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Cave For These Caves

Caves Around the World

Drawn map of the world.

In so much of travel writing, we talk about what’s above the ground, but what about what’s underneath it? Here are five caves from around the world that you must see.

Image inside of Mammoth cave with stalactites and stalagmites covering the ceiling and floor.

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, USA

Mammoth Cave is the longest cave in the world. Researchers recently discovered eight more miles of the cave system, placing it at a total length of 420 mi, and there could be more to discover.

This cave system is ten million years old, and humans have been using it for about 5,000 years. It holds a wealth of fossils that give us a clue about its history.

Mammoth Cave National Park offers a variety of tours, including one to an underground river. Each tour varies in difficulty and length, though the park seems to have a tour for everyone. For example, the “Accessible Tour” provides access to the caves via an elevator and a prepared walkway.

Man standing on the end of a pier surrounded by water inside Cenote Suytun.
Photo by Kari Bjorn Photography

Cenote Suytun, Valladolid, Mexico

Though not exactly a cave, Cenote Suytun is worth a visit. A cenote is a sinkhole with a pool at the bottom. This particular cenote is a great location for taking pictures and swimming. The Cenote Suytun is one of over 6,000 cenotes in Yucatán.

The best time to visit this cenote is in the early morning or late afternoon when it is less crowded. However, if you don’t mind a crowd and want to see the beam of light coming through the hole in the cenote’s ceiling, you’ll want to go around lunchtime. A ticket here includes a visit to another cenote that tends to be less crowded, so check that one out too.

Inside of the Crystal Ice cave.

Crystal Ice Cave, Vatnajökull, Iceland

Also known as the Breiðamerkurjökull Cave, Crystal Ice Cave is Vatnajökull National Park’s largest. Tourists call it the Crystal Ice Cave because of the beautiful, translucent white and blue interior, which was created by the compression of snow into ice.

The cave is in the Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier, which is so old that some of the ice dates back 1,200 years. Not all of the ice is that old because Iceland’s ice caves are constantly changing each winter as they shift, melt, and refreeze.

You can visit the Crystal Ice Cave from November to March each year, when it is cold and the caves are safe, so dress warm! Tours for this cave tend to fill up fast, so make sure to look into it well in advance.

Man going up steps inside Batu caves with stalactites covering the ceiling.

Batu Caves, Selangor, Malaysia

The Batu Caves house a set of beautiful Hindu temples, a colorful mixture of nature and man-made devotion. Near the entrance to the caves stands the world’s tallest statue of the Hindu god Lord Murugan at 42.7 m (140 ft).

To get to the caves, you’ll need to climb 300 stairs. Along the way, you’ll likely meet the Batu Caves monkeys, who love tourists because of the food the monkeys often steal from them. Be careful not to feed these animals because they’ll likely come back begging for more. In fact, you may have to be careful because these monkeys aren’t afraid to reach out and grab anything that catches their eye.

Picture taken from inside Waenhuiskrans cave looking out of its mouth to the ocean.

Waenhuiskrans Cave, Arniston, South Africa

Waenhuiskrans Cave is a sea cave on the coast of South Africa is large enough to fit a wagon and a span of oxen inside, which is how it got its name that means “wagon house cliff.” It is believed to be the largest coastal cave without a supporting pillar.

You’ll want to go at low tide when the cave is accessible. Make sure to bring good shoes because you'll have to navigate over rocks to enter.

Once inside, let your eyes adjust to the low lighting and then marvel at this cave’s natural beauty. Looking out of the cave’s mouth, you’ll see the gorgeous blue-green sea waves rushing in.

Lexi Cooper