Uncover the hidden marvels beneath the Philippines’ surface – the top caves in the country.
Stunning beaches are not the only natural wonders the Philippines is blessed with. The country is home to a diverse range of natural wonders such as rich flora and fauna, interesting bodies of water, and unique landforms including caves. With stunning rock formations, underground rivers, and valuable ecosystems, the country’s caves offer a captivating experience for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.
Here are the top 10 caves in the Philippines you may want to know about and perhaps explore someday.
1 | Puerto Princesa Underground River
Puerto Princesa Underground River
The most popular cave in the Philippines, Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) is known for its stunning limestone karst mountain landscape and several chambers, one is considered among the largest cave rooms in the world. The river has a length of 8.2 kilometers, 4.3 of which is navigable by a paddle boat only. Officially called the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, it boasts of its stalactites and stalagmites formations and rich flora and fauna. The river flows directly into the sea, creating a unique ecosystem where freshwater meets saltwater.
PPUR is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and voted as a New7Wonders of Nature.
READ MORE: Puerto Princesa Underground River
2 | Langun-Gobingob Caves
Langun-Gobingob Caves, officially called Langun-Calbiga Cave System, is the largest cave system in the Philippines and is the second largest in Asia covering an area of almost 3,000 hectares. The cave system has 12 interconnected caves and many of them are still unexplored. Within the caves are magnificent stalagmites and stalactites, natural springs, giant chandeliers, deep pools, unique rock formations, and subterranean water courses. Animals such as bats, cave crickets, crabs, and hypogean blind fish also inhabit the caves.
READ MORE: Langun-Gobingob Caves
3 | Tabon Caves
The Tabon Caves system plays a significant role in the history and culture of the Philippines as it holds evidence of the earliest human presence in the Philippines. Several jar burials, ancient tools, and human remains, particularly the Tabon Man believed to be between 22,000 to 24,000 years old.
Declared as a National Cultural Treasure, the Tabon Caves system has 215 known caves but only 29 have been fully explored and only seven are open to the public.
4 | Hinagdanan Cave
Hinagdanan Cave is a naturally-lighted cavern with a natural pool with crystal clear water where you can take a refreshing dip in its underground lake. Since the cave is lighted, birds are the only inhabitants of the cave as it is unsuitable for bats.
Hinagdanan Cave holds cultural and historical significance for the local community. It has been a part of local folklore and traditions for generations and was even used as a hiding place by the locals from the Japanese Imperial during the Second World War.
5 | Sumaguing Cave
Sumaguing Cave looks like an easy challenge because of the concrete staircase from the roadside leading to the bottom of the cliff but it actually becomes more challenging as you go along. After all, it is the deepest cave in the Philippines with a depth of 163 meters (206 feet) from its mouth. The real allure of Sumaguing Cave lies in its breathtaking rock formations in various shapes and sizes with some resembling mythical creatures, animals, and everyday objects.
Not too far away from Sumaguing Cave is Lumiang Cave, both are often explored together to practice cave connection to show respect to the culture of the local Igorot community. Lumiang Cave stands out for its hanging coffins. These coffins are placed on ledges and within the cave, showcasing the unique burial practices of the locals.
6 | Callao Cave
Known for its seven chambers and dramatic rock formations, Callao Cave is nestled within the Peñablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape, a protected area and national park located in the foothills of Northern Sierra Madre.
One of the most striking features of Callao Cave is the cave’s first chamber which is also the largest. It is currently used as a chapel, the Callao Cave Chapel, the only chapel in the country which is located inside a cave.
Archaeological excavations have revealed evidence of early human habitation within the cave, including tools, pottery, and skeletal remains, dating back thousands of years. In fact, Callao Cave has been declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines due to its archaeological significance.
7 | Odloman Cave
The town of Mabinay is often referred to as cave-town due to the over 400 caves the town is blessed with. Out of 400, only around 100 are known and seven can be visited and explored – one of which is the Odloman Cave. It is the second longest cave in the Philippines with a length of 8,870 meters (29,101 feet). Odloman Cave is recommended for experienced mountaineers and spelunkers only due to its challenging paths. Getting to the cave alone requires swimming across an underground river or entering through a hole in the roof.
8 | Aglipay Caves
Covering an area of 101 hectares, Aglipay Caves consist of around 37 interconnecting chambers, only eight of which have been explored and open to the public. Exploring the first cave simply requires walking around the cathedral-like chamber but the other caves are a different story. Some passages require crouching and crawling, some squeezing through narrow openings, and some by immersing through a muddy puddle.
But despite the challenge, you will be rewarded with stunning stalactites and stalagmites formations, including the one resembling rice terraces but on a smaller scale.
9 | Sohoton Caves
Sohoton Cave is part of a larger karst landscape characterized by limestone formations. The cave itself features captivating stalactites, stalagmites, and other intricate rock formations that have formed over millions of years through the process of mineral deposition. One of the main attractions of Sohoton Cave is the underground river that flows through parts of the cave system. Visitors can explore the river’s mystical passages by boat, witnessing the magical interplay of light and water as they navigate through the cave’s chambers.
Sohoton Cave complex includes Hagukan Cave (also known as the Snoring Cave) and Panhulugan Cave. Hagukan Cave is named after the sound of waves crashing against its walls. Panhulugan Cave features a small underground waterfall that visitors can enjoy.
READ MORE: Sohoton Caves and Natural Bridge Park
10 | Biak na Bato
Located in the 2,117-hectare Biak na Bato National Park, the cave network consists of about 116 caverns, only 12 of which are open to the public. It is known for its significance in Philippine history as a site where the revolutionary government led by Emilio Aguinaldo was established during the late 19th century. Biak-na-Bato literally translates to “split rock,” which aptly describes the landscape of the area.
Biak na Bato features interconnected caves and tunnels of varying sizes and shapes, interesting rock formations, and connecting rivers.
In addition to the caves mentioned on top, other caves you may want to visit in the Philippines include Monfort Bat Sanctuary (Samal), Jackpot Cave (Cagayan), Odessa Tumbali Cave (Peñablanca, Cagayan), Sulpan Cave (San Jorge, Samar), Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves (Kabayan, Benguet), and Lagbasan Cave (Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat).
READ MORE: Spelunking in the Philippines