The Caves In Puerto Rico You Fear To Enter Hold The Treasures You Seek

Along the north shore of this tropical paradise there are a ton of options of beautiful gems to check out.  You can go dizzy with what to choose to do if you only have 1 day in the region. The north shore sights are plenty and stores within it many treasures to check out.  It is a wild and rugged landscape with gorgeous ocean views with a mixture of the mountainous karst country.  It’s a combination of an urban setting (not as crowded as the Metro Area), but with the right touch of nature.

For the purposes of our Puerto Rico Adventures Revealed book, the north shore consists from the regions of Arecibo/Utuado and along the coasts of Dorado and finally ending in the Bayamon/Guaynabo region.

A helicopter tour operator once mentioned to us that the north shore with it’s rocky shores and rough waters with awe inspiring waves is the best scenic spot on the island.  We’d have to agree.  It’s two main rivers flow from the central mountains to the ocean on the Atlantic Side.  Río Tanamá and Río Camuy near Utuado/Arecibo/Lares/Camuy/Hatillo region are it’s absolute stars with hundreds of awe inspiring caves to be explored.

Finding a beach to swim at is quite challenging, but rest assured there are unique natural spots to explore.  Even the beaches that are not “swimmable” are still quite a sight to see when watching the forces of crazy waves crash upon the shoreline.  It’s worth the drive to this area just to see the karst country.  Puerto Rico is blessed in that there is an enormous beauty to it and is best exemplified in this region with green and white hills that appear to be rising and falling from the sea.

What is the karst country?  Karst is the unusual land topography that makes the rock formations odd and interesting in this region.  Karst is formed when water (rain) sinks into the limestone and erodes larger basins – which make “sinkholes” and create the huge underground cave system in the area you see today.

These erosions in the land leave only standing those peaks that have not yet fallen with the erosion of the limestone. These hills are called mogotes, and they are interesting if you look at them from the perspective that the highest peak you see today is certainly way below the level of the peaks that stood on the limestone ground many, many, many years ago.  The Arecibo Observatory of course was built on one of these very sinkholes so you can get an idea of the size and scope of the “collapse.”

Imagine the peaks collapsing into giant sinkholes and you get the idea.  It’s not the hill that’s collapsing but rather the holes in the limestone that have been changing over eons of time and thus you get this odd beauty of nature.  When the “mountain falls upon itself” so to speak, the peak becomes the beginnings of the caves we can see today.

There’s literally only two other places on earth where the rock formations look like those of Puerto Rico.  In the Dominican Republic and in the region now formerly known as Yugoslavia.  So understand you’re in pristine creative lands when visiting!

You can feel a sense of scale in this region, specifically if you’re rock climbing in this area.  Go to Adventures & Activities section for more specific information on where to rock climb in this majestic area.

One of the highlights not mentioned in our expansive “5 Day Adventure” section is the mystical Rio Camuy Caves located south of Arecibo and just north of the town of Lares.  One of it’s well known caves is also known as “Cueva Clara” which translates to Clarity/Bright/Famous Cave.  It surely was formed in stunning fashion and a must see, and it was made into a national park after it was documented in an expedition in the 1960’s that showed that this region had something unique in it’s vast cave system and underground river that marks this region.  The public only gets to see 1 cave and a portion of the sinkhole.  Those who travel and explore see more.  See:  “Adventures & Activities Section.”

“It is fatal to know too much at the outset:  boredom comes as quickly to the traveler who knows his route as to the novelist who is over-certain of his plot.  Travel into the unknown till the ends of the earth.”

-Paul Theroux


The town of Camuy itself is a throwback to the older days of a much more tranquil lifestyle.  There are small one-way roads and stores that sell such things as incense and other assorted offerings for the saints of their beliefs.

However, most primordial and ancient of all is one of the largest cave systems in the world that runs through it.  The Río (river) Camuy flows underground  about 350 feet deep through miles of limestone from the Cordillera central region towards the Atlantic.   The river itself is known as the third largest underground river in the world and it flows past and through caves, canyons, and of course the sinkholes in the region in the course of the past millions of years.

Over 2,000 caves have been discovered in the karst region, and one area was developed into a tourist attraction in 1986 after having been found by speleologists in the 1950’s who were lead to the site by local kids.  To see the rest is a journey and rich experience onto itself.  The caves in Puerto Rico are actually the best kept secret on the island, as there are many beautiful ones besides the one that was turned into a tourist park.


The Rio Camuy Cave Park is a sight to see even if you have to brace through the crowds.  The park includes the views of three massive and enormous sinkholes and the one cave mentioned above- Cueva Clara.

It’s clear that upon first coming here that this had to have been considered a sacred place as surely the Taino Indians must have been here.  In fact, that’s been the case as many artifacts have been found throughout the area and you can sense this might have even been one of their “cathedrals” so to speak.

Entrance for adults is $15, $10 for children under 12, and free for senior citizens over 75.  Open Wednesday-Sunday from 8:00AM-3:30PM.

Trip Advisor Link 

Park Information:  If it rains the park usually closes so make sure to call ahead.  Also closed on most major holidays.  Allow yourself 1 to 2 hours to fully gain the whole experience.  Phone number is:  787-898-3100.


When arriving at the parking gate, you’ll will more than likely encounter two people.  The first person is of course the person who is taking your $3 to park.  The second guy is the interesting character.  The two times we’ve been to this park this has been the exact conversation:

Character:  <Looking at you straight in the eye all intense>  “You will be hungry afterwards.”

Me:  “Um, yeah, I guess.”

Character:  <Silence.  Still maintaining eye contact and walking straight to your car window while leaning down> “Come to this restaurant afterwards.”

Me:  “Um, yeah, I guess.”

Character: <Jedi mind trick hand gesture as he backs away> “It’s my restaurant.  Restaurant El Taino.”

Me:  “Um, yeah, absolutely!” <not knowing why I just agreed>

We went there after our first trip and it was not a great place to eat, and the ambiance was severely lacking.  The restaurant looks like an enclosed boxed gym and the service was poor.  It’s rare for us to write a bad review, but I have to say that this was one of the worst dining experiences I’ve had.

What made matters funny to us is that every single person we saw at the Rio Camuy Caves park was eating with us afterwards.  His Jedi mind tricks are indeed powerful.

On our 2nd visit, we kid you not he was there again and we had the same exact conversation.  Only this time, we didn’t go.  We went to another far better restaurant instead.  We’re guessing this is a thing and how he gets people to go to his restaurant.

If you don’t see him consider yourself lucky in an odd way because we are the ones who will give you the good restaurant advice!  We’ll reveal our awesome restaurant choice in a few more paragraphs, which is just down the street from the park.


Pay at the ticket booth and enjoy the gift shop and 10 minute movie while you wait for the next trolley train to take you to the attractions.  Cueva Clara is only accessible by trolley as it is a long, long, long hike down.  The trolley itself is a fun ride as you sink deeper and deeper through the lush vegetation and moist air.  You can see all types of flowers and fruits including bananas, ferns, and orchids.  It’s as if you’re in a butterfly garden paradise of an upside-down mountain / or inwardly inverted (however you want to put it).

The grand cathedral entrance to Cueva Clara is not fully admired until you walk a few steps past it and look backwards.  It’s quite a sight to see as it looks straight out of a mystical scene in a fantasy movie.  I half expected Gandalf to come walking out of there or something.

The park provides tours lead by informative and entertaining tour guides, or you can opt for the headphones tour available in english or spanish.  We prefer to kinda be on our own and take the whole place in and standing back from the crowds.



What do you see?

What do you see?

The cave opens up to a brilliantly lit room (the cave has another opening on the opposite side), and the first fun game of the day is to see objects or people in the rock formations and stalagtites and stalagmites. As you walk in and look above the impressive cave opening (which is over 170 feet and 695 feet long), you can clearly see an Indian Rock Face overlooking the entire cave.  It’s completely eerie once you see the exact replica of an Indian looking down at you from the cave where many Taino’s were here many years ago.  Sort of like they’re still here?  Who knows but it’s completely cool that there are formations of faces and animals literally all over this place if you see with a new perspective and set of eyes.

It takes about 15 minutes to come to the other opening where you are encountered with another impressive opening to another sinkhole and a natural water spring cascading down from above.  Take a sip of the water it is amazingly fresh and clean.  As natural as water can get.  You can hear and glimpse the river below you as it rushes under dark openings into cave systems leading to other “unknowns.”

The sinkhole itself is off limits to tourists, but you and get a sense of perspective how big this hole is. It’s quite a beautiful sight.  There are other sections to explore in this area that are closed to tourists unless you book with licensed professionals to see other parts of the cave such as Tres Pueblos Sinkhole, Cathedral Cave, and Spiral Cave.

On your walk back make sure to look out for bats, crickets, spiders, and other assorted creatures.  In fact, it’s rumored that there are close to a million bats living here!



Head back to the parking lot and by this time we’re definitely sure you’re hungry!  Head past the gates and make a left onto PR-129.  Yes, pass the infamous El Taino Restaurant we mentioned earlier.  You’re looking for the best kept secret of where to eat lechon (pork) that is not in Guavate!  Trust us!  Have some pork with arroz (rice) con gandules and maduros (sweet plaintains).  You can’t go wrong.  

Rancho T Restaurant:  Yelp Link



Rio Camuy Cave Park

Route 129 Km 18.9,HCO 2 7865-A,Camuy,00627, Puerto Rico

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Change Your Channel & See Window Cave In Puerto Rico

What is it within our hearts that makes us want to travel, explore, and see beyond what we can wildly imagine?  What makes you want to come here?  What makes you read the next sentence?  Your next thought.  What is our experience?  What do we all have in common?  Life.  Experiences.  Love.

Which is why, without a doubt, come to Cueva Ventana and change your channel to the “Window Cave” or “Eye of the Island.”  Of all the caves in Puerto Rico, this is one of the prettiest (although sometimes crowded).

You’re heading towards the northwest corner of Puerto Rico, driving west on PR-22 towards Arecibo/Utuado and taking PR 10-down south about 10 minutes till you see a Texaco gas station on your left. You’ll see the signs you can’t miss it.  Park at the gas station and grab your gear for the 25 minute hike.

There are places we see in photos that immediately leap out at us and we just absolutely know we will be there. For me, one such place has been Cueva Ventana. The journey and the path up the hill. Walking, breathing, sweating, thinking, adventuring, experiencing. Climbing….

This place will bring you those things and much more, if you allow it. Even if there’s too many people here in your opinion when you visit. Perhaps it won’t bring you anything at all save for at least a pretty great view once you get past a little darkness.

It just depends on your point of view that day I suppose…

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damned thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center. You find the jewel and it draws you off. In loving the spiritual, you cannot despise the earthly.”

Joseph Campbell

Cueva Ventana Puerto Rico – a metaphor if you will.

Why not?

Because if you really think about it – this trip – down to every last detail you may have missed… parallels the story we tell of our lives, doesn’t it? Why are you traveling to Puerto Rico?

There’s a reason this metaphor goes as far back with philosophers such as Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” from his work in The Republic to modern day epics like Star Wars when Luke enters the cave to face what he’s most afraid of.

Luke:  “What’s in there?”

Yoda:  “Only what you take with you.”

It’s not just about “hey, let’s go see a cave” – it’s about you going within.  It’s about getting lost.  A cave is both metaphorical and literal.  There’s a lot to explore in Puerto Rico but this is one of the easiest and a very rewarding one.  It’s about facing our fears.  It’s about being in the middle of where you want to be.  It’s just a step outside your comfort zone. It’s about being in the unknown, yet knowing, that at the end of this, at the very least, you’re getting a pretty wonderful view and that you’re going to get there with somebody special by your side.  It’s personal and different to each of us.

Now, on another note and getting back down to earth. Some facts about Cueva Ventana. This place is beautiful to say the least and will give you those awe inspiring photo moments we all love. This place is also sacred as in Taino Indians were here way before the Spanish came to Puerto Rico.


One note about getting here, as we’ve been here many times and during different points in life. We cannot tell you enough times that you have to see this place without the crowds if you can.  Sure, it’s still not that bad if you have people here (people are courteous and take turns getting all the way to the front so you can take your pictures) – but wow, having this place to yourselves it’s what it’s all about.

The best times for this are obviously weekdays as early as possible or an hour before sunset. But if you’re itinerary does not allow this it’s still a great trip to be had and you just may get a few moments to yourself at the edge of the stunning views that look over the countryside and Rio Tanama.


The first few times we came here this was a free place to check out. However, due to the advent and popularity of people posting pictures on social media this place even became popular with the locals. Soon, they started charging about $5 to enter and made various improvements to the trails leading up to the cave and have maintained the property in a pristine state. On our last visit, we feel it got a tad ridiculous with the price increase to $10 and having to wear a helmet. Some things in our opinion should be free or at least reasonably affordable. It’s still quite a view for $10, however we did want to note that it wasn’t always like this.


You have two options to get to the “eye of the island.” Your first option and most adventurous route is to go under a tree hole (yes, look for the tree with a hole), and like Alice step into the looking glass. Come out at the other end and re-enter the darkness of the cave. This opening is where your other hiking option is (less strenuous). Once inside the dark cave, stay along your right hand side throughout. Bring your headlight. You’ll soon see a slither of light towards the right and make your way there. Now it’s up to you to see what you want to see.



Puerto Rico 10


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