22 Magical Waterfalls Perfect for a Refreshing Swim

Erawan Falls, Erawan National Park, Thailand


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Erawan Falls, Erawan National Park, Thailand

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There are few things more refreshing on a hot summer day than taking a dip under a cascading waterfall. But while there are stunning and well-known falls around the country and world, those that allow swimming are much rarer. Here are some of the top places where you can actually suit up (or strip down) and jump in.

Related: Where to Swim in All 50 States

Lower McCloud Falls, Redding, California
SanDee W./Yelp

Lower McCloud Falls

McCloud, California

As the lowest of three levels of the well-known McCloud River Falls, this is said to be the most popular swimming waterfall in the region and allows for 12-foot jumps into a large pool at the base. There are plenty are places at the water's rocky edge for sunbathing. The waterfall is easily accessible by trail and road.

Related: 14 Warm Weather Destinations for Reconnecting With Nature

Screw Auger Falls in Gulf Hagas, Hundred-Mile Wilderness, Maine
Screw Auger Falls in Gulf Hagas, Hundred-Mile Wilderness, Maine by Andythrasher (CC BY-SA)

Gulf Hagas

Hundred-Mile Wilderness, Maine

There are numerous waterfalls and swimming holes at Gulf Hagas, a heavily wooded gorge carved through slate bedrock that is part of the Appalachian Trail. Sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of Maine, the canyon is as much as 400 feet deep in some places. There's an 8-mile loop that can be trekked that includes several waterfalls and swimming holes along the way.

Related: The Best Hikes in Every State to Get Your Heart Pumping

DeSoto Falls, Mentone, Alabama
Macy T./Yelp

Desoto Falls

Mentone, Alabama

DeSoto State Park is home to many rushing waterfalls, and one of the most popular is DeSoto Falls. The 104-foot waterfall drops into a deep, wide pool. There's a cave behind the cascade offering a nice place to sit and enjoy the mist.

Lower Enfield Falls, Robert H. Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York

Treman Falls

Ithaca, New York

Located in an area known for its wild beauty, Treman Falls (also referred to as Lower Falls) is part of Enfield Glenn in Robert H. Treman State Park. Nine miles of trails wind along the gorge, passing 12 waterfalls. Treman Falls includes a swimming area at its base that includes a diving board and lifeguard. Getting to Treman Falls will take you past Lucifer Falls, one of the most impressive in New York's Finger Lakes Region.

Related: The State Park You Don't Want to Miss in Every State

Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Havasupai Falls

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Havasupai Falls attracts a steady stream of visitors to the Havasupai Reservation in the southwest corner of Grand Canyon National Park. The falls are known for their beautiful turquoise pools; the surrounding red rock adds a brilliant contrast. Reaching them involves a rugged 10-mile hike (one way) and staying a night or two at the nearby campground or lodge. Overnight camping packages usually demand extensive planning well ahead of a visit, but this year you needn't bother: No reservations are accepted while "repairs and enhancements" are underway, but   the falls will be open in 2023.

Related: Bucket-List Experiences in America's National Parks

Cummins Falls, Jackson County, Tennessee
Anna S./Yelp

Cummins Falls

Jackson County, Tennessee

Cummins Falls is 75 feet high and is Tennessee's eighth largest waterfall by volume. Located in Cummins Falls State Park north of Cookeville, these falls have been named one of the 10 best swimming holes in America by Travel + Leisure. Hiking to them offers plenty of scenic beauty.

Jump Creek Falls, Marsing, Idaho
Jump Creek Falls, Marsing, Idaho by Charles Knowles (CC BY)

Jump Creek Falls

Marsing, Idaho

A mere one-hour drive from Boise is the 60-foot waterfall at Jump Creek, in an area in the Owyhee Wilderness known for its red osier dogwoods and water-birch trees. The quarter-mile hike to the waterfall is nearly as enjoyable as taking a dip in the water at the base of the falls. After cooling off, be sure to take in all stunning scenery surrounding the falls, including cliffs as high as 600 feet.

Related: The Most Beautiful River in Every State

Cedar Creek Falls, San Diego, California

Cedar Creek Falls

San Diego, California

Cedar Creek Falls is a top places to take a swim in Southern California. This natural wonder is especially Insta-worthy during the winter months, when seasonal rains feed the 80-foot cascade. Trails leading to Cedar Creek take hikers through San Diego County's back country, known for its chaparral plant and bird-watching. A permit to visit is required.

Buttermilk Falls, Ludlow, Vermont

Buttermilk Falls

Ludlow, Vermont

A classic Vermont swimming hole, Buttermilk Falls has large pools below upper and lower portions that are deep enough for complete submersion. At the lower falls, the water is about 25 feet wide and often a clear, olive-green. The upper falls, also known as Bridal Veil Falls, are segmented into two; the right fall is the more powerful.

Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon, Utah at sunset
Sean Pavone/istockphoto

Bridal Veil Falls

Provo Canyon, Utah

Something of a Provo area treasure, Bridal Veil Falls is a picturesque double falls fed by the Cascade Mountain. While many visitors choose to use an observation deck, you can swim here — picking the time of year carefully, as this is water created by melted snowpack.

Carlon Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
Carlon Falls, Yosemite National Park, California by Wayne Hsieh (CC BY-NC)

Carlon Falls

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite is known for beautiful and oversized waterfalls such as Bridal Veil. Among the swimming-friendly options is Carlon Falls, a 35-footer that flows over granite ledges into a swimming hole surrounded by ponderosa pines. Visit early or late on a weekday for the best chance of solitude.

Related: Surprising Facts About America's National Parks

Waimea Falls, Oahu, Hawaii
Hiromi Nagatsuka/istockphoto

Oahu Waimea Falls

Oahu, Hawaii

There are many beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii, but Waimea Falls is one of the most accessible. Within Waimea Valley amid a unique botanical garden, the 45-foot waterfall is part of a stream that flows from the north end of the Koolau Mountains. There's a changing room near the falls, and a lifeguard who loans required life vests.

Related: Tips for Visiting Hawaii on a Budget

Sawmill Falls, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Sawmill Falls

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Hike through towering, 500-year-old trees that once were threatened by logging to reach Sawmill Falls, a 30-foot cascade pouring into a deep green pool that makes for a very picturesque, if somewhat chilly, swim.

Hooker Falls, DuPont State Recreational Forest, North Carolina

Hooker Falls

DuPont State Recreational Forest, North Carolina

Located along the Little River, Hooker Falls descends 12 feet into Cascade Lake. While it may not be visually dramatic, it is peaceful and easy to reach. The section of Cascade Lake below Hooker Falls is a popular swimming destination. When you're done, you can hike onward to Triple Falls and High Falls.

YS Falls, St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica

YS Falls

St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica

Jamaica's YS Falls is actually seven waterfalls cascading into natural pools surrounded by lush gardens and trees. Lifeguards regulate which areas are open for swimming. Visitors can also swing off a rope to jump into the water and zip line over the falls. There's also a natural pool fed by underground and aboveground springs more suitable for children and those unable to swim. The falls are in St. Elizabeth Parish on the southwest part of the island.

Afu Aau Waterfall, Savaii, Samoa

Afu Aau Waterfall

Savaii, Samoa

A spectacular waterfall in southeastern Savaii, the largest island in the South Pacific nation of Samoa, Afu Aau descends from the rainforest into a freshwater swimming area. The pool, which can be deep in places, flows into three smaller falls that are equally enchanting.

Emerald Pool, Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica

Emerald Pool

Morne Trois Pitons National Park

The mountainous Caribbean island of Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) offers an abundance of natural beauty including hot springs, rainforest, and waterfalls. One of Dominica's most accessible waterfalls, Emerald Pool, is a 40-foot waterfall that feeds a crystal clear pool beneath. The waterfall is part of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, and there is an easy to navigate trail that leads to its base.

Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Laos
Cezary Wojtkowski/istockphoto

Kuang Si Waterfall

Luang Prabang, Laos

The biggest waterfall in Laos' Luang Prabang region, the Kuang Si Waterfall has three tiers descending into a mesmerizing series of azure pools. Swimming in the stunning pools is popular with locals and and tourists. There are even changing huts to make taking a dip even easier.

Llanos de Cortés Waterfall, Bagaces, Costa Rica

Llanos de Cortés

Bagaces, Costa Rica

Known for its rainforests and biodiversity, Costa Rica is also home to numerous stunning waterfalls. One of the most noteworthy is Llanos de Cortés, which some claim is the most beautiful waterfall in the country. About 30 minutes south of Liberia, this waterfall is 50 feet wide and 12 feet tall. The water descends into a pond that is surrounded by a white, sandy beach, making it ideal for a swim or a picnic.

El Limon Waterfall, Dominican Republic

El Limon Waterfall

Dominican Republic

In the Dominican Republic's less-traveled Samana region, visitors will find the stunning and secluded El Limon Waterfall. Getting to the falls requires a 30- to 40-minute walk (skip the horseback rides offered at the entrance). The reward is a dip in the inviting pool at the base of El Limon.

Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park, Australia

Wangi Falls

Litchfield National Park, Australia

If you're globetrotting or don't mind traveling great distances to visit a spectacle, don't miss Wangi Falls in Australia's Northern Territory. Located within Litchfield National Park, which is renowned for its accessible and pristine natural beauty, Wangi Falls offer a picture-postcard swimming hole amid a lush, monsoonal rainforest. The falls, made up of two cascades over rock escarpments, are the most popular attraction in the park. The falls can occasionally be closed to swimming, particularly during the tropical summer from October to March, so be sure to check in advance.

Erawan Falls, Erawan National Park, Thailand

Erawan Falls

Erawan National Park, Thailand

With its emerald green ponds, Erawan Falls is the major attraction in Thailand's Erawan National Park. The falls have seven major tiers and numerous additional smaller tiers, all reachable by trails and footbridges. Visitors are allowed to swim in many of the ponds along the route, which are full of fish. As a bonus, you may spot a macaque or water monitor lizard walking around water streams.

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