Right in Cabarete’s back yard sits El Choco National park, several lagoons, and Cabarete Caves (La Cuevas de Cabarete). The caves are millions of years old, and yet are one of Cabarete’s best-kept secrets. Exploring the tropical landscape of El Choco National Park is a very relaxing experience, with its vast area of jungle, lagoon, caves, and open back country to explore.
There are several dry caves that have shallow pools suitable for swimming, and are safe for families and children. Local companies provide sustainable tours of El Choco National Park with biking, hiking and boat rides, respecting the natural resources of the area which is a landmark for eco-tourism in the province of Puerto Plata.
Diving is also possible in the El Choco caves, but cave diving requires a different training than the open water certification, and it is advisable to go with a certified guide with specialized experience in these caves.
Properly known as the Sistema La Escalera, the world-class caves in Cabarete are comprised of two very different cave systems, Cueva de los Murcielagos and Cueva La Escalera, which are connected through a huge dry cave with no outside access. The caves have beautiful and irreplaceable mineral formations, called stalactites and stalagmites, and these formations take thousands of years to form.
Sea Horse Ranch resident Phillip Lehman, Founding Member and Vice President of the Dominican Republic Speleological Society, explains “The caves in Cabarete are very different than the rest of the country, the tunnels appear more eroded and ancient, and the colors are truly unique to the Cabarete caves alone.” Indeed, flooded caves are geological time capsules where fossil remains and archeological artifacts have been perfectly preserved. Scientific exploration and preservation is ongoing.