The Rio Camuy Cave system, located in northwestern Puerto Rico, is a site not to be missed. This natural wonder is an easy day trip from San Juan. If time permits, it can be combined with a visit to nearby Arecibo Observatory, the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope, as we did. The Rio Camuy Cave is part of a huge complex of limestone caverns and underground waterways that have been carved out by the Rio Camuy. Stretching for miles, the Rio Camuy is the third largest underground river in the world!
Visiting Rio Camuy Cave
The Rio Camuy Cave in Camuy, Puerto Rico (Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy) is located in a dense tropical setting. After purchasing your tickets and waiting for your assigned number to be called, you board a tram that will take you through the lush environment to the entrance of the cave. Try to arrive at the park early to avoid long lines and waiting times.
The tram ride on the way to the Rio Camuy Cave entrance is an experience in itself. Be sure to have your camera ready. You will be traveling along a tight, winding route, passing through beautiful tropical scenery. Before entering the cave your guide will explain how to use your headset and recorder that is provided to you at no additional charge.
Inside the Rio Camuy Cave
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The entrance to the Rio Camuy Cave is spectacular. This area of the cave is huge and fairy-tale like. I wasn’t prepared for how large and beautiful this opening to the cave would be. Your guide will point out various points of interest along the way and tell you when to listen to the recorded message using your headset. The recording explains the history of the cave and other interesting facts about the cave system.
The Rio Camuy Cave is beautifully lit revealing many colorful stalagmites and stalactites. Our guide described the scientific names of the different formations within the cave as well as the names of many imaginary formations along the way. She pointed out the Christmas Tree, the Halloween Witch and George Washington. Use your imagination and you will see them all! The caves are also home to what was described as a colony of thousands of bats. The bats don’t usually come out during the day so you’ll be safe!
You will get quite close to some of the stalagmites and stalactites as you travel throughout the cave. Photography is always allowed but touching of course in not. The walkway is paved and lit but can be quite slippery due to water seeping into the cave. There are handrails along the way and you will be encouraged to use them for your safety. Also, be sure to wear shoes that grip well in wet surfaces, such as hiking boots or tennis shoes. Sandals and flip-flops are definitely not recommended. I had a difficult time walking in certain areas due to the slippery surface and I was wearing shoes that gripped well and I was holding onto the railing so please be careful!
The end of the Rio Camuy Cave walkway will lead you to the stunning sight above. The river is flowing below and water is dripping from above, it’s a pretty cool view. You will return to the same entrance to the cave that you entered in but along a different path so everything you see will be different. Our guide was helpful in pointing out the best areas for photography and let us linger a while to take additional shots. We never felt rushed or that we were crowed in our group. Although the Rio Camuy Cave is not one of the largest or even one of the most beautiful caves we have visited, it was very pretty and an extremely interesting cave to visit. And, the area surrounding the cave is beautiful too.
The bridge near the Rio Camuy Cave entrance is where you will wait for your tram ride back to the visitors center. After your tour of the cave, which will take approximately 1-1/2 hours, you will wait in a covered waiting area next to the bridge pictured above. After boarding the tram you will be driven back to the visitor center where you will find restrooms, a gift shop and a cafeteria for your convenience.
Things to know before you Go
Rio Camuy Cave Park is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8:30am until 5:00pm (last tour at 3:30) or when the park reaches maximum capacity. The park operates on a first come first served basis and only allows a certain number of visitors per day. To assure your spot in line, it’s best to arrive early as lines tend to get long later in the day. The caves will close on rainy days due to possible flooding. I suggest calling the park at 787-898-3100 before going to get current information. As I mentioned the park will close suddenly if it’s too rainy or if they reach maximum capacity for that day.
Directions from San Juan:
From the San Juan area, take Route 22 west to Arecibo – exit 77b. Then Route 129 south to Km 20. There are signs for you to follow once you get off of Route 22. Driving time is approximately 1 hour from San Juan. Have fun and let us know about your experience at the Rio Camuy Caves Park!