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Types of Waterfalls

Geographers classify waterfalls based on a number of features, including their shape, their sheer volume, the type of pool or lack thereof, and the topography behind or around them. A given waterfall can fit into multiple categories. There are examples of all of the following waterfalls on Pohnpei Island.


A “cascade” is a falls with a wall that slopes gently backward. Instead of plummeting over a lip, the water rushes over the rocky slope on its way downhill. Examples of cascades include Nanpohnmweli, Kepirohi, Kokomaru, Nikotoapw, and Nan Kiepw waterfalls.

Plunge Waterfalls

A “plunge” falls is characterized by a narrow column of water which falls over a lip of rock and crashes into a pool or onto rocks with little or no contact with the cliff-face. Waterfalls of this type generally have very deep pools ground out of bedrock by the constant hammering of the water. Examples of plunge waterfalls include upper Pahnsapw, Pahnairlap, upper Liduduhniap, and upper Lipwentiak.

Block / Sheet Waterfalls

A “block” or “sheet” falls is characterized by a wide, straight lip of rock over which a river or stream passes, forming a broad, uniform curtain of water that falls straight down with little or no interference. These waterfalls are typically wider than they are high. This type of falls is uncommon on Pohnpei. The most obvious example is the upper-most of Nankepinmerepw’s waterfalls in Madolenihmw’s interior.

Horsetail Waterfalls

The “horsetail” falls gets its name from its shape. Unlike a plunge falls, a horsetail waterfall usually has contact with the cliff wall most or all of the way down — so it’s really a very steep cascade. This might happen because the wall isn’t perfectly vertical, because air currents force the water against the wall, or because the water isn’t flowing fast enough to burst out away from the wall. The falling water fans out at the bottom, resembling a horse’s tail. This is the most common type of waterfall on Pohnpei. Examples of horsetail waterfalls include Sahwartik, Sahwarlap, Lehnpaipohn, lower Pahnsapw, Olotong, Iro, Nan Emp, and lower Lipwentiak waterfalls.

Punchbowl Waterfalls

A “punchbowl” falls is a type of plunge waterfall where the water is compressed through a narrow portal and emerges with great force before crashing into a pool. The best example of this is Pahnairlap, though upper Lipwentiak and Pahn Sile may also qualify when water volume is high.

Multi-Step / Tiered Waterfalls

A multi-step falls, also sometimes called a tiered waterfall, is created when there are two plunge falls in close succession. Liduduhniap, Lipwentiak, and Sengnaip waterfalls are examples of this.

Waterfalls Around Pohnpei

Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Kepindau & Pohn Pillap Waterfalls

Kepindau & Pohn Pillap Waterfalls Kepindau Waterfall The larger of two small waterfalls found on Sokehs Island (the only waterfalls not on the main island of Pohnpei) is known as Kepindau and ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Kepirohi Waterfall

Kepirohi Waterfall Kepirohi, which lies on the lower Mand Stream (Pilen Mand) in Kepirohi Kousapw, is certainly Pohnpei’s most famous and most photographed waterfall and makes a nice picnic stop after ...
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Lehnpaipohn Waterfall, Pwoaipwoai, Kitti, Pohnpei, Micronesia

Lehnpaipohn Waterfall

Lehnpaipohn Waterfall Kitti has a lot of waterfalls, but one of the most fun to visit is Lehnpaipohn between Salapwuk and Pwoaipwoai districts (at least two kousapw claim the falls area) ...
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Lower Liduduhniap Waterfall, Pohnpei, Micronesia

Liduduhniap Waterfall, Nanipil & Nan Madap Attractions

Nanipil Area & Beyond Liduduhniap Waterfalls The easiest waterfalls to visit on Pohnpei (no hiking required) are the tiered "horse-tail" falls, Liduhduhniap, just a few kilometers from Kolonia. When the Greater Nett ...
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Lou Rahn Cave & Waterfall

Lou Rahn Cave & Waterfall Tucked away in the little-seen Nett hinterlands is one of Pohnpei’s most beautiful hiking destinations. Uluhlen Lou Rahn, a fence-like ridge, extends northwest from the place ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Nan Kiepw & Na Malek

Nan Kiepw Nan Kiepw Nan Kiepw, which means “in the lilies,” is a hillside overshadowed by Dolmweir peak. A Pohnpeian myth tells of a Yapese magician, named Sou Iap, who voyaged to ...
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Nan Koropwung Cliff & Caverns

Nan Koropwung Anyone who takes a good look at the mountains on the eastern border of Nett will note a dark patch of naked basalt amid the otherwise unvarying green of ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Nankepinmerepw River Valley

Nankepinmerepw River Valley This route passes through the gorgeous valley of Nankepinmerepw, following the upper tributaries of the Nan Riohk Stream (Pilen Nan Riohk) and eventually arriving north of Nahnalaud on ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Nanpohnmweli Waterfall

Nanpohnmweli Waterfall Though you can reach the top of Nanpohnmweli from Mand, the best way to access this falls (also known as "Kerenis" Waterfall) is from the Circle Island Road in ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Pahn Sile Waterfall

Pahn Sile Waterfall Located on the pristine Senipehn River, Pahn Sile is one of the few waterfalls well into the interior that almost anyone (even small children) can reach without the ...
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Upper Pahnsapw Waterfall, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Pahnsapw & Nankep Waterfalls

Pahnsapw Waterfalls Pahnsapw, which means “beneath the land," refers to a pair of tall, majestic waterfalls which plummet off the edge of a high plateau in central Madolenihmw (it's also the ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

Pahntakai Cave & Waterfall

Pahntakai Cave & Waterfall Pahntakai literally means "under the rock" and one visit makes it immediately apparent why this geologically-unique location was given its name. A thin waterfall plummets over a ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)

Sahwartik & Sahwarlap Waterfalls

Sahwartik & Sahwarlap Waterfalls Located on converging streams within Salapwuk’s deep Sahwar Gorge, Sahwartik and Sahwarlap are a pair of waterfalls whose splendor and grace defy reality. The wider falls is ...
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Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia

The Six Waterfalls Hike

The Six Waterfalls Hike Because Pohnpei’s rainforested terrain is so challenging to move through, inexperienced hikers might think a jaunt into the wild interior of the island is out of reach ...
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Adventures >> Waterfalls