The 10 Most Beautiful Caves in the World

  You have to be an adventurer at heart to be able to venture deep into a vast natural cavern that has existed for millions of years. When spelunking in most caves and caverns, you expect to find pale or even blind creatures, huge stalactites and stalagmites, and a lot of darkness. But these incredible caves have something even more special to offer for anyone who dares to explore their depths.

1. Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of the Crystals), Mexico

Discovered in 2000 by two brothers who were drilling beneath the Naïca mine near Chihuahua in Mexico, the crystal cave is a shimmering spectacle with temperatures reaching up to 58°C. Several of the crystals, estimated to be around 600,000 years old, can be several meters thick, and the smallest are razor sharp. These giant selenite crystals are among the largest natural crystals in the world. Too bad we can't stay more than ten minutes inside this cave.

2. Waitomo Glowworm Cave , New Zealand

Formed over 30 million years ago, this cave is one of the most bioluminescent places on Earth. Thousands of glow worms , which are native to New Zealand, cling to the cave walls from silk threads and use their dazzling blue light to attract their prey. You'll never find yourself in a cave full of fairies, but this one comes pretty darn close.

3. Grotto Azzurra ( Blue Cave ), Italy

If you ever travel near Capri, Italy, you must go to the Blue Grotto . Once believed to be inhabited by mermaids and demons, the cave is known for its radiant blue water. The blue glow of the cave is due to natural light entering the water and refracting off the cave walls. The result is an incredible phenomenon that you will not need to retouch for your photos.

4. Skaftafell Cave of Vatnajökull Glacier, Iceland

Formed entirely of ice, glacial caves are best to visit in fall and winter, when the ice is less likely to collapse and when glaciers are not moving as quickly. Many of them turn a bright blue color, which is common in certain parts of glaciers (like the underside, or in this case, the interior) where the sun has not melted the snow layer on the ice . Would you be bold enough to venture into a cave that might melt?

5. Phraya Nakhon Cave, Thailand

Inside Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park is Phraya Nakhon : an incredible cave with an interesting history behind it. The collapsed ceiling of the cavity lets in daylight which illuminates the Kuha Karuhas Pavilion which was originally built in 1890 for King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). Since its construction, other local kings have visited the cave and left their signatures on its walls. This is a majestic cave in every sense of the word.

6. The Marble Cathedral (Lake Buenos Aires/General Carrera), Chile

Anyone who is willing to go to General Carrera Lake in Patagonia will have a great time. The crystal clear water tinted a dazzling blue by glacial silt accentuates the intricate patterns in what many call the most stunning cave system in the world. Over the years, the waters of the lakes have eroded the walls, creating these formations which, when the waters of the lakes are at their lowest level, can be fully visited aboard small boats.

7. Mutnovsky Volcano Ice Cave, Russia

It might seem crazy to think that an ice cave could form at the base of a volcano, but that's the sort of thing that tends to happen in Russia. This natural cave was formed by a stream flowing through the ice fields at the bottom of the volcano. The light filtering through the top creates an incredible color palette tinted with green, purple and blue. Many of those who found the cave stumbled upon it by accident while exploring the area around the volcano, making this mysterious ice structure an even more incredible place.

8. Dongzhong Cave, China

Formed over thousands of years, this ordinary cave serves as a classroom for 186 students and eight teachers. Meaning “in the cave” in Chinese, Dongzhong began its role as an educational structure in 1984 and is today one of the coolest schools in the world. Would you have followed your lessons more diligently in this very special classroom?

9. Fingal’s Cave, Scotland

Although this cave on the island of Staffa appears to have been painstakingly hand-carved by someone with an affinity for hexagons, its incredible geometric structure is entirely natural. The lava that helped form the cave cooled and then cracked on contact with water or air into the hexagonal patterns for which the cave is famous today. Nature can be a very unique artist, sometimes. Moreover, artists and writers allude to Fingal's Cave , notably Felix Mendelssohn in The Hebrides , and Jules Verne in his novel The Green Ray .

10. Reed Flute Cave, China

Of course, the lighting in this colorful cave is completely artificial. But does it really matter? Reed Flute Cave has been a popular destination for well over a thousand years, as evidenced by inscriptions inside that date back to 792 AD. It owes its name to the reeds which once grew at the entrance to the cave and which the inhabitants used to make flutes. The formations inside the cave are simply incredible, and combined with the surreal lighting, prove that beautiful things can happen when the efforts of man and nature combine.

Cleph Gist

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