Robert Louis Stevenson Pool

Vailima, Upolu Island, Samoa

About Robert Louis Stevenson Pool


Hiking Distance: 400m round trip (from RLS Museum or Vailima Botanical Garden Car Park)
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2019-11-18
Date last visited: 2019-11-18

Waterfall Latitude: -13.86516
Waterfall Longitude: -171.76635

The Robert Louis Stevenson Pool (or RLS Pool for short) was kind of an unexpected waterfalling surprise when Julie and I made a last-minute visit to the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum (or RLS Museum) on our last day in Samoa.

I only became aware that there was a waterfall near the museum when I saw a signboard talking about walking trails neighboring the museum and the Vailima Estate.

RLS_Museum_070_11172019 - The waterfall at the Robert Louis Stevenson Pool in the Vailima Botanical Garden
The waterfall at the Robert Louis Stevenson Pool in the Vailima Botanical Garden

That was what prompted me to do a little more exploring around the museum, which ultimately gave rise to this page.

Who was Robert Louis Stevenson?

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist and travel writer whose most notable works included Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

While we tend to associate the writer with those timeless books that we recognized growing up, Stevenson actually had greater significance and influence in Samoa.

He spent his last years here, where he detested the politics imposed by the crown and championed the welfare of the Samoan people.

RLS_Museum_020_11172019 - Inside the Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) Museum in Vailima, Samoa
Inside the Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) Museum in Vailima, Samoa

It was likely that for this reason that he earned his influence in Samoa.

In fact, the Samoan people cared very much for the man and even referred to him as Tusitala (meaning “Teller of Tales”).

Upon our visit to the RLS Museum, we listened to a stirring poem turned into song by a local guide, which conveyed to us just how much Stevenson mattered to the Samoan people.

Experiencing the RLS Pool

Nevertheless, the RLS Pool was a small waterfall and pool that was said to be Stevenson’s personal pool.

RLS_Museum_058_11172019 - Julie following a trail going deeper into the Vailima Botanical Garden as we were leaving the clearing containing the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
Julie following a trail going deeper into the Vailima Botanical Garden as we were leaving the clearing containing the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum

After concluding our brief tour of the RLS Museum, we went onto a trail that descended into the surrounding dense jungle opposite the estate from the car park (see directions below).

In about 150m, we encountered a four-way junction where the path on the right went through a nursery and towards a visitor centre for the Vailima Botanical Garden while the path on the left went to Mt Vaea and the RLS Tomb.

We went straight ahead, where the path veered to the right and followed above the stream responsible for the RLS Pool.

After another 100m, we reached a fork, where a descending path went to the RLS Pool, which had what appeared to be a man-made dam holding up water to form the pool.

RLS_Museum_065_11172019 - Continuing ahead at this signposted junction between the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and Pool
Continuing ahead at this signposted junction between the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum and Pool

A thin waterfall (probably no more than 3-5m) spilled right into the pool.

The waterfall was trickling during our November 2019 visit, but I’d imagine that it would have more substantial flow later on in the wet season towards the end of March or April.

For all intents and purposes, this waterfall belonged to the Vailima Botanical Garden, which appeared to be a separate entity from the RLS Museum.

Nevertheless, this pool was the extent of our waterfalling excursion, and it only took us about 5-10 minutes in each direction to access it from the museum.

RLS_Museum_066_11172019 - Context of the Robert Louis Stevenson Pool
Context of the Robert Louis Stevenson Pool

A similarly-long path also went from the car park for the Vailima Botanical Garden to the RLS Pool.

Was There An RLS Waterfall?

The maps provided by the neighboring Vailima Botanical Garden showed that there was a “Waterfall” downstream from the RLS Pool.

Based on that observation, I took a pretty good half-hour or more scrambling around looking for this elusive waterfall.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find this waterfall, which I believed to be separate from the RLS Pool itself.

RLS_Museum_084_11172019 - Looking at the walkway leading between the car park for the Vailima Botanical Garden and the park's visitor centre
Looking at the walkway leading between the car park for the Vailima Botanical Garden and the park’s visitor centre

We even asked a couple of the locals working at the Vailima Botanical Garden about the waterfall, but they merely pointed the way to the RLS Pool and not the other waterfall that we were seeking out.

In any case, I went as far as the Vailima Botanical Garden car park, and I even did an off-trail scramble to a flume or bridge downstream of the RLS Pool.

Given that the stream didn’t flow very well during our visit), it was no wonder why this search resulted in failure.

Further conspiring to make this waterfall even more elusive was the overgrowth concealing any former trail that might have once led to the falls.

RLS_Museum_097_11172019 - The small bridge of flume downstream from the RLS Pool as I was busy scrambling around looking for the elusive waterfall marked on the maps provided by the Vailima Botanical Garden
The small bridge of flume downstream from the RLS Pool as I was busy scrambling around looking for the elusive waterfall marked on the maps provided by the Vailima Botanical Garden

Maybe on a future visit, we might try again (as well as experience the RLS Museum better), but until then, I can only reliably point to the RLS Pool as the lone waterfall here.

Authorities

The Robert Louis Stevenson Pool resides in the Tuamasaga District in Apia on ‘Upolu Island, Samoa. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try the MNRE website.

RLS_Museum_055_11172019 - After our tour of the RLS Museum, we then headed towards the trails leading to the Vailima Botanical Garden
RLS_Museum_059_11172019 - Julie on the bush trail leading closer to the Vailima Botanical Garden
RLS_Museum_064_11172019 - Sign pointing the way to both the RLS Tomb and the RLS Pool
RLS_Museum_063_11172019 - At around 100-150m into the track, we encountered this trail junction with signage pointing the way to the visitor centre (for Vailima Botanical Garden) as well as the RLS Tomb
RLS_Museum_068_11172019 - Our first frontal look at the waterfall across the RLS Pool
RLS_Museum_071_11172019 - Portrait view of the RLS Pool
RLS_Museum_075_11172019 - Looking down at some steps going into the pool along the fringe of the RLS Pool
RLS_Museum_076_11172019 - Context of the fringe of the RLS Pool
RLS_Museum_078_11172019 - Continuing our walk further downstream of the RLS Pool as we pursued the other 'Waterfall' as labeled on the Vailima Botanical Garden maps
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Getting to the RLS Museum or the Vailima Botanical Gardens was pretty straightforward as it’s well-signed and accessible from the Cross-Island Road, which connects the city of Apia with the south coast of Upolu Island.

So I’ll focus on the driving directions from Apia, specifically from the junction of Beach Road and Cross-Island Road.

Heading south on Cross-Island Road, we drove for about 3.7km before turning right at the sign for the RLS Museum.

RLS_Museum_002_11172019 - The spot where we parked the car was to the left side of the Villa Vailima (i.e. the venue for the RLS Museum)
The spot where we parked the car was to the left side of the Villa Vailima (i.e. the venue for the RLS Museum)

Right at the turnoff, the signs pointed us to the left to go through the gates and directly towards the Vailima Estate for the remaining 400m or so.

The signed car park was on the grass to the left of the RLS Museum, which was the large building sitting alone in a large clearing.

Overall, this drive should take no more than 10 minutes.

Note that had we kept right on the seemingly larger road at the turnoff, then we would have arrived at the car park for the Vailima Botanical Garden on the left.

RLS_Museum_093_11172019 - This was the car park for the main entrance of the Vailima Botanical Garden
This was the car park for the main entrance of the Vailima Botanical Garden

This was another alternate starting point for the short walk to reach the RLS Pool.

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).

Downstream to upstream sweep of the trickling waterfall and stagnant pool near the RLS Museum

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Tagged with: rls pool, robert louis stevenson, vailima, tuamasaga, rls museum, apia, samoa, cross island road, waterfall, rls tomb, botanical garden



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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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