There are spectacular waterfalls to marvel at on every continent on earth, each serving up something different for curious travelers. Whether they are frozen blue in the wilds of Iceland or plunging off mountains in Venezuela, waterfalls are nature's chance to show off. Check out these special places below.
The Weeping Wall, Hawaii
Hawaii is full of superlative landscapes and you’ll probably want to visit more than just one waterfall on these verdant islands - Kauai alone has enough beautiful nature to keep you busy for weeks. In its center is Mount Waialeale, which means ‘overflowing water’ in Hawaiian and is the second wettest place on earth. As you might expect, waterfalls are not in short supply here. Cascading down out of the mist are hundreds of narrow falls, making their way through the lush green forest. If you’re an experienced hiker you can follow trails to the Blue Hole, the base of the mountain and experience the Weeping Wall for yourself.
Iguazu, Brazil and Argentina
This list wouldn’t be complete without the officially largest waterfall in the world, Iguazu. With Brazil on one side and Argentina over the river, this chain of hundreds of individual waterfalls stretches for 3km and drops 70 meters. Sure, you can look at pictures and imagine what that looks like but to be up close and personal and experience the sound of that much falling water is an experience worth traveling for.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Another waterfall that creates a border between countries, Victoria Falls might not be the tallest or widest but is definitely one of the most impressive. The seemingly calm Zambezi river curls through jungle then the whole river drops suddenly off 360ft high cliffs into churning pools below. You can hear and see the water mist from miles around which explains the indigenous name for the falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya - ‘the smoke that thunders’. You can even swim in the river above and get some crazy photos at the edge- its best to go with a guide who knows what they are doing and can capture your best angles.
Now this one might cost you as it really deserves two trips- one in summer and one in winter. Known as the Golden Falls, in the summer the Hvítá River is fed by glacial ice melt and the sediment in the water makes it seem to glow in the sun. The water falls over two levels set at almost right angles to each other, creating opportunities for amazing photos. In winter, icicles decorate the sides of the river and the water appears blue as it smashes down through the frozen landscape.
Ban Gioc, Vietnam
In the northwest corner of Vietnam, where it borders China, the Quay Son River stretches 300 meters across and falls over multiple terraces to a deep tropical green pool below. An eight hour journey by road from Hanoi, these falls remain off the familiar tourist worn path round Vietnam. Bamboo rafts will take you up to the falls to really grasp the scale of water moving. For the best view of the falls, hike up to the Buddhist temple at sunset.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
This is the big one- the tallest, uninterrupted waterfall in the world plunges 3212 ft over the side of a table top mountain deep in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park. It’s good to visit in the dry season from December to April- there may be less water but you’ll be able to see the top which is often obscured by clouds in the rainy season. No one said waterfall spotting was easy, and this one requires some commitment. You need to fly into Ciudad Bolivar or Puerto Ordaz, take a daylong trip in a canoe then hike one hour to the foot of the falls.
The Great Waterfall, Croatia
The clue’s in the name with this waterfall. For something to stand out as beautiful in one of the most naturally beautiful countries on earth you know it's worth a visit. Sixteen sparkling clear lakes in Plitvice National Park create cascades through ancient woodland that’s home to bears, lynx, and wolves. You can spend hours following the boardwalks and marveling at the calcium-rich water flowing over the chalk and limestone cliffs in shades of turquoise and emerald.
Sutherland Falls, New Zealand
High in the mountains of Fiordland Park is a glacial cirque, which, if you cast your mind back to geography class, is a deep bowl-like depression left by a circular glacier. Over time it filled with water, creating a huge lake. Sutherlands Fall is the water that escapes- tumbling 1,900 ft down a sheer drop in spectacular fashion. The easiest way to view it is on a helicopter tour but true adventurers can hike 33 miles and experience the awesome sight from the ground.