Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lamudi
The Philippines boasts plenty of natural attractions. Mountains, beaches, falls, lakes—you name it, the Philippines has it. But did you know that there is another natural wonder in the Philippines that requires a bit of effort for you to enjoy its magical charm? Like mountain climbing or diving, spelunking or exploring caves in the Philippines often requires effort, proper equipment, and training.
This outdoor activity is perfect for physical exercise and exploration. As you go deeper underground, you’ll find underground chambers, starless rivers, and fragile crystal formations of stalactites and stalagmites, to name a few.
If you’re looking for a place to spend the Holy Week in the Philippines, consider visiting the best caves in the country. There are over 3,000 caves recorded, and a significant number of caves are still waiting to be discovered, assessed, surveyed, and classified. To help you decide where to go during this long holiday, here are nine caves in the Philippines worth exploring:
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Palawan)
Also known as the Puerto Princesa Underground River, this UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature is the longest cave in the Philippines. It measures 8.2 kilometers in length and is also considered the third deepest cave in the country. This underground river is famous for its fantastic limestone karst mountain landscape and cave system. Inside, you will find over 800 plant species and numerous bird species, mostly native to the area.
The underground river runs through caves beneath the St. Paul Mountain Range. On the north, you will find St. Paul Bay, and on the east, the Babuyan River.
Mystical Cave (Antipolo, Rizal)
If you are in Antipolo to observe the Holy Week and go to Visita Iglesia, include visiting Mystical Cave in your itinerary. The cave got its name because of the holy images found inside. Locals believe that the water and stone inside the cave can heal the sick and provide protection from harm.
Mystical Cave is also famous for being one of the shooting locations for different Filipino movies and TV shows such as Enkantadia, Pedro Penduko, and Dyesebel.
Calinawan Cave (Tanay, Rizal)
Another cave near Metro Manila you can visit during the Holy Week is Calinawan Cave in Barangay Tandang Kutyo in Tanay. This cave has multiple levels, chambers, and openings. According to history, the cave was a hideout for Filipino revolutionaries during the Spanish-American War and a shelter during World War II.
The cave is also believed to be where Japanese and American troops settled their disputes. Its name, Calinawan, came from the Filipino word linaw, meaning to settle or clear a matter in this context. Exploring the cave is easy as the pathways are big enough. The cave has various rock formations, stalactites, stalagmites, free-flowing spring water, and shining crystals.
Callao Cave (Cagayan)
Not to miss in the list of popular caves in the Philippines is Callao Cave in Peñablanca, Cagayan, a mere 30-minute ride from Tuguegarao. This cave has several chambers and rock formations, namely the Column, Chapel, Skeleton, Elephant’s Head, Praying Angel, and more. The Chapel chamber is Callao Cave’s main attraction and is used as a cathedral by locals, and you can pray here during your visit as part of your Visita Iglesia.
Callao Cave is easy to navigate, and you can even navigate through the cave without a tour guide. After exploring the cave, ride a boat in the Pinacanauan River and see the area’s scenic rock cliffs, bat cave, and riverbanks. The riverbank’s clear waters are perfect for swimming and taking a relaxing dip.
Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves (Benguet)
Are you spending Lent in Benguet or planning a Baguio itinerary? Consider visiting Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves if you are in for a chilling spelunking experience. The cave houses the Kabayan Mummies or Fire Mummies, which are smoked remains of the local tribes in Benguet, such as the Ibaloi and Kankanaey tribes. These mummies are preserved through lengthy dehydration and smoking.
Kabayan Mummy Burial Caves is unique and has cultural importance. Because of this, the National Museum of the Philippines lists it as a National Cultural Treasure. It is also under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sumaguing-Latipan-Lomyang Crystal Cave (Sagada, Mountain Province)
If you want to discover the best caves in the Philippines, don’t miss the Sumaguing-Latipan-Lomyang Crystal Cave in Sagada. The cave holds the record of being the deepest cave and the fifth-longest cave in the country. Filipino soldiers and guerillas used the cave as a fortress during the Second World War. It used to be a burial ground for the locals of the Cordillera Region.
Although the cave is beginner-friendly, it is best to have a source of light before you explore the caves. Once you light your way inside the cave, you will find plenty of rock formations and other wonders.
Hinagdanan Cave (Bohol)
A farmer accidentally discovered this cave while clearing his land and discovered two holes. He dropped a stone and heard a splash. He built a flight of stairs from the holes to explore the cave’s interior and discovered this hidden beauty. This karst cave features limestone formations with numerous parallel stalactites and stalagmite formations.
The highlight of the cave is the freshwater lagoon, perfect for relaxed swimming. So if you want to relax and clear your mind this Holy Week, visit Hinagdanan Cave in Bohol. Natural sunlight illuminates the cave through the ceiling openings, which also serve as the nesting spot of local swallows. The cave also used to be a hideout from the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.
Tabon Caves (Palawan)
Also called the “Cradle of Civilization” of the Philippines, the Tabon Caves in Palawan are significant because of their beauty and history. It is one of the few places in Southeast Asia where fossils of Homo Sapiens have been unearthed. The cave complex and Lipuun Point take pride in being a site museum reservation under Presidential Proclamation 996 issued in 1972.
Between 1962 and 1966, the Tabon Man, one of the earliest known human skeleton remains to date back to 14,000 BCE in the Philippines, was discovered. Visitors can also find archaeological items such as burial jars, jade ornaments, and earthenware here. Going into this cave is like stepping back in time to one of the earliest homes of people.
Calbiga Caves or Langun-Gobingob Caves (Samar)
The Calbiga Caves is a network of 12 caves extending to over 2,968 hectares. This makes it the largest cave system in the Philippines and second in Asia. The cave also has the third largest karst formation in the world, famous for its speleothems and diversity of cave life. Calbiga Caves also goes by the name Langun-Gobingob Caves because its main chamber is named Langun, followed by Upper Gobingob.
This cave in the Philippines is worth exploring because it is home to numerous bat species, cave crickets, cave spiders, centipedes, red and white crabs, and snakes. Aside from its rich fauna, the cave boasts enormous coliseum-like chambers on top of underground rivers, lakes, and natural springs.
There you have it, nine out of the many caves in the Philippines worth visiting! Before spelunking in these caves, it’s best to research beforehand if the cave you are visiting is beginner-friendly or not. This will help determine if you need additional equipment to explore the cave safely. It’s also best to explore the cave with a tour guide as they can share other significant information about the caves.
For more tips and advice, check out our previous journals here.