Havana Oh Na Na…🇨🇺
I’m sure your feed has been blowing up lately since travel restrictions eased up on this once secretive island (At least for U.S. passport holders). Mojitos and sunsets by the Malecon, classic cars and cigars. It looks like a dream right out of Dirty Dancing.
But did you know that Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean!? With a number of miles that you can google, there is more than Havana to give you a great experience. You don’t even have to go far! A two hour drive east or west from Havana will give you an experience you will never forget!
A roughly hour and a half drive west from Havana lies the beautiful valleys of Viñales. If you love to have mother nature take care of you, this is the place. More known for the tobacco plantations where you can tour the process and get real hand rolled cigars. Bonus points if you put a bit of honey on the tip of the cigar!
While I was there, my friends and found a guy who does tours on horseback which set us back $5 an hour. From there he took us to the tobacco plantation, up a mountain and to a lake near el valle del silencio (valley of silence) where we had lunch lakeside.
Viñales is a must if you want to connect with nature and enjoy a break from the city. There are also caves you can explore. Cueva del Indio is a cool but touristy cave. Whatever you do I’m sure you’ll enjoy the laidback life in Viñales.
Okay so about two hours in east of Havana lies Cienfuegos, an UNESCO World Heritage site for it’s Spanish architecture. It lives up to it’s name as La Perla del Sur (the Pearl of the South). With it’s beautiful city center, and Malecon, it’s a great city to walk along the main boulevard.
We met some great people in Cienfuegos and decided to drive to the beach. Playa Rancho Luna is one of my favorite beaches on the island! It’s more of a bay, which means very little waves. A calm beach to lay and forget the world exists.
Not to mention the BEST mojitos on the island (says the girl drunk by 3 pm on these things). Spend a day or two in Cienfuegos before you make your way to the next stop, Trinidad. But before you do, plan to leave Cienfuegos in the early morning, and make sure you stop in El Nicho.
Parque Nacional El Nicho is about halfway in between Cienfuegos and Trinidad. Arrive and pay about $10 CUC to walk around and explore. Tip! Get in right as it opens at 8 am, El Nicho gets packed with tour groups around 10am, but you’ll have most of the park to yourself.
After a nice swim in one of the many posetas, make your way to the oldest city in Cuba
The oldest established port in Cuba, this beautifully preserved city is a must on your journey. Over 500 years old, Trinidad’s streets are still lined with cobblestones (so wear comfy shoes). With beautiful architecture and history, you can walk around and enjoy the beauty of this city.
Not to mention you can party in a cave! Yeah really! There’s a club inside a cave in Trinidad with awesome music, cool shows, and good drinks! Not a bad way to end the night!
If you really are up for an adventure, Camagüey, La Cuidad de los Tinajones is a great off the radar city for tourists, even though it’s Cuba’s 3rd largest city. Not to mention, it’s where my family is from! Roughly 8-9 hours from Havana, it is definitely a trip. But if you’re traveling to the Oriente, make sure this city is a stopping point. Check out Plaza del Carmen.
If taking it easy is what you want to do, get a day pass to Camagüey’s resorts. For about $30-45 CUC, you can have an all inclusive day pass to beach, food, and cocktails! Check out Hotel Roc (Formerly Gran Club Santa Lucia).
I hope you enjoy Cuba, and explore the island to the fullest! If you’re worried about the “new” travel restrictions, don’t worry, U.S. passport holders can still travel to Cuba! Trust me, getting your tourist card is the easiest part!
Before you go, remember:
- Cuba is still under communist rule, they don’t have the same freedoms we do
- Cuban nationals can’t always get into the same places tourists can!
- Respect the island and the locals, don’t be that asshole!
- Try to get off the beaten path, the best parts of Cuba are those not filled with tourists
- Exchange your money to Canadian or Euros before you go!
- Internet cards from ETECSA cost $1.50 and you’re limited to 3. Go to any park and people sell cards for $2-3 CUC (Don’t pay more!)
If you need any ideas of places to stay outside of Havana, these are the places I stayed:
If you have any questions shoot me a comment!