|TAINO INDIAN SITES
Caves played an important role in the lives of the Taino Indians. In fact, their creation myth is centered around a cave located on the island. Stories of the Taino interaction with various plants, animals, spirits and each other can be seen in the elaborate pictographs and stone carvings within the structures. Other Taino artifacts are housed at museums and even an excavated burial ground at a local beach.
East Coast Taino Sites
North Coast Taino Sites
Northeast Coast Taino Sites
West Coast Taino Sites
Jose Maria Cave
Located far into the Parque Nacional del Este near La Romana, this limestone cave holds 1,200 Taino paintings depicting mythological events and a peace offering for the Spaniards in 1503.
Penon Gordo, Bayahibe
Penon Gordo is one of 200 caves in the Parque Nacional del Este. This cave displays a chiseled guardian figure at the entrance of the cave and several Taino paintings.
Insider's tip: To get a full-tour of the Taino sites in Parque Nacional del Este, including some areas that are unknown to tour operators, hire a park ranger as a guide to any of the caves.
El Pomier Caves
Located north of San Cristobal, visitors can view the Caribbean's largest collection of Taino cave art. Scenes of spirits, rituals and objects of Taino belief are included in the drawings. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Cueva de las Maravillas
Located within San Pedro de Macoris, these caves contain nearly 500 Taino pictographs and petroglyphs. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Parque Submarino La Caleta
This national park reveals an excavated Taino burial ground with several skeletons on display at the beach. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Los Indios de Chacuey
Known as the Stonehenge of the Caribbean, a similar circular formation of rocks surrounding a stone slab indicates a possible Taino ceremonial center.
This Taino museum illustrates the way these natives lived, ate, prepared food and sustained themselves day-to-day. Visitors can examine a mock thatched hut and sample crops.
National Park Jaragua, Barahona
This park contains some of the oldest Taino Indian sites on the island. Cave the Poza and the Mongó Cave, within the park, display pictographs and petroglyphs of their time.
North East Coast
Parque Nacional Los Haitises
Accessible only by an organized boat trip due to the swamps and rocky terrain that surround them, these caves display drawings of various animals and human faces. A standard boat trip, on the Ruta Litoral takes tourists on a two-and-a-half hour boat tour that visits three main caves within the park.
South West Coast
A Taino museum, located in Santo Domingo, this museum showcases objects from daily life such as jewelry, pottery and ritual items are on display. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Deep in the southwest corner of the country, on Lago Enriquillo, is Las Caritas. This cave is rumored to have hidden Taino leader Enriquillo from the Spanish during their conflict with the native people in the early 1500's. The cave also contains dozens of small chiseled faces into the rock walls that seem to come alive to all who enter it.