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During a Caribbean vacation, a few hours touring an island cave makes for a welcome change of pace from the typical fun-in-the-sun activities.
Following are five caves worth a visit – especially for families traveling with children.
Camuy River Cave Park, Puerto RicoPuerto Rico’s Camuy River Cave Park is a cave system numbering at least 220 caves, with many more caves waiting to be discovered. It’s within easy reach of San Juan, making it a perfect choice for a day trip from the city. The piece de resistance at Camuy River Cave Park is the stalactite- and stalagmite-studded Clara Cave, whose main chamber soars 215 feet.
Touring the cave system is done by tram, although some sites are accessed by foot, including a challenging 295 steps leading down to view the system’s Spiral Cave and Sinkhole. Those who want an extra thrill — and the chance to spot myriad bats — can opt for one of the nocturnal tours. The cave system limits the number of daily visitors, so it’s imperative to make advance reservations for the popular attraction.
(Note: Puerto Rico took a major hit from Hurricane Maria in 2017, and Camuy is currently closed until further notice.)
Fontein Cave, ArubaClients who enjoy Aruba’s modern delights of shopping, nightlife and dining can shake things up with a tour of Fontein Cave, which is located in the island’s Arikok National Park. Unlike the awesome proportions of other Caribbean caves, Fontein Cave isn’t going to impress visitors with its size: a modest 6.5 feet in height and less than 10 feet in width. Instead, the cave’s wow factor is its collection of petroglyph drawings inscribed on the walls by Aruba’s early occupants, the Arawak Indians. These drawings of sacred animals and mystical symbols date back to 1000 AD.
A visit to the cave will also provide the opportunity to see Aruba’s unique Caribbean desert landscape. What’s more, Arikok National Park has two additional caves that can be visited: Guadirikiri Cave and Huliba Cave.
Green Grotto Caves, JamaicaWhile many Caribbean caves can promote their natural beauty and historical importance, only one cave site can boast about being the location for a James Bond movie: Jamaica’s Green Grotto Caves were the site of an action sequence in the 1973 James Bond film “Live and Let Die,” starring Roger Moore. They were also important as a hiding place for runaway slaves during Jamaica’s colonial past.
Green Grotto Caves are 40 feet deep and almost a mile long, and they make an intriguing visit on foot (no trams here). The highlight is a subterranean lake.
The caves are located on the north coast of the island and can be easily reached via Montego Bay or Ocho Rios.
Harrison’s Cave, BarbadosHarrison’s Cave on Barbados is one of the most tourist-friendly caves in the Caribbean. Located about 9 miles from the capital city of Bridgetown, the cave is explored via an electric tram.
Throughout the tour, the tram makes scheduled stops so that visitors can depart the tram and marvel at their surroundings.
The limestone cave wasn’t mapped out until the 1970s, when its cavern pools, waterfalls and limestone formations were fully revealed. The major sight inside the cave is the Great Hall, a stalagmite and stalactite chamber that climbs more than 50 feet.
Hato Caves, CuracaoDepending upon a client’s point of view, the long-nosed bats on view inside the Hato Caves will be either a highlight or lowlight of a tour.
A 45-minute guided tour of the caves will kick off with a climb up 50 steps. Once inside, the guide will share the history of the caves, which were a place of shelter for Arawak Indians and a refuge for runaway slaves. In addition to interior pools and large chambers, there are Arawak petroglyphs on the walls.