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View Petroglyphs at Cueva del Indio in Arecibo

Admire los Petroglifos en la Cueva del Indio en Arecibo

Ver en espanolView in English Posted on Feb 23rd, 2008 by • Updated on Sep 22nd, 2013
Servicios de Traduccion prestados por la New School of Languages
Petroglyph at La Cueva del Indio

Puerto Rico is an island with many different faces. It is both urban and country, modern and historical, laid-back and hurried, built-up and natural. If you visit Arecibo and La Cueva del Indio (Cave of the Indian), you will see it all – modern, country, nature and history – all in one day. To get there, you take Highway 22, past the Barceloneta Outlet mall. From this modern highway, turn onto some country roads and see rural Puerto Rico along the northern coast. At the caves, you will be transported back in time. The Taino Indians held tribal meetings in this area and made numerous carvings in the walls of these natural limestone caves. The petroglyphs are said to have been made during ceremonial activities. These petroglyphs pre-date Columbus’ arrival to Puerto Rico in 1493, and were probably made many centuries earlier.

Vista at La Cueva del Indio

Here was our trip: We pulled in at the sign on the side of the road that says El Coayuco "Cueva del Indio", and paid $2.00 to park. Currently they have added a little bar, with bathrooms and more parking. The owner will tell you about the place and how to get there, and they will offer you a tour to walk you down to the petroglyphs (a “tip” is expected for tours). We thought going with someone who knew how and where to go made the experience better, since he knew the easiest and “safest” ways to go. Our guide walked us along the rocks to the cave, where he pointed out the carvings and explained the why, when and how the Tainos made them. This cave is open to the sky, so you can see into it. Every once in a while, someone from PR Department of Natural Resources comes out to clean off the rocks and outline the carvings, so they are easier to see. When we went they were visible, just not as clear as possible.

Petroglyph at La Cueva del Indio

It is a bit treacherous. To get to the caves, you need to walk across exposed limestone, which is sharp – take care not to fall! You should wear sturdy shoes – sneakers or something – not flip-flops or high heels. You will be looking over a ledge, down about 25 feet into the cave – be mindful of your footing. If you are agile and want to, you can use the rickety ladder to go down into the cave.

La Cueva del Indio is said to contain the largest number of petroglyphs found along the coastal zone. In 1992, the Planning Board of Puerto Rico designated Cueva del Indio as a Natural Reserve. Since then, the cave is managed by the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER). They try to maintain it for conservation purposes. Unfortunately, there has been some vandalism of these beautiful historical carvings. "Rafe" decided he needed to make his mark here along with the Taino carvings. But, thankfully, even after all these years, the petroglyphs had withstood the natural and human forces, and are still around today for us to enjoy.

Beach at La Cueva del Indio

You can also walk all around on the rocks to see the views and watch the beautiful Atlantic waves crash on the beaches. There are just wonderful views in this area. There are huge cliffs, arches, caves and even a natural bridge. There were big waves that day, so it was just beautiful.

I had read in a few travel books and have been told by locals about how the area is not really "safe" and that your car may be broken into if you park on the road. Having read this, we were a little unsure of going. But we felt totally comfortable parking at this residence/El Coayuco snack bar, and especially having a local go with us. If we go again, we would definitely pay the money to park at this area. But if you talk with the gas station owner, he may be willing to will watch your car if you park there. There are bathrooms at the El Coayuco bar and at the gas station across the street.

There is no "admission" price per se. This is not a "park" or anything like that. It’s just a cave on the edge of the sea. For parking- If you want to park in this El Coayuco area, or access the area by crossing this property, the owners charge you $2.00 to park, or 50¢ per person to walk in. They are open 10am – 7pm. If you take the guided tour, they will ask for a tip from everyone.

Since it’s not a formal "park", there are no set hours that the cave is open, but I’d suggest going during daylight hours, otherwise you won’t be able to see anything! If you want to access it using this Coayuco area, the hours they allow parking is 10am -7pm. Otherwise, you would need to park by beach to the east or west and walk on the beach to the cave, or find another point of access.

Allow about 30 minutes to see the cave, petroglyphs and surrounding areas.

You can call Carmen or Richard (the owners of El Coayuco property) at 787-295-8878.

Take Route 22 and exit at Route 10 North (toward the ocean). Turn right onto RT 2, go over bridges. At the light, make a left and then a quick right to get onto Road 681 (you’ll see signs for 681). Follow Road 681 until KM 7.8 or so. There is a sign on the left in the wooded area that says caves or Cueva del Indio and El Coayuco. Pull into the dirt driveway and park. At the bar, someone will come out to take your $2.00.

Travel time from the San Juan area is about 90 minutes one way.

Petroglyph at La Cueva del Indio

La isla de Puerto Rico tiene muchas facetas. Es urbana y rural, moderna e histórica, relajante y agitada, natural y urbanista. Si visitan la ciudad de Arecibo y la Cueva del Indio podrán apreciar todo lo antes expuesto. Modernidad, zonas rurales, naturaleza e historia — todo en un día. Para llegar tome la autopista 22 y pase los Primium Outlets en Barceloneta. Desde esta moderna autopista gire y tome unas angostas carreteras rurales que corren por toda la costa norte. Una vez llegue a la Cueva, tendrá la oportunidad de transportarse en el tiempo. Los indios Tainos realizaban ceremoniales y reuniones en esta área y dejaron muchos grabados en las paredes de estas cuevas de piedra caliza. Los petroglifos aparentemente fueron tallados durante sus actividades ceremoniales. Estos son dibujos precolombinos y datan de antes de la llegada de Colon a la isla en 1493, posiblemente muchos siglos antes.

Vista at La Cueva del Indio

Nuestro viaje transcurrió de la siguiente manera. Nos detuvimos justo en el rotulo que dice El Coayuco– Cueva del Indio, pagamos $2.00 para podernos estacionar en el patio de una casa que en aquel entonces pertenecía a un hombre llamado Richard el que según me informan pereció. Actualmente hay un bar en el lugar con servicios sanitarios y estacionamiento disponible. El encargado te brindará la información sobre el sitio y te indicará como llegar y hasta posiblemente se ofrezca a mostrarte los petroglifos. (Una donación nunca esta de más). Nos pareció más indicado y seguro el ir con alguien familiarizado con el área. Richard nos llevó a la cueva, nos mostró los dibujos y nos explicó todos los detalles de su origen. La cueva esta a la intemperie, así que podrá ver los dibujos, dentro de la misma, con relativa facilidad. Con regularidad el Departamento de Recursos Naturales limpia la cueva y contorna los petroglifos para que se identifiquen mejor. En el momento en que la visitamos los petroglifos estaban visibles pero no muy claros.

Petroglyph at La Cueva del Indio

Es un poco arriesgado el caminar por los arrecifes afilados para llegar a la cueva. Tienen que tener sumo cuidado donde pisan para que no se vayan a caer ya que hay orificios en el suelo. Lleven zapatos cerrados y seguros, no lleven sandalias. Podrán apreciar la cueva desde un promontorio de 25 pies de altura. ¡Ojo donde pongan el pie! Si son agiles pueden bajar la escalerilla tambaleante para bajar dentro de la cueva.

Se dice que este sito contiene el mayor número de petroglifos encontrado en la costa. En el año 1992 la Junta de Planificación Ambiental designó la Cueva del Indio como Reserva Natural. Desde entonces la cueva es manejada por la susodicha agencia (DNER). Ellos tratan de mantenerla con propósitos conservacionales. Desafortunadamente, ha habido algún vandalismo en el lugar. Un tipo llamado "Rafe", decidió escribir su marca de grafiti junto a los petroglifos tainos. Pero, afortunadamente, a pesar de todos estos años, estos dibujos tainos han aguantado las fuerzas naturales y humanas y aun podemos disfrutarlos.

Beach at La Cueva del Indio

También se puede apreciar el paisaje del Océano Atlántico golpeando las rocas en la playa. Las vistas son espectaculares en esta área. Enormes acantilados, arcos, cuevas y hasta puentes naturales. Había mucho oleaje ese día; fue uno simplemente bello.

He leído en varios panfletos de viaje acerca de la seguridad del área y de que pueden vandalizar su auto. Estos panfletos sugieren que uno se estacione en la Gasolinera frente al Coayuco. De ahí pueden caminar hasta la cueva por unos minutos. Nos dio un poco de temor al leer eso pero decidimos hacerlo de todas maneras y nos sentimos muy seguros estacionando en un área privada y al estar junto a una persona que conoce el vecindario. Si alguna vez regresamos nos aparcaremos en un estacionamiento que cobre y vigile el auto.

No hay que pagar admisión. Este no es un parque ni nada por el estilo. Es solo una cueva junto al mar. Algunos residentes cobraran $2 por estacionamiento o 50¢ por persona.

Separe 30 minutos para ver la cueva, los petroglifos y el paisaje del área.

Tome la ruta 22 hasta la ruta 10 norte (hacia el océano). Gire a la derecha a ruta 2. A la luz, gire a la izquierda y gire rápidamente a la derecha nuevamente para llegar a la carretera 681. (Verá los rotulos). Siga la 681 hasta el kilometro 7.8 (ver Gasolinera) Hay un letrero a la izquierda: Cueva del Indio. Estaciónese en el estacionamiento del Coayuco. Alguien pasará a recoger sus $2.

En autopista desde San Juan se tomará aproximadamente 90 minutos dependiendo del tráfico.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

Utilice el siguiente mapa para localizar los lugares mencionados en este artículo. Puede hacer clic en cualquiera de las marcas de posición para ver las coordenadas GPS de ese lugar.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid ... then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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17 comments
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  1. What a charming story! I know Taino sites often get ignored by tourists, since most people don’t know what they are, so it’s good to see you mentioning them. Arecibo is also a great town and deserves a stop, not only to see the observatory but just to experience all Arecibo has to offer.

  2. HI! I just returned from Puerto Rico and happened upon this very site!! Even some of the locals don’t know about this place-amazing! Richard was totally awesome and knowledgable about the petroglyphs. I took lots of pictures, and Richard took some of us in the scenery. I was totally amazed with the petroglyphs and the number of them. And as you stated, there is some vandalism which is a total shame. I was doing some rearch on the caves when I happened upon your article. Thanks for the confirmation!

  3. I am shocked and delighted to learn that this piece of heaven still exist unspoiled!

    I spent many days in ’72 and ’73 there as a boy. There was an old wooden ladder leading down into the cave then.
    Some day’s the waves were as high as 20-25 feet, but most times it was smooth as glass and an absolutely magnificent place to snorkel.
    And what an incrdible, pristine walk for many miles west along the coast.

    I wonder…
    Are the cannons from the old spnish galleon still out there in the shallows?

  4. I was there yesterday (11/30/2010) and Gwenn’s description is still accurate. We had a great time and for the $2.00 it was much easier to leave the car there. The whole Arecibo shore is incredible. We spent a whole day going from beach to beach via Pr-681 from the Faro to Barceloneta and seeing many distinct but equally breathtaking views from the beaches. We had 2 guide books and they hardly mention anything about it. I had to use the maps on my iPhone to find the right way in and out since there’s hardly any maps on that area. The rocky formations are great to explore, each one has been carved in a particular way by the wind, waves where the ocean sprays over forming lagoon and pools. Don’t miss it.

  5. I saw your article a few weeks ago since I was going to that Island on business I decided to visit the cave you speak about. I love the casino area in San Juan so I usually don’t venture too far from the tourist area. Since my wife was coming with me on this trip I pretty much knew that the casinos would be out of the itinerary. First we went to the radar in Arecibo which by the way is the biggest radar in the world.

    We stopped for a great relaxing lunch at a marina we ran into. On the way to the cave we saw the most beautiful shoreline we ever saw. We decided to stop at a beach front were many of the locals were surfing. To make a long story short we loved that beach-front spot so much that we never made it to the Indian cave. I even borrowed a surfboard from on the kids we met there. We stayed at that spot until the sun went down, then we drove forty-five minutes back to San Juan. We never got to see the cave.

    We are making plans to go back there next year with the rest of the family and will definitely go and see the cave.

  6. I parked across the street, by the time we came back into the car, we were intercepted by some kids trying to sell us a dog. I’d seen a kid falling on the floor on the side of the care, a couple of minutes after we left the parking area (right across the street at a gas station), the tire was flat. The experience of the cave however was awesome! great views, took some unbelievable pictures. Ride back to the hotel was about 4 hours since we had to wait and get the roadside assistance with the tire on the rented car….conclusion: place is not worth the dangers on the area.

  7. Sorry this happened to you Johanna. We did mention in the article that the area may be iffy and why we recommend you pay the $2 to park in the residents lot, not across the street.

  8. Just returned from Puerto Rico. This was my favorite spot. Best $2.00 spent! The ocean landscape was gorgeous! I told several other visitors about this location

  9. Is this place safe for kids? I would like to go but not sure if I could bring my son.

  10. We can’t say if it is “safe” or not- there are sheer cliffs that don’t have any guard rails preventing falls into the deep crashing waves/ water below, the rock surface is sharp and uneven, the home-made ladder that goes down into the cave is a bit rickety and there are holes in the rocks that a person could fall through if they were not looking where they are walking etc.

  11. In the late 70′s we used to go scuba diving off the shore where the caves are. What is incredible is that the caves continue out into the ocean and are my favorite dive spot ever. Spotted numerous lobster and sharks including reportedly a few hammerheads in that area. On a calm day you can almost enter the caves from underwater.

  12. Cueva del Indio was well worth the drive and the $3 ($2 park and $0.50 each to see it if you don’t have Carla guide you, but we used her and “donated” more $ for her 30 min tour, all paid at the end of her tour). Carla was a great friendly guide telling stories, some true, some embellished and some?? HIGHLY suggest that if you want a beautiful pristine horseshoe shaped private beach (blows away anything you will see in San Juan and most anywhere else, it’s like from a travel magazine, no one there, palm trees, tidal pools to soak in, rock formations) then plan a day or 1/2 day here as you can also chill on the amazing beach here as part of your parking fee.

  13. This was wonderful! The views were breathtaking and the history of the cave was so interesting! We stopped at this cave after going to the Cueva Viento in the Guajataca Forest, it made for one spectacular day!

  14. Hi and thank you for visiting La cueva del indio located in our property. I’m Richard’s wife, and we own the property which was his father’s who is no longer with us. We open a snack shack where you get to buy nice cool drinks (non-alcoholics and alcoholics) and eat 5 different types of pastelillos, ground beef, chicken, octopus, shrimp chapin(fish). Our snack shack is call El Coayuco. We make pina coladas and other icy drinks to calm your thirst after hiking to the caves. I met so many people in my 4 years living here i can’t remember them all cause they are so many, but i’m pretty sure they remember me. I’m must of the time serving them in our snack shack or giving them directions to the caves and telling them part of the history. We have my husband’s uncle, Peter, who’s staying with us giving tours and charging parking. It’s easier and better when you use the tour guide who will do the tour for a tip. Starting june 1st we will have other extra guides, so if you ask for peter and he’s not available we also have Pito, Lia n Nico. They where raised here so they know every little inch of the cuevas. They will be with us for the summer. And again, thank you for visiting. Forgive me if you come again and i can’t remember you, but we get thousands coming to visit the caves. Thank you for your visit.

  15. Hi, is me Carmen! Thank you again for visiting our place in La Cueva del Indio. Just to let every one know that if you need a tour all you need to give the tour person is a tip and that we don’t have an amount for tours is what you feel like giving the tour guide if any one charges you an amount that got nothing to do with me or Richard(owner)! If any thing you could give us a call for more information (787) 295 – 8878. Thank you.

  16. Hi Carmen! Are there hours that you guys operate? I will be visiting next month and don’t want to wake anyone up :D

  17. Their operating hours are 10am – 7pm.

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