Caves, Cracks and Crevices
Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Río Camuy
This park was severely damaged during Hurricane Maria. Cleanup and restoration efforts continue. Call (787) 898-3136 before visiting for information on the re-opening date.
Largest Cave in Puerto Rico
Located in northwest Puerto Rico in Arecibo, there’s a cave system called The Parque Nacional de las Cavernas del Río Camuy or Rio Camuy Caves. In the 1950s researchers discovered this large network of natural limestone caves and underground waterways carved out by the third-largest underground river in the world, the Río Camuy.
The canopy of trees and lush vegetation is dense, it’s hard to believe such an extensive cave system hides below the thick forest. Today there are more than 10 miles of mapped trails leading to 17 entrances and 220 caves. Only a small part of the cave system, a 268-acre park, however, is open to the public. It is home to 3 sinkholes through which an underground river runs, and 2 awe-inspiring caves which visitors can explore.
Spiral Cave and Sinkhole
Tours are given five days a week and start with a short tram ride down through lush forest toward the opening of the cave. The walking audio tour begins with a 205-step stairway into the chilly, dark cave. Soft lights and railings help navigate the sometimes slippery path. The route leads past stalactites, stalagmites, and many unique and beautiful formations of the cave walls. The audio tour is accompanied by a tour guide who leads the way, provides additional information, and answers any questions you may have.
The cavern opens into an area where the Camuy River runs into the subterranean waterway. A sinkhole from above gives view to the vegetation hanging into the cave-like long thin fingers hanging down from a hand. The gentle tweets of birds, as they fly between the opening, gives a peaceful connection between light and life above, to the darkness below.
Clara Cave and Sinkhole
The Clara Cave chamber is immense, and it could fit a 20-story building inside. Towering boulders, vast openness, and the height of the ceiling evoke silence – only broken by the gentle splash water droplets and the echoes of the visitor’s hushed voices. The huge sinkhole above produces eerie shadows as beams of light enter the cave, creating a surreal dichotomy of light and dark. In another area of the cave, the Camuy River can be seen below as multiple bat species fly between the crevices of the walls of the cave.
This is a spectacular and informative tour. It’s best to get there when it first opens as the park will close when filled to capacity. Also, if you suspect rain the day you plan to go, call ahead as the park will close when it rains due to flooding. There are picnic and gift shop areas.
Set at the side of a cliff, Cueva Ventana means “Window Cave.” Unlike the Camuy caves which are underground, Cueva Ventana is stunningly located on the side of a cliff in Arecibo.
With admission, you get a helmet, flashlight, and a guide to walk you through the cave. During the 45 minute walk, trained biologists deliver insight into how the caves formed and the many creatures which call it home, such as insects, snakes, and bats. They also discuss the plants on-site, some of which are near extinction and provide the history of the original Taino Indians who were the original inhabitants of this area.
The cave offers impressive stalagmites and stalactites, however, the real highlight is when the passage finishes dramatically and the open face of the cliff frames the lush Río Grande de Arecibo valley far below. The scenic vistas from this vantage point have attracted visitors for decades, providing views across the entire valley and down to the ground below.
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