Jenny is a girl who loves many things. She loves street foods, traveling, nature, music, cats, and dogs! She's crazy about purple & writing!
The Top 10 Most Incredible Caves in the World
- The Blue Grotto (Italy)
- The Cave of the Crystals (Mexico)
- Krubera Cave (Georgia)
- Fingal's Cave (Scotland)
- Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave (Austria)
- Puerto Princesa Subterranean River (Philippines)
- Mammoth Cave National Park (USA)
- Škocjan Caves (Slovenia)
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park (USA)
- Waitomo Glowworm Caves (New Zealand)
1. The Blue Grotto in Capri, Italy
The Blue Grotto is the emblem of Capri. It is a sea cave found on the coast of the island and is a well-known spot to all who visit the area. This cave is unique for its brilliant blue glow which comes from two sources: the entrance to the cave (a small opening where only one rowboat can enter at a time) and a bigger hole beneath the entrance. When viewed from inside the cave, the entrance appears as a brilliant white light just above the waterline, while the underwater hole, which is the larger source of light, provides a blue glow.
2. Cave of the Crystals in Chihuahua, Mexico
Miners first discovered the Cave of Swords, located directly above the Cave of the Crystals, in 1910. The crystals there are much smaller than in the Cave of the Crystals (a mere 1-2 meters versus a whopping 12 metres!), and the temperature is cool, which may be why the crystals stopped growing.
The Cave of the Crystals, on the other hand, was discovered in 2000 and contains the largest natural selenite crystals ever found. The biggest crystal found here was 12 meters in length and 4 meters in diameter! As opposed to the Cave of Swords, the average temperature here is 50-58 degrees Celsius with 90-99% humidity. Because of this extremely hot temperature, this cave is relatively unexplored. Even scientists and researchers with the proper protective gear can only stay in the cave for 30-45 minutes at a time.
So how were these incredible crystals formed? Over time, gypsum-rich groundwater began seeping into the cavern that is now the Cave of the Crystals, filling the hollow space with gypsum. This alone might not do much, but thanks to the pool of magma beneath the cave, the groundwater remained at 50 degrees Celsius for 500,000 years, allowing selenite crystals to form and grow to gigantic sizes.
3. Krubera Cave in Abkhazia, Georgia
Krubera cave was discovered in 1960 and is the deepest-known cave on Earth, with a depth of over 2196 meters. Krubera cave is also known as the Voronja Cave, which means "cave of the crows" in Russian. This name was used in 1980 by speleologists because of a number of crows nesting at the entrance of the cave. The original name, Krubera, was given by Russian speleologists in honor of Alexander Kruber, a noted Russian geographer.
Important update: Since the discovery of Veryovkina Cave in the same area of Abkhazia in 2001, Krubera Cave became a close second. Veryovkina Cave has a depth of 2212 meters and is now the deepest cave in the world.
4. Fingal's Cave in Staffa, Scotland
This incredible sea cave is located on the uninhabited island of Staffa in Scotland. The island is of volcanic origin and is famous for its distinctive hexagonal basalt columns, of which Fingal's Cave is the most striking example. The cave's size, shape, and naturally-arched roof combine with the waves to create eerie sounds that enhance its cathedral-like atmosphere. The cave was named after the hero in James Macpherson's book Fingal, which means "white stranger."
5. Eisriesenwelt Ice Cave in Werfen, Austria
This natural limestone ice cave is the largest of its kind, extending 42 kilometers into the earth and welcoming 200,000 tourists every year. Although the cave is massive, only the first kilometer of it is covered in ice and open to tourists. The rest of the cave is just limestone. The oldest layer of ice in the cave dates back 1,000 years!
Eisriesenwelt was formed by the Salzach river, which slowly eroded passageways in the mountain. The ice formations in the cave were created by thawing snow that drained into the cave and froze. This section remains icy even in the summer because the cave entrance is open year-round, leaving it exposed to chilly winds that keep the temperature below freezing. New formations appear each spring, however, as water drips into the cave and freezes.
6. Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in Palawan, Philippines
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The river is home to many marine creatures. The entrance to this cave is a short hike from a nearby town.
In 2010, a group of environmentalists and geologists discovered that the underground river has a second floor, creating numerous small waterfalls inside the cave. There is also a 300-meter cave dome above the underground river where one can see unbelievable rock formations, large bats, a deep hole in the river, river channels, and another deep cave. There are also several large chambers found inside the cave, including the 360-meter Italian Chamber, which is one of the most massive cave rooms in the world.
The river in the cave is navigable by boat for up to 4 kilometers, but it is impossible to explore any further due to a critical lack of oxygen.
7. Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, USA
Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest cave system in the world. It spans 52,830 hectares (or 528.3 square kilometers), making it twice as long as the second longest cave system—Mexico's Sac Actun, an underwater cave.
The National Park offers several tours, helping visitors discover numerous notable features of the cave, such as the Grand Avenue, Frozen Niagara, and the famous Fat Man's Misery. These attractions are available for viewing on tours that can last up to six hours. More adventurous tours are also offered, such as those that venture away from the developed parts of the cave and into muddy crawlspaces and dusty tunnels.
8. Škocjan Cave in Divača, Slovenia
Škocjan Cave is home to some of the most significant underground phenomena both in the Karst region and Slovenia, earning it a spot as a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. International scientific circles consider it to be one of the most important natural treasures on the planet.
According to UNESCO, the Škocjan Cave is:
- Among the largest underground canyons known worldwide
- A natural beauty with enormous aesthetic value
- Home to a diverse ecosystem
- Historically and culturally significant because it was inhabited during prehistoric times
- A perfect example of contact karst
9. Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, USA
Carlsbad Caverns National Park consists of an extensive network of caves nestled deep in the limestone rock of the Guadalupe Mountains. It is one of the most visited caves in the United States, reaching 41 million visitors in 2011. It is open all year round, except for Christmas Day, and visitors have the option to either hike all the way to the entrance of the cave or use the elevator.
This cavern includes "The Big Room"—a massive chamber made of natural limestone. At about 4,000 feet long, 625 feet wide, and 255 feet high (at the highest point), it is the third largest chamber room in North America and the seventh largest in the world.
Carlsbad Caverns offers numerous programs for tourists. One of the most popular ones is the Bat Flight Program, where tourists can witness the bats' sunset flight out of the cave and their sunrise flight back in the following morning. Camping is also allowed provided campers have a ticket from the National Park center.
A recent discovery revealed the Chocolate room and the bottomless pit. The latter was first thought to have no bottom because stones thrown into the pit made no sound. Later they found out that it is only 140 feet deep and has a thick layer of soft dirt at the bottom, which is why it doesn't make a sound when stones land.
10. Waitomo Glowworm Caves in Waitomo, New Zealand
On top of being my personal favorite, this cave is a major tourist attraction and is famous worldwide. The glowworms are the size of ordinary mosquitoes, and millions of them abound inside the cave. They are monitored closely by specialized staff from a scientific advisory group that uses automated equipment to monitor the cave remotely, including the temperature, the amount of carbon dioxide (needed to maintain the glowworms), and the number of visitors that can enter each day.
The guided tours cover three levels and commence with a boat ride on the underground river, where the ceiling is lit solely by these spectacular glow worms.
It's like watching the night sky full of twinkling stars!
How Are Caves Formed?
In addition to appreciating the beauty of these amazing caves, it is important that we understand how they came to be. There are various types of caves in the world, and they are formed in different ways. I will give a very simple outline here, but if you'd like to learn more, visit the National Caves Association's page on how caves are formed.
Cave formation begins when acid rain is absorbed by the ground. Acid rain consists of rainwater mixed with carbon dioxide. As this acid rain travels through the ground, it comes in contact with solid rocks. If this rock is made of limestone or dolomite, the water will react chemically until it slowly dissolves the rock and a hollow space is formed. As the space becomes bigger, water begins to flow through it, eventually creating a stream or underground river. At this point, erosion and weathering begin and further cave formation. After a thousand years, the hollow space is already big enough for a human to enter. After a million years, chambers and columns form due to erosion and the meeting of stalactites (from the ceiling) and stalagmites (from the ground), and spectacular caves like the ones you've seen here are born!
Though these caves didn't make the top ten list, they are still spectacular!
Marble Cave in Patagonia, Chile
Sumaguing Cave in the Philippines
Reed Flute Cave in Guilin, Guangxi, China
Skaftafell Ice Cave in Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland
Melissani Cave in Kefalonia, Greece
Sơn Đoòng Cave in Vietnam
Questions & Answers
Question: How often do the caves described in this article have tours?
Answer: That depends on where you really want to go. These places on the list are located in different countries so tour options and frequency varies from country to country.
Question: I'm a freelance writer doing a book on caves for kids. I learned about Hang Son Doong from another article here. It stated that it had the world's largest underground fast flowing river. I don't see that on this site now, but I printed it out. Can you please confirm that fact for me. Does it have the world's largest fast flowing underground river?
Answer: I did my research and yes there is indeed a large underground fast-flowing river in the Hang Son Doong cave but it is not the largest in the world or there was no mention of that fact in all the articles I have read. As of the moment, the two largest (longest) underground rivers are Sac Atun (Mexico) and the Puerto Princesa underground river in the Philippines...cave explorers are still currently busy with explorations and research.
Question: What is your favorite cave to visit?
Answer: There are just too many of these beautiful places that it is really hard to choose which one is my favorite. Now and then I also discover new ones that are equally stunning. But I think, the Sumaguing and Lumiang cave in the Philippines will always be sentimental to me because it is where I started to love caves and appreciate their beauty.
© 2013 Jennifer Gonzales
Readmikenow on June 13, 2019:
Very well done article. I enjoyed reading it and looking at the pictures.
Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on September 06, 2018:
Well written article and selection of those shots - priceless!
I am an open spaces person, not a cave person at all, but after watching Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs for umpteenth time with my 2 year old grandson and after reading this article, I am seriously thinking of visiting some caves.
Eli on September 05, 2018:
This is cool!!
Sister Amparo Uribe on July 10, 2018:
the formation of tahi caves
Anderson sang on March 20, 2018:
soondong has touch me so much,I believed songonye in may forest is the biggest cave but I have learn there is bigger one imagine
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on January 29, 2018:
I believe Sondoong cave is the biggest and therefore the most amazing cave in the world...Maybe next time i will include it on my list..Thanks for the suggestion..:)
dieplinh on January 28, 2018:
What about Sondoong cave in Vietnam ?
Caillou on December 08, 2017:
I like turtles and they don’t know what I have been told
Police on December 07, 2017:
Hi I am a police
steve on October 09, 2017:
Back in the day I was an avid spelunker visiting and exploring wildcat caves (mostly sandstone) in Indiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi. I have had some wonderful adventures like climbing down a 25 foot waterfall and swimming under a ledge to find a whole new section of the cave. I had bats almost bowl me over in one cave and had to retreat to my sleeping bag. I have also spent time in Carlsbad, Mark Twain and Mammoth caves. It taxes your strength , ability and nerves and is one of the most exciting adventures one can embark on. Hiking, crawling, repelling, mt. climbing and water adventures. If you are interested in pursuing caving please do your homework about the area, plan, get in shape and take what you need. It is a marvelous adventure. If you are claustrophobic..fogetaboutit
Shah Viral on May 07, 2017:
Awesome caveman and the caves
kamyar on June 27, 2016:
The thing that amazed me was that.. there was no name of "Ali Sadr" Cave"(world's largest water cave) in Hamadan-Iran.
Google it to know what I'm saying.
Sam Shepards from Europe on February 19, 2016:
Very nice. Will visit some ice caves in Iceland next month. Looking forward to it. Have done a lot of caves and caving, but ice caves is completely new to me. Woohooo :)
escapology from Cosmopolitan on December 03, 2014:
that's a cool write up and I am happy to see the Puerto Princessa Underground River in the list. I spent traveling 3 months across the Philippines and that cave was a definite highlight. Amongst many others in that country. Cheers for the hub .... All the best!
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on October 21, 2014:
No worries erorantes...have a good day too...and More Power! :)
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on October 21, 2014:
Thanks Tazzytamar! :)
Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on October 20, 2014:
I am sorry for the gender confusion. You too have a wonderful day and happy Hollydays. I love your hub. The caves are amazing.
Anna from chichester on October 20, 2014:
Stunning caves! They have always fascinated me and I would love to see the ones on this list one day...
Fantastic hub! Voted up :)
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on September 24, 2014:
Hi erorantes...thank you for taking the time to comment on this hub...by the way i am ms purpleshadow13...not mr...:):):) but it is ok...have a good day!
Ana Maria Orantes from Miami Florida on September 20, 2014:
I like your caves Mr. Purpleshadow13. They amazingly beautiful. I am happy for you that you found them. I can only imagen . The joy, you felt walking inside the cave for the first time. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I like your hub.
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on July 12, 2014:
You're welcome Sherwani...:)
Mohammed Abdullah Sherwani from Karachi on July 10, 2014:
So, off to New Zealand. Who is with me? Thanks for a lovely article
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on April 02, 2014:
Thank you Alfin...Your comment made me feel more inspired to write more...:)
Alfin Loencontre on March 28, 2014:
Your hubs are awesome, congratulations.
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on December 03, 2013:
Yes. Indeed Krubera Cave is the deepest known cave on Earth. In fact, Krubera cave remains the only known cave to have exceeded the 2000 meters depth.
Stephan on December 03, 2013:
Amazing! is Krubera Cave (Abkhazia, Georgia) deepest-known cave in the world? I saw this here: http://ancientvisitors.blogspot.com
iguidenetwork from Austin, TX on October 02, 2013:
Nature doesn't fail to astound us. These are all amazing caves! Thanks for sharing. One day I'd go to one of those, particularly at the glow worm cave. :)
Muhammad Abdullah on October 01, 2013:
i have never seen
it is amazing
i wanna go to visit
AprilGallagher from Athens, Greece on October 01, 2013:
So far I only knew of Slovenia's Škocjan Cave. I didn't know what I was missing. These caves really look out of this world. Thanks for this beautiful hub, great job!
Samita Sharma from Chandigarh on September 30, 2013:
Wow dear its very interesting and amazing hub.. All the caves are so beautiful. I wish, i can go there
crookedcreekphoto from Ohio, USA on September 30, 2013:
Great Hub. We're planning on going to Mammoth Caves in the next couple of weeks. We're only about 300 miles from it and never gave it a thought until recently. We've been to a place in Arkansas called Blanchard Caves. It was really cool, not nearly as big as the ones you described in your hub, but it was still fascinating.
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on September 29, 2013:
Hi, I think the cave you are talking about having the largest single chamber is Gua Nasib Bagus (Good luck cave). It contains the Sarawak chamber which is the largest of its kind in the world. However, this cave is not located in Indonesia. It is in Malaysia actually. Anyway, thanks for your comment. Happy Spelunking as well. I'm glad you also like Carlsbad Caverns...
Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 29, 2013:
I am glad you gave a high ranking to my beloved Carlsbad Caverns, which I have visited a few times. Isn't there a cave in Indonesia that is supposed to have the largest single chamber? I forget the name. Happy hubbing and spelunking!
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on September 28, 2013:
Same here...Waitomo glowworms cave is also my favorite! Thanks for your comments.
Toy Tasting from Mumbai on September 27, 2013:
It was amazing to know so much about these caves. Though all are beyond beauty, yet my favorite is the Waitomo Glowworms cave in New Mexico. I would love to go and see this cave sometime.
Thanks for sharing the information. :)
Better Yourself from North Carolina on September 26, 2013:
Wow! I'm in awe of the beauty and uniqueness of each! Great hub, thanks for sharing!
wiserworld on September 25, 2013:
Great summary of the caves. Definitely some for the old bucket list!
Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on September 25, 2013:
Although I am an outdoorsy guy hiking and trekking with my dog, but I have not been exploring any caves. The only two caves I have visited are Batu cave near KL in Malaysia and caves in Blue Mountains of Ontario, Canada. Your list of caves seems out of this world though. They look gorgeous and your way of writing have made them even more exploration worthy.
Found useful and rated up.
Avinesh Prahladi from Chandigarh on September 23, 2013:
Yea, thanks purpleshadow....I am an adventure seeker and I am already planning a trip to these caves.
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on September 23, 2013:
Goodluck AvineshP. I know you'd be able to someday...thanks for your comment.
Avinesh Prahladi from Chandigarh on September 22, 2013:
After looking at the posted pics, yes, the same question came to my mind as well as how these caves are formed ???? Mother nature has so much to offer us and these caves are a perfect example of it, I have promised myself that I would surely explore these caves (at least the ones shown in the pics).
Best of Luck to me :-)
Alanna Murphy from Weston, Florida on September 20, 2013:
Really interesting article! Thanks for sharing. Voted interesting and awesome :)
Jennifer Gonzales (author) from The Hague, Netherlands on September 18, 2013:
IslandBites from Puerto Rico on September 18, 2013:
Really beautiful and very interesting! We have some great caves systems here in Puerto Rico. Good hub!