About Papaseea Sliding Rocks
The Papaseea Sliding Rocks (or Papase’ea Sliding Rocks) was a series of waterfalls on the Papase’ea Stream that seemed to be well known and popular given its proximity to the town of Apia.
Although the grammar in its name suggested that rocks could slide here, they really meant that you could slide on these rocks.
However, when Julie and I made our visit in November 2019, we looked at the rocks and decided that we weren’t going to do them.
In my mind, they looked like a recipe for broken bones.
Perhaps our perception of the safety of these sliding rocks were coloured by the low flow of the falls.
Either that or we might have looked at the possible sliding areas the wrong way.
Nevertheless, these waterfalls looked way too scary for us to even entertain the thought of going down any of the three or four waterfalls where it might have been possible.
The Papaseea Sliding Rocks Waterfalls
Speaking of the waterfalls, there were four named waterfalls and an unnamed one at the very bottom of the waterfall series.
The uppermost waterfall was called Le Telesa’s Pool (or O le Papa o Tuli), which appeared to have a drop of 3-5m.
This short waterfall did not appear to have sanctioned access to its top for an attempt at sliding down its modestly-sized drop.
The next waterfall in the series was the so-called Men’s Pool (or O le Papa o Tamaloloa).
This waterfall had a split twin drop, and it probably dropped from a height that seemed closer to 7-10m or so.
Nevertheless, I felt the thought of sliding down this waterfall amounted to a death wish, but I’m sure some local or daredevil can prove me wrong.
Anyways, of all of the waterfalls at the Papaseea Sliding Rocks, I felt that this was the most photogenic one.
The third waterfall in the series of cascades was called the Children’s Pool (or O le Papa o Tamaiti).
Like the first waterfall, this one had a very modest size.
However, it sat within a steep bowl, where shortly downstream of its plunge pool was the start of the next waterfall.
So I question whether even this waterfall was appropriate for children to slide in.
Yet once again, I’m sure there are those people out there who would say that I’m overreacting.
Speaking of the next waterfall, that was the so-called Women’s Pool (or O le Papa o Fafine).
This waterfall featured a travertine-line mound where the stream split and spilled on either side of its protrusion.
Like with the Men’s Pool, it seemed like if you don’t slide properly down this slippery incline, you could miss the plunge pool altogether and really get hurt.
Nevertheless, I found this waterfall had the potential to be just as attractive as the Men’s Pool Waterfall (perhaps even more so under higher water conditions).
Finally, there were more minor cascades further downstream from the Women’s Pool, which eventually spilled over a modest-sized drop into a wide and seemingly dark and deep plunge pool at its bottom.
From the stream’s bedrock, there didn’t seem to be a safe access to get down there as far as I could tell.
However, there might have been the possibility of scrambling in the bush a little away from the stream.
Perhaps that might have allowed me to make it down to the very bottom (or to get back up after perhaps sliding down the last of the cascades), but I’m just speculating as I didn’t pursue this.
Experiencing the Papaseea Sliding Rocks
Our visit pretty much involved paying the owners 5 tala per adult, and then we descended a long series of steps leading through a lush garden and towards a fale overlooking Le Telesa’s Pool and the Men’s Pool.
The descending steps split and rejoined as they seemed to allow the visitor a chance to look at a different part of the garden (or at least make it easier for people going in opposite directions to not have to squeeze past each other).
From the fale, there were two steps leading to the Papase’ea Stream’s bedrock – one before Le Telesa’s Pool and one leading to alongside the drop of the Men’s Pool towards its bottom.
In order to get to the bottom of the Women’s Pool, I had to scramble to the other side of the Papase’ea Stream, then descend the sloping bedrock towards the bottom before backtracking my way back up to the plunge pool of the Women’s Pool.
This descent would be dangerously slippery if wet (e.g. when it’s raining or the Papase’ea Stream would be in flood).
That was pretty much the extent of our visit, and once we had our fill, we went back up the way we came.
Since we didn’t go for a swim here, we only spent about 50 minutes here, but we easily could have stayed longer if we did opt to go in the water.
And even if we did go in the water and endured opportunistic mosquitoes looking to draw blood, I’d still dare not to slide down any of the rocks.
For the purposes of simplicity, we’ll describe the driving directions to the Papaseea Sliding Rocks from the city of Apia.
We begin the driving directions from the junction of Cross-Island Road and Beach Road in Apia.
From there, the easiest (not necessarily the shortest) route would be to head south on the Cross-Island Road for about 750m before turning right onto Vaitele Street.
We’d then go straight on Vaitele Street for about 3km before turning left onto Papaseea Rd (there will be a sign pointing the way to the Papaseea Sliding Rocks).
We’d then follow Papaseea Rd inland for about 2.5km before turning left onto Maugafolau Rd (again, there will be signs pointing the way to the Papaseea Sliding Rocks).
After another 240m, we’d then turn right onto another access road (again, signs point the way) for the final 2km before going into the signed car park for the Papaseea Sliding Rocks on the left.
Overall, this drive would take on the order of 15 minutes (maybe slightly longer due to the slow speed limit and the traffic lights).
Finally, for a little local context, the town of Apia was about 23km (over 30 minutes drive) north of Maninoa (South Coast), about 50km (over an hour drive) northwest of Matatufu (Southeast Coast), about 62km (under 90 minutes drive) northwest of Lalomanu, and 41km (under an hour drive) east of Mulifanua (Northwest Coast).
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