About Sauniatu Waterfall
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.
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.
In any case, after the guard let us through and pointed the way to the waterfall, we promptly parked and then walked 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, where 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 onto the rocky riverbed to get right up to the fringes of the plunge pool.
Even though we made our visit at around midday, the mosquitoes here were seemingly quick and aggressive, but that didn’t seem to bother the people swimming and doing cliff jumps at the falls.
The lighting wasn’t the greatest for taking pictures when we were here, but 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.
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.
The Sauniatu Waterfall resides in the Atua District. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try the MNRE website.
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, then continue 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.
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.
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.
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).
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