Sauniatu Waterfall

Sauniatu / Saoluafata, Upolu Island, Samoa

About Sauniatu Waterfall


Hiking Distance: about 400m round trip
Suggested Time: 15-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2019-11-13
Date last visited: 2019-11-13

Waterfall Latitude: -13.91978
Waterfall Longitude: -171.61694

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The Sauniatu Waterfall (or Sauniatu Falls) was probably as off-the-beaten-track of a waterfall as we wound up visiting in Samoa.

Compared to most of the waterfalls that we encountered on the islands, which involved no more than a short walk and easy-to-find car parks, this waterfall required us to go a little out-of-the-way.

Sauniatu_038_11122019 - The Sauniatu Waterfall
The Sauniatu Waterfall

Indeed, although reaching this waterfall wasn’t physically demanding, the road to get to the village of Sauniatu made up most of the adventure (see directions below).

We certainly appreciated the high clearance of our rental vehicle to traverse the fairly rough road.

Once we got through that, we were then greeted by a guard manning the village of Sauniatu, which I believe might be more of a Mormon village.

That Mormon factor definitely made this village feel a bit different as opposed to most of the other rural villages throughout Samoa.

Sauniatu_015_11122019 - Looking back at the Sauniatu Village from the start of the walk to the Sauniatu Waterfall
Looking back at the Sauniatu Village from the start of the walk to the Sauniatu Waterfall

In any case, after the guard let us through and pointed the way to the waterfall, we promptly parked and got started on the walk.

Experiencing the Sauniatu Waterfall

We began our Sauniatu Waterfall excursion by walking across a lawn towards fencing that protected a picnic area.

Right behind the picnic tables was a tall series of steps leading down the bottom of a deep gorge.

About half-way down the steps was a branch leading to a closed off path.

Sauniatu_022_11122019 - Julie passing through a small picnic area before reaching the steps that descended to the bottom of the gorge in front of the plunge pool of the Sauniatu Waterfall
Julie passing through a small picnic area before reaching the steps that descended to the bottom of the gorge in front of the plunge pool of the Sauniatu Waterfall

At the barricade, we noticed some local Caucasians with American accents doing a cliff jump into a deep plunge pool with the rest of the family looking on.

The steps also presented us with direct views of the gushing Sauniatu Waterfall itself, which featured a smaller drop followed by a roughly 20m drop.

Once we were at the bottom of the steps, we had one more step to take to get down from the concrete platform.

Then, we scrambled onto the rocky riverbed to get right up to the fringes of the waterfall’s plunge pool.

Sauniatu_078_11122019 - Some folks swimming at the base of the Sauniatu Waterfall
Some folks swimming at the base of the Sauniatu Waterfall

Even though we made our visit at around midday, the mosquitoes here were seemingly quick and aggressive.

However, that didn’t seem to bother the people swimming and doing cliff jumps at the falls.

Anyways, the lighting wasn’t the greatest for taking pictures when we were here.

That said, I don’t think any of that mattered when it came to cooling off and enjoying this rather secluded spot in the eastern mountains of Samoa’s ‘Upolu Island.

Sauniatu_085_11122019 - Looking back up at the steps that we took to get down to the bottom of the Sauniatu Waterfall
Looking back up at the steps that we took to get down to the bottom of the Sauniatu Waterfall

Overall, we spent about 30 minutes away from the car, but we easily could have spent more time here if we chose to swim and cool off.

Authorities

The Sauniatu Waterfall resides in the Atua District near Apia on ‘Upolu Island, Samoa. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try the MNRE website.

Sauniatu_004_11122019 - A large part of the adventure of the Sauniatu Waterfall was in getting there as we had to drive this rough and potholed road to access the village of Sauniatu
Sauniatu_011_11122019 - On the rough access road to Sauniatu
Sauniatu_019_11122019 - Julie on the path traversing this lawn leading to the Sauniatu Waterfall
Sauniatu_021_11122019 - Approaching a fenced area near the top of the gorge containing the Sauniatu Waterfall
Sauniatu_023_11122019 - Context of the steps going down to the bottom and the Sauniatu Waterfall itself
Sauniatu_028_11122019 - Focused on the impressive Sauniatu Waterfall with some people seeking to scramble or climb behind the falls at its base
Sauniatu_035_11122019 - Looking down at the steps leading to the banks of the river and the plunge pool for Sauniatu Waterfall
Sauniatu_041_11122019 - Another look at the Sauniatu Waterfall as we were descending further down the yellow steps
Sauniatu_049_11122019 - Continuing to look back at Sauniatu Waterfall as we descended lower on the yellow steps
Sauniatu_052_11122019 - Context of the Sauniatu Waterfall against the dark shade caused by the depths of the gorge
Sauniatu_066_11122019 - Down at the base of the gorge looking right up at the imposing Sauniatu Waterfall
Sauniatu_084_11122019 - Context of the plunge pool and rocky river bed with the base of the Sauniatu Waterfall in the distance
Sauniatu_088_11122019 - Back up at the fork in the path on the steps where it appeared that the path on the right used to lead to a different access of the plunge pool beneath Sauniatu Waterfall.  Now, it was used as a cliff jumping platform.
Sauniatu_089_11122019 - As inviting as it was to sit and chill at these benches or picnic tables, the aggressive mosquitoes made us reconsider that thought
Sauniatu_091_11122019 - Julie returning to our rental car baking in the hot tropical sun after having our fill of the Sauniatu Waterfall

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For the purposes of simplicity, we’ll describe the driving directions to the Sauniatu Waterfall from the city of Apia even though we recognize that you may be coming from other parts of the island.

If indeed, you are coming from Richardson Road / Le Mafa Pass Road from the south or east of ‘Upolu, then you can route to Falefa Falls before continuing on Main East Coast Rd for just under another 4km to the village of Saoluafata.

There is a signed turnoff for Sauniatu on the left, which is the road you’d take to get up to the Sauniatu Village.

Sauniatu_002_11122019 - The unpaved road between Saoluafata Village and Sauniatu Village
The unpaved road between Saoluafata Village and Sauniatu Village

In any case, starting from the junction of Beach Rd and Cross-Island Rd in Apia, we’d head east on Beach Rd before keeping right onto Matautu St after 400m.

We would then follow Matautu St, which became Main East Coast Rd, for 22km as we would enter the village of Saoluafata.

We would then turn right onto the signposted road leading to Sauniatu.

This road climbed then quickly became rough and unpaved after the first kilometre.

Sauniatu_013_11122019 - Further down the road to Sauniatu Village as more buildings started to show up signaling that we were near the end of the road
Further down the road to Sauniatu Village as more buildings started to show up signaling that we were near the end of the road

The road continued for about the next 6km before reaching a bridge and a guarded barricade shortly thereafter.

Given the rough and rugged conditions of the road, which was full of ruts and potholes, this drive was slow going.

Thus, the modest distance was such that it still took us a pretty solid half-hour or so to cover this distance.

After the guard (who may ask for a 5 tala per person donation though he didn’t ask that of us on our visit), we kept left at the next junction and then parked opposite the waterfall sign on the left side of the paved road.

Sauniatu_017_11122019 - Parking for the Sauniatu Waterfall
Parking for the Sauniatu Waterfall

Overall, this drive took us a little over an hour.

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).

Sweep covering the falls from the top part of the steps while also showing the downstream views as well as zooming in on some people climbing behind the base of the falls


Middle view of the falls where some people were doing jumps from. Sweep focused mostly on the falls itself


Sweep focused on the plunge pool and base of the falls with one kid jumping from the cliff into the pool

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Tagged with: sauniatu, mormon, atua, samoa, upolu, apia, piula cave pool, waterfall, swimming, south pacific, rough road, saoluafata, jesus christ, latter day saints, byu



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