Predating Santo Domingo by thousands of years, Los Tres Ojos are three open-air limestone sinkholes obscurely shrouded in forest across from eastern border of Parque Mirador del Este. Excursion buses stopping on their way to/from the capital have turned this natural highlight into quite the tourist trap, evident by the large parking lot on the northeast corner off the highway and swarms of vendors waiting to pounce on new arrivals.
A very steep staircase plunges into an unforgettable Land of the Lost, a strenuous workout far from over with the multiple levels of vantage points for exploring the first cave. A verdant forest has thrived in the terrarium-like environment dank with tropical humidity. Off the central plateau, paths descend toward different side pools shimmering with crystal-clear fresh waters.
The staircase on the southern border leads towards a mammoth entry to the second eye, which has the best cave qualities with stalactites jutting overhead. A young Dominican made quite the dramatized production scaling the slippery wall before executing a graceful swan dive into the bottomless depths below. At far edge of the pool is the launching point for viewing the final eye that shouldn't be missed, regardless of potential wait.
For RD10, a small raft on a rope pulley shuttles guests across the cave. Not until reaching the other side could I fully appreciate immenseness of the second cave, the craggy opening naturally framing the first eye beyond. A short trail leads to a viewing deck of the third eye, which contains salt water.
Profuse vegetation encircling the sink hole was astonishing! A low-lying natural ceiling snagged with eye-level stalactites rather defined a potential mouth for the three eyes, the mystical environment only swallowing you in more.
Guides speaking numerous languages are available for hire, likely providing additional information, but the caves are rather self-explanatory and can be done in 30 minutes with plenty of time for soaking in the natural w(o/a)nder. Popularity has provoked tainted-ness, including underground vendors with racks of postcards and Polaroid photo opportunities. Avoiding the above-ground circus unknowingly extended the tour.
Once paying the RD30 admission fee, restrooms and a small snack bar are farther back in the forest. Wanting to dodge sales pitches while getting a jump on the bus unloading, I made a beeline for the bathrooms and then followed paved paths leading farther into the woods. Overcast skies spitting rain added to the eerie ambience. It was quite the trek circling around, with eventual overhead views of the third eye that are worth the effort if there's additional time.
Eventually asking a gardener where the entrance was, he directed me back to the main entry. In haste, it had totally eluded me that it was next to the ticket booth.
For independent travelers arriving on public transportation from anywhere east, the bus will drop you off along the highway for crossing over to the park. Taxis are available when departing, but negotiate a price before leaving! I didn't, and the 1.5km ride to nearby Faro a Colón is pleasantly walkable if you'd rather not pay RD100/$3.33.