The beauty of the Reed Flute Cave is enhanced by colourful lights. Photo by roychung1993 / CC BY 2.0

Hidden enclaves, wide caverns or sprawling interconnected webs, there’s something mysterious about caves that spark intrigue and wonderment. Maybe it’s the impressive yet slightly intimidating stalagmites, the yawning spaces some of them conceal or the possibility of uncovering hidden secrets, but one thing we know is that we keep venturing into caves over and over again.

With the myriad of caves available all over the world, it’s not uncommon to face difficulty in deciding which ones to visit. Quotient handpicks some cave activities to suit a variety of travellers, from the casual to the intrepid. There’s a piece of the exploration pie for everyone!

Looking for something more active? Jump straight to:
Caves for travellers looking for a dose of fun
Caves for adventurous travellers


Casual

Perfect for the laidback tourist charged with curiousity, these cave activities broaden the horizons of those looking to embrace a spot of off-the-road adventure sans the need to partake in anything ‘crazy’.

Bathe in psychedelic colours at Reed Flute Cave in Guilin, China
More than just a collection of stalactites and stalagmites, the Reed Flute Cave is best known for being illuminated by a multitude of coloured lights. Bathed in cool blue, warm red and orange hues amongst a myriad of other shades, the rock formations appear all the more stunning when reflected in pools of shallow water. Enjoy the quirky stories your guide has to share as you stroll leisurely along the cave’s 240-metre-long path and return home with interesting tales to tell.

An idyllic landscape dotted with towering limestone mountains surrounding two lakes, Guilin is reminiscent of the breathtaking scenery captured in traditional Chinese watercolour paintings. Visit the sprawling rice terraces of Longji Terraced Fields or stay till the night to catch a unique musical, Impression Liu Sanjie, performed right on the Li River.

The glowworms in Waitomo form an incredible light spectacle. Photo by Paul Hunt / CC BY 2.0

Appreciate the beauty of the Glowworm Cave in Waitomo, New Zealand
As you glide on a boat along the gently undulating waters, thousands of luminescent specks slowly come to sight in the serene darkness. Native to New Zealand, the glowworms create a magical view reminiscent of a canopy of countless stars that will stun you into hushed wonder. Along the way, learn more about the life cycle of the unique creatures from your guide and appreciate the natural limestone formations in the cave.

Afterwards, embark on a leisurely stroll to the west of Waitomo to visit wonders such as the majestic Marokopa Falls and the limestone Mangapohue Natural Bridge, which arches over the gushing river beneath. Also close to Waitomo is Piopio town. While there, explore an enchanting valley farm at the Mangaotaki Rocks that was a filming location for a Hobbit movie.

The Ellora Caves are an architectural wonder. Photo by Olivier / CC BY 2.0

Step back in history at the Ellora Caves in Maharashtra, India
An intricate complex of 34 Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples, the Ellora Caves were carved out of the Charanandri hills between the 6th and 10th century. Elaborately decorated with stone figurines and intricate motifs, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has a location revered by these religions as the centre of the universe. One of the most significant spots in the caves is the Kailasa Temple, an impressive rock structure that covers an area twice that of the Parthenon in Athens.

Plenty of other attractions in the region are worth a visit; the Bibi Ka Maqbara, a beacon of pristine white marble, is one of them. Standing tall amidst the landscape, the elegant tomb was constructed by the son of the principal designer of the Taj Mahal and is known for its uncanny resemblance to the former. No less impressive, the Hazūr Sāhib is an imposing historical shrine that is one of the five Takhts or thrones of the Sikhs.

Active
Craving a little more excitement and activity? Indulge in these choice cave adventures and get your body moving. Rest assured: limited physical exertion is required.

Indulge your inner child at the trampoline cave. Image credit: Bounce Below

Enjoy trampolining at Bounce Below in Wales, UK
Housed in a massive former slate mine, Bounce Below is a maze of trampolines and slides suspended above sheer drops. Jump, slide and climb to your heart’s content as a technicolour light show ramps up the atmosphere around you. Recently rebuilt, the world’s only underground trampoline cave has since expanded to offer six new levels of exploration and is open to anyone above seven years of age.

Newly crowned as one of the Top 10 Regions to visit in 2017 by Lonely Planet, Wales is chock-full of things to see and do. Whiz along the longest zipwire in Europe and take in amazing views of the mountain range while soaring 152 metres up high or soak in royal vibes at one of the many imposing castles in the region. With a whopping number of 600 castles in the country, you’re almost bound to encounter one or two even without really trying.

Cenote Ik Kil is one of the most beautiful swimming holes in the world. Photo by Vicente Villamón / CC BY 2.0

Swim at Cenote Ik Kil in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico
Stretch your muscles languidly in clear teal-coloured water as sunlight flitters through the ceiling of the limestone cave and turns the mossy vines hanging above a startling golden green. At 40 metres deep, the underground pool is perfect for cannonballing into, diving or even snorkelling. The cenote, purposed as a site for Mayan rituals in the past, is regarded as a sacred site.

The cool water offers you respite from the humid Mexican weather before you make your way towards the nearby Chichen Itza ruins. Mere minutes away, the sacred UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most historically significant records of the Mayan-Toltec civilisation in the Yucatán peninsula. In particular, the El Castillo pyramid or Temple of Kukulkan is an impressive feat of Mayan science due to its ability to predict astronomical changes.

Cave tubing is a unique activity you can attempt in Belize. Photo by satanoid / CC BY 2.0

Go tubing at Caves Branch in Belize
Hop aboard your personal float as you sail down a river into an intricate web of underground caves. Travel beneath stalagmites to waterfalls and even a crystal cathedral as your legs dangle over a rubber tube just above water. Throughout the 11-kilometre journey, your guide will share nuggets of information from Mayan history, deepening your understanding of their glorious past.

A haven for wildlife with its myriad of sanctuaries, Belize lets travellers wander in search of the Baird’s tapir, the country’s national bird, or even jaguars at Cockscomb Basin, the world’s only jaguar reserve. With the second-largest reef in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef is a spectacular place to dive at. Immerse yourself in the magical underwater world as schools of fish swarm around you. The reef is home to more than 100 types of coral and 500 species of tropical fish.

Adventurous
Handpicked for those comfortable with a higher level of activity, these more extreme activities guarantee a smashing good time as long as you’re up for the adventure.

The Vatnajokull glacier glimmers with an ethereal beauty. Photo by David Phan / CC BY 2.0

Ice cave at Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland
Few journeys are as stark and haunting as venturing into an ice cave. Enter a mesmerising new world at the Vatnajokull glacier with its blue-tinted glassy roofs and snow-lined paths. Equipped with crampons and helmets for protection, you will be led by your experienced guide to hike and climb your way through the largest glacier in Europe.

The Jókulsárlón glacier lagoon lies just a short distance away. Peppered with floating icebergs of varying sizes, the site has an incomparable beauty that has made it a setting for several Hollywood movies, including Batman Begins. During winter, the remote location is an ideal spot from which to view the mystifying Northern Lights as it dances across the clear skies with wanton abandon.

Paddle alongside green sea turtles at the Kuredu Caves. Photo by Xavier LECOMTE / CC BY 2.0

Dive at Kuredu Caves in the Maldives
Home to a green sea turtle community, the Kuredu Caves allow you to observe the creatures in their natural habitat. A series of overhangs covered with multi-coloured coral scattered throughout the caves effortlessly enhances the beauty of the site. You may even have a chance to encounter reef sharks, Napoleon wrasse and eagle rays. For an entirely new experience, opt for a night dive. Swathed in darkness, nocturnal marine life emerges and the underwater world exudes a different sort of beauty.

With some of the clearest waters in the world, the Maldives is often praised for its unbelievably entrancing underwater adventures. Soak in the best beaches and snorkelling the country has to offer by hopping from reef to reef in a chartered boat. Avid explorers can also dive amongst two shipwrecks at The Shipyard and come up close to manta rays in the right season.

The Giants Cave is a well-known spot to indulge in some exploration. Photo by CCFoodTravel.com / CC BY 2.0

Abseil at Giants Cave in Margaret River, Western Australia
Abseil approximately 60 metres to arrive at the entrance of the Giants Cave, a huge cavern ripe for exploration. The 600-metre-long cave is a self-guided adventure that requires travellers to scramble over rocks, scale ladders and shimmy through tight spots armed with just a helmet and torchlight. Complete the route and you’ll surely emerge with a sense of unprecedented accomplishment.

After sweating it out, emerge from the cave to replenish your energy with the satisfying gourmet offerings of the Margaret River region. With over 100 wineries, oenophiles are bound to stumble upon bottles that delight their taste buds while foodies will find contentment in the range of high-quality produce available, which include premium beef and oysters. As one of the best big-wave locations in the world, surfers will also delight in riding high on the massive peaks at Surfers Point.