Visiting Cuba’s Largest Cave: Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, Viñales

The Great Cavern of Saint Thomas (Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás) is Cuba’s largest cave system. Near the town of El Moncada 18 kilometres’ drive west of Viñales, the cave belongs to Parque Nacional Viñales.

Santo Tomás Cave is part of Viñales National Park

The Santo Tomás Cave path is 2.8km long

As a geology lover, Rocío was keen to see the cave, especially after seeing artefacts from it in Havana’s Fundacion de la Naturaleza y el Hombre museum. From Viñales we hired a car and driver for 20 CUC (US$20), waiting time and return journey included.

Our Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás tickets

Our Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás tickets

Cave entry and guided tour cost 10 CUC (US$10) per person. After fitting our helmets and torches, a guide appeared with his bicycle helmet and led us up to the entrance. No other tourists joined our group so most of the time we had the cave to ourselves.

Fern growing on wall near cave opening

Fern growing on wall near cave opening

The knowledgeable guide spoke English and Spanish, showing us different cave and rock formations including stalactites, rock pools and glittery rock walls. One area was extremely dark. With our torches off it was so dark that Rocío held onto me out of fear.

A giant stalactite above a rock pool

A giant stalactite above a rock pool

Some stalactites (rock formations that hang from the roof) had good acoustic properties and the guide played percussion music with them.

Our cave guide making music with the stalactites

Our cave guide making music with the stalactites

Video of the guide hitting the stalactites:

Standing next to the cave wall: note the shiny dots

Standing next to the cave wall; the rock contained reflective fragments that glittered as light shone on them

Rocío standing outside the cave

Rocío standing outside the cave

At one stage we came to an opening which had panoramic views of El Moncada and surrounding landscapes.

Our guide and Rocío enjoying the view below

Our guide and Rocío enjoying the view below

Outside the cave we observed birds in the thick vegetation. Our cave tour over, we tipped the guide, left our helmets and torches and returned to the Soviet AZLK sedan for our trip back to Viñales.

Our ride to and from Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás was a Soviet AZLK car

Our ride to and from Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás was a Soviet AZLK car

2 thoughts on “Visiting Cuba’s Largest Cave: Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, Viñales

  1. Pingback: Viñales: Beautiful Landscapes and More | Where is Joe.in?

  2. Pingback: Havana's Fundación de la Naturaleza y el Hombre | Where is Joe.in?

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