Nu’uuli Falls provides the perfect cool down on a hot, humid day on the tropical islands of American Samoa. The trail is short, but tricky, and can lead to five or six more falls (depending on recent rainfall) beyond the first set.
Nu’uuli Falls Basics
Distance: 0.6 miles roundtrip (to first falls)
Hiking Time: 30-60 mins
Start Point: Nu’uuli. From the Main Road in Nu’uuli, you’ll take the road east of Family Mart all the way to the end. At the end, you’ll see a bridge to the right, that crosses a stream. There’s no real trail head, but this stream flows from the waterfall, so you can start at any point from here.
End Point: Same as the start.
Parking: At the end of the road, past the bridge on the right, there’s a large outbuilding, by which you can park. Always make sure to ask permission to park, as this is family land. You may have to walk further up the drive to the house, just watch for dogs.
Hiking to Nu’uuli Falls
Once you’re ready to go and you’ve crossed the bridge, you’ll make an immediate turn on the first drive to your left, following the stream. A little way up, there’s a swimming hole, where you can cool off now, or on your way back, or both.
Beyond the swimming hole, you’ll need to either go around or through an abandoned house and then make your way back to the stream. Depending on the condition of the trail at the moment, this may be as easy as following the trail or you may have to do your best just to make it through the overgrown foliage, back to the reassuring babble of the stream.
From this point, the trail is much more obvious. Crossing the stream at one point and traversing over boulders and fallen trees, the trail can be challenging, but doable. Our kids love the challenge, treating it like an exciting obstacle course to be conquered, rather than an inconvenience.
Refreshing Cool Waters
The hike is quick, before you know it, you’ll be standing on top of large boulders, looking down at the falls, longing to be in their cool waters. Depending on the force of the falls, you may feel the cool spray all the way up on these boulders.
Carefully make your way down to the pool, to relax in the refreshing water. You can swim, try to get right under the falls, or climb up the side and jump in. Although, the rock wall is slippery and I have never tried, but I’ve seen some of the local kids jumping in this way.
Just down the stream is another much smaller waterfall, that’s great for kids or for days when the main falls are too powerful.
To the left of the main falls, you can scale the mountain side to reach the top of the falls and from there, find five or six more falls along this same stream. The trail can be very difficult to follow though, so you may have to either hike up the stream or find a local youth to guide the way.
Once you’ve had your fill of cool stream water, simply head back along the trail, possibly stopping at the swimming hole to wash off from the hot hike. Just know, there is a piggery (pig farm) just upstream, between the falls and swimming hole, so swim at your own risk.
Since there is no trail head, the beginning of the trail can be difficult to follow. If all else fails, follow the stream until you find the trail again. Worst case, you’ll keep going all the way up to the falls.
Be aware that the trail crosses the stream once and takes hikers over boulders and fallen trees. The trail is minimally maintained, meaning it can become overgrown, but once you’re past the first section, the trail isn’t hard to follow.
The trail ends at the top of some very large boulders. To get down to the pool at the bottom of the falls you’ll have to carefully make your way down or sit and slide down the smooth boulders.
Depending on recent rainfall, the falls may be gentle enough to swim under, or they may be thundering down with so much force to make it nearly impossible to swim anywhere close.
Freshwater fish, eels, and crawfish are not uncommon on Tutuila, so be on the lookout. They are harmless, so no need to be afraid.
If you wish to continue to the subsequent falls, you may want to find a local teen to show you the way, as the rest of the “trail” can be difficult to follow. Again, if all else fails, you can always follow the stream.
Finally, as this trail is on family land, hiking is not allowed on Sundays.
Nu’uuuli Falls Wrap Up
When the heat of the South Pacific becomes too much and you just want to feel refreshed, make the quick hike to Nu’uuli Falls. Spend a few moments or a whole day and you’ll be ready to tackle the tropical heat once more.