Explore Caves at Reserva Natural Las Cabachuelas
Puerto Rico has a diverse geographic landscape, with lots lava in the eastern part of the island, and expansive karst regions in the western part of the island. Karst is a topography made of limestone that rose from the ocean floor. Limestone is very porous, and after millions of years of rain seeping through the rock, many caves and underground rivers were formed all over western part of the island.
The town of Morovis has about 60 caves, the most caves of any town in Puerto Rico. These caves in Morovis, and the surrounding area, house significant archaeological treasures. The town set aside this area as a reserve to preserve these wonders. Recently, the town has decided to join the ecotourism bandwagon by offering guided tours to see some of their caves. We booked a tour, and checked it out!
The Reserva Natural Las Cabachuelas is located in the town of Morovis, in the center of the island. The day started at 7am at the cultural center in Morovis (we had to leave home by 5am to get there!), where we met our guides Felix and Myriam. Our guides gave us our equipment – helmets with headlamps. They made sure everyone had good shoes, and water/snacks. Take advantage of the restroom at the cultural center … it’s the last one you’ll see for 4 or 5 hours!
After everyone was ready, we loaded into their van, and they drove us to the starting point for our hike. They were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic guides. They told us about the town, the caves, nature, the conservation efforts, and education for the locals to promote ecotourism and jobs.
Once at the reserve, we walked maybe 10 minutes to the first cave. This cave is beautiful, called Los Gemelos (the twins). There is evidence of the pre-Columbian people using this cave … indigenous rock art-petroglyphs on the outside. Inside, there are a few pictographs that are beautiful. The rock formations inside the cave are amazing.
After the first cave, we walked a bit, and the guides talked about the birds and plants we passed along the path (watch your step, there are lots of “trippers”). This whole area is teaming with birds. The sound of the birds calling was very nice to hear. We got to a fresh-water stream where we rested a bit, then started another hike, up hill. It was maybe a 30-45 minute hike to get to the second cave, not too strenuous but not easy.
In this cave you can see ancient petroglyphs, and (sadly) modern graffiti. Our guides explained about the laws that protect the caves, and the serious fines for damaging them. We went inside and saw a bunch of formations, and followed the cave until we exited on the other side. Then we climbed up to get to 2 more caves!
The formations were cool. The guides explained how they were made, and how easily they are damaged. Our guides also pointed out cave dwelling animals, like crabs, whip scorpions, bats, crickets, and big cockroaches. The last cave was one of the few that had a bat population in it. Hurricane Maria really diminished the number of bats on the island, so they told us proper etiquette to help save the bats.
Then we turned around and hiked back to the van. The whole tour was about 4 hours. A few reasons for the early start: to avoid the heat of the afternoon, and the rains that usually come in the afternoon.
This was a really nice tour, educational, and interesting. Well worth the effort (and waking up before most of the civilized world).
Our tour was a mixed group — some English-only, some bilingual, a few Spanish-only. Our guides managed to do a tour that we all understood and enjoyed. They ask that you specify the language you need when making your reservation. We made our reservation via Facebook message, and paid via ATH Móvil (for Banco Popular customers). It was all very easy. Alternatively, you can call and do it all over the phone.
Technically, the Cabachuelas Nature Reserve is open to the public. However, exploring caves is not something just anyone should try doing alone. You can easily get lost or hurt in them. It is best to go with a guide who knows the area. The town Morovis offers the tour we went on, but you can also Google other tour companies that make tours of these caves. Having the right safety equipment is important — helmets, proper shoes, and lights!
The are talking about adding other tours that range in levels of difficulty, that will go to other caves in the area. Watch their Facebook page for more info!
Tours cost $45 for adults, and $35 for kids (8-12 years old and seniors).
Tours start at 7am sharp at the Centro Cultural Diógenes Colón Gómez, Calle Baldorioty in Morovis.
You should wear long pants, long-sleeve shirt, closed-toe shoes, and bring a backpack with water and some snacks. It wouldn’t hurt to bring a flashlight, though they provide a headlamp.
The tour takes 4-5 hours, from start to finish.
You can call or text (or WhatsApp)(939) 450-1295 for more information or to make a reservation.
You can visit their Facebook page for more information, or to make a reservation (via Facebook Messenger).
Morovis is about a 1-hour drive from the San Juan area.
Click on a placename below to view the location on Google Maps ...
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!