Nothing good comes easy and this quirky and rustic retreat, one of the more special places to stay anywhere in the DR, and the antithesis of the all-inclusives for which the country is famous, won’t persuade you otherwise. Coming upon Paraíso Caño Hondo so far out of the way after a long and rough road feels like an epiphany.
The Río Jivales, which runs through the 48-room property, has been channeled into 12 magical waterfall-fed pools, perfect for a soak any time of the day. Rooms are divided into the main area, which are large and rustic, and made mostly of wood, though extremely comfortable. Bathroom ceilings are made of aged dried palm fronds and energy-saving light fixtures are used throughout, giving the whole place a sustainable edge. A hilltop annex known as Altos de Caño has spectacular views, and the brand-new Bosque de Caño, best of all, has rooms built directly into the rock wall and featuring wonderful balconies with the most panoramic views. The criolla restaurant here is the best place to eat in the area (the hotel offers all-inclusive packages but it’s cheaper to order from the menu à la carte). You can also visit on a day pass for RD$800 including lunch.
To find Paraíso Caño Hondo, follow the faded 'Parque Nacional Los Haitises' sign toward Caño Hondo one block south of the intersection of Hwys DR-3 and DR-4 in Sabana de la Mar – it's around 9km down a nasty but passable road.