Venado Caves Tour

What To Expect: Venado Caves Tour in Costa Rica

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to explore an underground world? Found in the northern lowlands in La Fortuna, Venado Caves offers an unforgettable adventure. From navigating narrow passages to experiencing stunning rock formations, a Venado Caves Tour near Arenal is a must-do for adventure-seekers and nature lovers alike.

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I did the tour of these caves during the low tourist season and it was just me and the guide. I didn’t truly know everything I was getting into! If you are adventurous, then be prepared for an exciting cave tour with maneuvering through some tight spaces, climbing and crawling in water. Some call it spelunking, I called it caving!

Welcome Sign Venado Caves Tour

Formation of Venado Caves

The Venado Caves are important for understanding Costa Rica’s geological history. These caves are believed to have been formed around 15 to 20 million years ago during the Miocene period, and were once under the ocean for millions of years. They know this because scientists found sea fossils in the caves that help date their formation.

Costa Rica’s land has been rising and sinking since the Mesozoic era, about 220 million years ago, due to the activity of tectonic plates, especially the Caribbean and Cocos Plates. North and South America were separated by the Caribbean Sea. During the Cenozoic era, starting about 65 million years ago, volcanic and tectonic activity formed more islands that gradually connected to form Central America, including Costa Rica.

About 2 million years ago, most of Costa Rica’s present land emerged, with the main mountain ranges forming soon after. In short, the Venado Caves have been underwater for most of their history.

The caves are made of limestone, with features like stalactites, stalagmites, and corals. The cave system has 12 rooms of different sizes, some narrow and others large. A shallow stream runs through most of the cavern, playing a crucial role in cleaning by keeping the cave floor free of waste from animals, especially bats. Wildlife in the cave mainly includes bats, small snakes, amphibians, and insects.


As you explore the passages, you’ll see fascinating rock formations, some resembling fruits or other shapes. One notable example is “La Papaya” rock, which indeed looks like a papaya.

la papaya rock

How to Get to Venado Caves

Venado Caves is located near the town of Venado, in the Arenal region of Costa Rica. This proximity to Arenal Volcano makes it an ideal addition to your travel itinerary. The caves are easily accessible from popular tourist destinations like La Fortuna and Arenal.

Getting to Venado Caves is relatively straightforward. From La Fortuna, it’s about a 45-minute drive. You can rent a car, take a taxi (which is very expensive), or join an organized guided Venado Caves tour. Aside from your transportation there and back being included in an organized tour, you can learn about the formation of the rocks, history and fauna living underground.

How much does it cost to go to the Venado Caves?

The Venado Caves tour typically costs around $30 to $40 per person. This includes a guide and essential equipment like rubber boots, helmets and headlamps.

You cannot enter the caves without a guide. If you go to the caves on your own, there are guides available at the entrance for a fee.

If you go with a tour company, then these costs and equipment are included. A tour company usually also includes water, snacks and towels. Trust me, you will need a towel. Possibly even a bandaid or two!

Entrance to Venado Caves

What time is the tour of the Venado Caves?

Most tour companies offer start times at 7:30am or 1:00pm. It’s best to book the cave tour in advance to secure your preferred time slot.

If you are visiting on your own, then ensure you make reservations ahead of time to secure a space. The guides at the entrance of the caves are usually only scheduled at  8am, 10am, 12am, and 1pm.

How long is the Venado Cave tour?

The tour within the cave lasts approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, providing ample time to explore the various sections of the cave and soak in the experience.

If you go with a guided tour, then these tours are usually 4 hours including travel time to and from the caves.

What to Wear to Venado Caves

When visiting Venado Caves, it’s essential to dress appropriately. I wore a tank top and shorts. They gave me rubber boots and a headlamp, which was what was needed to navigate the wet and slippery terrain. You’ll want to wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty and sturdy footwear for climbing through the caves if you don’t want to wear rubber boots.

Inside Venado Caves

My Experience in Venado Caves

The tour was thrilling and full of surprises. I climbed through tight passages, wore my trusty rubber boots and headlamp. My guide explained the history of the formations, saw a very big scorpion spider, which the picture proves I saw and held it – well kinda – but only for the picture. There were many bats in the caves. If you are claustrophobic, you may want to think about whether you want to do this tour or not.

Scorpion Spider

We got to one spot and I said, ‘I can’t go through there’. But I thought, ‘okay I will try’.I started to go through this small hole and I got a little nervous and scared so I told my guide I couldn’t do it. He said we would have to go around then. I was fine with that. The hard areas are optional if you do not want to do them.

My guide took me another way around, and little did I know that we got to the end and the only way out from there was to rock climb up a waterfall. I got my courage and climbed up, with no ropes or harnesses and I survived! I walked out of the caves with my heart racing and filled with a thrilling experience. I was so proud of myself for doing all that I did. Though I ended up with a few scrapes and bruises, it was truly one of the best experiences of my life.

Venado Caves Inside

Should You Do It?

Heck yeah! If you’re seeking an adventure that combines natural beauty and thrilling exploration while visiting Costa Rica, Venado Caves should be at the top of your list. As recommended, do a guided Venado Caves tour, enjoy the breathtaking formations, and the chance to challenge yourself. I promise it is an experience you won’t soon forget. 

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