10 Largest Caves In The World, Ranked By Size (2023)

Serving as a gateway into the past and an example of the way our planet has evolved, caves have always sparked human interest. While some are inaccessible to tourists, many of the world’s most famous caves contain distinct rock formations, underground bodies of water and other fascinating highlights, making them major attractions for locals and visitors alike.

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It’s humbling to think that there are some caves large enough to house skyscrapers and entire New York City blocks within them. Check out our ranking of the largest caves in the world below, and keep reading to find out where you can find them.

10 Clearwater Cave System, Malaysia

Situated in Miri, Sarawak, Malaysia, the limestone Clearwater Cave System consists of a series of interconnected caves, rather than just a single one. Clearwater - on its own - has been mapped to just above 30 miles; however, Clearwater Cave System is more than just its longest member. Discovered in the late 1970s, the cave system exists within Gunung Mulu National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the Clearwater Cave System, you’ll find an underground river, as well as a plethora of unique rock formations. Containing an exceptionally large passage, the Clearwater Cave System is the longest of its kind in Southeast Asia and serves as a major tourist attraction. The amazing thing about caves is that nobody knows their true size. Sure, Clearwater may rank last, but it is still being explored until this very day.

9 Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico

Lechuguilla Cave is located within Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. A limestone and gypsum cave spanning across more than 138 miles, Lechguilla is full of interesting mineral formations that have attracted the interest of geologists around the world and is thought to be the deepest cave in the United States.

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While discovered in the 1950s, approximately three decades would pass before Colorado would permit the cave to be explored further. Since the decade of hair metal, explorers have investigated Lechuguilla Cave while marveling at its beauty.

8 Wind Cave, South Dakota

Wind Cave National Park is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States. Another cave that’s classified as a “maze cave” due to its convoluted structure and many underground passages, Wind Cave's density is staggering, even compared to other caves on this list.

Those visiting the cave should also take some time to explore the national park in which it resides. Wind Cave National Park is brimming with picturesque views and serves as a protective habitat for the local wildlife.

7 Shuanghedong Cave Network, China

The Shuanghedong Cave Network is the longest cave in China, situated in Guizhou. Running for more than 150 miles, the network was discovered in 1987 and, according to Largest.org, is a fine example of underground ecosystems. There are at least three rivers in the lower levels of the cave, as well as a number of waterfalls. Within these bodies of water live creatures such as fish and salamanders.

Since its discovery in the late 1980s, various expeditions have been carried out in an attempt to map the passages and discover the cave's secrets.

(Video) 🚧 UNDERGROUND Comparison 🚧 (3D)

6 Optymistychna Cave, Ukraine

Earning the crown for the longest gypsum cave, Optymistychna Cave in Ukraine extends for over 161 miles and is divided into 10 different areas. These are based on the various passage structures and gypsum varieties found within.

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Optymistychna Cave, located in Korolivka, Ukraine, is widely known as a maze cave, due to the fact that it is extremely elaborate and a little complicated to navigate. But don’t let that put you off! Visitors should be prepared for a lot of mud, especially in the depths of the cave.

5 Sistema Ox Bel Ha, Mexico

Mexico’s Sistema Ox Bel Ha is located within a 30-mile radius of the country’s other largest cave system, Sistema Dos Ojos. Discovered in 1996 and spanning across 167 miles, Ox Bel Ha is thought to have begun forming approximately 18,000 years ago. The name Ox Bel Ha comes from the Yucatec Maya language and translates to “Three Paths of Water” in English.

Since its formation, Ox Bel Ha has become flooded due to the effects of global warming. Today, the system is valued as one of the prominent sources of freshwater in the region.

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4 Jewel Cave, South Dakota

As far as aesthetically pleasing caves go, South Dakota’s Jewel Cave is not to be missed. Nestled in the Black Hills National Forest, this gem (pun intended) boasts beautiful scenery below the ground, as well as above. The name Jewel Cave comes from the colorful crystals that can be found adorning the inner corners of the cave.

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There are a number of tours you can take to truly experience Jewel Cave in all its splendor, whether you want to trek to the cave system underground or enjoy the trails on the land above ground.

3 Sistema Dos Ojos, Mexico

Located in Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Sistema Dos Ojos was discovered in 1987 and has hooked the interest of explorers ever since. Running for over 200 miles, this limestone cave is connected to the underwater cave Sistema Sac Atun. According to Largest.org, Sistema Dos Ojos is considered a prime archeological site. Archaeologists have discovered information within this cave system that has led to many discoveries about a number of cultures.

After the channel connecting Sistema Dos Ojos with Sistema Sac Atun was discovered, this cave system became known as the largest underwater cave in existence.

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2 Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

It’s unknown how far Mammoth Cave actually extends, but to date, it has been recorded that the underground system stretched at least 365 miles. New caves in the network are constantly being discovered, so there’s no telling just how expansive the system really is.

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Humans have been exploring Mammoth Cave for over 4,000 years and, today, it’s still a major tourist attraction in Kentucky. A particularly stunning cave, it hosts a variety of stalactite formations. These were created through water that leaked through the limestone ceiling of the cave over the millennia.

1 Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

With caverns large enough to house a 40-story skyscraper, the recently discovered Son Doong Cave in Vietnam forces visitors to descend 260 feet just to enter its perimeters. Son Doong was discovered in 1991 by a man named Ho Khanh, who was living in the nearby jungle.

The first expedition to the cave was led by the British Cave Research Association in 2009. They found that Son Doong is approximately three million years old. For those wanting to visit, Oxalis Adventures is the only company to run tours into the caves.

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What is the largest caves in the world? ›

Son Doong is located in Central Vietnam, in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park. It is considered the largest cave in the world, based on volume. It was discovered by accident in 1990 and was only explored by the British Cave Research Association in 2009.

What is the second biggest cave in the world? ›

Sistema Sac Actun-Dos Ojos

The second longest cave in the world is the Sistema Sac Actun and Dos Ojos in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Where is the longest cave in the world? ›

Mammoth Cave National Park is an American national park in west-central Kentucky, encompassing portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world.

What's bigger than a cave? ›

A cavern is a type of caves. It typically tends to be larger and deeper in extent than a cave. A cavern may also have a series of chambers or smaller caves joined together by a passageway. In geology, a cavern can refer to “a special type of cave, naturally formed in soluble rock with the ability to grow speleothems”.

What is the biggest cave in the USA? ›

Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the world's longest known cave system. Mammoth Cave is a limestone labyrinth with more than 400 miles of it explored, and the park estimates a potential for another 600 miles in its system.

How big is the biggest cave? ›

Son Doong currently measures a total of 38.5 million cubic meters (about 1.35 billion cubic feet). When it's officially connected with Thung Cave, it will add an additional 1.6 million cubic meters in volume.

Which country has the most caves? ›

Only few countries are so blessed with the number of caves as Slovakia is. The country has more than 6 200 caves, people are still discovering new ones. Till now, 400 caves are explored.

What is the name of the deepest cave in the world? ›

Veryovkina Cave

Is Mammoth Cave one of the 7 Wonders of the world? ›

One of the seven wonders of the new world, the cave has been attracting visitors for more than 125years. Mammoth Cave played an interesting part in the early American his- tory.

What is the largest cave in Europe? ›

the largest cave in Europe - Grotte de Lombrives.

What state has the most caves? ›

According to the Tennessee Cave Survey, Tennessee has more than 10,000 caves, which is more than any other state in the country. That's approximately 20 percent of all known caves in the country.

How many caves are there in world? ›

There are thousands of caves in the world. In the United States alone, experts have discovered more than 17,000 caves, and thousands more caves remain hidden and unidentified. This is because caves are formed beneath the surface of the earth, and we can't know until we find them.

Does Kentucky have the most caves in the world? ›

Hidden beneath the surface of Kentucky bourbon country lies the largest cave system on Earth.

What is the tightest cave in the world? ›

The deeper you go into the cave, the tighter it becomes. I crawled for 10 hours through the most claustrophobic cave in the world, Ogof Y Daren Cilau, which is home to one of the tightest squeezes known, “The Vice”. This remarkable spelunking adventure took place over the course of 10 hours.

What is the longest underwater cave? ›

The longest underwater cave on planet Earth is under the municipality of Tulum in Quintana Roo at the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico). It extends for more than 368 km at an average depth of 21 meters and a maximum depth of 120 m.

What was found in the deepest cave on Earth? ›

They discovered giant crystals with life inside. In fact, what they found was around 50,000 years old. The cave in question was in Naica, Mexico. The bacteria and other microbes in the cave managed to survive by digesting minerals such as iron and magnesium that existed within the crystal formation.

What is a cave with water called? ›

Anchialine caves are caves, usually coastal, containing a mixture of freshwater and saline water (usually sea water). They occur in many parts of the world, and often contain highly specialized and endemic fauna.

How deep can caves go? ›

Q “How deep could a cave theoretically go before gravitational pressure or the molten core would make it collapse?” Not very far. The deepest known natural cave (the Veryovkina cave) is a relatively modest 2,212 metres below the surface.

Why does Georgia have so many caves? ›

Most caves form through the dissolution of limestone by acidic groundwater. Limestones of the Paleozoic age are a common bedrock in the Appalachian Plateau and Valley and Ridge provinces of northwest Georgia, and those limestones are riddled with caves and other features formed by solution processes.

Which country has most caves? ›

Only few countries are so blessed with the number of caves as Slovakia is. The country has more than 6 200 caves, people are still discovering new ones. Till now, 400 caves are explored.

Where is the biggest cave in the US? ›

Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is the world's longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored, and one of the oldest tour attractions in North America. Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system, a part of the Green River Valley, and the rolling hills of south central Kentucky.

What is the deepest cave in the US? ›

At 150.4 miles (242.0 km), Lechuguilla Cave is the eighth-longest explored cave in the world and the second deepest (1,604 feet or 489 meters) in the continental United States. It is most famous for its unusual geology, rare formations, and pristine condition.
Lechuguilla Cave
Governing bodyNational Park Service
6 more rows

What is the largest cave in Europe? ›

the largest cave in Europe - Grotte de Lombrives.

What state has the 2nd most caves? ›

It does not give reliable numbers, but at least it is possible to see where most of the caves are located.
Number of Known Caves by State.
South Carolina173
South Dakota138
46 more rows

Which country has the world's deepest cave? ›

That is the currently established depth of Chevé as of April 2021. Unfortunately, that means the deepest cave in the world title still belongs to Veryovkina—in the Arabika Massif in Abkhazia—a region of Georgia. Veryovkina has an established depth of 7,257 feet.

What state has the most caves? ›

According to the Tennessee Cave Survey, Tennessee has more than 10,000 caves, which is more than any other state in the country. That's approximately 20 percent of all known caves in the country.

Are there any unexplored caves in the world? ›

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

This cave is known for the whistling sound of wind and the roar of a rushing stream that comes through its entrance. This phenomenon perhaps prevented the local people from entering the cave and maybe that is why it remained unexplored for nearly 20 years after its discovery.

What's at the bottom of the deepest cave on Earth? ›

Inside The Cave's Depths

Cave explorers must be lowered down to its depths and rather than having dry tails like many shallow caves, Krubera has a sump at the bottom, which is basically a water-filled basin.

Which is the largest cave in France? ›

Jean Bernard, the world's deepest known cave, located in the Alps near the town of Samoëns, Haute-Savoie département, Rhône-Alpes région, southeastern France. The highest of the limestone cave's eight entrances is located above Samoëns at an elevation of 7,428 feet (2,264 m).

Which country has the most caves in Europe? ›

Slovenia is a world-famous caving destination, with around 8,000 jamas, or caves, located in a country smaller than Vermont.

Are there caves in France? ›

There are some spectacular limestone caves in the Lot Department of the Midi-Pyrénées region. And a number of these are open to the public as geological attractions. At Gouffre de Padriac, for example, visitors take a small boat ride on an underground lake.


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