The San José Caves (Coves de Sant Josep in Valencian), with the longest navigable underground river in Europe and its spectacular cave paintings, is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, one of the most outstanding natural wonders of the Valencian Community. A great plan and only a step away from the Costa de Azahar!
Perhaps you have already thought of Benicassim as the next destination for your holidays, but surely you did not imagine that in addition to its fantastic beaches, its wonderful Mediterranean climate and its festive atmosphere, there is the possibility of discovering places as special and unknown as the Grutas de San Joseph. Let us show it to you!
The underground river of the San José caves
In the subsoil of La Vall d'Uixó, one of the most prosperous municipalities in the province of Castellón in the Sierra de Espadán Natural Park, the most extensive navigable underground river in the entire European continent flows silently, giving way to the Grutas de San José, a unique natural cave of incomparable beauty.
Sail its calm waters by boat, enjoy the capricious rock formations, which have been shaped by the rivers current over thousands of years, travel back in time imagining the growth of stalactites and stalagmites, feel the emptiness of silence under the earth or hearing the echo produced by each drop of water as it falls on the underground lagoon, these are the multiple sensations that you will be able to experience when discovering this landscape that nature has kept hidden for so long.
The cavity was developed in the Middle Triassic period (250 million years ago) and is composed mostly of reddish limestone that has eroded over time to its grandiose appearance today.
Discover during your visit a treasure hidden for centuries
The history of the Coves de Sant Josep goes back thousands of years. There is evidence that they had already been discovered in Iberian times as indicated by the remains found of an old town from this time next to the caves.
In the 18th century, the prestigious naturalist Josep Cavanilles mentioned the importance of the Coves de Sant Josep in his studies, but it was not until 1902 that the first known expedition of the caves took place. In the fifties a system was devised to stabilize the level of the river flow and, since then, visitors have been able to access a portion of the cave that has been expanding little by little thanks to the work of cavers or potholers.
Currently the visit to the Coves de Sant Josep lasts approximately 45 minutes. There is a boat trip for a route of about 800 meters and on foot a stretch of another 255 meters. But the most incredible thing is that the origins of the river remain a mystery to be solved. Explorations in the caves are continuing and an additional 2 kilometres of underground current have already been discovered, but are currently inaccessible for visits.
The paintings of the San José Caves declared a World Heritage Site
Cave paintings belonging to the prehistoric period known as the Upper Palaeolithic or Late Stone Age have been found in several locations inside the San José caves. These samples of cave art have been declared by their value and peculiarity as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and are further proof of the importance that these caves have had for thousands of years.
Timetables and tickets for the Cuevas de San José
The opening hours of the caves depend on the season, the normal hours being from 10am to 5pm throughout the year when the enclosure is only open on weekends and public holidays.
With the arrival of summer, the months of July and August, the hours are extended with an extra departure at 6:00 p.m. and the caves open daily for the reception of visitors.
Although tickets can be purchased at the ticket offices, it is advisable to purchase your ticket in advance and thus avoid queues or tickets running out. In a few simple steps and from 6 euros, tickets can be obtained via this link.
Concerts in the Caves of San José
Since 2016, during the summer months, a series of concerts have been held inside the caves called Singin 'in The Caves. This year 2021 will be the VI edition of this cutural event that since its inception has achieved enormous acceptance among the public for offering a true experience for the senses.
Flamenco, classical, indie, fado ... In 2020 the styles that sounded in the caves with maximum splendour were very varied thanks to the spectacular acoustics of the caves. Summer is approaching and we are already waiting for the presentation of this year's poster that promises to surprise lovers of this unique event.
How to get to the San José Caves
The Grutas de San José are located 40 km from the Hotel Servigroup Trinimar, so they are a perfect excursion to enjoy during your holidays in Benicassim and discover the wonders that the Costa de Azahar hides.
The best way to get to the caves is by car. When leaving the hotel and advancing along the Paseo Marítimo, you should immediately turn left onto Calle Sigalero and left again onto Calle Palmeral. At the end of this street, you will take Avenida del Mohíno until you reach the N-340.
Heading south, the N-340 will give way to the A-7 and in about half an hour you will reach La Vall d'Uixó, where the Coves de Sant Josep are located. As soon as you enter the municipality, you will see the many signs that indicate how to get to the Coves de Sant Josep in only a few minutes.
Address: Paratge de Sant Josep s / n 12600, La Vall d´Uixó (Castellón) Spain.
Now that you know everything there is to know about this particular corner of our coast, you have no excuse to miss it. Book your holiday in Benicasim now and immerse yourself in the depths of the earth. It will surprise you!
We would like to thank Chema Lorenzo, official photographer of the Cuevas de San José, for his collaboration in making this post.