pools, which was a different excursion.

Tarzan_Falls_010_11202022 - The track to Tarzan Falls actually continued to the left of this wind turbine. There's a separate (seemingly more obvious) track deviating to the right, which went to the Tarzan Pools (a completely different excursion)
The track to Tarzan Falls actually continued to the left of this wind turbine. There’s a separate (seemingly more obvious) track deviating to the right, which went to the Tarzan Pools (a completely different excursion)

Anyways, we would descend on a fairly muddy and moderately steep (in stretches) track with some views across the center of Guam towards the Leo Palace.

During this descent, we definitely appreciated having trekking poles to provide an extra pair of “legs” and help with balance.

Along the way, we also noticed a lot of unmarked trail forks and false trails criss-crossing the path that we were on, and it was here that I really appreciated having a guide to keep us on track.

At about 3/4-mile from the trailhead, we had traversed a pretty muddy slope, where we had to hold onto trees and roots as best we could, and then we finally reached a small segmented waterfall that turned out to be the “upper cascade” of Tarzan Falls.

Tarzan_Falls_032_11202022 - Looking towards the Leo Palace early on during our descent to Tarzan Falls
Looking towards the Leo Palace early on during our descent to Tarzan Falls

This was where we had to cross the Ylig River over a series of slippery bedrocks that were close enough to allow us to cross over a tight intermediate chute without getting wet.

Once on the other side, there was also an opportunity to scramble to the very brink of the main drop of Tarzan Falls.

Trail Description – Descent To The Bottom Of Tarzan Falls

After having our fill of checking out the upper cascades of Tarzan Falls, we then followed an informal trail marked by a combination of colored ribbons as well as rope to better manage the moderately steep and muddy slope.

Since we had to hold onto trees and even blades of swordgrass, sawgrass, and thorny trunks, we appreciated wearing gloves.

Tarzan_Falls_075_11202022 - Julie using rope to facilitate going down some slippery and muddy surfaces on the descent to the base of Tarzan Falls
Julie using rope to facilitate going down some slippery and muddy surfaces on the descent to the base of Tarzan Falls

Towards the bottom of the descent, there was a high concentration of mucky mud that we had to slosh through before finally getting to the base of Tarzan Falls (roughly 1/4-mile from the top).

On the near side of the river, we managed to get angled profile views as well as an in-your-face frontal view of the wall of water that Tarzan Falls yielded.

With some careful maneuvering, I managed to scramble with trekking poles to the middle of the Ylig River for better photos of the entirety of Tarzan Falls.

After having our fill of the falls, we then went back the way we came gaining back the 300ft we had lost to this point over a length of about a mile.

Tarzan_Falls_104_11202022 - Chris directing Tahia and Julie where to traverse the Ylig River above the brink of an upper cascade of Tarzan Falls on the return hike
Chris directing Tahia and Julie where to traverse the Ylig River above the brink of an upper cascade of Tarzan Falls on the return hike

Along the way, there was a separate trail that traversed the Ylig River above the brink of the upper cascades, which was easier than the slippery way before that cascade which we had taken earlier.

Overall, we spent a little over 2 hours for the entire excursion, which was at the right difficulty level for our family.

Finally, it was worth noting that it was also possible to scramble further downstream from the base of Tarzan Falls to an impressive lower waterfall, but we opted not to do that (which would likely take another hour).

Authorities

Tarzan Falls resides in the Cotac Conservation Area in the villages of Yona or Santa Rita in Guam. It may be administered by the Guam Department of Agriculture. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting this website.

Tarzan_Falls_003_11202022 - One of the first things we noticed at the Tarzan Falls Trailhead was the presence of these broken shoes hanging on power lines (a possible foreshadowing of what might happen to our shoes on this hike?)
Tarzan_Falls_002_iPhone_11212022 - This signage by the trailhead parking area for Tarzan Falls made it seem like we should be walking past the fence here, but it turned out to not be the case
Tarzan_Falls_004_11202022 - Chris leading Tahia and Julie to a 4wd track and road barricade away from the parking spot and trailhead signage for Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_006_11202022 - Noticing what appeared to be noni fruit growing by the 4wd track on the way to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_009_11202022 - Chris explaining some stuff in the area to Julie at the start of the Tarzan Falls hike
Tarzan_Falls_013_11202022 - Initially, we followed the perimeter fencing surrounding the wind turbine, but notice the gap to our right, which was actually a totally different trail to the Tarzan Pools
Tarzan_Falls_015_11202022 - Close-up look at some flowers blooming by the fencing around the wind turbine at the start of our hike to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_016_11202022 - Julie and Tahia continuing to follow Chris around the northern perimeter fencing of the wind turbine towards the 4wd track leading down to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_017_11202022 - Chris now leading us on another obvious 4wd track leading down to the Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_019_11202022 - Chris leading Julie and Tahia past a muddy part of the 4wd track to the Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_021_11202022 - Chris leading us away from one of numerous false trails conspiring to lead us away from the Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_022_11202022 - Approaching an informal lookout towards the Leo Palace during our hike to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_032_11202022 - Looking towards the Leo Palace and some radomes in the distance as seen from our hike to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_022_11202022 - Context of the crew pausing for a view across Central Guam before resuming our hike to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_027_11202022 - Chris continuing to lead us down the 4wd track towards Tarzan Falls after getting our views across Central Guam
Tarzan_Falls_028_11202022 - The crew descending some moderate slopes on the 4wd track though the footing was a little precarious due to the slippery mud
Tarzan_Falls_030_11202022 - Going around a large puddle muddying up the 4wd track to Tarzan Falls. This was evidence that we were still in the wet season in Guam during our late November 2022 visit
Tarzan_Falls_033_11202022 - Continuing past another false trail on the way down to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_035_11202022 - Chris patiently waiting for Julie to make her way down this somewhat steep and slippery slope on the 4wd road to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_036_11202022 - Chris helping Julie down a particularly slippery and muddy part of this slope on the 4wd track down to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_037_11202022 - The crew dealing with more slippery surfaces on the 4wd track down to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_042_11202022 - Chris waiting for Tahia and Julie to catch up on the way down to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_043_11202022 - Still descending past some colored ribbon tied to a tree along the 4wd track down to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_045_11202022 - Blowing past more false trails along the muddy 4wd track to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_049_11202022 - The group still contending with some precarious footing on the track down to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_051_11202022 - Continuing to descend more muddy declines on the 4wd track to Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_053_11202022 - Julie navigating through even more slippery and dirty muddy sections of the 4wd track down to Tarzan Falls during our November 2022 visit
Tarzan_Falls_055_11202022 - NO CAPTION
Tarzan_Falls_057_11202022 - Chris helping Julie get down a slippery spot before the upper cascade of Talofofo Falls
Tarzan_Falls_058_11202022 - Looking across the diminutive upper cascade further upstream from the brink of the main drop of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_004_iPhone_11212022 - Tahia standing by the upper cascade of Tarzan Falls, which gives you an idea of how diminutive that part of the waterfall was
Tarzan_Falls_059_11202022 - Chris directing us to cross the Ylig River over this narrow chute further upstream from the brink of the main drop of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_062_11202022 - Looking downstream from the chute towards the brink of the main drop of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_063_11202022 - Another look over the chute towards the brink of the main drop of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_064_11202022 - Looking upstream towards a direct look at the upper cascade further upstream from the brink of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_066_11202022 - Noticing a hole left by a jumble of boulders upstream from the brink of the main drop of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_067_11202022 - Looking upstream from the brink of the main drop of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_069_11202022 - Chris standing right at the brink of the main drop of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_070_11202022 - Precariously peering over the brink of the Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_072_11202022 - The group descending from the top of Tarzan Falls to its base
Tarzan_Falls_073_11202022 - Julie continuing to follow the fairly benign (albeit moderately steep) trail leading us down from the top of Tarzan Falls to its bottom
Tarzan_Falls_076_11202022 - Closer look at some thorns growing out of some trees that we had to hold onto, especially in the muddier spots.  This is why it was a good idea to wear gloves on this hike (let alone any hike you do on Guam)
Tarzan_Falls_077_11202022 - Closer look at the messy muck that we had to walk on in order to reach the base of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_079_11202022 - Julie carefully scrambling before the impressive base of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_081_11202022 - Looking across the base of Tarzan Falls bathed in bright late morning sun
Tarzan_Falls_010_iPhone_11212022 - A profile look across the base of Tarzan Falls through an iPhone
Tarzan_Falls_083_11202022 - Close-up in-your-face look at the Tarzan Falls before I tried crossing the Ylig River for a better view
Tarzan_Falls_085_11202022 - Another portrait in-your-face view of the Tarzan Falls shining brightly in the late morning sun
Tarzan_Falls_099_11202022 - More satisfying look at the Tarzan Falls from almost across the Ylig River
Tarzan_Falls_019_iPhone_11212022 - Broad contextual look at Tarzan Falls through an iPhone as seen from almost across the Ylig River
Tarzan_Falls_101_11202022 - Julie making her way back up the moderate incline after having had her fill of the base of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_102_11202022 - Julie continuing the ascent back towards the top of Tarzan Falls from its base
Tarzan_Falls_105_11202022 - Looking downstream from the brink of the upper cascades above the Tarzan Falls on the return hike
Tarzan_Falls_106_11202022 - Tahia continuing to follow Chris back up the path between Tarzan Falls and the trailhead
Tarzan_Falls_107_11202022 - Julie navigating through some slippery muddy terrain on the return hike from the base of Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_109_11202022 - Julie continuing up more inclines on the way back from Tarzan Falls as Chris looks on
Tarzan_Falls_110_11202022 - The crew continuing to ascend up the 4wd track after having had our fill of the Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_113_11202022 - Tahia still keeping up with Chris on the return hike from Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_118_11202022 - Approaching another steep and slippery part of the return hike from Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_119_11202022 - Chris helping Julie up a steep and muddy incline on the 4wd track during our return hike from Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_121_11202022 - The crew going through an interlude of relatively flat hiking on the return from Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_125_11202022 - The final uphill on the return hike from Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_127_11202022 - Finally back on some relatively flat trail as we were getting closer to the wind turbine at the start of the Tarzan Falls hike
Tarzan_Falls_130_11202022 - Finally making it back to the wind turbine towards the end of our Tarzan Falls excursion
Tarzan_Falls_131_11202022 - Chris showing us a 'morning glory' flower, which apparently only blooms in the morning and then closes up in the afternoon
Tarzan_Falls_133_11202022 - Close-up look at some kind of 'cross' flower also blooming by the wind turbine fencing perimeter at the trailhead for Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_136_11202022 - Chris called this flower the 'coronavirus' flower given the spikes around it
Tarzan_Falls_137_11202022 - Heading back to the original 4wd track after having passed the wind turbine
Tarzan_Falls_138_11202022 - Closer look at what appeared to be wild pig tracks near the trailhead for Tarzan Falls
Tarzan_Falls_141_11202022 - Finally making it back to the Cross Island Road to end our excursion to Tarzan Falls


Tarzan Falls can be reached from the Cross Island Road (Route 17) straddling the municipalities of Santa Rita and Yona.

I’ll describe how we would drive from Tumon Bay to the trailhead for Tarzan Falls, but realize that our guide had us park our car at the War in the Pacific Museum to reduce the chances of a car break-in.

Tarzan_Falls_001_iPhone_11212022 - Tarzan Falls Trailhead was just off the Cross Island Road (Route 17)
Tarzan Falls Trailhead was just off the Cross Island Road (Route 17)

By the way, Chris leads the Guam Trekking Tour, which you can look him up on his Instagram page.

From Tumon Bay, we would go south on Pale San Vitores Road for nearly 2km to the connector road GU-14A, where we’d turn left.

Then, we’d take the GU-14A uphill to the next traffic light, where it junctions with Route 1 (Marine Corps. Drive).

Turning right onto Marine Corps. Drive, we’d then continue south for another 18km towars a traffic light where it junctions with the GU-2A.

War_in_the_Pacific_Museum_002_iPhone_11212022 - The War in the Pacific Museum was at the junction of Marine Corps. Drive (Hwy 1) and the GU-2A Route on the way to Tarzan Falls from Tumon Bay
The War in the Pacific Museum was at the junction of Marine Corps. Drive (Hwy 1) and the GU-2A Route on the way to Tarzan Falls from Tumon Bay

Note that by this traffic light is the War in the Pacific Museum on the right.

Anyways, turning left onto the GU-2A, we’d then continue for another 1.4km before hanging another left to go onto Hwy 5.

After another 2km on Hwy 5, we’d then make another left to go onto the Cross Island Road (Route 17), where we’d then drive for about 7km to the trailhead for both Tarzan Falls and Tarzan Pools (on the left).

Overall, this drive was said to take over 30 minutes, but I’d allow at least 45 minutes given the traffic conditions.

Tarzan_Falls_005_11202022 - The roadside pullout area and trailhead parking for Tarzan Falls
The roadside pullout area and trailhead parking for Tarzan Falls

For geographical context, Yona was about 18km (under 30 minutes drive) north of Inarajan, about 19km (under 30 minutes drive) south of Tamuning, and 20km (about 30 minutes drive) south of Tumon Bay.

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Back and forth sweep from the very brink of Tarzan Falls


Somewhat profile sweep going up and down the full height of Tarzan Falls


In your face up and down sweep right in front of Tarzan Falls


The most comprehensive frontal view of Tarzan Falls from partway across the stream and a little further downstream

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Tagged with: yona, santa rita, cotal conservation area, guam, guam department of agriculture, muddy, hike, tarzan pools



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About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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