Cuevas de Camuy: the K-Mart of Puerto Rico Spelunkholes
Especially during summer months, it's common to arrive at the famous Camuy Caves to find they have already sold out for the day. In such cases, turn that frown about halfway upside-down, kind of into a straight line across your face, because there's something half as good just around the bend.
Unlike the traditional Camuy Caves, the Cuevas (or "caves") are not on a main highway, but quite a ways off a smaller one along winding roads. While it may not be conveniently located, at least the unauthorized directional signs are.
From the real Camuy Caves, just head back north until you start seeing signs for it, which you'll see almost immediately. Follow them from there, and be ready to party it kind of in the general direction of up. I mean, I had fun, but I'm pretty easy to please.
Left - Outside the cave, you can still see that I am not what you might call unhappy. It's a pretty good second choice for the day, assuming you're too late to see the real caves.
Once you get there, the first thing you notice is that it really isn't a cave observation park, like the other one, but more of a birthday party fun-plex next to a hill with a hole in it. Not one to split hairs, I just committed to having fun, and it wasn't hard to do.
But let's start with the cave since that's what we did. You stand in line for a while at the mouth of what looks like, I don't know, some kind of creepy cave or something. Once inside, the tour guides rush you through, practically jogging, quietly murmuring the history of the cave in a rich, regional dialect of Spanish.
Right - Dominic, not one to let an opportunity pass him by, found great interest in his tongue while inside the cave. Life gives you lemons, play with your tongue.
We didn't get to learn much about the cave that way, but we did get to see bats flying around the top of the place. They love their stalactites, I'll give them that. If you're here to see amazing caves, this ain't going to do the trick for you. From the back of it, you can see all the way out to daylight on two sides. It's more of a macaroni shaped tunnel than a cave really.
Doesn't mean it wasn't fun though, because it definitely was neat for us, just wasn't the sort of unforgettable geological experience we had hoped for. More of a cuevita than a cueva, but I'm little, I know how it goes so I don't mind.
Luckily, they do have a playground outside.
The park outside has a pool with water slides, the longest, largest Go Cart track I've ever seen, pony rides, a playground and a pretty darn good snack bar (with the cheapest, tastiest smoothies you could ever hope to have on a hot day), and they've got more stuff too.
Above - The playground, while very old-fashioned, had a really interesting variety of brightly colored, exceptionally rugged things to play on, in and around. A really unique and high quality play area.
I can't remember it all right now, but there's more. Maybe tennis or basketball courts? Birthday party staging areas? It was hot that day, I can't be expected to remember it all.
The really striking fun for me was the playground. It's very different from anything I've seen before, full of custom toys that were obviously built in place.
If you're looking for an unforgettable experience, this ain't it. It was fun, and it's a fine second choice for an afternoon but don't feel like you simply must go there because, as fine as it is, it's not a destination. More information at this tourism website.
Above - The concrete dinosaur makes for great up-climbing, down-sliding, and necki-up-checking-out. Don't try kicking the cement ball, though, that's a no-no I can support.
Above - The ominous entrance to the natural cave, er sorry, "cueva."