These spectacular caves aren’t part of some fairy-tale world or horror movie – they can be found in some of the world’s most remote places in Asia, North America and Europe.
If you’re thinking of rushing off to visit one of these caves, hold your horses. Although some of the caves are open for public, like Phraya Nakhon Cave in Thailand, the majority of them are only open to extreme adventurers who have to get their passes in advance. As you can see from the pictures below, the people who get the chance to explore these natural beauties are equipped with some special equipment.
1. Cueva de los Cristales, Mexico
Image credits: nicole_denise
Discovered in 2000 by two brothers who were drilling below the Naica mine near Chihuahua, the Cave of Crystals is a glittering spectacle with temperatures that can reach up to 112 degrees. Many of the crystals, which are estimated to be about 600,000 years old, can be several feet thick, and the smaller ones are razor sharp. The Crystal Cave is closed to the public because of its depth, heat and other issues.
2. Batu Caves, Malaysia
Image credits: Danny Xeero
The Batu Caves in Malaysia have been used by English and Chinese settlers as well as the indigenous Temuan people. The bat guano in the cave was mined for agricultural purposes, but now the cave is filled with statues and is open to visitors.
3. Glowworms Cave, New Zealand
Image credits: waitomo.com
Formed over 30 million years ago, this cave is one of the most brilliant displays of bioluminescence on Earth. Thousands of glowworms, which are native to New Zealand, hang from the walls of the cave from strands of silk and use their dazzling blue light to attract prey. You may not ever find spectacular caves filled with fairies, but this is pretty darn close.
4. Vatnajokull Glacier Cave, Iceland
Image credits: skarpi
This cave is located in Iceland’s Vatnajokull Glacier, the largest glacier in Europe. Spectacular caves like these form due to melting glacial icewater, but they can be dangerous because glaciers are constantly breaking and changing.
5. Ice Cave Near The Mutnovsky Volcano, Russia
Image credits: Denis Budko
Ice caves like these form in the glaciers surrounding the Mutnovsky Volcano in Russia. Some of them are formed by vents that release volcanic heat and gases called fumaroles.
6. Phraya Nakhon Cave, Thailand
Image credits: Georgi Iashvili
Inside the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is the Phraya Nakhon: an incredible cave with an interesting history behind it. Sunlight filters through the top of the structure’s collapsed ceiling, illuminating the Kuha Karuhas pavilion that was originally built in 1890 for King Chulalongkorn. Since its construction, other local kings have visited the cave and left their signatures on its walls. This is one of the most spectacular caves in every sense of the word.
7. Reed Flute Cave, China
Image credits: Peter Stewart
The Reed Flute Cave in Guangxi, China has been visited by tourists for at least 1200 years. The cave is home to a spectacular array of stalagmites and stalactites. It is named for the reeds that grow at its mouth, which can be made into flutes.
8. Kyaut Sae Cave, Myanmar
Image credits: Leopard
Very little is known about this cave in Kyaut Se, Myanmar, other than that the inside has been fitted as a Buddhist temple.
9. Antelope Canyon, USA
Image credits: Greg Boratyn
Antelope Canyon in Arizona was carved out by thousands of years of persistent wind and flash floods, which is why its smooth walls look so smooth and fluid. During the desert’s monsoon season, dangerous flash floods can occur without warning from rains that have fallen miles away. These flash floods have taken the lives of quite a few unwary tourists.
10. Son Doong Cave, Vietnam
Image credits: National Geographic
The world’s largest cave is located in Vietnam’s Quang Binh province. First found by a local man in 1991, the cave is nearly 700 feet wide, 500 feet high, and almost six miles long. Many of the cave’s structures that have formed in its millions of years of existence are massive enough to make explorers appear minuscule in comparison. This must be what an ant feels like in our everyday world.
11. Fingal’s Cave, Scotland
image credits: Michael W
Although this cave on Staffa Island, Scotland looks like it was painstakingly hand-carved by someone with an affinity for hexagons, its incredible geometric structure is completely natural. Hot lava that helped form the cave cooled and cracked in a hexagonal pattern. As the cracks extended down the mass of lava and shrank, it created the columns that the cave is famous for today.
Do you know any other caves that should be on the list. Let us know in the comments.