Located just north of Quepos, the gateway the Caves. Dating back over 7 million years, the Caves are the direct result of water currents penetrating and passing through the surrounding limestone rocks. Over time, the continual flow of water opened crevasses and forced sediments to flow throughout the caves, leaving in it’s wake an endless network of deep tunnels. So complex and deep, absolutely no light penetrates these caves, except for a few isolated incidents which are located in one of the quarters. As a result, it is mandatory that you carry a flashlight with you during your trip. (We recommend that you request an extra battery or two before entering the caves, as this is not a good place to find yourself with low batteries.)
The structure of the tunnels vary tremendously with some displaying ceilings of nearly 20 feet in height, while others requiring that you slide through like a serpent. While one can enter on your own, it is highly recommended that you utilize the services of a guide. The guides experience and in depth knowledge of the numerous paths can dramatically improve your experience in the caves. Depending on your physical fitness and sense of adventure hours can be spend crawling from one section of the caves to another, challenging the most fit and adventurous. A hard hat is also mandatory as the walls and ceilings are comprised of hard, porous limestone; traveling within the caves without a hard hat would be foolish and asking for problems.
Within the caves one can find five thousand year old rock formations, such as the “papaya” which is a vertical formation formed by the union of two different rock types; the name is derived from it’s shape, which you guessed it, looks just like a papaya.
In every 10 years the rock face within the cave grows approximately 3 cm. At the same time, there exists in the caves the formation of coral, which if touched will retard the growth process. Covering approximately 2 1/2 km (1.5 miles) in length, the caves contain 10 separate quarters (salas in Spanish), however, the area limited for tourism use is only 600 meters (1,800 ft). Throughout the caves water in continually flows along the floor of the caves, at times a few feet high. In fact, during the height of the rainy season visitors are prohibited from entering the caves due to the current flowing through them. The ever present water creates a moist, if not humid climate within the caves, therefore, the caves remain quite cool as a result. For the most secure footing we recommend that you wear hiking boots for your visit, although a good pair of sneaker will do just fine. While guides commonly use sandals, the footing can be very tricky due to the pitch black surroundings. Expect to get wet and dirty, particularly if you plan on discovering the more intimate places within the caves.
The caves contain four different species of bats and numerous types of spiders, many of which are endemic to the area. Some of the spiders have extremely long feelers, designed to assist them in total darkness. The bats fly endlessly above, sometime clustering in groups of a hundred or so. It is more common to find them attached to the ceiling above than along the walls. When your footing is secure, shine the light above and you should find them looking down on you below.
The time you spend within the caves depends on your agreement with the guide, however, a normal tour normally lasts approximately 2 hours; there is really no limit to the amount of time you spend within the caves.
Video cameras and photographs are prohibited from being taken into the caves, post cards are sold outside for US $1.50 per card. The entrance fee is 1100 colones to enter, approximately US $4.40. You pay outside the caves, and after will receive your hard hart and flashlight. Boots are provided, however, if you have large feet don’t count on it happening.