World’s Most Breathtaking Waterfalls

Few natural wonders are as magical as waterfalls. Some waterfalls cascade over cliffs or gently flow down rocks, creating mesmerizing landscapes. Others exhibit such forceful water discharge that they’ve carved their pathways into granite. In addition to their natural beauty, many waterfalls produce spectacular environmental effects. Gorgeous rainbows or even rare occurrences like a “Firefall,” happen. This is where the sunset’s rich reds and golds blend with the water flow, creating the illusion of liquid fire cascading from the falls. As you plan your next adventure, consider adding one of the world’s most incredible waterfalls to your itinerary to experience the power and wonder of these breathtaking natural marvels. 

‘Akaka Falls, Hawaii

'Akaka Falls, Hawaii
Wikimedia Commons / Richard J Kruse / CC 3.0

Hawaii’s big island, particularly its north side, hosts one of the world’s most renowned waterfalls amid its stunning natural beauty. Akaka Falls plunges 442 feet, impressively fed by the smaller Kahuna Falls, which stands at 100 feet. Easily accessible, a short, paved pathway surrounded by lush Hawaiian flora leads visitors to both of the falls in Akaka Falls Park, making Hilo’s famous park a must-do for visitors to this Hawaiian isle. 

Angel Falls, Venezuela

Scenic view of world's highest waterfall Angel Fall in Venezuela
Photo by PhotoSpirit on Adobe Stock

Generally thought to be the largest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls plunges an astounding 3,212 feet over Venezuela’s Auyantepui Mountain. Reaching this remote location inside Canaima National Park requires a few hours, a boat ride, and a minimum hike. However, the journey to visit the world’s tallest waterfall is undoubtedly worth the effort. Much of the water cascading off the table-top plateau of Auyantepui evaporates before reaching the river below, creating a mind-blowing waterfall. This massive spectacle consists of two successive cascades, accompanied by a third, much smaller waterfall downriver.

Ban Gioc Waterfall, Vietnam, and China

Ban gioc detian falls in vietnam
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels

This astounding three-tier waterfall is called Ban Gioc in Vietnam and Detien in China. Its unique horseshoe shape straddles the borders between the two countries and has been drawing curious visitors for centuries. A remote site, Ban Gioc is best viewed during the dry season months of October to April. During the daily release of the upstream Quay Son River, the falls reach their full flow for a few hours. The best way to see Ban Gioc is by boat ride to the lower pool since lush jungles surround the 300-meter-wide cascading falls. 

Dettifoss, Iceland

Sunset at the powerful Dettifoss waterfall
Photo by Thomas Schnitzler on Adobe Stock

North Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park has four spectacular waterfalls, but Dettifoss is the most impressive. Widely thought to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss pushes out over 200 cubic meters of water per second. All of the water is pushed over the edge of the block falls fed by the Jökulsá River. The best time to view Dettifoss is between May and December when the nearby gravel roads are passable, but visitors here can also hike into the falls area or camp nearby in the park. 

Gullfoss, Iceland

gullfoss, waterfall, flow
Photo by Hans on Pixabay

Called the Golden Waterfall, Gullfoss is part of Iceland’s “Golden Circle” of geologic must-see wonders in the country’s northeastern region. What makes Gullfoss unique is the way it appears from a distance. The massive inflow of 100,000 liters of glacial water per second from the Hvítá River cascades to an initial pool. It then seemingly disappears into the crevice of the Gullfossgljúfur canyon below. A spectacular waterfall, Gullfoss is highly photogenic during all seasons, and visitors here have easy access to the falls with viewing platforms, so close visitors need a raincoat. 

Havasu Falls, Arizona

Breathtaking views of Havasu Falls and its surrounding areas
Photo by Adventures On Wheels on Adobe Stock

A camping trip to the Grand Canyon is the only way to see the awe-inspiring Havasu Falls. Visits to Havasupai Indian Reservation’s falls are restricted to those with 3-day camping reservations, accessed via a demanding hike or horseback ride. The falls at Havasu are a photographer’s dream and look decidedly different from most other gorgeous waterfalls worldwide. Havasu’s 100-foot falls cascade from red cliffs into a turquoise pool, surrounded by a sandy beach and mature cottonwood trees.

Iguazu Falls, Argentina, and Brazil

Panoramic view of iguazu falls in argentina
Photo by Veronica Arias on Pexels

This stunning cataract waterfall that spans the border between the two countries is an eye-popping 9,500 feet wide. Iguazu Falls, the world’s largest waterfall system, consists of 275 waterfalls spanning over 1.5 miles. Visitors typically view the UNESCO-designated Iguazu Falls via the Brazil Canyon wall pathways and platforms. But for a bird’s eye view, adventurous travelers can take a helicopter tour of Brazil to see the falls and surrounding parklands full of exotic wildlife like giant river otters, jaguars, coatis, ocelots, and toucans. 

Niagara Falls, US, and Canada

The niagra falls maid of the mist in ontario canada
Photo by Shanea Strachan on Pexels

Niagara Falls sits between the US and Canadian border. It is the most powerful fall in North America, dumping over 600,000 gallons of water per second into the Niagara River. The most popular way to view Niagara is a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat that carries visitors right up to the base of the falls. The boat even provides a poncho for the guaranteed wet ride. The Niagara Falls Park area offers activities like the Cave of the Winds and the Aquarium. While you’re waiting for the spectacular nightly illumination of the falls, you can explore the entertainment district.

Plitvice Waterfalls, Croatia

The magical waterfalls in Plitvice Lakes National Park located in Croatia.
Photo by Mike Swigunski on Unsplash

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site for good reason. This seemingly unending waterfall cascades over unique travertine barriers, forming crystal-clear lakes. These lakes constantly transform in shape and size. Pathways to many of the waterfall areas in Plitvice are easily walkable. This accessibility allows visitors to reach the startlingly blue lakes and rocky beaches that comprise the waterfall area.

Victoria Falls, Zambia, and Zimbabwe

Early morning at Victoria Falls from Zambia looking into Zimbabwe
Photo by Matthew on Adobe Stock

This waterfall is so big (6,400 feet across and 344 feet tall) that the spray has created a rainforest ecosystem around it. Victoria Falls is so spectacular that its spray can be seen from 30 miles away. Visitors to the falls that link Zambia and Zimbabwe can hike up and around the waterfall area to view the remarkable water flow from viewing platforms of the different regions like Horseshoe Falls, the Main Falls, or the ominously named Devil’s Cataract.

Yosemite Falls, California

All three falls
Wikimedia Commons / Mike McBey / CC 2.0

This beautiful waterfall is the centerpiece of Yosemite National Park in California. Fed by snowmelt, Yosemite Falls are best viewed between April and June. But this towering triple cascade waterfall is gorgeous all year round. As America’s tallest waterfall, Yosemite Falls is a big tourist destination along with the National Park, which also is home to nine other waterfalls. Visitors here can drive, or shuttle to the falls, and a short wheelchair-accessible pathway leads to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. This is the third cascade making up this waterfall system. 

Still Want To Chase Waterfalls?

Our bucket list holds a few more incredible waterfalls around the world worth a visit. 

  • Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls
  • India’s Jog Falls
  • New Zealand’s Sutherland Falls
  • Oregon’s Multnomah Falls
  • Philippine’s Kawasan Falls
  • Scotland’s Fairy Pools
  • South Africa’s Tugela Falls
  • Switzerland’s Rhine Falls