Hiking and Caving: El Choco National Park

el choco national park caves lagoon hiking biking

In Cabarete, we are lucky enough to have the best of Caribbean natural beauty all around us. With the ocean on one side and the lush El Choco National Park on the other, we are spoiled for choice.

El Choco is a beautiful 77 square kilometers of protected jungle, caves, pasture land, and lagoon. It is bordered by the foothills of the Cordillera Septentrional to the South and the Cabarete Lagoon to the North.

It’s a great place to escape the bustle of Cabarete town for a few hours, and let the trees soothe your soul.

If you need to change up the rhythm on your beach vacation, or want a rest day from watersports, El Choco could be the local spot for you.

It is a short moto ride from town, just head all the way down the Callejon de la Loma, which is by the traffic lights. Continue down the Callejon until you find yourself sheltered under the canopy of the forest – you’ll know it when you see it.

There are four main types of adventure in El Choco: hiking, mountain biking, swimming in lagoons, and exploring the caves. Try one, try all four, it’s up to you!

Hike and Bike

Hiking tours are perfect for a family excursion. The trails are easy to walk, and the forest provides much-needed shade on a hot day.

A guided tour is recommended for your first time in El Choco, since the trails are unmarked and there aren’t really any good maps of the area.

Instead of spending hours lost in the jungle in the sweltering heat, let a local guide tell you all about the native species of flora and fauna.

Discover the leafy forest and the fruit trees that give us avocados, cacao, grapefruit, oranges, and coconuts. Spot different species of tropical lizards, bats and birds. Learn about projects to replant endemic species and protect the natural beauty of El Choco.

You can also rent mountain bikes in town and arrange to be toured around at a slightly faster pace. You’ll cover more ground, and work up a heck of a sweat, if you’re into that.

El Choco Caves

The limestone caves at El Choco are breathtaking. They are 5 million years old, and it shows. Just kidding, these caves are well worth a visit.

A guide will take you through the forest and down into a dark maze of corridors. Tours last about an hour and a half, and you’ll explore a few of the over 200 caves at El Choco.

There is electric lighting down there, but it’s unreliable and can cut out. That’s why you carry flashlights, so you can explore the caves and feel like Indiana Jones.

Limestone is a soft, porous rock. Flowing water from rivers has shaped the caves and formed lagoons, where you can swim. The pools are deep enough to dive in some places, but this is absolutely not recommended if you are not an experienced cave diver already.

You’ll see stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites rising up from the cave floor. You’ll take in the local cavelife, including native frogs, spiders, bats, fish and shrimp.

As always, please be super respectful of the environment at El Choco. Try your very best not to leave any signs that you were there, that is, leave no rubbish or damage.

Enjoy the Cabarete local treasure that is El Choco National Park, however you choose to explore it. Although not as well-known as our beaches, the park and caves would make an awesome addition to your active vacation in the Caribbean!

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