Just a short drive west of San Juan, is Charco Azul and Cuevas Arenales, a stunning double-dip in nature for the adventurous-minded. Charco los Murielogos de las Cuevas Arenales roughly translates as “Pool of the Bats at Sand Caves” and Charco Azul means “blue-water swimming hole.”
Getting to the water itself is a challenge, thanks to a steep walk down. But arriving at the bottom is worth the descent—and the return climb later—as you reach the Rio Morovis. Wading into the river, head for the giant underground cave that you can explore from the water. Or if getting up close to the craggy walls of the cave is more your style, you can also leave the river to walk around a bit.
Once you’ve checked out the cave, float down the river through stunning canyon-like rock formations rising up on both sides, carved out by the river over millions of years, you’ll end up at the Charco Azul, a beautiful blue swimming hole perfect for relaxing and drifting in the water surrounded by the lush, verdant forest.
Know Before You Go
While you can do the experience on your own, there are a few tour companies that offer a guided tour of the cave and pool if that’s more your speed. Whichever path you choose, once you’re done with your exploring, head to the town of Manatí to grab a bite to eat. There’s also the nearby Hacienda La Esperanza Nature Reserve or spend more time in the water at the beautiful, sheltered cove of Mar Chiquita Beach on the island’s northern coast.
The experience is physically arduous and isn’t recommended for young children or elderly visitors. Good water shoes are highly recommended to prevent falls on the slippery rock surfaces you’ll traverse. The area is also getting more popular with recent attention across social media so parking may be tough to find during high traffic times.