There is no shortage of natural splendor on the island of Puerto Rico. Among the endless beautiful sites to experience, there are also enchanting and picturesque caves to explore! If you can find it possible to pull yourself away from the white sandy beaches for a day, you will not be disappointed by these magnificent rock formations and their diverse ecosystems.
What is the hardest part about day tripping to the caves? Trying to find them! In this article, we will give you the low down on how to make the most of your cave explorations. Remember that exploring these caves can be dangerous. Make sure to take sensible caution when exploring, and it is highly recommended to hire expert guides and tours when doing so.
Cueva Ventana or “Cave Window” is a large cave situated atop a limestone cliff in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, overlooking the Río Grande de Arecibo Valley. Cueva Ventana has become an enormous tourist attraction, and there is a $10 admittance fee, that provides cave goers with hardhats and flashlights. The number of visitors is highest on the weekends between the early morning hours to about one hour before nightfall, and nightly tours are also offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays!
The hike from the parking lot to the back entrance of the cave is well-maintained and short. There’s a short walk through the dark, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for bats, giant spiders, roaches, and lizards! Once you spot the light at the end of a tunnel, you’ll indulge in a picturesque view of the valley below. Cueva Ventana means “Window Cave,” and that is what it feels like, you will be in awe of the opening that rises 700 feet above the lush green valley below.
How to get there: Take Route 10 at KM 75 in Arecibo. You will come upon a gas station on the left-hand side of the road – park in the small lot next to it and look for signs for the cave here.
Want to hit up two caves in one day? Deciding on the Cueva Ventana means that you can also dip on over to the La Cueva Del Indio.
How to get there: Take Route 22 out of Arecibo. Turn right at Route 2. You will cross over several bridges. At the light, take a left, then a quick right turn onto 681. Follow this to kilometer 7.8 and look for a sign on the left in a wooded area. It should say, “Cueva del Indio.” Pull into the parking lot of the bar and wait for someone from the bar to come out and take your money. Parking is $2 and 50 cents for each person.
La Cueva del Indio or the “Cave of the Indian” is also found in Arecibo and is notable for the petroglyphs that appear on the surface of some of its walls, which date back to the Tainos, the Pre-Columbian indigenous people of Puerto Rico. This is an Oceanfront Cave, so attempt at your own risk and use caution when stepping out onto the ledges!
To reach the peaks, you’ll hike up a jagged limestone hill, and over a natural rock arch to see the Seven Arches, more natural rock formations extending out from a desolate beach. To the left is the entrance to the sea cave. If it’s a stormy day, it could be dangerous, as waves crash close to the entrance.
Otherwise, feel free to climb down the ladder tied to the cave entrance and head into the sandy-floored caverns.
Thee Arecibo Cuevas are little more rogue and for the experienced, and we do stress using cautions when exploring these caves.
Feeling like you want to explore a cave with more guidance? The Rio Camuy Caves are perfect for families and the inexperienced explorers.
Hurricane Maria has affected these caves tours. We HIGHLY recommend researching tour groups as they will have the most updated information about what days and times the park is open. The cost of the tour may be higher than going solo (about $100), but you won’t risk losing a day of your vacation if the park is not open.
The Rio Camuy Caves are probably the most famous cave formation in Puerto Rico. Located in the town of Camuy, it’s one of the largest cave systems worldwide! There are 16 entrances, over 220 caves, two other smaller cave systems, and more than 10 miles have been mapped so far! Many experts still say the cave system could be much larger. Tours are available for visitors to learn about the caves and explore the majestic site up close. The cave is home to bats, and you can hear an underground river while you’re inside it.
The three largest cave attractions within the park are :
Clara Cave and Empalme Sinkhole (Evacuee Clara y Midsummer Palmer)
There are regular cavern guided and audio tours at the site. Night tours called, ECO NIGHTS, have become very popular and are available weekly with reservations. Each tour starts with the screening a short movie in a 90-seat theater, explaining the Rio Camuy Cave System, and the sites safety rules. It is then followed by a train ride that takes visitors into the entrance of Clara Cave.
Spiral Cave and Sinkhole (Cueva y Sumidero de Espiral)
Visitors need to be in an excellent physical condition to walk into “Cueva Clara” and reach “Sumidero y Cueva Espiral” and reach the mouth of this cave. They must step down to it through a scenic 205-step boardwalk. Once walking down into the sinkhole, the cave itself is off limits to reach. Only experienced spelunkers are permitted into the cave and the underground river with special permission from the National Parks Company of Puerto Rico.
Tri-Towns Sinkhole (Sumidero Tres Pueblos)
“Sumidero Tres Pueblos” is a giant sinkhole measuring 650 ft wide. The Camuy River can be seen below from three observation platforms that are located at different points alongside the opening of the magnificent crater. The sinkhole is discovered where the borders of the Northwestern towns of Camuy, Hatillo, and Lares meet.
How to Get There: We recommend a guided tour for the most stress-free visit, independent travelers can rent a car or hire a taxi to access the site. The park is about a 90-minute drive from San Juan. Remember that the parks hours of operation have been very unpredictable after Hurricane Mari
When to Get There: The park is open Wednesday – Sunday from 8 am until 5 pm, but note that parking closes strictly at 2:45 pm and the last tickets are sold by 3 pm, with the last tour starting at 3:30 pm. Entry to the site is often capped by 10 am, and it’s best to book in advance.
The park will close during heavy rain due to potential flooding and hours of operation have changed due to Hurricane Maria.
We can’t wait for you to come down and experience the beauty here and keep coming back year after year. We will see you soon.
Safe & fun travels!