Mt Hope Waterfall

Oyster Island / Luganville, Sanma Province, Vanuatu

About Mt Hope Waterfall

Hiking Distance: tour; 2-3km hiking; also river floating
Suggested Time: 4-5 hours

Date first visited: 2014-11-25
Date last visited: 2014-11-25

Waterfall Latitude: -15.38305
Waterfall Longitude: 167.09582

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

The Mount Hope Waterfall seemed to us to be the less strenuous alternative land excursion to the “must-do” Millennium Cave Tour on Espiritu Santo Island.

Not only did this tour cost less and took only half the day, but it was somewhat similar to the river floating part of the Millennium Cave 4-in-1 all-day tour.

Mt_Hope_012_jx_11252014 - The Mt Hope Waterfall
The Mt Hope Waterfall

The key difference with this waterfall versus the waterfalls we had encountered in Millennium Cave was that we were able to climb up the Mount Hope Waterfall in much the same way as say the Dunns River Falls in Jamaica.

That said, we only went with one other couple so the experience was far more intimate and less “cheezy” (albeit shorter than the Jamaican one).

The waterfall itself was on the Mt Hope River, which slid in sheets of water before cascading down a wider limestone slope that was flat enough to enable climbing.

I don’t know how tall it was but since it didn’t take too long to climb it.

However, I’d imagine it was more on the order of 30-50ft tall or so (maybe 15m tops).

Mt_Hope_006_jx_11252014 - The Sarakata River, which we floated on to get to the foot of the Mt Hope Waterfall
The Sarakata River, which we floated on to get to the foot of the Mt Hope Waterfall

Ultimately, the waterfall spilled into the Sarakata River, which was the very river we had floated on to reach the base of the falls in the first place.

It also happened to be the same river that would eventually join up with the canyoning and swimming section of the Millennium Cave tour we had done two days prior.

The Mt Hope Waterfall Experience – Pick Up and Put In

Our tour began with the usual pick-up from our accommodation.

Since the tour was administered by Oyster Island Resort, we were actually picked up and guided by ni-Van locals employed by the resort.

After a short stint on the well-paved road north from Luganville to somewhere around the Oyster Island turnoff, the 4wd vehicle then veered inland onto a very rutted and bumpy road leading us into the Mount Hope property.

Mt_Hope_003_11242014 - Getting ready for the Mt Hope Waterfall excursion
Getting ready for the Mt Hope Waterfall excursion

We were told by more than one source (one of our guides as well as an Aussie employee on Oyster Island Resort) that the Mt Hope cattle farm was recently bought by actress Cate Blanchett.

And indeed, the plantation was quite huge as we noticed large tracts of bushland was cleared for cattle grazing leaving a few trees scattered throughout the massive pasture.

Anyways, once we got past a pair of gates (one of them was on a bridge over the Sarakata River), the driver stopped the 4wd at the top of some hill.

That was when we got our life jackets, put on our reef shoes, and left behind things we didn’t want to get drenched by the water (including my DSLR camera even though we did borrow someone’s dry bag).

At that point, we walked back down the hill towards the bridge where we got briefed by one of the guides.

Mt_Hope_004_jx_11252014 - Descending to the Sarakata River in pursuit of the Mt Hope Waterfall
Descending to the Sarakata River in pursuit of the Mt Hope Waterfall

Then, we descended beneath the bridge to get into the Sarakata River itself.

One guy in our group was an adventurous and daring dude, and he actually followed a different guide to a plunge spot where he jumped some 10m or so into the river.

The Mt Hope Waterfall Experience – Floating then Climbing the River

At this point, we were pretty much floating in the Sarakata River though some sections had a little bit of a current.

In the sections with the current, we learned that the best way to let the current pull us without hurting ourselves was to go feet first.

We also had to keep our feet and our bums as high on the surface of the river as possible.

Mt_Hope_005_jx_11252014 - Floating on the Sarakata River en route to the Mt Hope Waterfall
Floating on the Sarakata River en route to the Mt Hope Waterfall

This was because there were some shallow sections with rocks beneath us.

There were probably some 3 or 4 sections like that with the last one pulling us right beneath the Mt Hope Waterfall.

There were very limited spots to stop and take photos even with a dry bag (as it was non-trivial to take photos while floating).

However, the photo you see at the top of this page was perhaps the most obvious spot to look at the Mt Hope Waterfall while standing on rocks (thereby allowing for photos).

Our guides were positioned at the base of the falls to pull us from right beneath the falls as they didn’t want anyone floating past the falls and towards a 30ft dropoff further downstream.

Mt_Hope_032_jx_11252014 - Climbing up the Mt Hope Waterfall
Climbing up the Mt Hope Waterfall

Then, we climbed up to the middle of the Mt Hope Falls and chilled out for a bit as the Mt Hope River was sliding all around us.

There was one spot of the falls where it was possible to go behind and into a tiny “cave”.

Our guide John even joked that you could smoke a cigarette in there.

Anyways, when that bit of chilling out was done, we finished the climb to the top of the Mt Hope Waterfall where the river flattened out even more.

Eventually, the Mt Hope River did nothing more than slide in wide sheets of water.

Mt_Hope_038_jx_11252014 - Climbing to the top of the Mt Hope Waterfall when the river was pretty much a wide water slide
Climbing to the top of the Mt Hope Waterfall when the river was pretty much a wide water slide

We had to be careful about sitting or laying down in this part of the river because apparently there were tiny worms that could cling onto our skin (though they weren’t leeches).

Finally, we got out of the water, reapplied bug spray, then did a short 15- to 20-minute jungle walk before reaching the 4wd road in an open area.

We then followed the 4wd road back up a hill where our 4wd vehicle had been parked.

And after a short grapefruit break in which we recovered our belongings and sat in the vehicle, we were then transported back to our accommodations to end the tour.

Overall, this tour would typically take 4-5 hours (including the 50-minute transport in each direction).

Mt_Hope_059_jx_11252014 - Back on the bush walk to return to the 4wd road and our awaiting vehicle to end the Mt Hope Waterfall Tour
Back on the bush walk to return to the 4wd road and our awaiting vehicle to end the Mt Hope Waterfall Tour

However, it took us a little while longer because our guides accommodated our tour mates who wanted to go back to Luganville to try some local food.


The Mt Hope Waterfall was on the private Mt Hope Estate near Luganville in Espiritu Santo Island, Vanuatu. It is administered by the Oyster Island Resort. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Mt_Hope_002_11242014 - Part of the 4wd road we were driving into the Mt Hope property
Mt_Hope_001_jx_11252014 - Looking down towards the clear Sarakata River from the bridge
Mt_Hope_002_jx_11252014 - Getting a briefing before walking down to the Sarakata River
Mt_Hope_013_jx_11252014 - Approaching the base of the Mt Hope Waterfall
Mt_Hope_014_jx_11252014 - Looking upstream at the Sarakata River from within the Mt Hope Waterfall itself
Mt_Hope_027_jx_11252014 - Our guide John was showing one of the blokes on our tour how you could get behind a part of the waterfall where it was possible to have a smoke
Mt_Hope_037_jx_11252014 - Julie climbing up above the Mt Hope Waterfall with the aid of our guide John
Mt_Hope_041_jx_11252014 - Looking back downstream over the Mt Hope Waterfall towards the Sarakata River below
Mt_Hope_044_jx_11252014 - Closer look at the Mt Hope River running like sheets as it rushed towards the main drops of the waterfall
Mt_Hope_050_jx_11252014 - Looking downstream towards the lip of the Mt Hope Waterfall from well further upstream on the Mt Hope River
Mt_Hope_052_jx_11252014 - Our group about to cross the Mt Hope River and go into the jungle to conclude the water part of our tour
Mt_Hope_053_jx_11252014 - This was the jungle walk part of the Mt Hope Waterfall tour as we were climbing back up to the 4wd road
Mt_Hope_054_jx_11252014 - Continuing further into the pretty thick jungle after leaving the Mt Hope River
Mt_Hope_060_jx_11252014 - Approaching the 4wd pick-up truck sitting at the top of the hill of this 4wd road at the conclusion of the active part of our Mt Hope Waterfall Tour
Mt_Hope_005_11242014 - Taking a grapefruit break as we toweled off and changed into less damp footwear at the conclusion of our Mt Hope Waterfall Tour
Mt_Hope_008_11242014 - Taking the bumpy road back out of the Mt Hope Estate and towards Luganville
Mt_Hope_011_11242014 - Our guide pointed out some American WWII bunkers that were set up on Espiritu Santo Island like this one
Oyster_Island_019_11242014 - After our Mt Hope Waterfall Tour, we chilled out at Oyster Island for a late lunch before returning to our accommodation

Since we didn’t self drive Espiritu Santo Island, and I wouldn’t recommend trying to drive off the paved roads (given how rough and rugged they were), I’d say the best way to do the Mt Hope Waterfall excursion would be by tour.

We had this arranged through our accommodation, and once we were picked up, they pretty much did the rest in terms of getting us there.

Julie and I each paid about 5000 vatu (roughly $50 USD per person as of November 2014), and the entire tour (including transport) took roughly 4-5 hours.

To give you some additional context, Luganville was the main town of Espiritu Santo Island. It took a one-hour flight from Port Vila (on the main island of Efate) to get here.

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Looking upstream on the Sarakata River, then panning downstream towards the waterfall as folks were floating closer to it

360 degree sweep while standing on the sloping waterfall with cascading water all around me while we were all relaxing here for a bit before continuing the climb up

360 degree sweep after having climbed above the steepest part of the falls and showing the Mount Hope River running like sheets of water on the surface

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Tagged with: oyster island, luganville, espiritu santo, sanma, vanuatu, mt hope, mount hope, river floating, waterfall

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Johnny Cheng

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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