Hoyo Azul: Punta Cana’s magical cenote
The Hoyo Azul sinkhole is the most famous feature of Scape Park, the leisure and adventure park located in the Cap Cana area, and one of Punta Cana’s most popular days out. A truly magical natural setting, with fresh, limpid waters, so you can swim, or walk through the forest and gardens surrounding it, and enjoy the various attractions of the park itself. Experience a day bursting with excitement and thrills, whether with friends or as a family, on a visit to this fun-filled park that combines action, adventure, nature, culture, good food and much more.
The Punta Cana cenote: a wonder of nature
Geological formations characteristic of the Karstic terrains of some parts of the Caribbean, the sinkholes (which stretch from the Yucatán Peninsula to the West Indies) are a true wonder of nature. These beautiful natural pools are formed when the roof of a flooded underground river collapses and leaves the waters exposed to view. Depending on their age, there are several types: the oldest are practically fully open to the air, while the most recent generally still have a good part of their cupola or roof intact.
Apart from their striking appearance, the setting of the sinkholes is equally delightful, as they are typically surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. The whole wealth of flora and fauna in the virgin rainforest combines to enhance the visual impact of these flooded caves, making for scenes that are utterly breathtaking. It is for good reason that the pre-Hispanic civilizations (in particular the ancient Mayans, but also the Dominican Tainos) considered them enchanted, sacred places.
Hoyo Azul itself is over 40 feet deep, and is located at the foot of a limestone cliff around 250 feet in height. The vegetation surrounding it is a good example of the typical lowland tropical jungle found in this part of the Dominican Republic. The cenote’s rocky floor is fully visible, as its waters are crystal-clear, and the intense blue tint that gives the sinkhole its name is caused by a halocline—a phenomenon that arises when a body of water has varying degrees of salinity at different levels. To sum up, Hoyo Azul is a treasure of nature that is well worth a visit.
Visiting Hoyo Azul
Punta Cana as a whole offers a wide range of activities for lovers of eco-tourism and adventure, including the Reserva Ecológica Ojos Indígenas, Bávaro Adventure Park, and Cap Cana’s Scape Park. To enjoy any of these options to the full, it is important to be well prepared for your visit.
As a theme park, Hoyo Azul has the advantage of offering everything required for the experience of a lifetime, as once inside Scape Park, all you need to do is follow the signs and enjoy your visit. To reach the cenote itself, you must follow a path through the middle of the forest, go over a delightful hanging bridge, and cross a few wooden walkways to bring you to the pool. Once there, you can enter the sinkhole via two sets of steps or you can dive in from a platform. To enjoy the cenote’s turquoise waters is an undiluted pleasure.
More thrills and excitement
The more strenuous activities available in the rest of the park offer thrill upon thrill. Beginning with a dozen zip lines and water hammocks that allow visitors to fly through the air and splash down in a large pool surrounded by caves and waterfalls. Or visitors can walk over the tops of the trees, along a huge cliff called El Farallón, which has an average height of 250 feet.
One of Scape Park’s adventure highlights is the Iguabonita cave, an underground network of tunnels and caverns. A tour of this fantastic stone labyrinth deep in the bowels of the earth reveals all kinds of extraordinary geological formations, from stalactites and stalagmites to columns and natural ‘skylights’ which light up the caves in a most dramatic fashion. Also below the surface, the Las Ondas cave, used by the ancient Taino people for performing sacred rituals, has a beautiful subterranean spring in which you can swim.
Time for discovery
Apart from the adrenaline rush, Hoyo Azul also offers the opportunity to learn and discover so much about this corner of Punta Cana. One example is the Ruta Cultural [Culture Trail], a network of paths offering a fascinating blend of history and nature, with replicas of a bohío (the typical dwelling of the indigenous Tainos), as well as of a Spanish colonial house, a stockade of the type built by African slaves, and a picturesque Dominican country dwelling.
Educational, but fun nevertheless, the El Rancho area provides a chance to meet several farm animals, from young donkeys to goat kids. Similarly, in the Animalario, visitors can see, in their natural habitat, several examples of the rhinoceros iguana, a species endemic to the island of Hispaniola, as well as playful squirrel monkeys, capuchin monkeys, and brightly-colored parrots and macaws. A great opportunity to show young children the importance of wildlife.
Nature, adventure, cultural treasures, fun, relaxation… Hoyo Azul and its surroundings offer all this and much more. A brilliant way to enjoy a day of your vacation in Punta Cana, at any time of the year. Of course, those who are able to travel in the off-season (in other words, outside the summer vacation period, the time around Christmas and the New Year, or Easter) will have the advantage of enjoying this wonderful place with fewer crowds or lines, something which applies to any popular tourist destination.
Information of interest
Full Admission to Scape Park is around $150 per person (adults), but there is also an option to visit only the Hoyo Azul (+ the Animalarium) for $59 (adults) and $35 (children aged 6 – 12 years).
How to get there
Scape Park is in the Cap Cana area, to the south of Punta Cana. The journey takes 20-30 minutes by car from the majority of the area’s hotels. The trip can be made by taxi, but it is more usual to hire the transport service provided by the park itself, or to sign up for one of the various tours or excursions that will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the park.
What to take with you
To enjoy your day at Hoyo Azul and Scape Park, you need to take swimwear, comfortable footwear (preferably waterproof), towels, sunscreen and/or a hat, as well as some money in case you want to buy a souvenir, including photos of you that will be taken inside the park. (Note that video cameras, drones, selfie sticks, etc., cannot be taken into the park.) You will also need money for extra food and drink, and perhaps to hire a locker where you can leave your belongings.