Not all waterfalls are graced with the dizzying height of Angel Falls or the raw power of Iguazu. They can’t all be the gushing Niagara—but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a little love! Because we here at go-today are all about discovering the magic of lesser-known destinations, we’d like to introduce you to some of the world’s most dazzling cascades that you’ve (probably) never heard of. Getting to these hidden waterfalls may require a bit of effort, but that’s all part of the fun!
Pearl Shoal Waterfall
You’d be hard-pressed to find a feature of the Juizhaigou Nature Reserve that isn’t heart-stoppingly miraculous, and the Pearl Shoal Waterfall is no exception. The falls cover a distance of 533 feet, spilling in streams over a series of rocky outcroppings. Their exquisite UNESCO-listed setting features clear turquoise alpine lakes, rolling grasslands, and serrated snowy mountain ridges.
Rio Celeste Waterfall
Indigenous inhabitants of what is now Tenorio Volcano National Park believed the Rio Celeste to be a magical place. They claimed the river got its color when the gods were painting the sky and used the water to rinse their brushes. The reality, though somewhat less mythical, is no less incredible. The color results from the convergence of the mineral-rich Rio Celeste and the acidic Rio Buena Vista. When combined, the two give the water the vivid, opaque appearance of a glacial river. It’s a 30-minute hike to this idyllic waterfall, which, while remote, is not quite as anonymous as it once was. You’ll have to resist the temptation to dive in—swimming is prohibited in the area of the falls—but the dreamlike views alone are worth the hike. Try timing your visit for the dry season (December to April), because rain can cloud the water and mask its color.
This group of seven misty waterfalls may not be Bali’s best-kept secret, but it’s certainly one of its most beautiful. Be prepared to sweat for your views, as the falls lie at the end of a three- to four-hour hike through lush bamboo forests, rice paddies, and fruit and coffee plantations.
Svartifoss, or “Black Falls,” gets its name from the black basalt columns at the mouth of the falls that resemble the pipes of a giant hanging organ. You can reach this plunging spectacle in Vatnajökull National Park via a mile-long trail from the Skaftafell visitors’ center. The waterfall’s dramatic appearance inspired the design of Iceland’s National Theater and the Hallgrimskirkja Church in Reykjavik.
Lace up your hiking shoes—the Fumacinha Falls seem to delight in their own seclusion. The six-mile hike can be grueling and treacherous at times, but those who stick it out are in for quite the treat. Approaching the falls on the trail, you’ll come across a gaping black vertical slit in the side of a rock wall. Inside this slit is a cavernous, mossy rock cathedral. The canyon walls join together 820 feet above your head and the falls thunder 330 feet downward. The trail may flood in places during the rainy season (November to March), so plan your trip accordingly.
If there’s one thing Patagonia has in abundance, it’s magnificent scenery. Argentina’s Agrio Falls are proof, nestled in the heart of a dense araucaria forest in Caviahue. Three lookouts afford views of the falls as they plunge into a pool lined with red and yellow basalt rock.
Alpine grasslands, beech forests, multicolored volcanic rock cliffs, and spectacular mountain views? You’ll get them all with a trip to Taranaki Falls in New Zealand’s Tongariro National Park. Beginning in Whakapapa Village, the four-mile loop trail showcases the falls and several additional scenic lookouts along the way.
Brecon Beacons National Park practically sings with secluded cascades and peaceful swimming holes. Choosing just one to share would be like forcing us to pick a favorite child. Waterfall Country encompasses a lush region of wooded gorges, caves, gurgling streams, and sandstone outcroppings over which plummet dozens of wild, enchanting waterfalls. Some of our favorites include Sgwd yr Eira—a water curtain that you can shimmy your way behind—and Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, both the thunderous upper falls and the gentler, staircase-like lower falls.
The roar of the 541-foot Marmore Falls echoes through the dense Umbrian forest. The tallest man-made waterfall in the world came about when Romans in 271 BC sought to create a path for the stagnant, disease-laden Velino River. Nowadays, a nearby hydroelectric plant diverts much of the water and the falls resemble more of a trickle than the thundering rush they once were. Twice a day, though, the power plant flips a switch and allows the water to flow freely.
Hidden within Girringun National Park in the UNESCO-listed Wet Tropics of Queensland lies the Australia’s tallest single-drop waterfall. Wallaman Falls plummet an impressive 879 feet into one of the oldest rainforests in the world. You’ll have a view of the top of the falls from the lookout near the parking lot, but to truly immerse yourself in the experience you’ll want to head out for the two-mile roundtrip hike down the Djyinda Track. A steep ascent awaits you on the way back, but the rejuvenating spirit of the falls will practically carry you upward!