Paradisus Rio de Oro is an adults-only resort located on the north shore of Cuba on the Atlantic Ocean. It is built right on the edge of a coral reef, so there is excellent snorkelling there. It boasts a five-star rating on most travel sites and lives up to that expectation using a Cuban resort rating system.
It is a small resort compared to others, having room for about 300 guests. This is a good feature, as it is more private for guests. The grounds are quite big and well-tended with lots of places to walk and explore.
The lobby at Rio de Oro is beautiful. There are lots of places to sit and enjoy both sunny and shady areas. A lot of attention to detail has gone into the design of it. At night the ceiling will fill up with blackbirds, each chattering with the other birds as if discussing what they did that day. After dusk falls they all go to sleep. It’s enchanting.
Vendors set up at various locations throughout the resort and show off their wares. There is a mixture of items for sale and the prices seemed pretty reasonable. A lady named Yohanis displays some truly amazing artwork which at first we thought were photos, but nope they are originals!
The resort has beautiful grounds and the plants/tree are well cared for. Take a walk to the spa building and have a look around there. It looks like that is a relaxing place to spend some time but we really aren’t into the spa idea. The Diamond Club area is also further down that road. We don’t do Diamond Club either. It was a nice walk though. As with most resorts, some repairs and upkeep are needed. The fountains didn’t seem to be running as often as we would have liked. There is a walkway along the coral reef cliff that is very nice. You might see a Great Lizard Cuckoo there with amazing tail feathers. This is a great spot for sunset pictures.
One spot of interest is the Botanical Garden. It’s small but has lots of plants and trees and things to see. They were propagating several plants in water bottles when we were there. This a traditional hut you can go in and I believe there were some carrier pigeons there too.
Our room was clean and well kept. The door for the bathroom was absent which was odd. It must have been some kind of fancy glass door at some point. The bathroom itself was fairly modern. There was lots of hot water.
Rio de Oro has excellent food. The a La Cartes and buffet were great. The buffet had a wide selection of offerings. The fresh serve stations were excellent. Make sure to try out the pasta and fresh crepe areas! They do ask people to dress up a bit for supper (even in the buffet). Men should wear a shirt and trousers, and they do enforce trousers. That’s ok, it is a Cuban tradition to dress up a bit when eating out.
The other restaurants were also good. It seemed a bit difficult to get pizza (it was on the menu though) and there must have been a french fry shortage while we there there. This kind of thing is typical in Cuba.
The a La Cartes were great. Definitely check out the Japanese restaurant where the food is prepared right at your table.
Beverages were good at the resort. The drinks were hand-made and of good quality. Red wine was easily obtainable. Service is a mixture of table service and going up to the bar. As often is the case people get impatient waiting at their table, so they go to the bar, which then breaks the order of who should get served next. We found once the table servers got to know us they were pretty quick to serve. We regularly tip table service, having to go up to the bar not so much.
There seemed to be a mint shortage when we went in October, so mojitos were hard to get.
The beach is small at Rio de Oro but more than sufficient. Loungers and shade were readily found. If you travel further west toward Sol Rio de Luna y Mares there is more beach. The resort is built on a coral reef, so the swimming area is a bit rocky. This is made up for by excellent snorkelling. If you travel west along the beach you can go for a pretty long walk. You won’t get to walk along sandbars the same way you can at other resort locations in Cuba. It is notable that there were bathrooms at the beach area. The restaurant and bar at the beach were very good. The lagoon meets up with the beach in one section and must outflow there using the sand as a filter.
The entertainment was excellent at the resort. Most of the shows are at floor level in the lobby where the performers could mingle a bit with the crowd. There is an assortment of shows. One night there was a fashion show, which was interesting but not necessarily our thing. Some of the singers were fantastic. Other shows are on the stage. We found there were performers at most restaurants during lunch which was really nice.
We enjoyed some time with the activity staff at the resort. Isabella gave us a Spanish lesson! She was very patient. We did some weaving and made a grasshopper. The staff at the resort were friendly and easy to talk to. We took a horseback ride which was lots of fun. These were pretty energetic and healthy horses! I would definitely recommend giving it a try. You will take a rest at a little restaurant where you can have a nice cool beer.
The snorkelling is great at this resort. You can snorkel right off the beach. there are lots of fish and reef structures to see. If it is wavy be respectful of that, as you might find yourself having gone east and at that point, all you have for safety is the coral reef wall- which isn’t very safe if it is wavy.