About Cascade de Wadiana
Cascade de Wadiana (I’ve also seen it spelled Wadjana) surprised both Julie and I with its size. We were kind of expecting a much smaller waterfall that was known more as a swimming hole, but as you can see from the picture above, if you combine the swimming experience at its plunge pool (which by the way had lots of fish) with the grand scene of this multi-tiered cascade, you’d have one of the most beautiful and pleasurable places to take a refreshing dip! In fact, Julie and I thought this waterfall was prettier than the Chute de la Madeleine not that far away from here. In any case, this waterfall was not only beautiful and a good place for a swim, but it was also very accessible as it was pretty much right off the road practically next to the remote southeast coast of the Grande Terre Island.
We were able to access the waterfall after a short rock scramble from the pullout next to the road (see directions below). After less than a minute of the rock scramble, we were pretty much right by the rocky banks of the plunge pool of the waterfall. Julie spotted lots of small fish on the near side of the plunge pool. As we scrambled to the outlet of the stream, we could also see that just downstream from the road bridge was the coastal reef and lagoon protecting the coast from the bigger waves further away from land.
Something peculiar about our visit to Cascade de Wadiana was that there were several smoldering patches of something burning (rubbish maybe?). There was a local living right across the road from the falls, and I’d imagine they were the ones who set up the smoking piles. That created some pretty nasty air quality in the area, and we weren’t sure if those were set up to keep mosquitos away or to keep people away. That was probably the one thing that kept us from lingering here much longer as our lungs were taking a beating from the smoke that was pervasive.
When I walked onto the single-lane road bridge nearest to the falls, I was able to see that there was a hard-to-see upper tier way up on the mountain before it disappeared into the foliage. That kind of gave me a sense of just how tall this waterfall was though it didn’t seem to have an official measure (I’m guessing it was in the neighborhood of 60m or more). In any case, our visit lasted about 15 minutes before our lungs couldn’t take much more of the smoke.
Since the Cascade de Wadiana was roughly an hour’s drive further to the east of Chute de la Madeleine, we’ll punt you to that page for directions on getting out of Noumea and its suburbs to the RP3 along the shores of Lac de Yate. The turnoff for Chute de la Madeleine was roughly 64km northeast of Noumea.
From that signposted turnoff leaving the RP3, continue east on the RP3 (instead of turning inland towards the other waterfall), and take this road for the next 12.5km (going up and over the Col de Yate, where we were able to make a couple of scenic stops to look west towards the Lac de Yate and east towards the Pacific Ocean), then keep right to cross the bridge and continue heading south of Yate. Beyond the town, the road started to degenerate from paved with lots of long speed bumps to mosty gravel (still with speed bumps).
Roughly another 21km south of Yate, we crossed over a bridge where a signpost pointed out the Cascade de Wadiana to our right. Immediately after the bridge, there was a long enough pullout to accommodate a handful of cars, and this was where we stopped. Our drive took us 80 minutes from Chute de la Madeleine, but I’d imagine it would be around 1 hour without stops (thus it would be around 3 hours from Noumea).
While it may be tempting to look at the map and think that it might be slightly shorter to drive to the falls from the southern approach, we wouldn’t recommend it (unless you’ve allowed yourself plenty of time) because the road between Goro and Plum was full of potholes and steep hills. That said, there were some interesting sights like the remnants of the nickel mine at Goro as well as an ecolodge near the Baie de Boise. There was also an unsightly industrial area at Prony, which I’d imagine where the current nickel extraction and processing went on (thereby powering the economy of New Caledonia given how many people it seemed to employ).
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