Cueva de las Maravillas

Cave of Wonders - Hagual

Useful Information

Location: La Romana Highway, La Romana. East of San Pedro de Macorís, at Boca del Soco. Follow the San Pedro de Macorís-La Romana Highway.
(18.4528, -69.1591)
Open: All year Tue-Sun, Hol 9-16.
Fee: Adults DOP 300, Children (0-12) DOP 100.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave ArchaeologyPainted Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=840 m, VR=25 m, T=19ºC.
Guided tours: L=240 m, D=25 min, Max=25.
Photography: not allowed
Accessibility: yes, elevator and ramps
Address: Cueva de las Maravillas, Carretera San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana, Tel: +1-809-390-8850, Tel: +1-809-390-8181, Tel: +1-809-951-9009. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1926 cave discovered by a group of young explorers from San Pedro de Macorís.
02-OCT-1949 cave paintings first published by Professor Francisco Richiez Acevedo.
1950s cave mined for bat guano.
1968 first archaeological excavation by Fernando Moraban Laucer, Rafael Case Acta, Manuel de Jesús Mañón Arredondo, and Luis Chanlatte Baik.
22-JUL-1997 declared a national park.
2003 cave opened to the public.
2003 cave won the Gold prize in the International Landscape Architecture Bienal Award.


Cueva de las Maravillas (Cave of Wonders) is one of the most famous show caves of the Dominican Republic. It is well developed with concrete paths and electric light, and the local authorities are eager to establish it as an important tourist site. Even a domestic airport of the same name was established in order to allow day tours to the cave by plane.

Unfortunately the rigorous development of the cave has been criticised as a great threat to the cave, as it was realized without care for the protection of the cave. Rather basic rules of careful development of caves as published by the US cave and karst protection organization and the International Union of Speleology (UIS) were ignored. Especially the archaeological deposits in the cave were destroyed by building paths, which could have been avoided quite easily by building elevated bridges. The operators are less generous with the visitors, photography is strictly forbidden and even loud talking is frowned upon to protect the cave fauna.

This cave is rather small, but it is famous for at least 472 pictographs and 10 petroglyphs, which makes it the richest sample of rock art in the Antilles. 144 pictographs were classified as cryptic or abstract. 135 pictographs show a human face, 18 show animals, 41 show combined human and animal forms, 18 geometric, and 38 human pictures. The Great Panel represents a funeral ritual. They were discovered by Professor Francisco Richiez Acevedo in 1949.

The cave had been called Hagual by the Taino, but after they vanished it was forgotten. The cave was re-discovered by a group of young explorers from San Pedro de Macorís in 1926, who named it Cueva Jaguar. Since then it was obviously known to the locals, and finally two students from San Pedro de Macorís told Professor Acevedo about the cave. He organized an expedition to the cave, which consisted of twelve people, and was joined by Pablo Alfaro Córdoba from the National Museum. When he published his findings he called the cave Cueva de las Maravilla (Cave of Wonders). The publication unfortunately made the cave known and as a result the cave sediments were mined for bat guano. This destroyed most of the archaeological remains in the cave. The mining ended in the 1960s.

The cave was archaeologically excavated in 1968 by Fernando Moraban Laucer, Rafael Case Acta, Manuel de Jesús Mañón Arredondo, and Luis Chanlatte Baik. They discovered incomplete skeletons, in the main room of the cavern. In deeper layers there were burials of the Tainos with offerings of food, water and personal objects of the dead person. In the following years the cave was still open to the public and the archaeological remains were stolen.

The cave is also beautiful with nice speleothems. The Water Mirror Gallery contains an artificial lake named Espejo de Agua which reflects like a mirror the top of the cave with its stalactites.

The cave is home to numerous cave animals. With six natural entrances it is easily accessible to bats and offers rather big sections of twilight. The Macrotus waterhousii and Artibeus jamaicensis species are found in the cave. The bat guano is basis of a whole ecosystem of invertebrates. Vertebrates in the cave are rats (Ruttus rattus) and some species of small toads. The twilight zone is frequented by two species of snakes, Tropidophis haetianus and Epicrantes striatus. Also a legless lizard of the Amphisbaenidae family was found at the entrance.

There are several other attractions around the cave entrance. There is a Centro de visitantes (Visitor Center) which was actually built into the upper level of the cave, with electric light and marble floor, which is used for presentations and concerts. The small museum named Sala de Exposición contains archaeological findings from the cave. The Iguanario is a zoo for the iguana rinoceronte (Cyclura cornuta), the endemic animal which is in danger of extinction. The Jardines y laberinto natural (Gardens and natural labyrinth) is a labyrinth made of finely trimmed hedges.