Caribbean Caving & Climbing
Caribbean caving proves that beauty is not just skin deep in the Caribbean
Caribbean caving is an exciting way to explore under the surface where you can discover stunning Caribbean caving scenes with huge stalactites and stalagmites. For adventurous visitors there are also cave tubing experiences, caving expeditions and networks of caverns and canyons for a Caribbean caving and climbing adventure to remember.
A combination of exhilarating experiences is involved when you go caving so be prepared for climbing, rappelling, ascending, and spelunking on a caving eco adventure. For more information on canyoning go to that dedicated page in the Caribbean River Activities section
Caribbean caving tips
Always wear sensible, comfortable shoes and clothes, sandals are a definite NO. Check with the guide or operator whether there will be a long hike to the caves, and whether it will be necessary to climb, jump, slide or crawl in the caves. Be prepared! The tour operator normally supplies the necessary equipment for the caves to be visited, such as helmets, flashlights, and wetsuits for example. If you plan to explore wet caves, don’t forget to take a swimming costume to wear under the wetsuit. It might be wise to take a towel too.
Caribbean caving & climbing destinations
ANGUILLA cavern development
A UNESCO World Heritage Site – Fountain Cavern – is currently being developed, so watch this space… it’s going to be an interesting underground cavern to visit when it opens
Exploring ARUBA caves
There are three caves, all located in the Arikok National Park. The Guadirikri Cave extends about 100ft and there are hundreds of bats (harmless) and holes in the cave roof that light up the caves’ two chambers. To explore Huliba Cave, though, you’ll need flashlights for the 300ft-long exploration. There are Arawak Indian ceiling drawings in Fontein Cave, which is the most visited cave in Aruba.
BARBADOS – Harrison’s Cave
Tours of Harrison’s Cave in Barbados are always accompanied by a tour guide; it is easily accessible and also suitable for infants. The cave exploration is on a tram which stops at selected view points for you to disembark to view the formations. The large underground cave system features caverns, formations, streams and waterfalls.
There are plenty of caving adventures in Belize – such as cave tubing, combined caves and river expeditions, hiking and caving, overnight caving expeditions, and black hole rappelling. The Actun Tunichil Muknal cave (in the Cayo district) offers a real adventure… a combination of hiking, swimming, wading and climbing. You’ll also see Maya sites on this caving adventure in one of the best Mayan caves. Other impressive caves are Actun Box Ch’iich’, Nohoch Che’en, Barton Creek cave, and the Chiquibul cave system.
BONAIRE cave tours, caving and climbing
There is a caving system in Bonaire with around 400 caves in all, some of which are open for tourist guided tours. The stalagmites and stalactites are amazing. In some wet caves you can snorkel in the crystal clear water but only explore caves in the company of a certified guide and cave operator.
Bonaire features limestone walls too – good for top rope climbing. However, abseiling down a 60ft cliff will be necessary before you get to the limestone walls, so be prepared.
Caves in the CAYMAN ISLANDS
The best caves in the Cayman Islands are on the island of Cayman Brac. There’s Peter’s Cave, which also boasts a spectacular, Bats Cave – a multi-chambered cave with, you’ve guessed, plenty of bats to hanging around, Great Cave with impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations, and Rebecca’s Cave which was used many years ago as a hurricane shelter.
Caves in CURACAO
There are 50 steep steps to climb to reach the Hato Caves, a refuge long ago for runaway slaves. This cave is a popular attraction and has a maintained path so getting around it is not difficult, however it does get crowded when cruise ships make their port of call.
Caves in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
There are many cave tours available throughout the Dominican Republic, the cave system is extensive and there are guides and cave experts available – a must have. Located on the eastern side of the island, visit La Cueva de las Maravillas to see cave paintings and natural formations and La Cueva del Diablo to experience the Caribbean’s longest cave stretching nearly 4 ½ miles featuring underground rivers, amazing rock formations and tunnels.
On the northern coastline, near Cabarete, divers can explore underwater Cuevas Dudu, while energetic hikers can trek to a number of caves in the El Choco National Park area. Around the Samana area there are three caves which contain drawings, buried in the rainforest of Los Haitises National Park, the cave of San Gabriel is known for its impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
Located near the capital, Santo Domingo, is the Mirador del Este Park which features caves and sink holes, visit Los Tres Ojos cave to admire its stalactites and stalagmites. El Pomier caves, full of drawings and symbols, are worth a visit – they are near San Cristobal.
Climbing in the Dominican Republic
There is a 300ft wall at Playa Fronton, not far from Las Galeras, Samaná, which offers 13 routes for varying skill levels.
HAITI caves and caving
Grotte Marie-Jeane, also known as Les Grottes d’Haiti, is a natural untouched cave located around 45 minutes’ drive from Port-Salut – the cave is approximately 2 ½ miles long and features a variety of landscapes and three gallery levels. Other caves that tourists can visit with a qualified local guide are Bellony Cave (Pestel) which is undamaged from degradations, and Kounoubwa Cave (Camp-Perrin) which features a number of chambers as well as some hidden passages (passage exploration must be accompanied by a guide).
JAMAICA’S Green Grotto caves
Used as the underground HQ of a villain in a James Bond film the Green Grotto caves in Jamaica have proved effective hiding places over the centuries… for runaways, guns, the Spanish and casks of rum. The caves are 40ft deep and just under one mile long and feature a lake and various chambers.
MEXICO – Cenotes (caves) in the YUCATAN PENINSULA
Mexico boats nine of the world’s deepest caves (deeper than 3,280ft / 1km), and an extensive network of subterranean caves and rivers of world- record size, depth and length. Take a Rio Secreto tour of underground rivers in the Riviera Maya area (near Playa del Carmen) – you will hike, swim, and explore deep inside an underground cave full of amazing mineral formations. A ‘must do’ if you are in the Yucatan Peninsula in the Cancun, Playa del Carmen or other Maya Riviera areas.
The Mayan subterranean cave system is amazing, there are also open-air cenotes (meaning ‘sacred well’) mineral rich in algae. Most of the cave cenotes have crystal clear fresh water which has been naturally filtered by the earth. You don’t always have to get wet, there are steps that lead down to viewpoints, but often you’ll have to wade or swim through the cave route.
The biggest caves in the Yucatán Peninsula are the Grutas de Loltún and although they stretch out about six miles, only just over a mile can be explored in the company of a qualified guide. The high caves are spectacular, feature drawings that date back thousands of years and huge stalactites and stalagmites, many forming columns when they grow together over many years.
PUERTO RICO caves and cave tubing
Puerto Rico boasts the third largest underground system in the world – the Camuy caves. There is also Utuado, you can enjoy a cave tubing experience in the Tanama River, Rio Camuy Cave Park, and Cueva del Viento in the Guajataca State Forest (you’ll have over a mile to trek to reach the cave).
ST LUCIA cave boat trip
There’s a small cave in St Lucia on the West coast called Bat Cave – it’s a 40ft fissure in a towering cliff, you’ll need to take a boat trip to go to the entrance to hear the screeching of the bats. As the sun goes down thousands of bats emerge from the cave – it’s quite a sight.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO caves
There are a number of caves in Trinidad – Aripo Caves (in the north), Tamana Caves (central Trinidad), and the Cumaca Caves (exciting hiking). The Gasparee Caves, which are located on Gaspar Grande Island (off the north west peninsula, 15 minutes’ drive from Port of Spain), are made up of an underground cavern network featuring flow stones, stalactites, stalactites, sink holes and, where bands of calcium carbonate have grown, so-called “fringed” curtains.
Caves in the TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS
The Conch Bar Caves (named after a nearby village) are located on Middle Caicos. They are mid-sized and can be slippery in places (wear shoes), paths have not been constructed. Four bat species inhabit the caves, and there are columns and stalactites in the main chamber. Visits must be accompanied by an official guide.
Other Caribbean adventures and activities
To discover which Caribbean destinations offer what adventures and activities, go to the Caribbean Adventure Guides section and explore it country by country.
Caribbean caving adventures, Belize
Harrison’s Cave in Barbados
Climbing in the Dominican Republic
Images on this Caribbean Caving & Climbing page are copyright of www.linda-jackson.co.uk, Rio Secreto (main image), Aruba Tourism Authority, CTO-Demian Solano, Belize Tourist Board, Barbados Tourism Authority (Harrisons cave), Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism (climbing)