23 Magical Waterfalls Where You Can Go for a Swim

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Erawan Falls, Erawan National Park, Thailand
Photo credit: Boogich/istockphoto

FALLING WATER

There are few things more refreshing on a hot summer day than taking a dip in the cascading waters of a picturesque waterfall. But while there are countless stunning and well-known waterfalls around the country and the world, those that allow swimming are a much rarer breed. Here are some of the top places where you can actually suit up (or strip down) and jump in.
Llanos De Cortés, Bagaces, Costa Rica
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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. Located about 30 minutes south of Liberia, this waterfall is about 50 feet wide and 12 feet tall. The water descends into a pond that is surrounded by a white, sandy beach, making it an ideal place for a swim or a picnic.
Horseshoe Falls, Wilton, New Hampshire
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HORSESHOE FALLS, WILTON, NEW HAMPSHIRE

Located off of Route 101 along the Souhegan River, Horseshoe Falls attracts visitors who enjoy the thrill of jumping 15 feet from a natural ledge into the water below. Horseshoe Falls is also known for its Jacuzzi-like areas where rocks enclose the water. Tubing is another popular activity at Horseshoe Falls.
Lower Mccloud Falls, Redding, California
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LOWER MCCLOUD FALLS, MCCLOUD, CALIFORNIA

Said to be the most popular swimming waterfall in the region, Lower McCloud Falls in McCloud is yet another inviting place for a summer swim or dive. The lowest of three levels of the well-known McCloud River Falls, the waterfall allows jumping 12 feet into the large pool at the base of the falls, and there are plenty are places at the water's edge for sunbathing on the rocks. The waterfall is easily accessible by trail and road.

Screw Auger Falls in Gulf Hagas, Hundred-Mile Wilderness, Maine
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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 eight-mile loop that can be trekked that includes several waterfalls and swimming holes along the way.
Cedar Creek Falls, San Diego, California
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CEDAR CREEK FALLS, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

In Southern California, Cedar Creek Falls are one of the top places to take a swim. This natural wonder is especially Insta-worthy during the winter months, when seasonal rains feed the 80-foot cascade of water. The trails leading to Cedar Creek take hikers through San Diego County's back country, known for its chaparral plant and bird watching.
YS Falls, St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica
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YS FALLS, ST. ELIZABETH PARISH, JAMAICA

Jamaica's YS Falls is actually seven waterfalls that cascade into natural pools, all of which are surrounded by lush gardens and trees. Lifeguards on site 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 above-ground springs, which is more suitable for children and those unable to swim. The falls are located in St. Elizabeth Parish on the southwest part of the island.
Afu Aau Waterfall, Savaii, Samoa
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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 fresh-water swimming pool. The pool, which can be deep in places, flows into three other smaller falls that are equally enchanting.
Treman Falls, Ithaca, New York
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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 a total of 12 waterfalls. Treman Falls includes a swimming area at its base that even includes a diving board and lifeguard. Getting to Treman Falls will take you past Lucifer Falls, one of the most impressive falls in New York's Finger Lakes Region.
Buttermilk Falls, Ludlow, Vermont
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BUTTERMILK FALLS, LUDLOW, VERMONT

A classic Vermont swimming hole, Buttermilk Falls has large pools of water below both the upper and lower portions 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 in two parts and the right fall is the more powerful of the two.
Emerald Pool, Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Dominica
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EMERALD POOL, MORNE TROIS PITONS NATIONAL PARK, DOMINICA

The mountainous Caribbean island of Dominica (not to be confused with 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
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KUANG SI WATERFALL, LUANG PRABANG, LAOS

The biggest waterfall in Laos' Luang Prabang region, the Kuang Si Water has three tiers descending into a mesmerizing series of azure pools. Swimming in the stunning pools is popular with both locals and and tourists. There are even changing huts to make taking a dip even easier.
Havasupai Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
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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 and the surrounding red rock adds a brilliant contrast. Reaching the falls involves a rugged 10-mile hike (one way) and staying a night or two at the nearby campground or lodge. Overnight camping packages start at $140 and require extensive planning well in advance of visiting the falls as reservations are snapped up quickly. (They're currently sold out for this year.)
El Limon Waterfall, Dominican Republic
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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 for the walk is a dip in the inviting pool at the base of El Limon. The waterfall is one of the highest and most beautiful in the Dominican Republic.
Carlon Falls, Yosemite National Park, California
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CARLON FALLS, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA

Yosemite National Park is known for its beautiful and oversized waterfalls, such as Bridal Veil. Among the swimming-friendly options is Carlon Falls, a manageable 35-footer that flows over granite ledges into a swimming hole. Those who take a plunge here will be surrounded by ponderosa pines. If you visit early or late on a weekday, you'll have the best chance of solitude.
Desoto Falls, Mentone, Alabama
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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 also a cave behind the cascade offering a nice place to sit and enjoy the mist.
Cummins Falls, Jackson County, Tennessee
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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 ten best swimming holes in America by Travel + Leisure. Hiking to these falls also offers plenty of scenic beauty.
Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon, Utah
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BRIDAL VEIL FALLS, PROVO CANYON, UTAH

Something of a local treasure in the Provo area, Bridal Veil Falls is a picturesque double cascade waterfall fed by the Cascade Mountain. While many visitors choose to view the falls from an observation deck, you can also swim here. But if you do, you'll want to pick the time of year to carefully, as this is water created by melted snowpack.
Hooker Falls, Dupont State Recreational Forest, North Carolina
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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 a visually dramatic waterfall, it is popular for being peaceful and easy to reach. The section of Cascade Lake below Hooker Falls is also a popular swimming destination. When you're done swimming, you can hike onward to Triple Falls and High Falls.
Jump Creek Falls, Marsing, Idaho
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JUMP CREEK FALLS, MARSING, IDAHO

A mere one-hour drive from Boise is the 60-foot waterfall at Jump Creek, located 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 in the water, be sure to take in all the stunning scenery surrounding the falls, including the steep cliffs, some as high as 600 feet.
Sawmill Falls, Willamette Valley, Oregon
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SAWMILL FALLS, WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OREGON

Hike amid towering 500-year-old trees that at one point were threatened by logging proposals to reach Sawmill Falls. The 30-foot cascade pours into a deep green pool that makes for a very picturesque, if somewhat chilly, swim.
Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park, Australia
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WANGI FALLS, LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK, AUSTRALIA

If you happen to be globetrotting, or don't mind traveling great distances to visit spectacular waterfalls, 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.
Oahu Waimea Falls, Oahu, Hawaii
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OAHU WAIMEA FALLS, OAHU, HAWAII

There are many beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii, but Waimea Falls is one of the most accessible. Located 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.
Erawan Falls, Erawan National Park, Thailand
Photo credit: Boogich/istockphoto

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 of which can be reached via trails and footbridges. Visitors are allowed to swim in many of the ponds along the route, which are full of fish. As an added bonus, you may even spot a macaque here, and occasionally a water monitor lizard can be seen walking around water streams.

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