Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Destinations: Cueva Ventana & Cueva del Indio

For most people traveling to Puerto Rico, the island conjures images of sandy beaches with clear blue water. Unbeknownst to most, however, is the existence of hundreds of caves scattered throughout the island. Perhaps the most popular, and the one I would least recommend, is the Rio de Camuy Cave Park. Although it is certainly interesting to visit and explore, my favorites are Cueva Ventana ("Window Cave") and Cueva del Indio ("Indian Cave") because you get to venture at your own leisurely pace. Unlike Rio de Camuy, there are no mandatory guided tours at either Cueva Ventana nor Cueva del Indio. They're also situated close enough to one another, the former is located in Utuado and the latter in Arecibo, so that you can visit both in one day. We left the metro San Juan area at around 10:30AM and had plenty of time to explore these two caves. Amazingly, we even had lunch at Lago Dos Bocas in between visiting both places.

Our first stop was Cueva Ventana. The trail leading up to this cave is located next to a Texaco gas station (note: they were charging $2 for parking per car and $0.50 per person to use the bathroom) on route 10 towards Utuado. It's an easy hike up to the cave but it is unmarked. When you reach a fork on the trail, hang a left and soon you'll reach the first entrance to the cave on your lefthand side. We took the second entrance, which is lies further up the trail, because it was much easier to navigate. Do bring a flashlight, since it gets dark inside. After walking around in darkness for a few minutes or so, you'll start to see a bit of light filtering in. Shortly thereafter, you'll encounter the opening of the cave, which offers a breathtaking view of the very lush and green Utuado countryside.

Cueva del Indio, on the other hand, is located right on the beach and you'll have to descend a wooden ladder in order to reach it. Once you reach down inside the cave, you'll see petroglyphs which reportedly date back to the days of the Taino Indians. Before you this point though, you'll have to walk and climb along a jagged limestone surface. Needless to say, I would recommend wearing sneakers or walking shoes. There were also quite a few sinkholes, so watch your step! We easily found Cueva del Indio, which is located on Road 681 at km 7.8 in Arecibo, since there was a huge sign posted at the parking lot entrance (note: they also charge $2 to park). Both caves are visited more often by locals than tourists. There is no entrance fee to visit either Cueva Ventana or Cueva del Indio. Both caves are well worth a visit!

No comments: