In Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR), we delivered on our commitment to revitalize and strengthen the island’s tourism assets to drive sustainable development through the Bottom Up Destination Recovery Initiative (Bottom Up) program. Thanks to a $125,000 donation, and in collaboration with the National Parks Agency and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the Camuy River Cave Park will reopen its doors to the public beginning today, March 24.
The donation, the largest made among the groups that contributed to the initiative, was awarded to this important project through a grant from the Peter Alfond Foundation. The contribution was used to finance the creation of safety rails throughout the facilities, the installation of a security gate inside the main cave, fresh paint for the visitor’s theater, updating the theater’s audiovisual system, the renovation of the ticket office and for improvements to other areas throughout the park.
“With this initiative, Foundation for Puerto Rico remains committed to strengthening and fostering socioeconomic development. The rehabilitation of emblematic attractions such as the Camuy Caves is essential because they help attract a significant influx of visitors to the areas where they are located, thus strengthening the economies and social environments of underserved communities in Puerto Rico. We are identifying these iconic assets across the island and launching collaborative efforts to revitalize them. The effort to restore and promote these assets is increasingly urgent as the island and the world advance in their post-pandemic normalization processes,” said Jon Borschow, Chief Executive Officer of FPR.
Carlos Ayala, program manager for Bottom Up in the Camuy and Arecibo region, added that, “we are proud to contribute to the reopening of this natural treasure and its heritage. The Bottom Up program and team seek to make communities more resilient and proactive in creating tourism assets and experiences. Our work enables communities to increase the value and scope of their tourism offerings. This will help boost the socioeconomic development of our communities, fostering the creation of a business ecosystem that promotes job creation and professional development in the region.”
Beginning on March 24, people will be able to visit to the Camuy River Cave Park. Visitors are required to make a reservation by calling 787-898-3100. The park will accept approximately six groups of up to 20 people –adults and children– from Wednesday to Sunday, from 8:00 a.m. at 4:30 p.m. Although this is a partial opening, visitors will be able to enjoy some of the park’s charms, among them its main attraction, the Cueva Clara.
The Camuy River Caverns are an important asset in Puerto Rico’s northern region. It is a cave system located among the municipalities of Camuy, Hatillo and Lares. The caverns are part of a large network of natural limestone caves and underground waterways carved out by the third largest underground river in the world, the Camuy River. More than 10 miles of caverns, 220 caves, and 17 entrances to the Camuy cave system have been mapped. However, this is only a fraction of the entire system, which many experts believe still contains another 800 caves.
The 268-acre park, managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and built around the cave system, is one of the most popular natural attractions in Puerto Rico. Prior to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the park received more than 80,000 visitors a year, representing an annual economic activity of between $600,000 and $ 1.4 million.