Of all the natural wonders you can visit in Puerto Rico, the Camuy Caves are among the most important. You really shouldn’t miss it. This is the ancient limestone cave system that runs through the 3rd largest subterranean river in the whole world. Along the Camuy River, there are about 200 caves scattered all around. Some of them are so huge that you can fit major skyscrapers inside.
Usually, the tour starts off with a short movie featuring some safety information. Then you get your audio guide (if the tour provides it). Then you ride a trolley or mini train through the dense foliage and you get off at the cave entrance.
Then the real tour starts, and you’ll marvel at all the beautifully lit caverns with their stalagmites and stalactites. The first cave is called the Clara Cave, and right away you’ll stand in awe of its size and beauty.
You’ll also encounter the Camuy River below, and there’s also the so-called fountain of youth. It’s a natural spring and you can drink the water.
After seeing lots of sections through the cave system, you get back on the trolley and you get to see the river again through a huge sink hole.
The Importance of the Guide
The caves are impressive even on their own, but the experience can be so much greater if you have a truly knowledgeable guide and a reliable tour company.
There are several negative reviews about the tours online, but they’re not about the caves at all. It’s just that the guide was really unhelpful. Some guides only speak in Spanish, and if you’re an American who doesn’t understand the language then you’re out of luck. Other guides don’t talk much except give advice about safety.
The best guides tend to really spice up the tour. They may offer an audio guide that provides commentary for the areas. Some guides offer their own commentaries as well, and they can answer just about every question you ask. That’s the mark of experience. Other tourists also remark that they had a great experience because their guide was an actual biologist, who knew what he was talking about.
The caves are open from Wednesday to Sunday from 8:30 am until about 5 pm. The last tour starts at 3:30 pm. But you really need to call ahead first. That’s because it can be closed on short notice. This happens when there are too many people already or if it is raining heavily. It’s also closed during major holidays.
But every three months or so, sometimes they offer nocturnal tours as well which are more exciting. Just call ahead and check if it’s available.
The trip from San Juan will take about an hour and a half. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes suitable for hiking, because the trail may involve some rather slippery spots.
Forget about the gift shop. The prices are outrageous and the choices are rather limited. Besides, you aren’t going to the Camuy Caves for the trinkets right? You are here for the experience, and this is one experience that’s impossible to forget.