Having been to a large waterfall is on many people’s travel-bucket-list, just like seeing a whale or going diving. But nothing compares to feeling the earth’s pure strength in a majestic waterfall quenching down thousands of gallons per second in an ear-deafening roar. This is the closest to coming to understand the immense, unstoppable power of water.
The sheer variety of waterfalls is astonishing – from plunging streams over rock formations to half-frozen falls in glaciers. Why not include a spectacular trip to one of the most beautiful waterfalls?
Beautiful Waterfalls in USA
1. McWay Falls, California
Located in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in central California, the 80-foot-tall McWay waterfall flows year-round, which makes it a perfect travel destination regardless of the season. Emptying directly into the ocean, the surrounding beach is unfortunately closed to the public as you are not allowed to stand under the falls. Still, spending a day in this beautiful national park should be on anybody’s itinerary while visiting the The Golden State.
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2. Havasu Falls, Arizona
Visiting the Havasu Falls is an absolute must when at the Grand Canyon, assuming you like a physical challenge: the hike up to the creek is 10 miles long and leads through deep canyons, rocks and steep terrain. In the end you are rewarded with amazingly clear blue and green water against red walls of stone.
The local Havasupai territory is home to an Indian tribe, which is why visitors are required a reservation. This year, the majority of campground reservations were booked out within hours, so you will need to be quick if you are planning a trip next year and check their online updates on permits regularly.
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3. Yosemite Falls, California
One of the most famous waterfalls in the world, the Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park are still a popular attraction to travellers from all around the world. The best time to see these impressive roaring waterfalls is during spring, when the melting snow turns into rushing streams. They are the highest measured falls in North America, with 2,425 feet from top to base, and the sixth highest in the world.
This is one of the most crowded waterfall in the world, so make sure to check whether there are any public holidays around your planned visit. Alternatively, if you want to avoid the crowds, there are plenty other waterfalls dotted around the park which are worth a visit, such as Horsetail Falls or Sentinel Falls, offering similarly stunning views. In particular, Horsetail Falls, which beautifully reflects orange-glowing sunsets in late February, is a nice escape during winter and spring.
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4. Snoqualmie Falls, Washington
This waterfall became famous after appearing in the cult series “Twin Peaks”. Mostly travelled by TV-geeks, this scenic spot is certainly appealing to those not-familiar with the series, too, as it offers a great observation deck where you can enjoy fresh waffles whilst marvelling at the 270-foot falls. Located east of Seattle, why not take one day to explore the surrounding rain forest and cool yourself in the refreshing spray the falls send far above the gorge walls when you’re in the area?
5. Niagara Falls, New York
Possibly the best-known waterfall in the world, these falls are conveniently located between the Canadian province of Ontario and the state of New York, making it an easy-to-reach travel location for visitors to either places.
During the summertime, visitors will be able to marvel at colourful illuminations installed on both sides, turning the waterfall into a beautiful art-piece after dark. The three distinct cascades can be seen from several observation decks, though it is said that the view is better from the Canadian side.
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Beautiful Waterfalls in South America
6. Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
The largest single drop waterfall in the world, with 741 feet, Kaieteur Falls are in the Kaieteur National Park in the Amazon rainforest. To get an idea of how tall it is, the Kaieteur Falls are about two times higher than the Victoria Falls or four times higher than the Niagara Falls, which will be even more impressive once you see it with your own eyes.
To get there, you will need to embark on a three-day overland journey through the remote rainforest of Guyana, experiencing its unique and fascinating landscape and diverse wildlife.
7. Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina
One of the most famous in the world, this breath-taking waterfall is mostly located in Argentina whilst the Iguazu river flows through Brazil for most of its course. After running through roughly 150 to 300 small waterfalls of 197 to 269 feet height, depending on the water level, it tumbles over the plateau in a long and narrow U-shaped chasm that is called the Devil’s Throat.
The waterfall stretches out 1.7 miles in total. Sadly, the edge of the basalt cap recedes by 0.12 inches per year. At the moment, more than half a mile doesn’t have water flowing over it and it will increase with every year, so better be quick if you’re planning on seeing the Iguazu Falls in person.
8. Angel Falls, Venezuela
The Angel Falls are located only 215 miles off the Kaieteur Falls in the Canaima National Park – but they are significantly higher. With a 3,211-feet drop, of which 2,648 are uninterrupted, the Angel Falls are the tallest waterfall in the world.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is hugely popular and quickly became Venezuela’s top tourist attractions besides being located in an isolated jungle. The best time to visit the falls is during rainy season, from June to December, when the rivers are deep enough to use and Pemon, the indigenous people of Venezuela, offer guided trips.
9. Salto del Agrio, Argentina
Not impressively high but surrounded by inimitable yellow and red basaltic rocks, this 197-feet tall fall makes for a fantastic travel destination. The crystal-clear water which appears lusciously green and turquoise is a colourful contrast to the deep-red stones nearby. Topped off by the surrounding Araucarias pine trees, with their thick, “reptilian” branches, that can grow up to 130 feet high, this region is truly worth a visit, especially since you will encounter much fewer tourists than at other popular waterfalls, like the Angel Falls or the Iguazu Falls.
Beautiful Waterfalls in Europe
10. Dettifoss, Iceland
Iceland’s raw beauty is no longer a secret, nor are its breath-taking waterfalls. The Dettifoss falls are located north-east of the country, close to Akureyri, Iceland’s second biggest city with only 18,191 inhabitants – which explains the region’s untouched nature. The water comes straight from the nearby glacier, turning the water into a greyish white.
The view from the east bank is much better than from the west bank, where the view is hindered by the waterfall’s crashing spray.
11. Gullfoss, Iceland
Of course, Dettifoss aren’t the only impressive waterfalls in the country of glaciers. Found in the southwest this time, the “Golden Falls” appear to be vanishing right into the earth as the edge is obscured from view before it drops into a three-step staircase and then plunges in two 36-feet and 69-feet stages. Nowadays, Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions as it makes for a good day excursion from the capital Reykjavik.
12. Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Certainly not the last waterfall in Iceland, but the last on our list, The Seljalandsfoss Falls drop 197 feet behind a cliff which has a foot path at the bottom that allows you to actually go behind the waterfall and look through the plunging water. An especially spectacular sight in winter, this fall keeps on roaring even in freezing conditions when the entire area is coated in ice and snow. If you dare to visit the country in winter, this will make for an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience.
13. Plitvice Waterfalls, Croatia
Moving to the very south of Europe, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is undoubtedly one of the most amazing national parks in Europe with its many lakes arranged in cascades, creating a unique landscape of every shade of blue and green you can think of. Tourists can enjoy the great nature diversity, which ranges from dense primeval forests to rocky cliffs that are covered in deep green moss. Far away from any cities and pollution, this is the perfect retreat for anyone searching for simple, lush nature in its most beautiful form.
14. Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland
If you don’t want to travel into absolute remoteness to see a waterfall, this might be a sweet option for the less adventurous traveller. Located less than an hour away from Dublin, Powerscourt Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Ireland with 398 feet. The surrounding parklands and mountains offer many hiking possibilities and spots for family picnics or barbecues.
Beautiful Waterfalls in Asia
15. Yinlianzhuitan Waterfall, China
Part of the Huangguoshu Waterfall, this area is famous for its many falls and dazzling rivers. One of the highlights is “Shuiliandong”, a 440 feet-long Water-Curtain Cave in the back of one of the waterfalls – it doesn’t get more magical than that. Special bus services and nearby railway stations make it relatively easy to get to if you’re in the area of Guizhou.
16. Kawasan Falls, Philippine’s
Surrounded by tropical vegetation, this pretty fall is tucked between the mountains of Barangay Matutinao and Badian in the south-west of the island of Cebu. Natural lagoons with perfectly turquoise water and picturesque jungle vegetation invite to cliff-jumping and exploring hidden paths and caves.
As this picture-perfect place is more and more popular with tourists, it has become very easy to book guides or adventure tours. At the same time, the Philippine’s remain one of the best-kept travel secrets, and see far less tourists than, for example, Thailand or Vietnam. If you are looking for a tropical holiday but don’t want to fall for tourist traps, this is the place to go.
Beautiful Waterfalls in Africa
17. Kalandula Falls, Angola
One of the largest waterfalls in Africa, the Kalandula Falls are found in a quite unique setting. Divided into countless smaller trickles, it appears as if many small falls plunge together in a beautiful curtain that has created this stunning oasis of rainforest.
It might be less accessible (no railings, souvenir shops or bus stations) but pays off by offering you a true sense of untouched nature, without other tourists disturbing the view. Since guided tours and accommodation are usually much cheaper than in Europe, paying the extra penny to get off the grit might turn out to be the same price as going for a more-travelled waterfall with better connection.
18. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia
Looking at the combination of height (354 feet) and width (5,604 feet), the Victoria Falls are the biggest waterfall in the world. Amazingly, the waterfall can actually be swum in, as a pocket of water formed right at the cliff where a rock ledge and a lull will keep you safe from dropping off the edge. This makes for a stunning picture you can shock your friends with.
Best times to travel are in February or May when river is at its highest and will make the waterfall look even more impressive.
19. Tugela Falls, South Africa
Located in the Royal Natal National Park in the Republic of South Africa, the Tugela Falls are the second-tallest waterfall in the world with the longest drop being 1,348 feet long. You can hike all the way up to the peak from which you will get a great sense for how incredibly tall this waterfall really is, assumed you are free from giddiness.
Beautiful Waterfalls in Oceania
20. Huka Falls, New Zealand
Naturally, the country of stunning landscapes, New Zealand, made it onto the list with an extraordinary waterfall; the Huka Falls feature a wide and powerful drop that can be rafted by the courageous adventurer. If you prefer a more comfortable way of exploring the waters, you can go on a cruise to the bottom of the falls where you have a marvellous view of the vibrant turquoise stream.
Wherever you chose to travel to in 2018, any one of these fantastic natural spectacles will make for an unforgettable trip.