Los Tres Ojos National Park is a beautiful nature break and offers a solid glimpse of the Taino’s underground caverns once used for refuge or rituals. A winding entrance staircase leads to a series of caves, with pathways hugging three freshwater, iridescent blue lagoons or “eyes” as the Taino used to call them for their oval shapes. A fourth lagoon is accessible via a small wooden barge, revealing a gorgeous, open-air scenery of water and a rocky landscape covered in lush vegetation all around. Keep an eye out for petroglyphs and pottery shards.
Los Tres Ojos (The Three Eyes in English) is the name given to this 50-yard open-air limestone cave located in the Mirador del Este park, in the Santo Domingo Este municipality of the Dominican Republic. A series of three lakes, or “ojos”, the site is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in the country. The caves are open from 9 am to 5 pm and are illuminated at night by many colored lights.
The site was created centuries ago as a result of tectonic fractures when caves collapsed, forming a bowl-shaped depression which subsequently filled with water. Initially, the cave was used by the indigenous Taíno Indians for religious rituals and fertility rites. The Taíno were the first inhabitants of the Hispaniola island. The three lakes are called “Lago de Azufre” (discovered in 1916), “La Nevera” and “El Lago de las Damas”. Some of the lakes also have openings on the outside. A staircase cut into the rock gives access to the first cave. A boat pulls visitors across the second lake to give access to a fourth lake called “Los Zaramagullones,” not considered one of the three “eyes” or main lakes since it has an opening to the outside.
The caves are fed by water from an underground river and surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites. The composition of the water varies. Early explorers thought that the first pond was made up of sulfurous water because of its blue hue. However, after testing it was discovered that Lago Azufre is actually composed of calcium minerals.
The fourth and deepest lagoon is freshwater. It was stocked with fish back in the 1940s. The temperature of the lagoons varies between 20 °C to 29 °C, depending on the site, and their various depths give rise to different colored reflections, blue, green, and sometimes yellow. The depth of the shallowest lagoon, Lago de las Damas, is 8 feet. The deepest, Los Zaramagullones, is 25 feet. The fauna is also very varied and includes fish, bats and turtles. Surrounding vegetation is lush and abundant.
To visit all four lagoons, one needs to be able to climb stairs. All told there are 346 steps connecting the four. That means a round trip of 692 steps! But the effort is worth it!
The lagoon furthest away, Lago Los Zaramagullones, can only be accessed by a small ferry raft pulled via rope across Lago La Nevera. Getting there is free, but you will have to pay a small fee (about $0.50 US) to get out. Los Zaramagullones is arguably the most tranquil and beautiful of the four lagoons. Many production companies have filmed footage there for their movies including Tarzan, Combat Shock, Jurassic Park III, Oro y Polvo, to mention only a few.