Plunge waterfalls are waterfalls that drop vertically while losing contact with the underlying cliff face, or bedrock, behind them. They often make for great spectacles as they plummet headlong over sheer drops in breathtaking torrents – and the views from the top are sometimes dizzying to say the least! We’ve found 15 from around the world, for your wonderment.
15. Havasu Falls
One of the most visited falls in the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls leaps spectacularly over a 120-foot (37 m) vertical cliff. The water is highly mineralized, and its erosive powers cause the occasional division of the falls into two chutes as well as having created the blue-green pools below.
14. Waireinga Falls
Waireinga Falls is the Maori name of Bridal Veil Falls, located along the Pakoka River in New Zealand. This magnificent plunge waterfall is 180 feet (55 meters) high and over time has caused a large pool to form at its base.
13. Jog Falls
Jog Falls, India's second highest plunge waterfall, is made up of four distinct, segmented falls, and is fed by the Sharavathi River. The tallest plunges 830 ft (253 m) down into a deep chasm in a continuous column of water.
12. Trou de Fer
Trou de Fer ("Iron Hole") on Reunion Island is a canyon that is home to several waterfalls, including one, created by the Bras de Caverne River, that plummets from a height of around 700 feet (210 m).
11. Cuquenan Falls
Its waters falling in a continuous leap from a height of some 2000 feet (670 m) up in the air, Cuquenan Falls is the second highest waterfall in Venezuela. It’s topped only by Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world.
10. La Fortuna Waterfall
Running through the rainforest in Costa Rica, the Tenorio River feeds this marvelous plunge waterfall. It is 230 to 246 feet (70 to 75 m) high and is found at the base of the Chato volcano.
9. Nohkalikai Falls
Nohkalikai Falls in India is an absolutely stunning example of a plunge waterfall – and one that plummets from mighty height: 1100 feet (335 m). It almost looks as though the chute is emerging from the mist to create the small pool, with its gorgeous green color, at the bottom. Not a place to go white water rafting though!
8. Shōmyō Falls
These twin plunge waterfalls have been designated one of Japan’s 100 Soundscapes – symbols to promote the rediscovery of everyday sounds. The waterfall on the left, Shōmyō-daki, is the highest in Japan, plunging 1,148 feet (350 m).
7. Madhabkunda Waterfall
8. Shōmyō Falls
Madhabkunda is the largest waterfall in Bangladesh and a popular tourist spot. Massive amounts of water plunge from a height of 200 feet (61 m)
6. Whangarei Falls
The Hatea River in New Zealand plunges 85 feet (26 m) at Whangarei Falls. It was considered such a special spot that in the 1920s the land was bought to prevent its being exploited, and in 1946 it was purchased on behalf of the local citizens.
5. Hunlen Falls
Hunlen Falls is located on Canada's west coast, in British Columbia. At 1,316 ft (401 m), it is the highest waterfall in the country, plummeting as a single, unbroken stream. There is no road to the falls, so visitors often fly in on a floatplane and then hike there.
4. Cachoeira da Fumaça
This spectacular waterfall – the name of which translates as “Smoke Falls” in English – is located in Brazil and is thought to be the country's second highest, after the recently-discovered Cachoeira do Araca in the Amazon. It was named because of the way the wind sprays the water as it plummets down, some 1,200 feet (380 m) to the bottom.
3. Kjelfossen Falls
Located in Norway, this spectacular waterfall is 2,477 feet (755 meters) high in total, though some believe it is even taller. It is considered the 18th highest waterfall in the world and its longest single drop is 489 feet (149 m).
2. Angel Falls
Feeding into the Kerep River, Angel Falls in Venezuela is not only the highest plunge waterfall in the world but the highest waterfall of any kind. It is 3,212 feet (979 m) at its tallest point, while the longest drop itself plunges 2,648 ft (807 m). In the local Pemon language, the waterfall’s name means "waterfall of the deepest place," or "the fall from the highest point."
Known as the "Place of the Tall One" among the Zulu people of South Africa, Howick Falls drops from a height of 310 feet (95 m). It may not be the tallest plunge waterfall in the world but it is certainly one of the most beautiful. Legend says that the Inkanyamba, a mythical snake-like creature, lives in the pool below the falls.
Bonus: Sempervirens Falls
As a bonus, a stunning, if small, plunge waterfall located in Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California. Here, it looks as though it is tumbling from a fallen tree.