Some vacations can be much more entertaining simply by making sure you add spelunking or cave exploring to the itinerary. Exploring natural caves out in the wild can be a majestic and magical reminder of the complexities and depth of mystery sitting below our feet. It can be a surreal moment in your life to descent below the surface of the earth in order to enter a whole new world formed by dissolving limestone, running water ways, or other natural events. We decided to pull together 11 of the most magical caves in the world for your consumption. If you want an adventurous vacation full of wonder than grab a cheap ticket and book a hotel reservation because these are all waiting for you.
Mermaid’s Cave – Ireland
If you fancy taking in some castles on your cave exploring trip then you should definitely add the Mermaid’s Cave to your list. This cave is located at sea level below the Dunluce Castle, near the White Rocks Cliff. This is one of the most majestic castles in all of Ireland and itself is a worthy tourist destination. In order to get into this cave you’ll take a ramp which is located near sea level. Above you, through all of the rock, sits the castle. The cave is long and narrow and it ends with the ocean meeting the rocks. This cave is teeming with magic and there is a ton of Irish folklore surrounding the place. Make sure to give yourself time to photograph the castle before you head down below. Try to get out there during the morning to take in the sunset. You can book a relatively cheap flight and nab some hotel reservations nearby.
Carlsbad Caverns – New Mexico, USA
We’ll start off our globe trotting cave tour by heading to New Mexico where the Carlsbad Caverns calls itself home. This section of caves is located below the Guadalupe Mountains in New Mexico and it is accessible year round. You have the option of hiking through the cave in order to reach the ‘Big Room’ or you can take a direct elevator from the vision center’s hub. Either way you’ll end up in a naturally formed limestone cave that features a 4,000 foot long room called the Big Room. This cave will make you feel small in an entirely new way and for good reason. Carlsbad Caverns sit at 7th place in the list of largest known caves in the entire world. This is the 3rd largest cave in North America. Spelunking snobs might turn up their nose at including this ‘mainstream cave’ but we figure you gotta start with the great ones close to home, first.
Reed Flute Cave – Guangxi, China
Now we are off to the orient in order to take in the Reed Flute Cave which is located in the Guangxi Province in China. Inside of this beautiful cave are gorgeous natural reeds that are often used to make flutes. You’ll see giant stone pillars, mineral formations, and lights illuminating the whole area. Inscriptions on cave walls date all the way back to 792 AD so it is pretty safe to say that people have been enjoying this sight for a LONG time.
Cave of Crystals – Chihuahua, Mexico
The Cave of Crystals looks like a set ripped straight out of the new Star Wars movie. This cave was discovered in 2000 when scientists drilled through an aquifer in order to pump out all of the water inside. What remained was a cave full of gigantic crystals. These crystals measured up to 30 feet in height as well as 4 feet in width. The cave is hot due to an infusion of magma and you can only stay in the cave unprotected for up to ten minutes.
Hoyo Negro – Mexico
We’ll change things up with an underwater cave located in Mexico: the Hoyo Negro. The Hoyo Negro is a wonder simply for the size of the various chambers. You’ll have to be an experienced diver in order to be allowed to peruse through this amazing sight. If you do get a chance to go underwater you’ll be treated to an entirely different world. Scientists have found the remains of a 12,000 year old girl at the bottom which made for the oldest complete human skeleton in all of the America. Scientists have also found fossils of extinct animals in the cave as well.
Fingal Cave – Staffa, Scotland
Every once in awhile you’ll come across an image that absolutely perplexes you. Upon first seeing the Fingal Cave you’ll have trouble wrapping your mind around what you are seeing. As it turns out, the Fingal Cave is a sea cave which is located on the island of Staffa in Scotland. This is a naturally formed cave by Paleocene lava flow and basalt columns. The cave is eerie and mysterious thanks to the sounds of waves echoing off of the various formations, creating a natural cathedral of sound. The island of Staffa is uninhabited so this is likely a one time visit for cave fanatics. Take it all in.
Kyaut Sae Cave – Burma, Myanmar
We’ll head out to Asia now to take in one of the most beautiful caves on this list — the Kyaut Sae Cave. This mysterious cave has popped up in more tourist itineraries lately thanks to its publication on various travel websites in the past couple of years. Still, little is known about this beautiful cave. WHat we do know is that there is a Buddhist Temple located in the middle of the cave and many Buddhists make a pilgrimage there to worship. Rumor has it that this cave used to serve as a hideout during the 13th century as locals sought to flee from the atrocities that the Mongolians were serving on the region. Unfortunately nothing is known for sure.
Glowworm Cave – Waitomo, New Zealand
Time to get your Kiwi on as you head to Waitomo in New Zealand. The Glowworm Cave has been a steadfast attraction for the small town of Waitomo for years. As part of the Waitomo Cave system you’ll also be able to get into the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave. Going into this subterranean vessel will afford you the opportunity to have your mind blown by thousands of glowing worms as they light up your path. It’s beautiful and mysterious and the only known place on Earth to have this phenomena occur. People have been visiting this cave and taking in the wonder for over 100 years by this point.
Phraya Nakhon Cave – Thailand
Thailand is a beautiful and under appreciated country by the majority of tourists today. You can take advantage of the natural beauty that this country has to offer by heading to the Phraya Nakhon Cave located in the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province. This giant cave is located in a national park and it offers you beautiful views of beaches, mountains, jungle and more. This beautiful cave is separated into two large chambers with both featuring hollowed out tops which allow for light rays to cast down over the ground. In the middle of the cave is the Kuha Karuhas Pavilion which was built in the 19th century to host King Chulalongkorn the great. Head to the cave on a sunny day right in the morning to see God Rays descend upon the earth below.
The Ice Cave – Mutnovsky Volcano, Russia
We’ve talked a fair bit about caves formed by limestone so it’s only fair that we dive into something a little different. Aptly titled the Ice Cave, this explorers dream was formed inside of glaciers that bank on the Mutnovsky Volcano. Heated vents release gases, called fumaroles, that help to shape the cave. Once inside you’ll be greeted with a chilling but beautiful sight. Light bounces off of everything inside and the stark difference between the lava rock and ice above makes for a beautiful sight. Spend some time grabbing great photographs so go during the day to get the most out of your trip. The cave is roughly half of a mile long and up until recently was inaccessible to man. A heavy summer back in 2013 thawed out enough of the cave to make exploration not only possible, but easy. Look at the roof as you explore and take in the almost cathedral like atmosphere.
The Cave of Three Bridges – Lebanon
Easily topping our list of majestic and magical caves, The Cave of Three Bridges is an adventure tourist spot for the history books. This set of caves is not directly accessible by car so you’ll have to spend time on a long hike in order to get there. However, once you arrive you will feel the weight of your discovery. The Cave of Three Bridges looks over a lush valley in Lebanon that is replete with thick jungle, rivers, and waterfalls. This limestone cave dates back to the Jurassic period and it showcases three separate bridges, in tiers, that were formed by nature. This cave is a stunning reminder of the enormity of nature and our place as tiny little creatures scurrying across it.