Waterfalls in caves prove that constant pounding is not like making a hole in water. Often, they have flowed over the same rock for so many hundreds of years that it finally did cave in and let the water have its way. Or, the rock was porous to begin with and rivers and streams quickly made their way in. Though popular in the virtual and gaming world, waterfalls inside caves are not very common in the real world – if you’re not counting trickles and caves behind waterfalls. We’ve found five around the world that made the cut.
1. Smoo Cave in Durness, Scotland
Smoo Cave is unique because it has three distinct sections that developed independently of each other: The entrance chamber was formed through erosion by the sea; a freshwater passage and a second chamber by an inland underground stream; and a waterfall chamber.
Here, the waters of Allt Smoo have penetrated the permeable dolostones and now drop in as a 20 m high waterfall.
Smoo cave is actually two caves joined over time, nicely demonstrating the combination of erosion from the sea and the inland underground stream that formed the cave.
The impressive Smoo Cave entrance is more than 15 m high.
The word smoo is said to be derived from the Norse “smjugg,” meaning hole, creek or cleft. The waterfall drop is 25 m and the whole waterfall chamber only about 21 m x 9 m.
2. Natural Bridge, Springbrook Park, Queensland, Australia
The most spectacular sight at Cave Creek in Queensland’s Springbrook National Park in Australia is the Natural Bridge, a rock arch formed over the creek by a waterfall that dug a pothole into the rock until waterfall and creek joined over the years.
Natural Bridge in Queensland, Australia is home to a glow worm colony today, popular with visitors who tour the waterfall cave.
Swimming is not allowed at Natural Bridge any more because the cave is the glow worms’ habitat.
3. Talus Cave near Index, Washington
Here’s a picturesque example of a talus cave, an opening formed between boulders that are piled up on mountain slopes. The broken-off rocks have formed a natural cave near the city of Index, Washington, and made way for a waterfall that gets illuminated through a skylight.
4. Marvel Cave near Branson, Missouri
Cathedral Room is one of the largest entrance caves in North America.
Marvel Cave is the name of a cave system with many chambers and passages near Branson, MO. It has been known since the early 1500s when the Osage Indians populated the area. Abandoned after no marble was confirmed in the caves, another commercial use was found: public tours of the cave. They had already started in 1894 and have been complemented by the Silver Dollar City theme park since 1960.
One of the most spectacular sections of the Marvel cave system near Branson, MO is the Waterfall Room for which the Lost River provides the water source. Already the lowest cave section at only 154 m (505 ft), it floods easily during rains.
5. Na Pali Caves, Kauai, Hawaii
The rugged yet beautiful Na Pali coastline.
Na Pali, meaning “the cliffs”, is a 15-mile stretch of rugged coastline on the northwestern shore of Kauai.
The horseshoe cave of Wai’ahuakua and people hiking above the waterfall.
Today, kayak or boat tours are popular among tourists to explore the natural beauty of this stretch of Kauai’s coastline.
Despite the inhospitable and dramatic cliffs, it is believed that this area was the first to be settled by the ancient Hawaiians because it provided basic necessities like freshwater from the many inland streams, ample fishing, fertile grounds and native vegetation.