Raising a teenage daughter by myself has been hard as hell. My husband used to be the one who always took her out on adventures, so when he passed away, we kind of lost that sense of wonder for nature.

by My Puerto Rico Experience

I wanted to give her a really special gift for her sixteenth birthday. She wasn’t into the Sweet Sixteen parties so I used that money to book us a flight San Juan bound and a hotel room at the Condado Palm. I got us a nice, comfortable suite with a king-sized bed and full breakfast, and rented a car. When I told her we were going on a trip to Puerto Rico she wasn’t too thrilled at first because she’s not a beach fan, but when I mentioned rivers, caverns and caves I could see her enthusiasm.

Our first stop was at Rio Camuy Cave Park in Lares, about an hour and fifteen minutes away from the hotel in San Juan. We’re used to driving long distances in the US, so this was a short trip for us. We got there around 11:30am, which was great – waiting time was about 20 minutes ($28 for the two of us). A trolley took us to the sinkhole and as we descended into the entrance of the caverns we could feel the air cooling around us.

The sinkholes are gigantic. The lighting effect from the openings gives the caverns a magical atmosphere. My favorite things to look at were the geological formations: stalagmites and stalactites. We took the tour in English and the guide was really interesting. The whole tour was about 90 minutes long and ended at the gift shop where we spent more than a $100 in gems and Rio Camuy souvenirs. After that, we headed to the town of Lares and ate strange ice cream flavors while we walked around the plaza. A local shop owner told us to go back to Arecibo to Cueva Ventana and my daughter thought it was a great idea.

We woke up early and drove to Arecibo the next day. Cueva Ventana was an absolutely beautiful walk and experience, yet a bit pricey ($40 for two people). We didn’t know a part of the cave was pitch black and didn’t bring flashlights. Luckily, the group ahead of us had plenty and we could walk close to them without hitting any walls or falling over. My daughter loved the bats! I’m glad we did it once but it wasn’t as memorable as the Rio Camuy Caverns.

There’s so much more than beach resorts in Puerto Rico! We absolutely loved the nature activities available and plan to come back for more.