Stuck at your desk? Tired of looking at news about record-breakingly hot/humid/hail-storming summer weather? We've got your escape. From natural waterslides in the tropics to thundering walls of "smoke that thunders," waterfalls around the world remind us that, while heat might define the summer, water is the substance that comprises the world.
By Lena Katz
Bouma Waterfalls | Fiji
The Bouma Waterfalls (also called Bouma Falls) in Fiji's Bouma National Heritage Park on Taveuni Island are three separate falls, accessible by hiking from the park's visitors center three miles through the tropical forest. There are natural swimming holes beneath each waterfall. The idyllic scene captured here is a common one in Fiji, which also boasts some of the world's best whitewater rafting.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Dono
Dunn's River Falls | Jamaica
One of Jamaica's iconic attractions, Dunn's River Falls is a series of terraced waterfalls running 600 feet down to the sea. Climbing up the waterfall has become such a popular activity that the area is now a designated park where guides help visitors navigate the rocks and tumbling waters.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Nv8200p
Warren Falls | Vermont
East Coast locals fight summer heat by heading to one of the numerous natural swimming holes tucked around New England and New York State. There are specialty websites and even books to help people find the safest, most accessible and most pleasant - one of which is Warren Falls, the most popular swimming area on the Vermont's Mad River.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Creative Commons Binary Dreams
Jalap?o | Brazil
As you'd expect from a country largely covered by Amazon Jungle, Brazil has countless waterfalls - some of which are gentle and swimmable, like the one pictured here...
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Vitor 1234
Cachoeira da Fumaca | Brazil
...and then many which are NOT, like Cachoiera da Fumaca, a 1000-foot-high, but very thin, stream of water that's a several-kilometer hike above Riachinho. Many people hike to Fumaca just to see it, then back down to Riachinho to cool off.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Luan
Salto Angel | Venezuela
To see the highest of the high falls, though, you need to go to Venezuela, where Salto Angel (Angel Falls, in English) holds the record at 3,212 feet - 2,648 in a single high plunge, straight over the edge of Auyentepui Mountain.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Neil Hinchley
Niagara | USA/Canada
North America has its own share of epic waterfalls. Most famous of all is Niagara Falls, which is actually comprised of three separate waterfalls. The two more powerful ones span the border between the USA and Canada: Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side and American Falls on the U.S. Both are much wider than they are tall, and notable for this as well as the volume and force of the water which traverses them. As America's most powerful falls, they are not just a pretty postcard image, but also an important hydroelectric power source.
Lower Falls | Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
If you want to see waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park, you'll be spoiled for choice, but this fall is the big daddy of 'em all. It's actually the second drop that Yellowstone River waters must traverse - more than 300 feet down to enter the yellow rock Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Murchison Falls | Uganda
All the power of the mighty Nile River is forced into one narrow 22-foot-wide gorge to create a roaring cascade waterfall that's not high at all - a mere 141-foot descent - but is forceful enough that the ground all around it trembles. Located in Murchison Falls National Park, this waterfall is on the must-see list for visitors who make it to this off-the-beaten-track locale. Insider tip: Take a water safari with Paraa Safari Lodge, and boat right up to the bottom of the falls, passing hippos and crocodiles en route.
Gullfoss | Iceland
In this image, Iceland's massive tiered waterfall Gulfoss sums up, in a single image, exactly what many people expect weather-wise from Iceland. In reality, this icy-white landscape only exists a couple months out of the year. During warm months, Gulfoss is a magical misty tumble of water curtains, rushing rapids and rainbows. It is one of the most popular sights in Iceland, and one-third of the "Golden Circle."
Mae Ya Waterfall | Thailand
For as massive as this North Thailand waterfall is (918 feet high and nearly half as wide), the 30 tiers naturally formed of rocks and ledges, and the fan-like form of the gully it traverses, make the waters resemble delicate falls of lace. Located in Doi Inthanon National Park, about 90 minutes outside Chiang Mai.
Victoria Falls | Africa
A World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this 5,600-foot wide curtain of water is also called "The Smoke That Roars," for reasons that immediately become clear when you are in its presence. Insider tip: Stay at Tongabezi Lodge, the only guest accommodation on Livingstone Island, and ask for a guide to take you to Devil's Pool, where you'll witness a natural phenomenon. The falls curve around either side of the pool without rushing over it, and if you're protected in the pool, you'll get as up close to Victoria Falls as is possible.
Photo Credit: Zambia Tourism Board