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A Visit to the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

1/21 Covid-19 rules apply- Museum is open and you can walk the grounds and see the petroglyphs and stone ball parks. But you may need reservations before going- call 787-840-2255 .

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

I have this "thing" about ancient civilizations and their cultures. I find it so interesting to see what they left behind. Luckily, Puerto Rico has a rich history of indigenous peoples and a number of artifacts scattered across the island.

The Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center (Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes, in Spanish), located just outside Ponce in the south-west of Puerto Rico, is the most important archaeological site in the Caribbean. The center offers some really nice information and examples of the Igneri, pre-Taíno and Taíno cultures of ancient Puerto Rico.

History Unfolding

This lovely place was uncovered in 1975 after the river flooded and washed away some of the top soil. Archaeological excavations have discovered artifacts from civilizations from around 25AD. They have already found so much. Who knows what else remains undiscovered?

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

We first went to Tibes about 18 years ago. A lot has changed since then!

Every year, archaeologists return to the Center to do more excavations and research. So far, they have uncovered 9 ball fields (bateys), 186 burial sites, and 3 ceremonial plazas.

They have been able to determine many of the Taíno customs and purposes of some of the artifacts found here by studying the Indian tribes of Central and South America. They have even found ties to the Mongolians. One can only imagine the trip these original people had to make to get here. It is mind blowing!

A Visit to Tibes

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

When you get to the Center, you are directed to visit the museum first. It is a great museum! It had lots of artifacts and bilingual (English/Spanish) placards that explained all about the people that lived in, and used, the area. There was even one of the skeletons on display, just as he was discovered — in a fetal position.

They have an interesting 15-minute bilingual video about the center, the archaeological work they are doing, and their conservation efforts. It was an interesting video to watch.

After touring the museum and viewing the video, if there is a guide, you meet your tour guide who takes you out into the archaeological site itself. If no guide, you can just walk out to the ball fields yourself. Put on bug spray as the mosquitoes are hungry!

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

After crossing a bridge, you walk along a path where they are growing the trees that the Indians used for food, shelter, canoes and all sorts of other purposes. You can go right to the ball field (or batey) area. Here, you’ll be able to view 2 ceremonial plazas and 7 ball fields. The ball fields were used to play a game with a large rubber ball. The fields vary in size, but they are really just a plot of land surrounded by rocks.

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

At Tibes, each of the ball fields are identified by what was found in each one or by the shape/orientation of the field itself. One is referred to as the bat field because that is where the researchers found pottery with bat designs. Another is called the horseshoe field because of the shape.

The archaeologists found the majority of the burial sites in the largest of the ball fields. This was also the one that had a few petroglyphs on the rocks surrounding the field. Intermixed with the ball fields were the plazas that were used for ceremonial gatherings and other meetings.

In addition to the museum and ball fields, Tibes has a gift shop, snack bar and clean restrooms. I would suggest sunscreen, bug spray, and water when you go out on the field.


Admission is $3/adult, discount for children under 12 , seniors, handicapped, students (with ID). Adults over 75 and kids under 5 are free. You usually pay at the gate. But if there is no one at the gate, go to office for your tickets and tour information. I hear it is Cash only.

Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center

The Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9am to 3:00pm. But get there by 2pm just in case!). Closed on Monday (unless it’s a Monday holiday, then they’re open on Monday and closed on Tuesday).

Allow about 1½ hours.

You can call (787)840-2255 for reservations and more information.

Directions from Ponce: Route 10 north to Route 503. Turn left onto Route 503 and continue to KM 2.2.

We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ... 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 →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 9 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

Thanks for the update!

Comment by Gwenn on 05 Sep 2014

There are changes in the service hours. Is best to call before to make sure if they are open. Right now they open at 9:00 am until 2:00 pm.

Comment by on 03 Sep 2014

I think they only need to alternate tour languages when they are busy. If you are the only ones there (which if you go mid week could be the case), they will do your language. Kids are less than $5, not sure exact price (it has been a few years since we have visited). There is no need for a reservation, but you can call them for more info.

Comment by Gwenn on 26 Feb 2014

I am interested in visiting the center, and heard that they alternate English and Spanish led tours on the hour If so, what times are the English ones? Do we need to make a reservation for a tour? What is the cost for a child between ages of 5-12? Thank you!

Comment by Tenkuky on 26 Feb 2014

I just went on a tour at Tibes with my mother and wife and we all found it very interesting. Our tour guide Walter was knowledgeable, interesting and fun. I would (will) recommend Tibes to all of my family who live in PR as well as anyone thinking of visit the island.

Comment by Hector on 12 Feb 2014

Thanks- I updated the prices in the article.

Comment by Gwenn on 19 Jan 2014

I just visited this wonderful site today -- so many gems, and excellent guides. (bilingual) Archaeology buffs will find this place a working dream. I wish I'd seen your overview first though, as we almost never found the place. The local provided maps from the Hotel (Holiday Inn) were less than helpful. (ok, they were MISERABLE) Worse, the gps ap I was using -- and which had gotten me to Ponce just fine -- failed terribly in finding Tibes. So don't leave home without a printed, detailed map on how to get to the Tibes site. Study the maps above carefully -- and even then, be prepared to be confused. Better yet, take along a cell phone (Sprint is strong) and call the Center if you get lost. (Once we got there, they were so helpful -- even providing us with a wonderful, hand-drawn map to get to our next stop -- hacienda buena vista) I wish the Tibes Indian Ceremonial Center well. It deserves better support -- beginning from local tourism officials. ps: one update, the entrance fee is now up to $5 per person. (and worth it, if you like deep history and have an imagination.)

Comment by Will on 18 Jan 2014

Thank you to our tour guide for reciting the tour in English for us. There was only 3 people who spoke English so the tour guide did it both in Spanish and English just for us. Very interesting site if you are interested in past ancestors. Very nice place to visit for a bit of history.

Comment by The Mumby's on 29 Jan 2013

I was there with my daughters spanish class (25 students and 8 chaperons) the last week of March. and I would just like to say Thank You. We has the absolute best tour guide, forgive me for not remembering his name as my paperwork has been put away. He was a wonderful bald man and I must say that he kept the attention of each of the students with his words and stories and for that many students that is a major feat. We learned alot about what happened there and how this historical site came to be. It was a great experience and he was a great guide.

Comment by Mary Schultz on 24 May 2012

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