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World's Coolest Caves

Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Park: California

One look at the red, orange, and green rocks, lichen, and algae, and it’s easy to see how this sea cave—one of the largest and deepest in the world—got its name. The most frequent visitors are brown pelicans, shearwaters, oystercatchers, Xantus’s murrelets, harbor seals, and sea lions, whose barks resound off the cavernous walls.

Why It’s Cool: Kayak tours with Paddle Sports of Santa Barbara paddle a quarter-mile into the emerald-green waters of the ever-narrowing cave—watch out for the waterfall that flows over the entrance in the spring.

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