One of the most magical parks you can explore when traveling to the Dominican Republic is the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park (Parque Ojos Indigenas Reserva). This relaxing oasis is spread out of 1,500 acres of pristine lowland subtropical forest–undeveloped and perfect for a quiet escape. You can book a half-day tour (2-3 hours) or venture off on a self-guided excursion; the natural wonders here are ones you’ll never forget.
Beginner Tips for Visiting Indigenous Eyes Preserve
How To Book Your Tickets to Ojos Indigenas Park
- Visit through a tour company
- Park Visit + Catamaran Cruise & Snorkeling: This tour combines a half-day of exploring the freshwater lagoons at Indigenous Eyes Park with a catamaran ride (equipped with an open bar, fruit, and snacks) and a snorkeling experience.
- Park Visit + Swimming With Horses & Riding: In addition to Indigenous Eyes Reserve, this half-day tour will also take you through the majestic mangroves of Laguna Limón on the reserve. This allows you to ride and swim with horses and explore the nearby villages where you’ll taste the local cuisine.
- Visit on Your Own
- If you don’t want to take a tour, you can visit the park in person by heading into the Punta Cana Resort. Here, you’ll catch a glimpse of one of the best resorts in Punta Cana. Stop at the front desk to purchase your entry passes. If there is a line, tell your driver to wait for you as it will be another 5-10 of driving to the main entrance gate after you purchase your ticket. This ticket will also include access to the private Playa Blanca Beach.
How to Get to Ojos Indigenas Reserve in Punta Cana
- Taxi: These are an excellent option for getting to the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve if you’re going from your hotel or another attraction. Taxi Dios Guia Punta Cana is highly recommended (also offering rental cars and excursions), and Punta Cana Transportation provides spacious air-conditioned vans.
- Uber: Uber is just as popular in Punta Cana as it is in the U.S. You can even reserve a ride in advance if you know when you’d like to leave for your trip.
- Tour Transfer: The half-day tours listed above (the Swimming/Horseback tour and the Cataraman/Snorkeling tour) include hotel pick-ups in the tour fee. Just enter your hotel location when you book your tour.
History & Ecology of Indigenous Eyes Park
Indigenous Eyes Park (Ojos Indigenas) is a private nature reserve owned by the Puntacana Ecological Foundation that is open to the public and dedicated to research and conservation efforts of the local wildlife in the Dominican Republic. The reserve’s name was derived from the indigenous Taîno Indian tribe that inhabited the area; they called the park’s freshwater pools “eyes” because of their unique shapes and appearance when the sun hits the surface. The largest pool (Guama Lagoon) used to be the private pool of the Taîno Indian chief!
The reserve has over 1,500 acres of lowland, subtropical forest to explore, filled with mangroves, natural springs, trails, and underground rivers, making this spot one of the best things to do in Punta Cana. There are 12 lagoons (5 of which you can swim in) that form cenotes surrounded by open caves. These pools are perfect for taking a dip on a hot day, with some of the coolest, most transparent waters in intense shades of turquoise and emerald. Visitors can see over 500 species of plants and fauna here and tons of rare birds– like the Sparrow and Ridgeway hawks– and other native birds to the Dominican Republic.
Things to Do in Ojos Indigenas
1. Visit the 12 Eyes (Cenotes)
Exploring the 12 lagoons and cenotes is the highlight of the reserve and a must-add to your list of things to do in the Dominican Republic. Follow the signs on a leisurely hike that takes you through each “eye.” You can appreciate their beauty from afar or jump in at least 5 of them for a dip. The biggest one is Guama Lagoon, scaling 26 feet deep, where you can spot turtles and black tilapia swimming around if you arrive early enough. It also has a dock you can dive from!
2. Swimming With Horses
On horseback, explore the forest and some of the best beaches in Punta Cana! This experience is separate from the Indigenous Eyes area but located on the same private property and worth adding to your trip, especially if you’re traveling far, like from Santo Domingo. Combine your visit with horseback riding on a half-day tour exploring the local village.
3. Iguana Habitat
Iguanas are a highly protected species in the Dominican Republic, and the Ojos Reserve has a beautiful habitat to keep them safe. The habit is home to several mature iguanas that are being cared for, researched, and bred on the reserve to keep their populations on the rise. You can learn about these creatures up close and personal near the hawk habitat.
4. Honey Bees
Help harvest the award-winning honey of the Indengious Eyes Reserve! The bee-keeping station is fantastic, with opportunities for kids to watch the process up close and personal while brave adults suit up to help harvest. This awesome educational experience allows you to learn more about the nature of bees in Punta Cana– and sample sweet treats!
Costs & Fees to Enter Ojos Indigenas Reserve
- External Vistors: $50
- Puntcana Village and Cíudad Caracolí Owners: $5
- Puntcana Village and Cíudad Caracolí Residents: $10
- Puntcana Village and Cíudad Caracolí Guests: $15
- Extra guest homeowners/resident PCRC, Village, and Caracolí: $50
- Puntcana Village and Cíudad Caracolí short term tenants: $50
- Punta Cana Village and Club short-term tenants: $10
Residents of Puntcana Village and Cíudad Caracolí are only allowed three guests per family. Short-term tenants must show reservations to book, and visitors must present their own resident I.D. to validate their entry fee. Puntacana Resort & Club owners, The Estate Experience residents, and their guests are free of charge with a five-guest per family limit.
Indigenous Eyes Park Hours & Schedule
Despite what it says online, they will kick people out sooner, and the last time to enter is at 3:30 PM. So plan accordingly! Dominican culture = super morning people.
- Reserve operations: 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m
- Ticket sales: 8:30 a.m.- 3:15 p.m
- Last access to the Reserve: 3:30 p.m.
Indigenous Eyes Park Rules
- Only use marked and authorized trails.
- Visitors may only swim in the lagoons with access platforms: Yauya, Cacibajagua y Guamá.
- Minors under 16 years of age must be accompanied and under the direct supervision of an adult.
- Unauthorized activities:
- Access with pets
- Use of “drones” without previous authorization.
- Feeding of fish, turtles, and birds.
- Touching, mistreating, or uprooting the surrounding flora and fauna.
Is it Worth Visiting Indigenous Eyes Ecological Reserve?
I really loved my peaceful experience at Ojos Indigenas Ecological Reserve. It was quiet and didn’t attract that rowdy ATV crowd nor the partygoers. It is still a hidden gem because we often had the trails and pools to ourselves. This is easily a half-day tour that doesn’t leave you exhausted, but you also feel replenished by nature. So. YES, it’s worth visiting if you love nature, light trails, and swimming in salty-fresh water cenotes.