Location: Ariecibo, Puerto Rico
Language: Ancient Taino Petroglyphs
Time: 1.5 to 3 hours
Cueva del Indio isn’t a museum. There’s no visitor center. It’s a public park under the administration of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. This site is for the very, very adventurous. No one maintains the trails, there’s no official parking (nearby landowners set up an unofficial parking). It’s located in a limestone cave of the north central coast of Puerto Rico, about 8 miles east of Arecibo. As far as logistics of getting there, check out Puerto Rico Day Trips. The ladder seen in the photos was placed without permission, and since my visit, the Department of Natural Resources have removed it.
I first heard about this site from my dear friend and amazing fine art photographer, Benjamin Apitz. He was clued in to the site, while visiting a rock climbing store in Colorado. So if rock climbing is your thing, come prepared.
After finding parking, (I prefer along the beach on the wide shoulder) there is about a 10 minute hike down the beach, through the foliage and up the limestone cliff. There is a beaten path to take. Once you get to the top, you are treated to the vast openness of the Atlantic Ocean to the north, and breathtaking limestone formations to the east. The waves crashing against the cliff is enchanting in its own right. Be extra vigilant as you hike towards the main opening, because there are numerous other openings that act as natural skylights once inside.
The main opening has stone that has been quarried away in rough steps. On our visit, we utilized a 30 foot ladder to descend into the cave. As far as I know, there are no plans to replace the ladder since the DNR removed it.
The moment you reach the sandy floor of the cave, your eyes adjust to the darkness, and you realize you are surrounded by hundreds of petroglyphs. Theses carvings in stone were first left by the Taino—the natives who the Spanish first encountered on their visit to the Americas. The overall size of the cave is like a being in a large cathedral or grand entry of a four-story building.
The thrills keep coming, as you explore around the cave, and you discover that the waves that crash against the limestone cliff are also flowing in and out of the deeper section of the cave (!). There’s lots of bouldering and exploring around the cave, as you discover petroglyphs carved into walls in very hard to reach places. The mind wonders, how long did it take to carve that? How long has the image been there? How many more centuries until nature wears it away?
As if all of this isn’t thrilling enough, looking up, you discover that you’re not alone. You’ve invaded the home of the local bats. They’re chilling on the ceiling as bats are prone to do. When you photograph them, don’t use the flash, because it disturbs them. Remember, when you photograph bats and use the flash, you’re being a butthead. Don’t be a butthead to the bats.
While this historic site is one of the most amazing places I have ever seen, I must stress how important it is use a ton of common sense at this amazing location. Gutter Curator offers this article as entertainment only. Gutter Curator and its creators assume no responsibility regarding your safety. Don’t make bad decisions. Don’t do stupid things. Gutter Curator and its creators have no liability in what happens to you.
To watch amazing vintage comedy from a Native American about the arrival of Columbus, click here.