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Waterfall tumbling into river above cavern mouth Seljalandsfoss Iceland


The 15 Coolest Caves Around the World

Array
Written by
Byron Thomas, Emily Opie, Kate Herz, Katie Holmes & Alex Carey

For awe-inspiring adventure and thrilling discoveries, it's hard to beat journeying into one of our planet's magical and majestic caves.

From sculpted marble to sunken rivers and ice-scapes to astounding Stone Age relics, these are our travel experts' pick of the coolest caves around the world...

Diamond caverns
Brazil
Hidden waterway
Laos
Ice caves
Iceland
Son Doong cave, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

1) Son Doong, Vietnam

Only recently discovered in Vietnam’s Quang Binh Province, Son Doong has been named the world’s largest cave. This natural wonder can be reached by trekking across the wild jungle of UNESCO World Heritage Phang Nha Ke Bang National Park and by crossing river valleys.

Son Doong cave, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam

Here you’ll have the chance to meet the Bru VanKieu minority people, before finally witnessing the breathtaking rock formations and sheer size of the cave’s interior. The seven-day, six-night journey incorporates camping within the caves themselves.

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Table-top mountains, Chapada Diamantina National Park, Brazil

2) Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

The lesser visited region of Brazil’s interior, Chapada Diamantina National Park, is made up of table-top mountains, vast plains, waterfalls, crystal-clear streams and an astonishing system of caves that conceal underground rivers where gold and diamonds were once mined.

Diamond Caverns, Chapada Diamantina, Brazil

Caverns of vibrant blue pools and waterfalls remain, with rivers that sank through erosion. The caves are especially noted for their rare stalagmite formations and the important discovery of extinct animals’ bones.

Diamond caverns, Chapada Diamantina National Park, Brazil
Waterfall in the Oudomxay province of Laos

3) Oudomxay, Laos

In Laos’ remote forested province of Oudomxay, which is populated by over 500 tribal villages, Chom Ong cave – known to locals as bat cave – stretches across 16km, and is best known for its particularly impressive stalagmites and stalactites.

Entrance to Chom Ong cave, Oudomxay, Laos

The cave runs along a mountain ridge, with an interconnecting fossil and river passage, and an upper level that leads to a number of 15km-high vantage points overlooking the river.

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Klipgat Cave/Stone Hole, Grootbos Private Reserve, the Whale Coast, South Africa

4) Stone Hole, South Africa

On the Atlantic Coast that stretches southwest of Cape Town, the Whale Coast is best known for its marine life and the white sand beaches that are backed by mountains, valleys and nature reserves. Between two bays, Grootbos Private Reserve covers a great expanse of 2,500 hectares. Here, archaeological excursions can be taken to the huge limestone caves that have were formed millions of years ago.

Klipgat Cave/Stone Hole, Grootbos Private Reserve, the Whale Coast, South Africa

Named Klipgat Cave, meaning stone hole, due to an opening that offers panoramic views of the bay, the site is important for its wealth of pottery, stone and bone artifacts, which are remnants of the Stone Age people that lived there.

Birds fly over the ocean water, Grootbos Private Reserve, the Whale Coast, South Africa
Thousand Buddha cave, Pindaya, Myanmar

5) Pindaya, Myanmar

Just outside the peaceful lakeside town of Pindaya in Myanmar, this vast limestone ridge consists of three caves, only one of which can be explored – its entrances signified by a large bronze bell and pagoda.

Pindaya, Myanmar

The enormous cavern is a renowned pilgrimage site, containing an incredible 8,000 images and gilded statues of Buddha, with small chambers for the pilgrims to meditate in. The surrounding hills are also prime hiking country.

Thousand Buddha Statues in Pindya Cave, Myanmar
Marmol-Caves

6) The Marble Cathedral, Chile

At the southern tip of Chile, the Patagonian region of Aisen is a vast expanse of dense evergreen forest and ice fields, immense fjords and deep blue glacial lakes. Here, at the centre of America’s second largest lake General Carrera, you’ll find Marble Chapel and Marble Cathedral.

Marmol Caves Chile

This group of marble caverns, columns and tunnels has been carved by wave action over more than 6,000 years. Kayak through the sculpted rock formations as they reflect down on the crystal clear water of the lake.

Marmol Cathedral rock formation, Carretera Austral, Highway 7, Aisen, Chile.
The Pak Ou caves, Luang Prabang, Mekong River, Laos

7) Pak Ou, Laos

Laos‘ UNESCO World Heritage former capital city Luang Prabang is surrounded by mountainous landscape, with waterfalls and a cave system to be explored. Just a short distance from the city is the Pak Ou cave system, meaning mouth of the Ou River.

The Pak Ou caves, Luang Prabang, Mekong River, Laos

It consists of Tham Ting and Tham Theung caves, both of which overlook the Mekong River and contain hundreds of intriguing Buddhist figures and sculptures.

The Pak Ou caves, Luang Prabang, Mekong River, Laos
Dripstones, Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

8) Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

This limestone labyrinth of underground rivers and sinkholes near Auckland can be traversed by boat or on foot, but the most adventurous can try blackwater rafting in which you crawl, swim and float through the caves on a rubber tube – you can even abseil or zip-line through the caverns if you dare.

waitomo-glow-worms-cave-auckland-new-zealand

By far their most famous feature, however, are the startlingly beautiful glow worms that fill the caves with their microscopic star-like radiance. A New Zealand must-see for adventure seekers and lovers of natural beauty alike.

Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
Inside the Cave of Volcano

9) Thrihnukagigur, Iceland

Step inside the only volcano in the world that can be explored on the inside: Thrihnukagigur, meaning “Three Peaks Crater” last erupted over 4000 years ago. Colourful magmatic stones give the volcano its other-worldly look.

Inside the Cave of Volcano

For the ultimate exclusive experience, our travel experts can organise a private opera performance with canapes and champagne amidst the wonderful natural acoustics of the volcano’s magma chamber.

Private Opera Performance in a Volcano Crater with Canapes and Champagne, Iceland
tigray-landscape-ethiopia

10) Tigray, Ethiopia

Spectacular hikes through the cliffs and hills of this ancient region lead to churches hewn into the rock, some even older than the 12th century churches of Labilela.

Gheralta Church, Tigray, Ethiopia

Take the opportunity to visit Tigray’s capital, Mek’ele, from which you can head off on an intrepid exploration of the striking Danakil Depression.

Gheralta Church, Tigray, Ethiopia
Skocjan Caves, Natural Heritage Site in Slovenia

11) Škocjan Caves, Slovenia

Whilst the Postonja caves are one of Slovenia’s most popular tourist sites (and quite rightly so), the Škocjan Caves are also a must-see, and far less crowded. Carved out by the Reka River, the caves stretch for 6km before ending in a sump known as the Dead Lake.

Skocjan Caves, Natural Heritage Site in Slovenia

From stunning stalactites and stalagmites to flowstones that look like snowdrifts, jungles of exotic dripstones and a dizzying 50m high bridge, these caves are full of sights to marvel at.

Natural tunnel and bridge in Rakov Skocjan Valley, Slovenia
Entrance to the Musanze Caves, Rwanda

12) Musanze Caves, Rwanda

These stunning 2km caves are draped in lush greenery on the outside, whilst the inside makes for some great exploring and is home to a colony of wild bats.

Entrance to the Musanze Caves, Rwanda

You’ll find the caves in Rwanda’s sumptuous National Park of Volcanoes, home to five of the eight volcanoes in the Virunga Chain and ripe for adventure.

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blue-grotto-capri-italy

13) The Blue Grotto, Italy

This ethereal sea cave on the picturesque Italian island of Capri gets its name from the water inside, a crystalline azure blue which sparkles and glows in the light. Entering the cave is half the adventure, as its the low height of the entrance means you must lie flat on the bottom of a small four-person row boat to pass through.

The Blue Grotto, Capri, Italy

For the same reason, entrance can only be achieved when tides are low and the sea calm. The shining blue of the cave is created by sunlight passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, which in turn creates a blue reflection that lights up the whole cavern.

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Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant, Diani Beach, Kenya

14) Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant, Kenya

For a completely different cave experience, head to Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant in Kenya’s Diani Beach. The cave is thought to be between 120,000 and 180,000 years old – though the restaurant has only been there for the last 30.

Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant, Diani Beach, Kenya

All has been left exactly as discovered in this remarkable interior, with natural holes in the roof crust creating an intimate and elegant eating-under-the-stars experience – and the food, of course, is delicious.

Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant, Diani Beach, Kenya
Dos ojos cave, Yucatan peninsula, Mexico

15) The Cenotes, Mexico

There is an estimated 7000 or more of of these beautiful natural sink holes and swimming pools around Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, filled with cool, clear water that is sometimes fresh and sometimes salt.

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Avoid the crowds and get a truly magical experience of the caves through a private tour to the lesser known Cenotes, including a unique opportunity for cave diving.

Cave diving in the Cenotes, Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum Mexico

Talk to one of our expert travel designers and start creating your once in a lifetime cave adventure.

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