Barton Creek Cave, Belize
This cave, easily accessible by tour from San Ignacio, is a great day trip for those who like to mix history with adventure. You’ll canoe into darkness while your guide points out pottery shards and human remains from the Mayans who used to inhabit the area.
Batu Caves, Malaysia
These huge limestone caves are only a short train ride from Kuala Lumpur. At the top of the steep steps, you’ll find Hindu temples and shrines, guarded by a giant, gold statue of Lord Murugan. This 140 ft tall diety is the second largest in the world after the Kailashnath Mahadev statue in Nepal.
Dos Ojos Cenote, Mexico
A cenote is technically a sinkhole but this particular one, near Tulum, easily makes the list. Two chambers (the two eyes) are connected by a twisting maze of shallow tunnels and caverns. The catch? It’s all underwater, so it makes for an incredible dive. Bonus points if you’re brave enough to switch the torches off and lose all your senses to complete weightlessness.
Hang Son Doong, Vietnam
This is the one cave on this list that I haven’t visited because it hadn’t even been discovered when I was travelling through Vietnam. At more than 200m high, 150m wide and 5km long, this cave is so large that it has its own climate. In fact, it’s the largest in the world and I’m going back this year just to see it.
Kong Lor Cave, Laos
It’s well worth getting off the beaten track to explore this karst limestone cave, cited as “one of Southeast Asia’s geological wonders”. Take a narrowboat 7km along the river, pausing to walk through the rock formations before rejoining the boat to exit on the other side.
Lake Cave, Australia
There are many caves to explore in the Margaret River region of Western Australia, but my favourite is Lake Cave. It’s small, but as you descend into the darkness you’ll see a mirror reflection of the stalactites hanging above the perfectly still pool, with a hanging ledge that formed over the years before the water level dropped.
Loltun Cave, Mexico
If you find yourself in Merida then make your way along the Puuc Route to visit ancient ruins and the beautiful and vast Loltun Cave. Here you’ll find cave paintings from the Mayans, well-lit chambers and a large, hollow stalactite that echoes the caves’ name when hit twice… “Lolll… Tuuuuuun”, meaning flower-stone.
Mole Creek Caves, Australia
There are two cave systems to explore in the north of Tasmania, but my favourite is Marakoopa Cave with its animal-shaped calcite formations and resident glow worms. You can either visit the lower chamber with its underground river or the massive cavern known as The Great Cathedral. The other, King Solomon Cave, will amaze you with its colourful formations.
Ruakuri Cave, New Zealand
One of the highlights of a trip around this gorgeous country is a visit to see the glow worms of Waitomo. You can do it the easy way, walking across boardwalks with good lighting, or you can kit yourself out and enter the underground rivers, leaping off waterfalls and floating down pitch-black tunnels with only the glow worms to light your way.
Semuc Champey, Guatemala
After the Black Water Rafting of Waitomo, I thought I was ready for anything, but the cave system of Semuc Champey is on a whole other level. You head into the darkness armed with nothing but a candle, and before you know it you’re neck-deep in water for the next hour, trying to keep it alight. Absolutely the biggest adrenaline rush on this list.
Yarrangobilly Caves, Australia
High in the mountains of Kosciuszko National Park of New South Wales are the caves of Yarrangobilly. You can choose between the colourful and diverse decorations of Jersey Cave, the beautiful and delicate formations of Jillabenan Cave or the vast chambers of South Glory Cave, the largest in the area.
Do you have a favourite cave that deserves to be on this list? Leave a comment below to share the cave love! ❤