Venture Down Into The 21 Most Stunning Caves On Earth

At some point in their childhood, many people have gone on field trips to old mining tunnels, but only a lucky and adventurous few have ventured into the azure caverns and over the crystal-bedded subterranean lakes of the world’s most stunning caves.

These places hold a visual bounty for explorers of all stripes, be they those who actually make the descent or those who prefer the safety of photographs. Here, in photos, are 21 of the world’s most incredible caves:

Prev Next 1 of 22

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Caves Antelope Canyon

The unique shape and color of this Navajo sandstone is the result of monsoons eroding the structure. Image Source: Flickr

Phraya Nakhon Cave, Thailand

Worlds Unique Caves Phraya

Sun beams rain down upon the cave's Kuha Karuhas pavilion, showering it in light. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Vatnajökull Glacier, Iceland

Worlds Unique Caves Iceland

These spectacular tunnels only form during the winter when it’s cold enough for glacial rivers to freeze; this means the caves can reform in different locations with new paths to explore. Image Source: Flickr

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Worlds Unique Caves Mammoth

This behemoth is the world’s longest cave system, with over 400 miles of its tunnels and chambers explored. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Blue Lake Cave, Brazil

Worlds Unique Caves Blue

This stunning underground cerulean pool plunges to a depth of 200 ft. It’s suspected that this lake is being fed by an underground river that has yet to be discovered. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

Worlds Unique Caves Carlsbad

The chambers within this cavern were given quirky names such as “Chocolate High” and “Talcum Passage.” Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Choranche Caves, France

Worlds Unique Caves Choranche

The needle thin crystals that protrude from this unique cavern are known as soda straws. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Crystal Cave, Bermuda

Worlds Unique Caves Crystal

Floating pontoons allow viewers to tread across a pristine underground lake, taking in the clusters of crystals that form above and below the water’s surface. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Devetashka Cave, Bulgaria

Worlds Unique Caves Devetashka

Artifacts of early man have been discovered within this cave dating as far back as the Neolithic Era. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

Worlds Unique Caves Doong

This cave, the largest in the world, is so overwhelmingly massive that it has its own weather system. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fingal's Cave Scotland

Worlds Unique Caves Fingal

This sea cave’s unique structure is due to the hexagonal pillars of basalt that form together. Image Source: Flickr

Blue Grotto, Capri

Worlds Unique Caves Grotto

Passengers have to lie on their back in order to cross through the Blue Grotto’s cave opening, which is no taller than a meter. Image Source: Flickr

Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico

Worlds Unique Caves Lechuguilla

Though previously unexplored and thought to be insignificant, it was discovered in 1986 that this cave is actually the longest limestone cavern in the United States. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Marble Caves, Chile

Worlds Unique Caves Marble

Waves cast an azure light over the ocean worn marble. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Niah Caves, Malaysia

Worlds Unique Caves Niah

This unique cave held telltale signs of early man’s residence, though it was only confirmed after the remains of a species of Homo sapiens was unearthed there,; dating as far back as 38,000 B.C. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Philippines

Worlds Unique Caves Princesa

This stunning cave system is one of the few of its kind; with an extremely old forest growing within it and a diverse array of wildlife, it is a well protected site for biodiversity conservation. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Tadrart Acacus, Libya

Worlds Unique Caves Tadrart

Though its priceless cave art has been at risk due to excessive tourism and even vandalism, the unique caves within this mountain range still house art created by mankind over 12,000 years ago. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes, Germany

Worlds Unique Caves Saalfelder

This previous slate mining pit is more commonly known in English as the “Saalfelder Fairy Grottoes.” Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Skocjan Caves, Slovenia

Worlds Unique Caves Skocjan

These caves are home to a handful of astounding endangered species such as the cave salamander and the long-fingered bat. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

St. Michael's Cave, Gibraltar

Worlds Unique Caves Michael

Before 1840, two military personnel went down into the caves for some adventure and exploration, only to vanish within its limestone halls; despite sending down additional exploration parties from 1936 to 1938, their remains were never found. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Verdes' Cave, Spain

Worlds Unique Caves Verdes

This underground lava tube is best known for the concert hall set up at its entrance. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Like this gallery? Share it!

Continue Reading

The Great Barrier Reef Could Be Global Warming’s Latest Victim

Coral bleaching is killing the world’s most impressive reef. These stunning photos and facts reveal exactly what’s at stake.

Last week, a pretty distressing figure made waves — though probably not as many as it should have: 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef (the world’s largest coral reef) is now in danger of dying. Here’s what’s at stake if one of the world’s most unique ecosystems collapses:

Prev Next 1 of 26
turtle head

The oceans have been absorbing about a third of CO2 emissions from human activities, with about half of that released from the burning of fossil fuels. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Coral Colors

This amount of CO2 changes the pH levels of the waters, and results in ocean acidification. Photo: Kyle Taylor

great barrier reef bleaching clown fish

When the acid levels go up, coral can’t produce the calcium carbonate that helps maintain their exoskeletons — which means they could simply start dissolving as soon as the year 2100. Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Red Coral

In 2005, the United States lost about half of its Caribbean coral reefs due to warmer water temperatures. Photo: Paul Toogood

Blue Clam

More than just coral are affected by ocean acidification; clams, snails, and urchins also need calcium carbonate to maintain their shells. Photo: Pixabay

Melon Butterflyfish

Coral bleaching, in turn, can cause a decrease in the amount of coral-dependent species, such as butterflyfish. Photo: Bernard E. Picton

Cnidarians

Scientists point to this coral bleaching event as the result of a generally warming climate, on top of El Niño activity. Photo: Pixabay

white reef

There are approximately 400 species of coral living in the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Purple Coral

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,400 miles (as big as 70 million football fields) along the northeastern coast of Australia, and is the Earth’s largest ecosystem. Photo: Paul Toogood

Blue Sea Star

Australia is, per capita, the largest contributor to harmful CO2 emissions in the world. Photo: Flickr

Striped Sturgeonfish

Though they’ve pledge to cut down on emissions, Australia continues to lend support to projects that rely heavily on fossil fuels. Photo: Toby Hudson

GBR Yellow Green

The Great Barrier Reef provides Australia with over two million tourists per year. Photo: Kyle Taylor Image Source: Flickr

coral varieties

These new findings will likely put Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the hot seat come the next federal election. Photo: Toby Hudson

Michaelmas Cay

Sediment and agricultural pollution runoff also pose threats to the overall health of the reef. Photo: James Demetrie

Cerulean Fish

The reef is home to over 1,500 different species of fish. Photo: Kyle Taylor

Anthias Shoal

In fact, about 10 percent of the world’s total fish species live just within the reef. Photo: Richard Ling

Swim Through Coral

The ancient layers of coral growing upon coral could date back almost 20 million years. Photo: Beyond Coal and Gas

School Fish Swim

The Great Barrier Reef is actually visible from space. Photo: Kyle Taylor

Fairy Basslets

Fairy Basslets feed on plankton that falls near the reefs. Photo: Beyond Coal and Gas

Hamilton Reef

Millions of people rely on the reefs to sustain the fish populations that make up a large part of their diet. Photo: Vanessa Smetkowski

Sea Anemones

In 2014, President Obama warned the Australian government that the reef was in danger. Photo: CameliaTWU

Fishy Stripes

Obama said he wanted the Great Barrier Reef to be there for his future grandchildren — but the situation has since escalated. Photo: Eulinky

Gold Coral

According to Professor Justin Marshall of the University of Queensland, “This is Australia’s biggest ever environmental disaster.” Photo: Kyle Taylor

Deep Blue

The fate of the reef has yet to be determined. Photo: Eulinky

Spiky Coral

However, the sight of pure white coral will become the new norm if ocean conditions continue to put stress on its inhabitants. Photo: Matt Kieffer

Like this gallery? Share it!

Continue Reading

Photo Of The Day: Fidel Castro Plays Ping Pong While Shirtless

Fidel Castro Playing Ping Pong

In 1963, Fidel Castro plays a game of ping pong with one of the American students who traveled to Cuba without the permission of the State Department. This photo was taken by one of the Americans, John Salter of Greensboro, North Carolina, a former University of North Carolina student. Image Source: John Salter/Getty

Before Fidel Castro abandoned party leadership — five years ago today — the Cuban communist leader was known for, among other less innocuous things, playing a mean game of ping pong and in general being a stellar athlete.

Continue Reading

Close Pop-in
Like All That Is Interesting

Get The Most Fascinating Content On The Web In Your Facebook & Twitter Feeds