Caving at Angeles Cave in Puerto Rico

There’s no doubt that Puerto Rico is full of natural marvels, but one of the most impressive and not so explored are the Rio Camuy Cave Systems.

This spectacular cave system, located in the central west region of the island, contains the third largest subterranean river in the world and it’s home to an incomparable tropical ecosystem and environment that still conserves its natural state from millions of years ago.

I had the chance to explore and go deep into the caves with Aventuras Tierra Adentro – in my opinion; they are the go-to adventure company when it comes to Zip Lining, Canyoning, and Caving in Puerto Rico.  Their Caving tour was selected by the National Geographic as one of the “500 of the world’s greatest trips”.

Angeles Cave in Puerto Rico

The tour runs on Sundays with a pick up at Ventana del Mar in Condado; an accessible meeting point to any traveler in San Juan.  As soon as the guys from Aventuras show up, we are greeted with a red carpet rolling out of the van accompanied by adventurous background music (with applause).

It’s 5:45 am, so I expect to sleep on the one-hour ride to Arecibo.  Wrong!  Rossano, main guide and owner of Aventuras, and Anibal have enough air and energy to crack jokes during the whole ride.  They are fully energetic and entertaining; even when my eyes are rolling up from the lack of sleep and the few drinks I had the previous night!

Just before we arrive at the cave system, we stop at a small bakery to have breakfast and stock up on food supplies and water.

Once at the caving location, we have a short hike in the limestone karst, followed by a somewhat entertaining mid-forest crash course on rappelling and safety.  Entertainment is a big part of their tours – one of the small details that make the experience even better.

Angeles Cave in Puerto Rico

Once briefed, with the rappelling equipment on, we hike even further down and reach the first thrill of this adventurous experience – the Zip-line… the point of no return!

I am appointed as a volunteer to clip-on the other 8 adventurers on the tour to the safety line before they are hooked to the zip-line.  The zip-line is small but exhilarating.  Once at the other end, I feel the adrenaline rushing.

I’m now standing at the edge of the 250-feet deep sinkhole that shelters the mouth of Angeles Cave.  I’m ready, and thrilled, to rappel this behemoth tropical hole.  But before, I get a small bonus (for being such a good volunteer?) and do an extra zip-line by myself over the sinkhole; getting a bird’s eye view of its impressive drop, the steep forested cliffs, the river, and the cave’s mouth.

Angeles Cave in Puerto Rico

The rappel is more than just another activity; it is the transition between the lush-green-tropical-forest and the dark-rocky-mysterious-caves.

Once at the bottom, I change the rappel equipment and gear up with the caving equipment.  Now it’s time to pass through the gloomy threshold that gives access to the environment I’ll experience for the next 5 hours – I’m now inside Angeles Cave.

Even when the chambers are big and there are no really tight spaces as in many other caves, this caving experience is no walk in the park.  Scratches, cuts, and bruises are a common part of the experience.  Getting extremely dirty, muddy, and wet… inevitable.

We move forward as a group, caving inside the warm dark chambers that are only lit by our helmet lights.  We climb rocks, do mudslides, cross underground waterfalls, and swim in the underground river.  This is just the beginning.

Angeles Caves in Puerto Rico

The whole time inside the cave is adrenaline filled, active, entertaining and educative. Rossano makes sure to educate us on the rock formations, history of the caves, fossils, conservation, living creatures (yes, there are small scorpions, crabs, cockroaches, spiders, bats, and so on), native Taino petroglyphs, and caving techniques.

To test our adventurous spirit, Rossano asks us to walk a small segment of the cave with our lights off.  Pretty scary, but the subterranean scenery is jaw-dropping… even when in total darkness.   But then, he pushes us even further when we reach a subterranean steep drop; at its base, the river flows.

I step on the edge to have a full grasp of its 20 ft drop.

“Now, everyone, turn off your head lights!”, Rosanno says out loud.

The free fall jump to the river is in total darkness.  PITCH BLACK!

I give way, jump forward and wait for the splash.  I don’t feel the splash.  I should be in the water already.  How deep is this?

Then, splash!!!

The free fall felt way longer than what I expected.  Now the adrenaline rush has skyrocketed to new heights.

We swim through the subterranean river tunnels, climb through walls, and do more free fall jumps (this time with light).  Halfway the tour we stop to eat our lunch at a huge chamber they’ve christened as Pandora.  Once you’re there you’ll know why; I won’t spoil this surprise, among many others!

Angeles Caves in Puerto Rico

The way back is no less exciting than the way in.  After going up and down some of the challenges the cave presents, we finish our caving experience with a race.  Yes, a race… a mud race!  One of the last chamber’s floor is a huge bed of thick mud. Should we walk slowly through it, our shoes will get sucked by this Nutella sea.  So, the best way to get out is by racing through the mud like mad!

Needless to say, by the end of the race, I am fully covered in mud!

Once out of the cave, the adventure is not quite finished yet… a 10-minute hike up awaits; finishing at some well-deserved snacks, showers, and the bus.  Now I can sleep and rest my sore body on the ride back to San Juan.

Angeles Caves in Puerto Rico


Few Recommendations:

  • Take extra clothing to change after the tour.
  • Wear comfortable sneakers with shoelaces (you don’t want to lose them sucked by the mud).  Boots will be too heavy for the swim.
  • Buy an extra sandwich, chips, and water at the bakery and pack them in a double zip lock bag to prevent water from ruining your food.
  • A moderate physical condition is appropriate, but no experience is required.

Essential Information 

Company: Aventuras Tierra Adentro

Email:
 [email protected]

Phone:
 787-766-0470

Address:
 #268-A Jesús T. Piñero Ave.
Urb. University Gardens
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00927

Place:
 Angeles Cave in Rio Camuy Cave System.  Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

Cost:
 $170 (a bit high for budget travelers, but believe me, it’s totally worth it!)

Note: Images 1, 2, and 4 supplied by Aventuras Tierra Adentro.

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51 thoughts on “Caving at Angeles Cave in Puerto Rico”

  1. holy crap! how did I go to puerto rico and NOT know about these! It looks awesome- can’t wait to make a trip back down there and try these out.

    1. hahaha! Don’t worry… I lived in PR for 23 years and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I got to do it for the first time. 🙂 You should try it out, this adventure tour does live to its expectations.

  2. I’m still so furious that that stupid cruise liner I was on only stopped for 3 hours in Puerto Rico and that at night. The things I have missed. Clear decision made: as soon as I’m back in Miami one of my first trips is back to Puerto Rico…for as long as I please.

    1. I know! It’s so strange that cruise docked so late! Something must have happened there… For that alone you deserve a visit back to Puerto Rico! 🙂

  3. This looks so amazing but so scary! Rapelling into pitch black? Swimming in river tunnels? Sign me up! I can feel the adrenalin just thinking about it.

    1. Yayyy!! You will love it!! It is scary to do all those things in the cave’s darkness… your mind is always running… “is there a scorpion here?, something in the water? will I hit the rocks?”… But the fun and the adrenaline are even more powerful. It is definitely one of the best adventure tours I’ve done so far.

    1. Hey Jozef… It truly is awesome!! If you go to Puerto Rico and have the chance to do this… I’m pretty sure you will enjoy it a lot! Jumping in total darkness is one of the scary highlights of the tour!

    1. Christy, there are a few cramped spaces, but just a minimal part of the whole route. Actually, the most cramped space is shown in the video when we are floating in the water. If you want to have a caving experience but are afraid of feeling claustrophobic inside them, this is a good one to start. Compared to other caves I’ve done caving, these caves’ chambers are immense! 🙂

  4. What an adventure! But by the time I got to the “free fall jump to the river is in total darkness” part I realized that I’m probably not brave enough for this, but I sure admire you for doing it. I really would like to revisit Puerto Rico sometime. I’ve been there twice, but each time were business things and I didn’t have much time to spend outside of the resorts. Sounds like much more to see there!

    1. Thanks Cathy! This one truly is an adventure!

      Ah, so nice you’ve been to Puerto Rico. When you have a chance to revisit, do explore inland… towards the west of the island and the smaller island on the east. They give a totally different experience from the one you get at San Juan.

  5. This looks like amazing fun!! I would love this. We did caving in South Africa in some really tight spaces but it doesn’t look half as fun as this. There is so much adventure involved. The 20ft jump in darkness would have freaked me out!!
    Putting it on the Puerto Rico list.

    1. Caz, you and Craig will LOVE this experience! True, there are not many tight spaces in these caves, but the climbs, drops, slides, and swims are a lot of fun… and a bit physically demanding in some cases. That 20ft jump… OMG… It is one of the weirdest feelings I’ve ever had! I knew how high I was… but the fall felt way longer than what I expected. I had no reference point so it was very frightening but amazing at the same time!

  6. this has got to be in the top 5 fun outings i’ve read about! the dive in pitch black?! holy crap! great work on the video too- love how you can hear the splash. in love with this post all around- photos, writing, recommendations, video- love it!

    1. Thank you so much Ben and Carrie! Yes, if you like extreme sports and active adventures, then this is a must in Puerto Rico. Hopefully it will make the cut on your list of places. Let me know if you need any tips or advice. 🙂

  7. wow, the cave looks cool. Was it free to have a look around in the cave or did they asked some fee? i ask this because I went to curacao and over there they are asking for a fee, just curious!

    By the way great post, I like the video.

    1. Thanks! This cave system is huge and there are areas where you can enter by yourself without paying any fee. But for this type of activity you have to pay either this tour or the regular tour which is very light and easy to walk.

  8. Alexandra Espeset

    Hi there Norbert! I am so excited to do this your. It looks out-of-this-world amazing. However, I have no rapelling or climbing experience. Is it necessary? I am physically fit and all the way gung-ho for anything. Hopefully this is enough hey?!

    1. Hi Alexandra! This tour is amazing, so I’m really excited that you’re doing it! You will be fine doing it with no experience. They will guide you step by step on how to work the ropes, rappel, and make your way inside the cave. So, no need to have climbing or rappelling experience. You just need the adventurous spirit to have a great time down there. 🙂

      1. Alexandra Espeset

        Hooray! Would you recommend wearing sneakers (mine have little traction) or something more pliable, like water shoes with laces?

        1. I would recommend wearing comfortable sneakers that can get dirty and damaged, in case. You can also use water shoes as long as they are closed and with laces. The reason for the laces is because you will walk through a pool of mud, so your shoes might get sucked in if they are not tied tight. I wore old running sneakers, more less with little traction too, and I was fine with it. Actually, the limestone does add traction as the calcite created by the water is very porous, so the stone themselves have good grip.

  9. cox alviso (@Nice_Cox)

    Hi!

    I featured one of your images in my blog. I used it to portray one of the scenes in the story I made. I linked the image to your webpage in case anyone is interested in my source. I hope you don’t mind.

    Great blog anyway, I hope I can visit it pag-uwi ko 🙂

  10. RichardLovingWolf

    Norbert,

    I am doing this adventure with my Newlywed in 3 weeks, Nov 24, 2012. We both are very active, but I can not swim. I love the water; I snorkle, fish, kayak and I am not afraid of the water as long as I have my life vest on !!! Will I be OK ? Any tips for the jumps into the water ? Any tips for the free float through the tight tunnel ? I want to conquer my fears, but I want to be safe at the same time. I want to have an amazing time with my Wife. Thank you, Richard

    1. Hi Richard – My sincere apologies for not being able to reply to you in time. I hope the tour went by good and that you enjoyed it without any problems!

  11. I went on this tour back in 2010. It was amazing. Similar to those potentially afraid of the water… I was afraid of heights. The adrenaline of this adventure gets you so pumped you feel like Indiana Jones… and you lose all the inhibitions. BTW . The #1 item that is stressed by Aventuras is SAFETY. You will hear it in the training and see them practice it throughout the journey. They’re a top notch experience!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Felix! Like you said, Aventuras is very concerned about safety and they make sure everything we do is safe while being fun and adventurous.

  12. You’ve got to be kidding me! A freefall jump, into a river, in total darkness. Not no, but hellz no! That’s just a bit past the extreme side, bordering on insane. I would’ve been crying like a baby. Kudos for having the courage!

  13. Hey Norbert. :0) I’m planning a trip for myself to Puerto Rico around Valentine’s Day (I’m single, so I thought I’d “take myself out” -ha) and I’m loading up my itinerary now. So glad I found this and thanks for sharing it. I’ve never been to PR but it’s been a dream of mine for many years. I’ve also never been ziplining, but I’m extremely adventurous, so, I’m going to kill two birds with one stone! (I’ve also never seen the ocean or been on a kayak but I’ll do all of those things too.) I graduated last month (Behavioral Sciences and Substance Abuse) and so this is my little graduation present before diving back in for degree #2. I sooooo with I could join you on your world-traveling adventures- guh. I’d do it in a second. (I’m a photographer. Indiana sucks!)

    Anyway, thanks again for inspiring me to go for it and do this day trip in PR- I can’t wait to get all scratched up, cut up and beat up! (I know when I’m having a good time by the number of branches and twigs in my hair, usually. :0) Take care out there and be safe. x -Birgitta

    1. Hi Birgitta –

      Wow, I’m really excited you’re going to PR!!! And yes, DO this tour because if you’re adventurous, you will love it! I’m not sure how much time you’ll have there or what you have planned, but try to visit either Vieques or Culebra islands (which are part of PR). I love those two islands and they have amazing beaches. Well, you know what… try going to Vieques Bioluminescent bay. There you’ll kayak at night on the bay and you’ll see who the water glows bright blue as you paddle through it. I think you’ll love it!

      Please, let me know if you have any questions about PR. I’m from there, so I could give you a bunch of tips. 😀

      Glad to have you around! Cheers!
      Norbert

  14. Hi Norbert,

    I am going with a group of my friends, all of us are going to be 21 this year but some of us will still be 20 in February this year which is when we’re planning to go. I understand that the min age requirement would be 21. But we really do not want to miss this chance, so I was just wondering whether the tour asked to see IDs at the start of the adventure?

    1. Hi Stella –

      Sorry for the late reply. As far as I can remember, they didn’t ask for IDs, but you have to sign a release form before you start the tour, which asks for your age. While I personally don’t recommend this, if you’re willing to take the risk, just put 21 on your form. ONLY if you’re believably close to being 21. But again, that you’ll do at your own risk.

  15. Hi Norbert!
    I really want to do this. Sadly I didn’t about this before I booked my trip which is mainly a cruise trip so the only free day is the day my cruise leaves (it leaves at 8:30pm) and they require us to be there around 6. Do you think I make it back on time?

    1. Hi Mayra –

      Unfortunately, maybe not. The cave is about 1:00 to 1:20 hours away from San Juan, and this is a full day tour. When I did it, I got back to San Juan around 7 pm, so even if you’re in San Juan before the cruise leaves, you will be tight on time to check in on the cruise. I would recommend, though, to contact Aventuras Tierra Adentro as they will be able to give you more accurate information about their schedule and whether or not you’ll be back on time for check-in.

      Hope it works out!

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