It’s not easy job to put together a 12 Best Waterfalls of the World List because it’s completely subjective and limited to each person’s experience with the falls being named. There are many types of travelers in this world. There are the city slickers, the concrete jungle strutters, the city-by-taxi crowd. And then there are the coastal junkies, for whom paradise is not a question of whether or not to be on a beach, but which beach has the optimal white sand to blue ocean ratio. And then there are the wisest travelers of all: those who love waterfalls. Waterfalls are among the most exquisite and beautiful wonders of nature.
“A strong man and a waterfall channel their own path”
So without further ado, we present our list.
1. Jog Falls, India
Deep in the state of Karnataka lies the majestic Jog (or Joga) Falls, also known as the second steepest waterfall in all of India. At a towering 830 ft (253 meters), the falls offer commanding views of the downrush over an impressively lush Indian landscape. So, basically, if you’re a waterfall junkie traveling through India, Jog Falls should be on your list.
2. Gullfoss Falls, Iceland
Somewhere on the might Olfusa River rushes Gullfoss Falls, Iceland’s most iconic waterfall and a true indication of the natural, ice-toned beauty to be found throughout the country. Most often viewed from above, Gullfoss offers a dramatic sight: it appears as though the water rushing off the cliff is simply vanishing into thin air. Though so powerful it was once thought of as a source for power generation, the cascade is just 104 ft (32 metres). But don’t let the numbers fool you, the sheer force of the rushing water is what makes Gullfoss a touristic must-see.
3. Plitvice Falls, Croatia
When you think waterfalls, you might not immediately picture Eastern Europe. But to pass up Plitvice Falls in Croatia would be a true rookie mistake. Plitvice Falls, which is part of Plitvice Lakes National Park (the largest National Park in Croatia) clocks in at 255 ft (77 m), making it a sight to see! Don’t believe us? Just ask the nearly 1 million yearly visitors who have been making a pilgrimage to these lovely falls every year since 1949.
4. Yosemite Falls, California, USA
Few have experienced the impressive beauty of California’s Yosemite National Park and not emerged in awe. And fewer still have noted the grace and the grandeur of Yosemite’s truly towering falls (they clock in at a gasping 2,425 ft or 740 m) and not returned home singing their praises. Yosemite Falls is, plainly put, absolutely massive and absolutely beautiful. And though the hike to the upper falls may be strenuous, it’s undoubtedly worth the experience.
5. Niagara Falls, New York and Ontario
Easily the most famous waterfall in North America, this powerful waterfall also ranks as the biggest one by volume with a whopping average of about 7000 cubic meters per second! The falls are impressively high at 167 feet (or 99 meters for you Canadians) but equally impressively long, stretching on for what feels like forever. And while the Canadian side boasts a touristy town to spend the weekend, the American side trades mostly in natural, scenic views. Both are worth a visit to get the full experience of seeing the falls.
6. Angel Falls, Venezuela
This waterfall has been widely acknowledged as the tallest permanent waterfall in the world.
Angel Falls is located in the Canaima National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in Venezuela. The world’s highest waterfall, it spills from the Auyantepui into what is known as the Devil’s canyon 979 m (3211 ft) below. The indigenous people call it Kerepakupai-mer but is was named Angel Falls after Jimmy Angel, an American bush pilot and gold-hunting adventurer, who discovered it in 1937. The height of the falls is so great that before getting anywhere near the ground, the water is atomized by the strong winds and turned into mist.
7. Havasu Falls, Arizona, USA
There’s off the beaten path and then there’s Havasu Falls. The most photographed waterfall in the Grand Canyon is located within the remote Havasupai Indian Reservation and plunges 30 m (100 ft) over fiery red rocks, pooling into turquoise waters. Its thunderous roar can be heard from a half-mile away, echoing off the sheer rock walls that surround it. The falls sport a wide sandy beach and have plenty of shady cottonwood trees to relax by. It takes a good deal of effort to get there, either by an exhausting hike or a heli flight, but the reward is worth it.
8. Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls represents the greatest curtain of falling water in the world, a spectacular sight of awe-inspiring beauty on the Zambezi River, forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Columns of spray can be seen from miles away as, at the height of the rainy season, more than five hundred million cubic meters of water per minute plummet over the edge, over a width of nearly two kilometers (1,2 miles), into a gorge over one hundred m (328 ft) below. The wide, basalt cliff over which the falls thunder, transforms the Zambezi from a placid river into a ferocious torrent cutting through a series of dramatic gorges. A path along the edge of the forest provides the visitor prepared to brave the tremendous spray, with an unparalleled series of views of the Falls.
9. Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
Shield amidst some of the most pristine rainforest left on earth, Kaieteur Falls is located on the Potaro River in central Essequibo Territory, Guyana. It is 226 m (741 ft) high when measured from its plunge over a sandstone cliff to the first break. It then flows over a series of steep cascades that, when included in the measurements, bring the total height to 251 metres (822 feet). While many falls have greater height, few have the combination of height and water volume, and Kaieteur is among the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average flow rate of 663 cubic m per second (23,400 cubic ft per second).
10. Thor’s Well, Oregon, U.S.A.
Surrounded by water on three sides, Thor’s Well is located off the coast of Cape Perpetua in Oregon. Its waters rush into what looks like a bottomless hole. While you’re there, you can also spot Devil’s Churn, where thunderous waves crash against the rocky shores, and Spouting Horn (exactly what it sounds like), where sea water shoots into the air.
11. Mantayupan Falls ,Cebu, Philippines
Cebu is the most bustling island in the Philippines, and it also happens to be home to a plethora of waterfalls, crowded and remote. Mantayupan Falls is a singular, super-steep waterfall with a quiet, shallow swimming pool beneath it. It’s a lot more peaceful and private since it’s a lesser-known tourist spot than some of the other waterfalls in Cebu.
12. Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
One of the planet’s most awe-inspiring sights, the Iguazu Falls are simply astounding. A visit is a jaw-dropping, visceral experience, and the power and noise of the cascades live forever in the memory. There are more than 270 falls, reaching heights of 200 feet (60 meters), in an area where cliffs and islets are scattered in a half-moon. An added benefit is the setting: the falls lie split between Brazil and Argentina in a large expanse of national park, much of it rainforest teeming with unique flora and fauna. The falls are easily reached from either side of the Argentine–Brazilian border, as well as from nearby Paraguay.