Puerto rico underground river: Río Camuy Cave Park | Discover Puerto Rico
An Amazing Uncommon Attraction Puerto Rico
The Caribbean is famous for its undersea treasures, something we’ve touched on here and here, but what’s less known is that the region is also home to some pretty amazing underground attractions. My favorite, and arguably the most impressive, is the Rio Camuy Cave Park in Puerto Rico.
Rio Camuy Caves – Jose Oquendo via Flickr
Okay, really there is no argument: Rio Camuy is by far the most impressive underground attraction in the Caribbean. After all, there are only two other cave systems on the entire planet that approach the Rio Camuy Caves in size, and neither of them can boast a tropical underground river.
Located near the town of Arecibo on Puerto Rico’s north coast, the Rio Camuy Caves are part of an immense network of natural limestone caves and underground waterways carved out by the Camuy River, the third-largest underground river in the world. More than 10 miles of caverns, 220 caves and 17 entrances to the cave system have been mapped in the 52 years since the caves were officially “discovered,” though this is only a fraction of the entire system. Many experts believe there are still another 800 as yet undiscovered Camuy Caves!
The park extends over 268 acres, though only a small portion of it – three sinkholes and two caves – are open to the public. Trust me, though, these limited areas do not disappoint.
Most visitors opt for the guided trolley tour, which takes you down through some dense vegetation right into a massive sinkhole. You then walk across a series of ramps and bridges within the 170-foot high Cueva Clara before boarding another tram that takes you to the Tres Pueblos Sinkhole. At 650 feet in diameter and 400 feet deep, Tres Pueblos will take your breath away.
Another must-see is the Cathedral Cave. Here you’ll find a collection of ancient petroglyphs carved on the walls by the Taino Indians that lived on the island centuries ago.
The last time I visited Rio Camuy, I braved the Spiral Sinkhole and Cave. Okay, “braved” isn’t the most appropriate term as it’s not really dangerous. As I’ve pointed out before, though, I’m not in particularly great shape, so the 205 spiral steps you have to descend down into the sinkhole were no picnic for me. Those 205 steps are also the only way out, so be ready for a workout.
As for the cave that awaits you below, it’s simply awe-inspiring. The mammoth size of the opening at the mouth of the cave combined with the intricate stalactite and stalagmite formations, all lit dramatically to enhance the eerie underground beauty of the surroundings, are definitely worth the price of admission (and those stairs).
Facilities at park include a cafeteria, picnic area, gift shop, exhibition hall, and theater. There are also a few hiking trails for those more interested in the area’s above-ground wonders.
The park is normally open Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00 a. m. to 4:00 p.m. Get there early, though, as the last tour departs at 3:30 p.m., or when the park reaches its daily capacity.
If you’re an experienced spelunker, you’ll want to call in advance to arrange for special tours and rappelling trips through undeveloped sections of the caves off-limits to general visitors.
For more information, call the Rio Camuy Cave Park at tel: 787-898-3100.
Last updated by Steve Bennett on .
6 Caves in Puerto Rico for Hiking, Tubing, Swimming and More
While there’s no official count, it’s estimated that there are around 2,000 caves in Puerto Rico – quite a lot for one island. However, just a small fraction of them – around 415 – have been explored. Fortunately, several are open to the public and provide adventure opportunities, including spelunking, rock climbing, swimming, rappelling, and rafting. Some are fairly accessible and welcoming to visitors of all ages, while others require special skills or equipment.
If you’re planning a trip to Puerto Rico, check out these six caves throughout the island, where tours range from gentle walks to group cliff-jumping adventures
Río Camuy Caves
Photo: Felix Lipov</.a>/Shutterstock
As the largest system of caves in Puerto Rico and the third-largest in the world, Río Camuy Caves is a top attraction for locals and visitors. Vast parts of this system are still unexplored, but to date, 220 caves and 10 miles of caverns have been identified. (A cavern has multiple openings while a cave has just one).
Río Camuy Cave Park is in the northwest region of Puerto Rico, about an hour and a half outside of Puerto Rico’s capital city, San Juan. Tours are offered daily and ideal for most ages and fitness levels since the paths into and through the caves are paved. Visitors can choose from an audio tour or a live guide, both of which provide information on the history and geology of the area.
A tour begins with a downhill walk to the cave’s entrance, then heads inside where hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites come into sight, some as wide as thirty feet. After weaving through the caverns for a while, visitors will see sunlight in the distance; a prelude to the enormous opening soon to appear in the limestone walls. Looking through it from within the cave is beautiful, offering a peek of the jungle’s bright green ferns and chirping birds. After enjoying the picturesque scene, tours retrace their steps back to the cave entrance to make the short return walk uphill.
Cañon de Tanamá
Photo: Nathaniel Arocho/Shutterstock
Travelers keen on a slightly more active adventure should visit Cañon de Tanamá, a network of canyons, caverns, and tunnels carved by the ancient Tanamá River. A highlight of this network of caves in Puerto Rico is a 1,000-foot-long tunnel formed by the river over thousands of years and takes up to thirty minutes to float on a rubber tube. Other caves feature giant stalactites and stalagmites along with cave-dwelling wildlife like tiny bats, interesting insects, and endemic tropical frogs,
Most visitors to Cañon de Tanamá begin in Utuado, a small town in the mountainous region of Puerto Rico, about one and a half hours from San Juan. The most popular way to explore this natural wonder is on a half-day tour with companies like Tanamá River Adventures or Explora PR. ON tours, travelers start with a short hike through the forest before traversing through caves, canyons, and waterfalls. Most tours end with tubing, body rafting, or rappelling along the river; adrenaline junkies will want to book a tour that includes the chance to jump from cliffs into the cool waters below. Since this experience includes hiking, climbing, and swimming, it’s best suited for those of average fitness and health.
Longer and more challenging tours, including rappelling into caves and caverns, are also available for adults and teens.
Cueva del Indio
Photo: alexsf. gr/Shutterstock
Cueva del Indio is not only a geological wonder and an important cultural site, but also a popular Hollywood filming location for blockbuster movies – the most well-known of which may be 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.
On the Atlantic Coast, this cave offers views of crashing waves, a natural rock bridge, and the opportunity to see hieroglyphs carved by the indigenous people of Puerto Rico: the Taino. Because of these carvings, Cueva del Indio was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Cueva del Indio is in the town of caves, just an hour outside of San Juan. After parking, it’s a one-mile, moderately easy trail to the top of the cave. You’ll need to climb down into the cave to see the petroglyphs and there’s no longer a ladder — likely to reduce foot traffic into the cave. It’s not recommended, but it is possible to enter the cave through a small gap if you have grippy footwear and long pants. But if you decide you’d rather not climb into the cave, you’ll still enjoy the trip as the views of the dramatic rock formations and crashing waves are quite impressive.
You can visit on your own or take a half-day tour from San Juan with companies like Access Tours PR or Airbnb Experiences.
Cueva del Viento
Photo: Discover Puerto Rico
Cueva del Viento is a limestone cave inside Guajataca National Forest filled with fascinating stalactites and stalagmite formations. It’s also home to a sizable colony of bats, so be prepared to see and hear plenty of these flying creatures.
The cave is in the northwestern town of Isabela, about two hours from San Juan. There’s a 2.7- mile, out-and-back trail to the entrance, so come prepared with proper footwear and plenty of water. The wooden steps into the cave aren’t in great shape, so proceed cautiously. And since there’s no lighting, bringing a flashlight is advised – the light from a cell phone may not be enough. Don’t shine the light directly at the bats to avoid upsetting them. The cave is easy to visit on your own and there’s plenty of parking near the trailhead.
Photo: Puerto Rico as a Local
If you like the idea of swimming, not hiking, through caves in Puerto Rico, Cuevas Arenales and Charco Azul (“sand cave and blue pool”) should top your list. The actual cave is underground, but it’s surrounded by a collection of tunnels, cliffs, and slot canyons formed by water and erosion over millions of years. It’s a natural playground for adventurers and the perfect way to spend half a day.
It’s in Vega Baja, just an hour from San Juan. A visit to Cuevas Arenales will involve some hiking, rock scrambling, wading, and, ultimately, swimming. You will definitely get wet, so wear a swimsuit and dress accordingly. While it’s certainly possible to explore Cuevas Arenales on your own, a full-day guided tour is also a good option. Local guides can help navigate the cave’s dark and underground portions and point out the best places to cliff jump into the deeper pools. Look at options from tour companies like NaturHabitat Eco Tours or Puerto Rico as a Local.
Cueva del Agua
Photo: Discover Puerto Rico
Cueva del Agua is the hardest of the caves in Puerto Rico to reach as it’s on Mona Island — a nature reserve off Puerto Rico’s western coast. There are no hotels or facilities — just a few campsites — and the boat ride to get there takes about four hours. You need a permit from the Department of Natural Resources of Puerto Rico to land on the island, so if you want to see the cave and the rest of the island’s trails and activities, you’ll need to book a tour. Contact Acampa Puerto Rico or Adventures TourMarine to inquire about having them arrange trips. Both companies can land on the island and arrange private hiking and camping trips from the mainland.
Tips for visiting caves in Puerto Rico
As you’d expect from a tropical island, rain and storms are frequent events in Puerto Rico. Access to caves may be restricted during bad weather, so check on the conditions before visiting.
Only Río Camuy Cave Park is a developed attraction. The other caves in Puerto Rico on this list have little infrastructure for visitors, so come prepared with everything you’ll need for the day – don’t expect bathrooms, gift shops, or visitors centers. Nearby parking lots are typically privately owned and fees vary from $2 to $10. You likely won’t have much cell service once you get into the jungles and natural parks, so be sure to download your trail map if you’re using an App like AllTrails or Gaia GPS.
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Impressive underground world of the largest cave system Rio Camuy in Puerto Rico
The mysterious cave system of Rio Camuy Caves, located on the territory of The Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy National Park of the central island of Puerto Rico, remains an inimitable masterpiece of nature that has not yet revealed all its secrets to man.
The Rio Kamuy cave chain is currently only 30% explored, but even based on these results, it can be safely called the largest cave system in the entire Western Hemisphere and the third largest cave system on our planet. Bright sunlight occasionally shines through limestone sinkholes, overgrown with dense rainforests, that lead into the caves. In this realm of darkness, a completely different, new world opens up.
Huge vaulted halls of karst caves pass one into another, the third largest underground river Kamuy in the world flows here and 13 different species of bats live here. In the underground river and shallow lakes, the rarest types of blind fish were also found, and one turned out to be new and unexplored, it was named after the researchers «alaweckelia gurneei». Karst formations inside caves of the most bizarre forms create the feeling of being in an unearthly space, here, underground, everything seems completely different and does not look like pictures familiar to our eyes.
Formed about 10 million years ago, the caves of Rio Kamuy impress not only with their beauty, but also with their size! The largest cave so far explored is Cueva Clara «Cueva Clara de Empalme», it is 210 meters wide and 61 meters high. Tres Pueblos «Sumidero Tres Pueblos» is recognized as the largest sinkhole, its width is 215 meters and its depth is 130 meters. Magical views will open up to the brave ones who dare to go to the spiral cave or «Cueva y Sumidero de Espiral» along the 205 step path.
The Rio Camuy cave system lies beneath the impenetrable jungles of Puerto Rico, making it difficult to find sinkholes leading to new caves. However, according to preliminary studies, there are still an incredible number of unexplored cavities underground here. Officially, scientists have discovered just over 220 caves, and another 800 remain unexplored!
European civilizations learned about the existence of this amazing place only in the second half of the 20th century, in 1958, during the expedition of National Geographic employees. As it turned out later, the caves of Rio Kamuy were known to the local Indians much earlier, petroglyphs were found on some walls with a total of 48 ancient drawings.
The caves of Rio Kamuy were officially registered only in 1973 by its first explorers and experienced speleologists Russell and Jeanne Gurnee. Since 1986, the first excursions have begun here. Since 2010, daily night tours have been held in the caves of Río Camuy, where even inexperienced speleologists and tourists are offered the opportunity to get acquainted with the natural wonder of Puerto Rico. The national park is fully prepared to receive tourists: hiking trails have been laid here, lighting has been prepared and even a pleasure steam locomotive has been launched! There is also an exhibition hall that tells about the history of cave exploration, and a souvenir shop.
Admission to The Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy National Park is $15 for adults and $10 for children aged 4-12. Seniors get discounts, and children under 4 get in for free. The park is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 08:30 to 17:00, however, it may close earlier during the rainy season or when the maximum number of visitors per day is 1,500. A walk through the park with a visit to the most popular places takes 1.5 — 2 hours. In the summer, camping is available here at a cost of $5 per person.
The caves of Río Camuy are located in the suburbs of Arecibo in the San Juan area, where you can buy a tour of the park from one of the many travel agencies.
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★ Top 12 Tourist Attractions and Attractions in the Philippines ★
The Philippines is a tropical paradise in Pacific Ocean made up of over 7,000 islands that offer a natural playground for your inner explorer. Collectively, its landscapes are a host of natural wonders, from volcanoes and rice terraces to underwater rivers and limestone caves, as well as beautiful beaches. Individually, the islands each offer something unique, whether you’re looking for the best diving and snorkeling spots or prefer to visit historic sites in cities like Manila or Vigan, which have deep colonial roots.
Because the country is so spread out, a trip to the Philippines requires careful planning so that you can connect with the right guides and find comfortable accommodation as a base for your favorite activities. Some destinations like Chocolate Hills at Bohol or Hanging Coffins at Sagada, are removed but getting there is worth it.
1 White Beach, Boracay
White Beach, Boracay
There is no shortage of pristine beaches in the Philippines, but if you’re looking for a more active beach scene, you’ll want to head to White Beach at Boracay . This is the most populated beach on the island, but where you’ll find ample opportunities for boating and other water sports. Plenty of chairs and hammocks are under the palm trees so you can relax and enjoy the clean white sand. You can even book a beach massage. Snorkeling is a popular activity on White Beach, but if you don’t want to put in so much work, take a banana boat ride or book a glass bottom boat ride.
Accommodation: Where to Stay near White Beach
2 Manila Historical Tour
Manila Historical Tour
Manila is an exciting and vibrant city that is a thriving metropolis surrounded by centuries of colonial churches. It is easy to walk around Manila on your own or take a tour of the oldest district, Intramuros or the walled city, where you will find some of the most significant tourist attractions and important landmarks and monuments. This will give you a better estimate for Manila. You can see the famous San Agustin Church and monuments at Rizal Park and Fort Santiago , each of which has a significant impact on Manila, which is best shared by the leadership. Some excursions are offered by a coach, while others are available as walking or biking tours of the city. After your tour, stop by one of the local restaurants for lunch and enjoy modern Manila as you watch the colorful jeepneys flying through the streets.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Manila
3 Shipwreck Diving, Coron
Shipwreck Diving, Coron
Shipwrecks to explore Sangat Island at Coron are some of the best dive sites in the world. The wreck is found at a variety of depths that are suitable for both deep-sea scuba divers and shallow water diving. Shipwrecks, many of WWII , have become habitats for various fish species. The clear water makes it easy to view shipwrecks and underwater wildlife. Many shipwrecks come from attacks on Imperial Japanese Navy in 1944. Deep divers will want to check out Akitsushima Maru warship, Irako Maru , and Kyokuzan Maru . There are so many shipwrecks to explore that you might want to stay for a few days. The resort, like the Sangat Island Dive Resort, caters to divers who stay for a few days, as well as a five-minute boat ride to many dive sites. If you are new to the island, you might consider booking a dive or snorkel trip that will take you to the best spots.
4 Mayon Volcano, Albay
Mayon Volcano, Albay
Mayon Volcano at Albay Province Luzon Island is a must in the Philippines. It is an active stratovolcano with a height of over 2400 meters. Mayon volcano has a perfect cone peak. Most visitors will want to enjoy the volcano by viewing it from the ground. Nature trails within the national park surround the volcano, where you can also see wildlife such as parrots and other birds. Extreme travelers can apply for a permit to climb the volcano, but it is a difficult hike through the forest and dangerous gases are emitted near the peak, so caution is advised. The ideal time to visit is from March to May, outside of the rainy season. You can make an organized trip from Manila to get here.
5 Chocolate Hills, Bohol
Chocolate Hills, Bohol | Photo Credit: Anietra Hamper
The geological wonder on the island of Bohol known as the Chocolate Hills is a unique natural phenomenon. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a protected area that has over 1,200 small mountains that have risen above the ground over the course of several centuries. This area was once under the ocean, and these unique hills expanded in all directions. They are green for most of the year, but during the dry season they turn chocolate brown, thus the name, chocolate hills. A convenient path leads to the top of the observation deck, which provides the best view. Be sure to look out for the many delicate flowers along the path that are unique to the area.
6 Underground River Tour, Puerto Princesa
Underground River Tour, Puerto Princesa
Taking the Underground River Tour in Puerto Princesa is one of the most impressive things to do in the Philippines. Underground River Palawan Island is located inside Underground Rivers National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boat tours will help you experience the majestic five-mile river that runs underground. The ride will take you through a complex cave system surrounded by vertical limestone cliffs. You can observe ancient stalagmite and stalactite formations as the coolness of the cave balances out the tropical heat outside. As you sail through dark caverns on emerald waters, your guide will spot sights and tropical wildlife that lives along the river that flows into the South China Sea , Underground Rivers Full Day Tour from Puerto Princesa includes pickup and drop-off from your hotel and breakfast buffet.
7 Hanging coffins, Sagada
Hanging coffins, Sagada | Photo Credit: Anietra Hamper
It’s a hike to get to the hanging coffins at Sagada, located in the northern part of Cordillera Mountains , but the view is something that most people in the world will never see. Hanging coffins, several centuries, removed from the rocks Echo Valley These solemn burials were reserved for wealthy tribesmen. Arriving in a mountainous area requires some travel time and physical endurance to climb the steep and narrow roads to the secluded coffins. You will need sturdy boots, and you can practice before your trip to adapt to high altitude faster. The award is a spectacle that you will never forget and do not deserve praiseworthy rights.
8 Hopping Island
If you just can’t decide what to do or where to go in the Philippines, an island hopping tour can offer just the right combination. You still have to choose, but an organized island hopping tour allows you to see a collection of islands. You can try snorkeling, swimming, sightseeing and local cuisine dining at multiple locations and save yourself the hassle of trying to plan it yourself. Many of the island hops lasted several days. One of the most popular island hopping trips is the Caramoan Islands , which were made famous after being featured in the hit TV series Survivor.
9 Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue
Batad Rice Terraces, Banaue
Viewing Batad Rice Terraces at dawn at Banaue is an unforgettable experience. This is especially recommended for landscape photographers who want to capture compelling images of Filipino agriculture. Some of these terraces are over 2000 years old and represent a common form of agriculture in the country. The stacked terraces are hand-carved into the side of the mountain, creating vertical farming fields in a region devoid of flat land. The workers usually grow rice and vegetables. You can walk several roads above the terraces which give you the best view, see below. Early morning and dusk provide the best light to illuminate the electric green of the fields.
10 Corregidor Island History Tour
Corregidor Island History Tour
The Corregidor Island History Tour is a must for history buffs visiting the Philippines. The island played a significant role in World War II and was the site of several battles. Relics from these battles include secret tunnels and bunkers used as shelters during the war, as well as weapons, barracks, and historical artifacts. Be sure to find time for Pacific Ocean local. Regular excursions leave from Manila for the ferry from where you get to the island. It requires a full day to visit, but well worth the time if you have an interest in World War II history.
11 Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna
Pagsanjan Falls, Laguna Jojo Niddao / photo modified
The only thing more interesting than admiring one of the most notable waterfalls in the Philippines is going through it in a boat. Pagsanjan Waterfall Waterfall is part Pagsanjan Gorge National Park , Your waterfall journey will take you up through tropical landscapes where you can swim in natural pools and walk through caves. Once you get used to the leisurely ride, prepare for the main event as you quickly head downstream over large cliffs and churn the water for what the locals call «shooting the rapids». This is an exhilarating outdoor adventure and you can make day trips from Manila.
12 Coron Garden, Coron
Coral Garden, Coron
Coron Island in the Philippines is a popular diving and snorkeling destination, partly because of its abundant and thriving coral reefs.