With humidity in Vanuatu always high, cooling off in the natural baths of Losinwei Waterfall is the perfect way to spend the day.

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Highlights

  • The colour of the natural pools 
  • You can swim under, crawl in and sit on top of the final multi-leveled waterfall
  • Easy walk (hey, it’s a highlight if you’re here for a relaxing holiday)
  • If you’re lucky, the guide will be the local Chief!
  • Fresh coconuts after your swim

Crystal clear rivers snake out to deep blue reefs on almost every big island in Vanuatu, so you’re never too far from a body of water to plunge your sweaty body into. Malekula was the first on my list of outer islands to explore, and after adjusting (somewhat) to the tropical humidity, I was ready to find one of these rivers and jump in as soon as possible. The Losinwei Waterfall Walk, located in central Malekula, was the first on my list.

While the main waterfall at the end of the walk is a beauty, with plenty of platforms to have a splash in, the journey along the river is what really blew me away. With natural pools the colour of blue irises and cascades that meander to the coast, this easy riverside walk will have you knee-deep in water with your camera out the entire time.

 

 

It’s highly probable that the Chief from the local village will guide you to the waterfall, and he’ll usually be accompanied by a few guides for good measure. Make the most of this experience by asking them questions about their culture and their home – they love to talk about it

The walk itself is mostly flat, however you’ll be zigzagging up the river, often crossing through ankle-deep water and over stones that are fairly slippery. This is why the right footwear is key! The Chief and his guides may also offer you a helping hand over the parts that are renowned for their slipperiness. 

The walk is less than an hour, however we took our sweet time because the photo opportunities were too hard to resist. Once you get to the waterfall itself, you’ll have to swim (or make some tricky maneuvers) to see the waterfall, as there’s a giant rock blocking the view. Swimming around that rock to face a wall of falling water is pretty damn magical. I recommend climbing up to the top of the waterfall and relaxing in the pool overlooking the tropical valley.

 

 

After your swim, one of the guides will pull coconuts, mangoes and bananas from somewhere (where the heck has he been hiding them?), and you’ll sit by the water elbow deep in mango juice. Make sure to crack your coconut on a nearby rock and scoop out the flesh with your thumbnail. There’s nothing better than a slippery morsel of coconut flesh sliding down your throat on a hot day.  

At the end of the walk, the Chief will take you to his village restaurant and dish up a huge spread of fish and local chicken stir fry, before the ute swings by to pick you up again. No guarantees, of course, this is Vanuatu! The Chief’s restaurant overlooks the ocean and his black-sand beach, which looks like a plain of chia seeds. Make sure you drink plenty of water (yesssss mum). It’s easy to forget how much liquid you lose when you sweat in the tropics!

 

Essential Gear

  • Sandals with good grip: you’ll be knee deep in water sometimes, so leave the running shoes/hiking boots at your bungalow.
  • Mozzie repellant: it’s wet and it’s humid, the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes 
  • Swimwear: While it’s respectful to stay covered up in the village, bikinis and normal swimwear are fine for taking a dip.
  • Camera: obviously.
  • Water

How To Get There

As with all activities in the outer islands, one way to get things organised is to simply ask your accommodation provider to arrange the trip to the waterfall and guide. They’ll make sure you have a ute to take you there and enough food to keep your belly happy. Or if you prefer to book ahead, contact the nearby Santo Travel Centre to assist with arrangements.

Skill Level

In terms of elevation, you’ve got an easy walk ahead of you. There are light undulations, but nothing out of scope for the average walker. As mentioned above, there is quite a bit of navigation through water, so you’ll need to be totally comfortable walking through the river, and good with your balance. 

Duration

It took us about an hour and a half to walk to the waterfall, but that’s with approximately 100 photo stops. You can certainly achieve it in less if need be.

Helpful Hints

1. Remember that in Vanuatu, all land belongs to someone. There are no national parks or government tourism areas – so don’t be surprised to be asked to pay a small entrance and transport fee. These go directly to locals and provide very rare forms of cash income. They also ensure you’ll be safe and well looked after. Guides take great pride in their jobs.

2. While there’s lots of water around, it’s not always easy for a tourist to know what’s safe to drink and where animals may bathe. Rather than risking it, ask your driver to stop at a shop on the way to pick up a bottle of water or two.

3. On your way to your next adventure, check out the cute little shop directly opposite the airport terminal at Norsup. If you’re in luck they’ll have cold beer and small meals.

4. Malekula is one of the remoter islands in Vanuatu. You’ll likely arrive from overseas via Port Vila or Santo so check out the domestic connections at Air Vanuatu. Don’t forget that booking your internal flight once you’ve arrived in Vanuatu through the Air Vanuatu office (with your international Air Vanuatu ticket in hand) will get you 20% off the domestic fare. Air Vanuatu can also book accommodation for you.

5. If you’re looking for somewhere easy to find that serves meals, Palm Lodge is a great place to stay or eat. Call early to book as food is only prepared when guests are expected and your online reservation may be missed. Internet isn’t always reliable here!

6. Keen to have all the logistics taken care of your you? The guys at Crooked Compass are leading an 8-day tour of Malekula and the remote Maskelynes Islands during the epic Canoe Race Festival July 2021. Join them for a celebration of fascinating kastom dance, traditional canoe making, and the freshest seafood you’ve possibly ever tasted, followed of course, by the ultimate outrigger canoe race… Oh! And the trip offers a chance to swim with dugongs. Check it out.

 

Photography by Ain Raadik and Ben Savage