Cascade Falls, Efate Island, Vanuatu

Efate Island in Vanuatu is home to Port Vila, the country’s capital city.  At Efate, cruise ships can dock rather than anchor off-shore so we were able to walk off the ship, rather than arrive in tender boats.  We knew we were in a tropical paradise before even walking off the ship as local musicians were serenading us in pitch-perfect harmonies while singing their beautiful music.  

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls

Despite desperately wanting to tour the island, we hadn’t booked a shore tour through the ship and unless you like being with hoards of people and paying a premium, it really isn’t worth it.

Just 100mtrs from where you leave the ship are hundreds of local taxi drivers eager to take you on a tour of their island.  Firstly, we had our passports stamped at a local stall for a fee of AUS$2.00 and then we were approached by Willie, a local taxi driver.  The locals are SO friendly.

Our taxi driver and tour guide, Willie, with his green and gold Australian T-shirt and his under-powered van with no air-conditioning.

Our taxi driver and tour guide, Willie, with his green and gold Australian T-shirt and his under-powered van.

He spoke to us in English.  Vanuatu is a French-speaking island however all of the locals speak a kind of pigeon-English known as Bislama; then they speak French but English is so widely spoken it would appear to be the official language – I’m not sure what the French think about that.

Willie said he could show us around for the day for AUS$150.00.  The official currency of Vanuatu is Vatu however, it seems Australian dollars are very much an unofficial currency and everywhere we went they were accepted.

We accepted Willie’s offer and then he showed us towards his taxi.  Well…it was fairly dated, the tyres were missing a bit of tread and as the temperature was already well into the 30’s, we were hoping for something air-conditioned.

‘Fresh air’, said Willie, when we asked him about the air-conditioning.  We looked around us and noted that all the taxis seemed to be the same so if you can find an air-conditioned one it would be like winning the lottery.

All aboard we discovered the road rules are certainly less structured than they are in Australia.  There are no pedestrian crossings, no traffic lights, no speed limits and there’s no law insisting you wear seat belts.  In fact, in Willie’s taxi, we couldn’t even find a seatbelt.

A lot of the locals drive flat-bed trucks and a very common mode of travel is to pile onto the flatbed and stand up for the duration of your journey, often leaning over the side onto the oncoming traffic.

Two young girls just leaning out of a truck on the main street of Port Vila.

Two young girls just leaning out of a truck on the main street of Port Vila.

Willie took us to Cascade Falls.  I’d previously seen these Falls on travel programs and had been wanting to experience them for years.  There is an entry fee that seems fairly nominal then once past security, (a man who smiles as you walk on by), you walk up to the Falls.  The walk isn’t terribly taxing nor terribly long however I imagine it would be slippery in wet conditions and so reef shoes would be advisable.

The entrance to Cascade Falls

The entrance to Cascade Falls

The walk through the tropical rainforest is a refreshing change from the heat of the day as the temperature is a lot more mild and there’s little direct sunlight.  On the way you see breathtaking scenery as well as pass pawpaw trees laden with ripening fruit.

On the way to the Falls we saw a spider as big as my head.  I was told it wasn't poisonous but that didn't mean I touched it.

On the way to the Falls we saw a spider as big as my head. I was told it wasn’t poisonous but that didn’t mean I touched it.

It took us about 15-minutes to make our way to the top of the pools that are directly under the falls.  There is a platform where you can leave your bags and excess clothing then it’s a fairly easy walk to the pools.  The water is crystal clear and very refreshing and we were surprised at how warm this fresh water was.  There is no need for a wetsuit.

At this point you can dump your things on a ledge then walk up to the Falls.  It's not slippery.

At this point you can dump your things on a ledge then walk up to the Falls. It’s not slippery.

Standing under the falls with the water pounding over me was like having a therapeutic massage.  I loved it and could have stayed there for ages.

Family shot

Family shot

All on my lonesome

All on my lonesome

On the way back down we passed the Cascade Falls Singers, a group of A cappella singers who were busking, raising money for a Christian youth ministry.  We stopped and they asked if we would like to hear a song and of course we did so they formed into a little circle and began to sing.  These singers had outstanding voices.  They sang in beautiful harmonies and we were in awe.  We stood and enjoyed their music for about half an hour.

The Cascade Falls singers

The Cascade Falls Singers

Then Carl happened to mention that he loves the hymn ‘How Great Thou Art’ and so they asked him to join them and they sang together.  It is amazing how music can bring cultures and people together.  An audience of tourists climbing to the Falls gathered and there was applause at the end.

Some shelter where the Cascade singers can sit and cook their food.  They have a little fire going.  Amazing how relaxed the 'open fire' laws are compared with here in Oz.

Some shelter where the Cascade singers can sit and cook their food. They have a little fire going. Amazing how relaxed the ‘open fire’ laws are compared with here in Oz.

Then I saw an iguana climbing up a palm tree and so a few children rushed towards it but one of the singers called out to them to stop where they are and then he approached the tree and quick as a flash, faster than grease-lightening, he caught the iguana.  He told us it was a male and I asked how he knew and he said the males are more decorative with stripes but the females are plain.  Don’t you just find that in the animal kingdom, the males are always more beautiful or spectacular in appearance than the females!

The iguana

The iguana

Once we descended the Falls we came into a clearing where there is a café/bar that overlooks a pool with fish in it.  We threw ourselves into it and swam around with the fish.  We absolutely didn’t want to leave.  We could have stayed at Cascade Falls all day however, there is much to see on Efate so we boarded Willie’s taxi and headed back onto the road for more adventures.

The pool at the bottom of the falls

The pool at the bottom of the falls

A final swim before leaving Cascade Falls

A final swim before leaving Cascade Falls

Getting a pounding from the water

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  1. Beautiful island scenery.

  2. I would love to go there! That’s an amazing day. Tough about the aircon.

  3. Places like this really exist? Oh, my goodness. So beautiful. You took me right into the water with your words and photos. And to take me far away from minus 36 degree Fahrenheit windchills this a.m. is a blessing.

    I love that Carl joined those gifted singers in singing How Great Thou Art. What a perfect location to sing that hymn, in the beauty of God’s creation.

  4. Wow – beautiful falls – I don’t blame yall I wouldn’t wanna leave either.
    You are so right, music does bring cultures and people together – that must have been such a lovely moment singing and listening to “How Great Thou Art” – its one of my favs too!
    And I am fascinated by “no traffic lights, no speed limits” what?!

  5. What lovely cascades! And what lovely memory making you are doing, except with poor Archie, for the family. Now I am fascinated with Bislama…

  6. Another fabulous place to visit, very magical. Archie must be gutted to be missing it. GG

  7. So beautiful Charlie, and what a wonderful experience with the singers too. How can you possibly pick a favourite part of this holiday when it all seems so perfect? Xox

  8. b e a u t I f u l!!
    great family fun!
    R U serious about that spider? HOLY POOP!!!!!!!! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  9. He must have been quick to catch that iguana! And whose hand is it so close to the spider? They’re brave-it does look huge!

  10. Now why didn’t I think to stow-away in your suitcases? What a fantastic holiday!

  11. Looks amazing. Was the taxi a tight squeeze? Looks like a tuktuk on 4 wheels!

  12. G’day I LOVE Vanuatu as they truly are called the Happiest people on earth, true!
    Love the scenery and thanks for sharing your fantastic holiday…GREAT family photos too!
    Cheers! Joanne

  13. What a great holiday – an adventure every day. Bet Alfie was in his element with all that wild life!

  14. Absolutely beautiful!

  15. Am loving reading about your cruise… have a fantastic wonderful weekend 🙂

  16. OMG I can imagine, that waterfall looks so wonderful! I would never move 😀
    We definitely had good ideas to cruise 😉


  17. Vanuatu was Will and my first every overseas holiday together and I remember going to the falls well. There wasn’t all that much water when we went so they were more like a trickle but they were still so pretty and the water was lovely. Aren’t they just the friendliest people?!

  18. Those falls are fantastic! I really loved the smiling faces standing under the falls; one happy family. I think I’d love to just stand under that cascading water and be renewed!

  19. This sounds really idyllic; such beautiful falls, and your story of the singers is really lovely. Nice family photos too.

  20. What a fun time, except for the spider that is.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  21. That spider would have had me running! It reminded me of the time we were in Mexico, it was dusk and the light was fading fast. We were walking back to our room to dress for dinner and I noticed a roundish ball-like thing (slightly larger than a man’s fist all balled up) on the path about 20 metres ahead of us. Did I mention that I’m terrified of bugs? I said, “what the heck is that?” And JT mocked me with exaggerated motions and “oh, that’s just a big, bad bug” and he stomped his feet to demonstrate! Well, that “big, bad bug” stood up on its eight hairy legs and ran away! That shut JT up good. Later we found out that it was a tarantula! You can well imagine how the trip was after that little incident!

  22. That waterfall looks like a ‘stay with you forever’ experience. It is absolutely gorgeous and must have been so refreshing on a warm day!

  23. The water is crystal clear

  24. An amazing getaway. I love the waterfall photos.

  25. wow! so beautiful! Vanuatu is where they invented bungee jumping, right?

  26. So glad to see there are so many more cruise posts. It is like being on a vacation for a few minutes a day, while it is about to start snowing outside.

  27. that Island lok?spriette cool! What a great day spend, a lovely get-away.

  28. I meant that the Island looks pretty cool! X

  29. I love the shots of you guys next to the waterfalls…so idyllic!

  30. Wow, so jealous of all your travels, Charlie! Looks like you guys had so much fun with your tour guide 🙂

  31. My sister and I were there 2007 it is a beautiful place we swam under the mele falls it was magical it looks like it has changed a lot since then regards carol


  1. […] visiting Cascade Falls we asked Willie if he could take us to a place where we could swim with turtles.  He told us there […]

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