"La Cueva de las Maravillas," better known to tourists as the Cave of Miracles or Cave of Wonders, is a historic site in La Romana featuring ancient Dominican history in the form of Taino Indian cave paintings. These gigantic caves are a must-see if you’re visiting the Dominican Republic and into being immersed in history, nature, and a touch of mystery.
- Address: La Romana Highway, La Romana
- Rates: Small fee for each person.
- Hours: Daily (except Monday) from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
- Other amenities: Clean restrooms, gift shop, museum, cafeteria
Fascinating hardly comes close to describing the “Cave of Miracles." The Dominican Republic is loaded with caves and this is one of the more popular ones, a huge tourist attraction fronted by a sweeping manicured field that opened in 2003.
The tour takes about an hour to complete. Tour guides lead small groups down long, well-lit footpaths that open to some of the most spectacular cave formations available to the non-spelunking world. There are monstrous caverns dotted with stalactites and stalagmites, most still in the drop-by-drop calcium-rich formation after thousands of years.
This is a mecca for Taino cave drawings. In fact, there are more than 250 in all, which are all well-preserved works of ancient art. Dim lighting casts a magical glow over the rocks, and one can imagine the native Tainos’ imaginations running wild as their campfires bathed the walls in dancing, otherworldly shadows. Some clusters of rock here look like skulls, gory calcified gargoyles carved by nature. A tribute to the life of the Taino, especially in the years following Columbus' discovery of the island (then called "Hispanola"), the paintings feature not only images that harken to the day-to-day life of the native people, but also to the violence and destruction in the period of colonization. Significantly, the cave paintings are featured heavily in Taino mythology.
The guides throughout the tour are informative and occasionally humorous. Bats populate these caves but hide during tourist hours, for the most part.
All in all, for those who love history, exploration, and unique cultural experience, a tour of the Cave of Miracles, Cave of Wonders, or Cueva de las Maravillas is a must. The La Romana area is famous for its beaches and oceanfront resorts, including a nice selection of all-inclusive properties. La Romana also is home to a massive casino if you would prefer gaming action to the beach: the Casino Dominicus has 45,000 square feet of casino floor, with table games, slot machines, and a poker room. The Altos de Chavon village, a bit of medieval Europe dropped onto a cliff in the Dominican Republic, is another popular destination in the area.
- Awe-inspiring sights far below ground, viewable from well-lit paths
- Cave drawings are a fascinating thing to see up close and personal
- Knowledgeable bilingual tour guides
- Small groups for intimate touring experience
- Long walks on stairs, not for the frail or infirm
- Caves can be dark and a bit musty
- No photos allowed; the light can hurt cave drawings over time
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