Hatillo and its Mysterious Limestone Caverns

Hatillo, pronounced “ah-TEE-yo”, originally consisted of a small piece of land less then ten acres or ten “cuerdas” in size. The land was donated by Agustin Ruiz Miranda on the condition that the majority of the land be used for the erection of public buildings and main streets. The remaining land was to be sold or retrained and used strictly for public housing. This was the beginning of the little town of Hatillo that is located along Puerto Rico’s north coast.

With a population of 39 603, this bustling town is now regarded highly for
its production of milk. Hatillo produces approximately one third of milk for the area and this makes it a valuable commodity.

Near the town of Lares and Camuy lies a mysterious natural phenomenon created by the Camuy River. The river was responsible for the intricate limestone cave systems and underground waterways known as the “Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy”. Other features of the park are the “Cueva de Empalme” and a section of the “Tres Pueblos” sinkhole that have cut into the limestone of the region over a long period of time. Interestingly enough these conspicuous caves only came to the attention of a group of speleologists during the early 1950’s. It would be some thirty-seven years later, in 1987, that the Puerto Rico Land Administration would open the area for public viewing.

La Marina, the Hacienda Santa Rosa Ruins and Sardinera Beach are just some of the places that should be visited while in Hatillo. Visitors should also try to enjoy the many festivals and events that occur throughout the year. A particularly exciting event that should be considered is the festival “de las Mascaras” which occurs on the 28th of December. Since 1823 this prestigious occasion celebrates the founding of Hatillo and other nearby towns through the Spanish immigrants in the eighteen hundreds. “De las Mascaras” is also the tradition of “Santos Inocentes” or Holy Innocents based on the account in Matthew where babes under the age of three were killed by the order of King Herod in an attempt to kill Jesus. Masked women and men clothed from head to toe in traditional costumes parade through the town of Hatillo, Arecibo, Camuy and other neighboring villages as proud “Islenos”.

Notable Hatillanos which have helped create this fascinating history include Dr. Francisco M. Susoni, Lorenzo Coballes Gandia, Ramon Millan
and Oscar Colon Delgado to mention a few. So come and discover the place that these great men once called home and enjoy a fascinating stay in Hatillo.

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