22 Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the World
One of Mother Nature's most soothing yet exhilarating and beautiful creations in the world is the waterfall.
There is just something mesmerizing about watching water tumble off a rock face into a pool or raging river beneath. The noise it makes, the sheer volume of water — it's magical. There are thousands and thousands of waterfalls strewn across the world, but not all are created equal.
Some, like Iguazu Falls on the border with Argentina and Brazil, claim the title of the world's largest, while others, like Havasu Falls in Arizona by the Grand Canyon, don't have the depth or width, but when it comes to sheer, mesmerizing beauty, there is nothing like the juxtaposition of orange and turquoise against a bright blue sky.
We'll take you around the planet, from Zimbabwe to the Philippines, Iceland to Tennessee, on a quest for the most mighty, unique, and beautiful natural water shows on Earth. Read more with our list of the world's most beautiful waterfalls.
1. Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil
Highlight: The world's largest waterfall, stretching for almost three kilometers
Iguazu Falls is actually a chain of hundreds of individual waterfalls stretched out almost three kilometers to create the world's largest waterfall on the border between Brazil and Argentina on the Iguazu River. The visual and sound effects of all this water tumbling down some 70 meters is truly like nothing else in the world.
The surrounding environs of jungly rainforest are equally beautiful, creating a magical memory you won't ever forget. The falls are protected in a national park and can be viewed from either the Argentine or Brazilian side.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Argentina
2. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia
Highlight: Being a daredevil and taking a swim in Devil's Pool, which is on top of the falls on the Zambian side
On the Zambezi River between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the UNSECO World Heritage site of Victoria Falls is another of the planet's most beautiful and impressive waterfalls. It's known locally as "The Smoke that Thunders."
During the rainy season, you can expect to get soaked walking along the trail on the Zimbabwe side, where the best views of the falls are found.
The Zambia side takes you up close and personal with the impressive wall of water that plunges over a 1.7-kilometer-wide precipice that is more than 100 meters deep. You can even swim in Devil's Pool, which is literally at the top of the falls on the Zambian side.
3. Havasu Falls, Arizona, USA
Highlight: The bright turquoise pool at the bottom of the waterfall plummets over the orange-red cliffs of the Grand Canyon
Havasu Falls is the most beautiful of the five Havasupai Waterfalls that plummet over orange-red cliffs into bright turquoise-blue pools in a side canyon of the Grand Canyon.
The waterfalls are all located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation and can only be accessed via an overnight 10-mile hike that requires advance reservation and payment of fees — no day hiking is allowed, and you must spend at least one night at the campground in the canyon; most people spend three nights.
The number of people allowed into the canyon is limited, and there is often a waiting list to experience this bucket-list-worthy waterfall.
4. Angel Falls, Venezuela
Highlight: It is the highest waterfall in the world at 3,212 feet
Located in Venezuela, Angels Falls is the world's highest waterfall at a staggering 979 meters or 3,212 feet — this is 15 times higher than Niagara Falls for comparison. The water comes from the Churun River and does a free-fall drop over the edge of a mountain into a set of white water rapids below. There is a second drop of 30 meters just beyond the rapids.
To reach the falls, however, is no easy feat. You'll have to first catch a small plane to the town of Canaima, and then it is a one-day boat ride to the falls.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Venezuela
5. Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
Highlight: Viewing Horseshoe Falls from Cave of the Winds at the waterfall's mid-point
It isn't the tallest waterfall in the world, but Niagara Falls is certainly impressive in its scope and power. Niagara Falls is comprised of three waterfalls, the largest of which is Horseshoe Falls. Straddling the border between the USA and Canada, the water cascades 614 feet down Niagara Gorge.
The falls can be viewed from a number of viewpoints in New York and Ontario. Cave of the Winds is one of the most unique viewpoints. Here, you will descend 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge to experience the power of the falls mid-flow from the Hurricane Deck. You'll be given a rain jacket because you will get wet.
6. Dudhsagar Falls, India
Highlight: Drops down more than 1,000 feet in four tiers that are nearly 100 feet wide
One of India's tallest and most impressive waterfalls, Dudhsagar Falls cascades down more than 1,000 feet in four tiers at nearly 100 feet wide. The speed and force with which the water falls and sprays also gives Dudhsagar Falls its "sea of milk" nickname because this is the illusion it creates dropping into the Mandovi River below.
The falls are located in India's Goa province inside the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, about 60 kilometers from Panjum and 45 kilometers from Mudgaon.
7. Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
Highlight: It's the world's highest single-drop waterfall in the world, hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest
It takes some serious effort to reach Kaieteur Falls, which is hidden deep in the Amazon rainforest in Guyana. But the reward is the world's highest single-drop waterfall at 226 meters or 741 feet.
The falls are accessed via regular flights on small planes from the capital city of Georgetown. From the airstrip landing, it's a 15-minute walk to the top of the falls. Some of the best views, however, are seen flying in and out.
8. Yosemite Falls, California, USA
Highlight: North America's tallest waterfall and the fifth-highest in the world
Yosemite Falls is the fifth-highest waterfall in the world and the tallest in North America. Located in stunning Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Falls consists of three separate falls with a drop of 2,425 feet that give the illusion of one giant cascade of water.
Yosemite Falls is fed by snowmelt, so to see it at its fullest, visit in late spring or early summer when you can hear it thunder from across Yosemite Valley. By late summer, however, Yosemite Falls has dwindled to just a trickle and can go dry by August.
You can also appreciate views of the falls from some of Yosemite's hiking trails.
9. Plitvice Waterfalls, Croatia
Highlight: The distinct hues of blue and green that can be seen in the waterfalls
The 16 cascading lakes that make up the Plitvice Waterfalls in Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia are an extraordinary sight. What makes these waterfalls really special though are the distinct shades of blues and greens — from aquamarine to emerald and turquoise — that can be seen in the water as it flows over limestone and chalk rocks.
All of this is surrounded by a lush green landscape that just makes for a visually stunning tableau. Social media picture-perfect, this park attracts more than one million visitors a year.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Croatia
10. Fall Creek Falls, Tennessee, USA
Highlight: The highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River in the US
Dropping for 256 feet, Fall Creek Falls is the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Located in the eastern portion of the rugged Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, the waterfalls are part of Fall Creek Falls State Park and can be accessed via a three-mile round-trip hike that gains about 715 feet total.
Beyond the main falls, the park is home to five other beautiful waterfalls, as well as cascades, gorges, and 34 miles of hiking trails. You can even stay in a cabin or campsite.
11. Kawasan Falls, Cebu Island, Philippines
Highlight: Swimming in the clear turquoise pool that this waterfall drops into
In the town of Badian on Cebu Island in the Philippines, Kawasan Falls themselves are not that stunning in the scope of epic world waterfalls. But the pool of turquoise water they drop into certainly is. As such, they have become an instant sensation for travel Instagram shots.
One of the best ways to reach the falls is to sign up for a canyoneering tour, which takes you on an adventure through the jungle before you reach the falls and jump into the clear blue pool beneath.
Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in the Philippines
12. Gullfoss (Golden Falls), Iceland
Highlight: Creates a dizzying illusion as it crashes down in two stages, laid out at nearly right-angles
On the Hvita River in Iceland, Gullfoss means "golden falls" and gets its name from the glacial sediment in the river that makes the falls glow gold in the sun. The 105-foot-tall waterfall crashes down in two stages that are aligned at nearly right angles, creating a crazy illusion as you approach the thunder that these golden falls also stretch to the ends of the Earth. It is a magical sight set against Iceland's lush, velvet-green landscape.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Iceland
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Iceland
13. Shoshone Falls, Idaho, USA
Highlights: One of the largest natural waterfalls in the US; wheelchair-accessible viewing platform
With a width of 900 feet and falling some 212 feet, Shoshone Falls, in Twin Falls, Idaho, is often called the "Niagara of the West." One of the largest natural waterfalls in the US, Shoshone Falls is actually taller than Niagara Falls. The falls are on the Snake River and are set in a deep basalt canyon.
These falls are also super accessible, even to wheelchairs, with the closest parking spot just 75 feet from the viewing platform. To stretch your legs, however, take a walk along the canyon rim trail to see the falls from many vantage points.
14. Ruby Falls, Tennessee, USA
Highlight: The tallest and deepest underground waterfall in the US is lit by a full-color LED light show
Just outside Chattanooga, Ruby Falls has the distinction of being the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the USA. Located 1,120 feet deep inside Lookout Mountain, this waterfall is accessed by taking an elevator 26 stories underground and then walking along a cavern path past crazy-looking geological rock formations.
Ruby Falls drops 145 feet into a pool, and while the falls are natural, they are lit up with a full-color LED light show. Still, it's an impressive and ultra-unique waterfall.
- Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Chattanooga
15. Tukad Cepung Waterfall, Bali, Indonesia
Highlight: The short jungle hiking trail to this waterfall, one of Bali's most unique, is suitable for kids
Located just outside Ubud, Tukad Cepung Waterfall is one of Bali's most unique. Accessed via a jungle hiking trail that takes about 15 minutes to walk and is suitable for kids, the most beautiful part of this waterfall experience is the way the sun rays shine through the jungle landscape to create a magical view.
When the light is right, these rays fall straight through the top of the falls and create the illusion of rock formations across the canyon. You can swim in the pool surrounding the waterfall, too.
16. Weeping Wall, Kauai, USA
Highlights: A waterfall in the planet's second-wettest spot; the surrounding landscape is lush, green, and beautiful
The Weeping Wall on the ultra-lush Hawaiian Island of Kauai is home to a series of narrow waterfalls thundering down the 5,066-foot-high Mount Waialeale. This is the second wettest spot on the planet, receiving around 450 inches of rainfall each year.
The top portion of the wall and the waterfalls are usually covered in clouds, but the spectacle of the water rushing down as the rain falls around you in the lushest green environment imaginable is quite a beautiful experience.
17. Bridalveil Fall, California, USA
Highlight: Visit during early spring to catch this iconic waterfall at peak flow
Inside Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall is one of the most iconic waterfalls in the park, the other being the larger Yosemite Falls. If you're a fan of Ansel Adams' photography, you may recognize the falls from his famous shot of the Yosemite Valley snapped from Inspiration Point.
Bridalveil Fall can be reached via a short hike up a paved trail to its base. During peak flow in early spring, you'll likely get drenched from the mist coming off the falls.
18. Palouse Falls, Washington, USA
Highlight: Drops off a crater rim into a circular pool that is surrounded by moss-covered rock
Dropping off the rim of a crater into a circular pool surrounded by moss-covered canyon walls some 200 feet below, Palouse Falls is another take-your-breath-away beautiful waterfall. In a remote part of southeast Washington, it is especially impressive when the Palouse River is running high and the waterfall is at its most full.
A trail goes around the crater rim, so you can see the falls from multiple perspectives as you walk, including the narrow cataract in the rock that creates the falls in the first place. This is one of the best hikes near Spokane.
- Read More: Best State & National Parks in Washington
19. Ban Gioc Waterfall, Vietnam
Highlight: Asia's largest waterfall, it sits on the border of Vietnam and China
Cascading down three tiers and backed by a lush green landscape and fairy-tale-like pointy mountains, Ban Gioc Waterfall (Detain Waterfall on the Chinese side) is right on the border with China and ranks as the largest waterfall in Asia.
On the Chinese side, the drop is more than 70 meters, and the waterfall is some 200 meters wide. The falls are fed by the Quay Son River, which divides the two countries, and the sound of the water rushing over the three tiers is thunderous and awesome.
20. Agrio Falls, Argentina
Highlight: Vibrant water-colors thanks to the sulphatic river creating Agrentina's Agrio Falls
The Agrio River tumbles off a rock ledge to create the 60-meter-high Agrio Falls (Salto del Agrio). The waterfall is located just one kilometer from the town of Caviahue in Argentina's Patagonia region.
Agrio Falls is compelling for its colors. The river here is sulphuric, and the pool at the bottom is a vibrant green. The pool is surrounded by red and yellow volcanic rocks that add to the photogenic contrast of colors.
The area topography is also beautiful with a mix of rocks and lush green trees. Arrive early in the morning for the best chance of seeing a rainbow in the falls as they cascade down in two drops split by a basalt rock resembling a head. There are three lookout points to view the falls.
21. McWay Falls, California
Highlight: Visit the hour before sunset when the landscape glows gold and pink
In Monterey, California, McWay Falls is especially spectacular in the hour before sunset, when the surrounding landscape glows yellow, orange, and pink. Located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, the 80-foot waterfall flows year-round. It drops off over a cliff and lands in a beach cove a few dozen feet from the Pacific Ocean.
The waterfall used to cascade directly into the ocean, but in the early 1980s, a wildfire and landslide coupled with a highway reconstruction project created the sandy beach cove that it now hits before sliding out to sea.
McWay Falls can only be viewed from above. The cliffs here are too dangerous to legally descend (although some people still do).
Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Big Sur, CA
22. Tugela Falls, South Africa
Highlight: Seeing Africa's highest waterfall tumble 3,110 feet over five cascades
With a drop of 3,110 feet over a series of five seasonal cascades, Tugela Falls is Africa's highest waterfall and the second-highest of its kind in the world — some argue it is taller than Angel Falls in Venezuela due to alleged measurement discrepancies of both waterfalls.
Located in South Africa's Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg mountains region of KwaZulu-Natal, Tugela Falls drops from the top of The Amphitheatre rock escapement. The waterfall can be seen up-close by hiking the challenging Sentinel trail to its top, or via the easier Tugala Gorge trail to its base.