Caves have been the source of inspiration and awe to humans for centuries, and today proves to be no different. With spectacular natural formations, colors, and patterns, cave explorers are transported into a magical underground world for unforgettable experiences. Caves can be found all over the world in forms ranging from stone caves to ice caves to sea caves, each with unique characteristics, leaving no two caves with the same surprises.
As well as their stunning beauty, caves are rich in history and cultural importance. Early humans and animals utilized caves as shelter, for which untouched remains tell modern historians and archaeologists a detailed story. Prehistoric cave art gives us a minor glimpse into human life multitudes of centuries earlier. Other uses of caves have included refuge, storage, extraction of resources, and religious observation.
Recent discoveries and technologies have made these hidden gems increasingly more accessible to adventure seekers all over the world. Visitors can take boat rides through cave rivers, hike through paths, crawl through tunnels and chambers, dive, or parachute into openings. No matter how experienced or inexperienced someone may be, there are breathtaking caves all over the world that offer adventure seekers opportunities to seek out some of the world’s most beautiful experiences.
The Most Beautiful Caves in the World
Caves are amazing to behold and whether you’re in the deepest cave in the world or the one with the most stalactites, you gain a sense of awe when touring them. Size doesn’t matter either – some of the most beautiful caves in the world are nowhere close to being the largest caves in the world. Regardless of your degree of spelunking proficiency, enjoy all the different views caves offer. Every cave is different, so whether you’re in the biggest cave in the world or not, the caves that speak to your soul most are of course the best caves in the world.
1. Reed Flute Cave, China
This limestone cave has attracted attention for more than 1200 years, with ink inscriptions dating back to the 8th century BCE during the Tang Dynasty. Reed Flute Cave gets its name from a particular reed that grows around the cave, which are used to make flutes. Today, colorful lights are used to illuminate the beautifully formed stalagmites and stalactites.
2. Marble Caves, Chile
Mother Nature has outdone herself with this alluring and stunning natural beauty. The Marble Caves were formed over 6,000 years from the waves of the Lake General Carrera constantly washing against the solid marble. The various hues and intensities of blue are a natural occurrence as a result of the lake’s azure waters, creating patterns based on water levels and seasons.
3. Blue Cave, Greece
Arguably one of the most beautiful caves in the world, Blue Cave is one of the most celebrated natural occurrences in the Mediterranean. The entrance to the cave is just a meter above sea level, accessible by boat. The calm waters inside the cave pick up the reflection of the sun, so visitors can bask in awe in the blue illumination.
4. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA
Antelope Canyon, formed out of the erosion of sandstone from flash flooding and rain water, is truly awe inspiring. The rich color of the Navajo sandstone and the flowing feeling of the cave walls attract visitors and photographers from all over the world to escape into this natural wonder.
5. Waitomo Glow Worm Cave, New Zealand
There are hardly words enough to describe this wonder the Waitomo Glow Worm Cave sparks in visitors. With thousands of glow worms native to New Zealand, the cave walls and ceilings are naturally illuminated, creating a magical experience.
6. Crystal Cave, Mexico
Gypsum minerals surrounded by underground water heated up from the volcanic fault line resulted in the creation of Crystal Cave. Recently discovered during mine blasting, the draining of the water gave scientists a rare glimpse at something truly amazing. The crystals are recorded to be ten times larger than any known natural crystals. Due to dangerous temperatures and 100% humidity, Crystal Cave is inaccessible to visitors, but the pictures are nothing short of breathtaking.
7. Sandy Glacier Caves, Oregon, USA
Sandy Glacier is one of the largest ice caves in the USA. Formed from the internal melting of glaciers, the icy interior attracts thrill seekers looking for adventure. However, the rapid melting the glaciers assures this cave will only be around for another decade before it disappears forever.
8. Batu Cave, Malaysia
The limestone forming the Batu Cave is dated back 400 million years, and evidence of human use of the cave can be dated to indigenous tribes. Batu Cave has since been dedicated as a Hindu religious site, attracting worshippers and tourists from all over the world to observe the peaceful and ornate temples, shrines, and statues that have been erected inside the cave and in surrounding areas.
9. Son Doong Cave, Vietnam (The Biggest Cave in the World)
Recently discovered by a local man, Son Doong has been declared the biggest cave in the world. With stalactites measuring up to 70 meters in height and cave pearls the size of basketballs, the size and beauty of this cave strikes wonder in everyone who comes to explore this underground gem.
10. Kamchatka Cave, Russia
This stunning ice cave was formed from hot springs flowing through glaciers. Melting of the glaciers in recent years has given the icy ceiling a texture and thinness that allows light to illuminate through, creating a surreal experience.
11. Predjama Castle, Slovenia
Ancient castles and caves make a great combination. Historical documents first make note of the castle in 1274. Built in Gothic style directly into the natural arch of the rock, the cave and castle duo was a protective measure. The white walls of the castle in contrast against the black stone of the cave make this a site fit for fairy tales.
12. Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
This isolated sea cave, named after Irish folklore, is nothing short of magical and whimsical. With the whimsical rock formations and fog that rolls off the sea, visitors can feel like they’ve stepped into a sacred place.
13. Skocjan Caves, Slovenia
Skocjan Cave represents significance importance on a global level as a phenomenon. The Reka River, flowing the length of the cave, created underground wetlands. First written sources are dated to the 2nd century BCE, and maps of this cave are the oldest known cave maps in that part of the world. With entrances at the bottom of the valley, Skocjan will inspire adventure in anyone who goes to explore.
What Makes the Largest Caves in the World?
There are an assortment of geological factors responsible for caves. However, among the largest caves in the world, one of the most prominent features is usually water. To make the best caves in the world, what happens is the water interacts with the limestone and because limestone is soluble you get amazing features carved from millions of years of water and rock interacting. This interaction creates the most beautiful caves in the world.
14. Blue Lake Cave, Brazil
Blue Lake Cave is known for its impressive natural formations, but even more impressive for its deep blue lake. The surrounding areas are known for underground lakes, but this natural colored lake is by far, the most impressive.
15. Cueva De Arpea, Spain
This cave was formed under the twisted layers of rock at the bottom of the Aezkoa valley. The cave is believed to have been a utilized as a refuge through the ancient era for shepherds. The unique formations and rich colors make Cueva De Arpea a must-see for adventure seekers.
16. Sea Cave in Algarve, Portugal
Near Benigal Beach, this sea cave is truly a sight to sea. The entrance is covered in fine sand and window at the top. The rich, warm colors of the formations and the sound of the sea make this cave alluring and welcoming.
17. Crystal Cave, Iceland
This ice cave, formed from melted rain water, glaciers, and heat from the volcanic fault line, is one for thrill seekers. Because ice caves are unstable, any movement of the cave or melting can be heard echoing.
18. Devetashka Cave, Bulgaria
Devetashka is the largest known cave in Bulgaria, historically notable as home to various human populations for periods of time throughout history. Today, the cave is home to 30,000 bats.
19. Cenote Ik Kil, Mexico
Ik Kil is a cave without a ceiling. Filled with water and black catfish, a stop for an afternoon swim and some exploring makes this an ideal stop for anyone looking for fun.
20. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico, USA
Carlsbad Caverns is the seventh largest known cave in the world. The cave is filled with mass chambers and breathtaking features, most notably the white ornate stalactites that leave visitors in awe.
21. Las Calaveras, Mexico
Startling evidence and local folklore make Las Calaveras one of the most mysterious and feared caves. Recent archaeological excursions have found 125 human remains dating to the ancient Mayan period.
22. Olwolgin Cave, Australia
This underwater cave takes explorers and adventure seekers into a tranquil world. With no waves or currents, cave explorers get a completely new experience through the various chambers.
23. Jiu Xiang Caves, China
Noted as one of the most beautiful caves in China, Jiu Xiang Caves attracts numerous visitors every year. With multiple karsts and natural formations and occurrences, every corner brings about a new breathtaking surprise.
24. Chinhoyi Caves, Zimbabwe
The beautiful underwater cave has been attracting explorers since its discovery in 1888. Despite divers going as deep as 120 meters, no one has reached the bottom yet, leaving lots to be discovered.
25. Caverns of Sonora, Texas, USA
This underground gem is stunning beyond words. Caverns of Sonora are covered in calcite crystal formations, leaving visitors speechless from the beauty that they witnessed.
26. Majlis al Jinn, Oman (Maybe the Deepest Cave in the World)
Majils al Jinn contains the second largest known cave chamber, proving a challenge for thrill seekers. Explorers have to hike to the entrance of the cave and get lowered in by special rope. As you get lowered in you’ll get a true appreciation for the deepest cave in the world.
27. Ellison’s Cave, Georgia, USA
Nick named the Fantastic Pit, this is the 12th known deepest cave in the United States, lowering explorers 1063 feet before they reach the bottom. Due to the obstacles, only the most experienced thrill seekers are allowed to take on the challenge.
28. Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico, USA
Lechuguilla Cave is easily the most special cave in the entire world. Until 1986, it was considered a small, insignificant cave, used for mining bat guano. Recent exploration proved otherwise, with the discovery of massive chambers with some of the rarest formations.
29. Ice Cave, Antarctica
Mount Erebus is the warmest place in Antarctica, and the mixture of heat and ice has created the stunningly beautiful Ice Caves beneath the frozen soil.
30. Onondaga Cave, Missouri, USA
Amongst over 5,500 caves in Missouri, Onondaga cave is notably the most attractive. With a river that flows through and limestone formations, visitors are transported to completely new underground world.
31. Eiriesenwelt Cave, Austria
This is the largest known ice cave, offering visitors spectacular colors and formations, including frozen waterfalls. The ice walls are up to 20 meters thick, and the maximum temperature the cave reaches is 0 degrees Celsius.
32. Saotano de las Golondrinas, Mexico
The sheer size of this cave is enough to send adventure seekers’ adrenaline pumping. This cave is so deep, the Empire State Building could fit in it. Explorers can either be lowered in by rope or can parachute into the cave. With stunning formations and even underwater parts of the cave, this cave will not fail to amaze anyone who visits.
33. Niah Cave, Malaysia
Niah Cave, one of the largest limestone caves in the world, is significant in both aesthetically and historically. With known human activity in the cave dating 40,000 years ago, archaeologists are certain the inhabitants here were amongst the earliest settlers in eastern Malaysia. With high ceilings and stunning scenery, Niah Cave is a popular destination amongst adventurers.
Where are the Best Caves in the World?
It would be easy to answer that you can find the best caves in the world in mountainous areas, but that’s just not true. For example, there are several caves located on shorelines or grottoes. Mountains certainly increase your chances for amazing caves, but look for a water source – in fact, this is how the deepest cave in the world was created!
34. Lascaux Cave, France
Also known as Cave of the Bulls, the Palaeolithic paintings on the cave walls bring visitors back 17,300 years. The images have left visitors, art historians, and scientists awe struck and baffled, as explanations for the images are still being uncovered.
35. Jenolan Cave, Australia
Situated in the Blue Mountain region, Jenolan is the most ancient discovered cave in the world. With over 300 discovered entrances, marine fossils, and stunning formations, active exploration is still occurring. The cave’s beauty inspires multitudes of visitors to come and take in this stunning underground treasure.
36. Azokh Cave, Azerbaijan
With human evidence in the cave dating back to 300,000 years ago, Azokh is the oldest known cave utilized by humans. The history within the cave’s interior is just as impressive as the stunning formations and scenery.
37. Hato Cave, Curacao
Formations made out of coral limestone make this a popular place for visitors to explore. As well as natural formations, cave paintings and petroglyphs left behind from runaway slaves over a century ago leave visitors with wonderment.
38. Ajanta Caves, India
Dating back to the 2nd century BCE, the Buddhist cave monuments carved into the stone is considered one of the finest surviving examples of Indian art. With keen detail, it would be difficult for visitors to not be taken aback by the beauty and tranquillity left here.
39. St. Beatus Cave, Switzerland
Named after the legendary monk, St. Beatus, whose grave is nearby, St. Beatus Cave offers visitors a pleasant day of exploration. A legendary dragon was said to reside in the cave, until driven away by St. Beatus. Filled with spectacular formations and roaring waterfalls, St. Beatus Cave offers visitors an adventure to be remembered.
40. Caves of Heaven and Hell, Turkey
Two caves, the chasm of Heaven and the pit of Hell, take visitors back to Greek mythological periods, where battles between Zeus and the Titans are said to have created the caves. With an ancient temple and a restaurant, visitors can spend a day exploring the depths of the caves, filled with stunning formations and history, then enjoy a light meal at the edge of the cave.
41. Saalfeld Fairy Grottos, Germany
Although the cave was not exposed naturally but rather through mining, it does not change the breathtaking chambers the lie underground. With the lure of fairies, visitors come far and wide to explore this magical place and all the wonderful beauty is has to offer.
42. Uplistsikhe Caves, Georgia
This is not just one cave, but an entire cave town. First in habited in 1000 BCE, what remains today is enough to leave everyone in awe.
43. Petra Caves, Jordan
It would be difficult for anyone not to be amazed at the Petra Caves. With stunning colors, rock formations, and patterns, it is truly a place to be seen to believe.
44. Green Canyon, Indonesia
With green fringe draping off the walls and an emerald green river, it is easy to know how Green Canyon got its name. As one of the most popular destinations to explore in Jave, visitors can’t help but be completely awe struck at the amazing beauty they are surrounded by when visiting, whether they’re exploring the cave or taking a swim.
45. Frassasi Caves, Italy
Because this cave is rich with water, it has created some of the most impressive natural formations. Since its discovery in 1971, it rapidly became Italy’s most famous show cave.
46. Hoyo Negro, Mexico
The underwater cave offers so much amazement. The sheer sizes of the chambers are enough to say wow. But the discoveries scattered throughout the cave are true treasures. Remains of a 12,000 year old girl have been found, the oldest complete human remains found in the Americas, along with the remains of numerous extinct animals.
47. Naracoorte Caves, Australia
This series of caves have been amazing scientists and explorers since its discovery in 1969. With water ways, beautiful formations, and fossils of over 100 different animal species, Naracoorte Caves have offered nothing but discoveries for eager explorers.
48. St. Michael’s Cave, UK
With use of the cave dating back thousands of years, St. Michael’s Cave has an allure that can’t keep visitors away. Massive chambers, spectacular formations, and rich history attract 1,000,000 visitors annually.
49. The Cave of Three Bridges, Lebanon
Jurassic limestone, a waterfall when the snow melts, and three naturally formed bridges easily makes Cave of Three Bridges one of the most beautiful places. The size of this formation and the stunning views make a visit to this place unforgettable.
50. Mermaid’s Cave, Ireland
Mermaid’s Cave lays at the bottom of a cliff under Dunluce Castle. Filled with Irish magic and lure, anyone who comes to explore will leave in awe.
51. Miners Castle Cave, Michigan, USA
This sea cave along Lake Superior is a show of spectacular colors and formations. Because the cave is along the waters, explorers can take kayaks through the caves to be fully surrounded by the beauty of Miners Castle Cave.
52. Blue Cave, Croatia
With the entrance just above sea level, this hidden sea cave is nothing short of inspiring. At certain times of day, the water illuminates an intense blue that sparkles off the cave walls.