Puerto Rico: Into the Depths of the Camuy Caves

So… if we haven’t mentioned it yet… we can be pretty anti-social sometimes.

Camuy Caves, Puerto RicoAt least, that is, when it comes to the way we like to travel. And maybe it’s not so much that we’re anti-social as it is that we’re impatient a lot of the time. Either way, wherever we go and whatever we do, we do our dead-level best to avoid big crowds, long lines, and even organized tours to a large extent. Nope. Can’t do it. There have been many, many times in fact when we’ve arrived at a popular attraction or activity, only to turn right around and blow it off after getting sight of crowds or long lines. In the cherished, now-immortal words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

So with all that in mind, you can only imagine how we felt when doing research about our next destination: Puerto Rico’s incredible Camuy Caves. Go on line and read any number of reviews/trip reports/blogs about other peoples’ experiences at the caves and you’ll notice a pretty bleak picture taking shape with regard to those big crowds and long lines. Clearly it’s one of Puerto Rico’s most popular natural attractions, and for good reason it seemed, but after reading some of those traveler reviews out there… well, let’s say it was enough to give impatient, anti-social travelers like ourselves a great deal of pause.

One bit of solid advice that we gleaned from our fellow travelers’ experiences at the caves was that if you arrived early enough in the day, you stood a decent chance of avoiding the crowds and the hours-long wait to get inside. But the later in the day you arrived, the better your chances of getting caught up in tourist hell. So yeah, they all said, get there early.

All told, between the horror stories that we’d read before our visit, and the horror stories we’ve read since our visit, it’s quite clear that we got very, very, very, very lucky. Cha-ching! So, let’s just start with more on how all of that actually happened:

Camuy Caves, Puerto RicoThe park was nearly empty when we arrived. Obviously not quite as empty as was shown in the video… because when we got to the park, the last tram of the day was literally sitting there, full of people, almost ready to take off. And we didn’t even have a second to stop and shoot any video. We ran down, jumped into the tram, and we were off! So the shots of the empty tram sitting there we actually got when the tour was over. Even at that though, it’s still a good representation of what it was like. There was no one in line, almost no one milling around, and the place was deathly quiet. A far, far cry from what so many others have experienced.

So how did that happen? How did we get so lucky? Honestly, we don’t know. We went on a Sunday and didn’t get there until around 1:00 p.m., which we figured would have been the absolute worst time to go. Maybe it’s because it was December. Maybe it’s because there was a chance of rain that day. Maybe it was just sheer, dumb, traveler’s luck.Whatever it was, giddyup. It worked out for us. 🙂

The drive from San Juan to the caves is a no-brainer. A straight shot west down the main highway (comparable to our interstate highways) until you get to the city of Arecibo, then you simply follow the signs that point you south to the caves. Not a bad drive at all, again provided that you avoid San Juan traffic around rush hours.

Admission to the caves is $15 per person, along with a $3 parking fee if you drive your own car.
Camuy Caves, Puerto RicoAnd the caves themselves are spectacular. Seriously. And the tour is a very easy, very manageable walk. As mentioned in the video, everyone walks along a lighted concrete pathway (which can get a little damp and a little slick) and the whole tour takes about an hour, give or take. A human guide does walk your group through the cave and points out a few things along the way, but most of the information is presented through those headsets that they give you at the beginning of the tour (no extra charge). But if you decide to use the headsets, remember to take them off occasionally and just listen to the natural sounds of the caves. The running water, the bats, the gentle sounds echoing through the chambers. Good stuff.

So… the big question really is: had we arrived at the caves to find huge crowds and long lines, would we have stuck around for hours on end waiting for the tour? Nope. Definitely not. We would have turned right around and found something else to do. The beach, after all, isn’t that far away. Would we have missed out on seeing something spectacular? Yes. Definitely. But had we stayed, we probably would have been so frustrated and pissed off by the time our tour rolled around that we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it anyway. May sound stupid. But again, that’s just  how we roll… and with no regrets (so far). Ain’t nobody got time for that!

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  1. Glad you enjoyed your trip!

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