I promised to write about 10 cities on Cuba we explored, but today I’m more in a mood to reminisce about Cuban beaches with turquoise water. We’ve been to five of them and they are all very different and worth a visit.
Indeed, the most famous (and most touristic) beach on Cuba that is more than 20 km long. It is not so crowded in the morning, though. A strong advantage – a decent amount of different birds that are not afraid of you. I made a new acquaintance.
2.Cayo Santa Maria
We have a funny story when we didn’t spend a cent on the one of the most expensive islands on Cuba.
Everything started when getting on a bus from Santa Clara to Remedios we accidentally heard that the same bus proceeds till Cayo Santa Maria. In fact, it was exactly our destination point. We just didn’t know that buses go there… Our plan was to rent a taxi for the whole day (should cost about 60 CUCs) and drive there on our own. But if the bus already goes there… why not to try our luck! We remained seated in the bus during the stop in Remedios. We were quite anxious: what if they check our tickets (that we gave up in the beginning of the trip)… Or the bus is full… Or they know exact count of the passengers… Nothing happened and after ten minutes pause the bus drove farther.
Everyone in the bus had a reservation besides us and another couple. During the trip we got to know that there are only several hotels on this island and… they are all all-inclusive. No casas, no hostels, no private houses – just these five-star hotels. We had five chances – five stops (makes the bus), five times jump out, run to the reception counter, ask for the free rooms and the prices, turn around and jump back in the bus. First, the cheapest hotel (100 CUCs per night) was overbooked. The price of an overnight stay grew proportionally in each next hotel. Another couple stayed in one with the price 250 € for a night. A taxi back to Remedios would have cost 80 €… We drove till the last hotel on the line.
Without asking on reception, we took a break in the open café of the last resort. Luckily, the guests didn’t have any wristbands. I stayed with the luggage (yes-yes, we had our hand-luggage suitcases with us), Matze went to scout out the situation. “Everything clear, we can go to the beach”. So did we. Our alibi would be “We just checked out and want to take last pictures on the beach”. No one stopped us, no one asked something. We reached the beach, chose couple of remote sunbeds and changed to bikini. Suitcases were dug into sand, sun cream applied: time to enjoy the sun and the beach that is, frankly speaking, amazing!
In several minutes a bartender approached us and asked if we wanted to drink something. We modestly ordered one beer but were not sure if we had to pay for it. We hadn’t. All-inclusive! Beer, cocktails, sandwiches, snacks. After five hours, several piña coladas, sangrias (my choice), beers, whiskeys (Matze’s choice), sunbathing, swimming, taking pictures and enjoying ourselves we decided that is was time to leave. How – we had yet no clue. An emergency option – taxi for 80 €.
On the way back we had no obstacles and left the resort unattended. On our way we searched for the workers bus – a free bus that takes locals working in the hotel home after work. It was around five o’clock: the time fit perfectly. Luckily, we found one and went in. No objections from the driver or passengers. The bus started soon, collected several workers from other hotels and headed to the continent over dam. No police checkpoint on the entrance – already great! “In worst case, we are the tango-dancers and worked one day by a special invitation”. But even at the end of the dam, when police stopped us and came in, we weren’t asked a single question. Police was definitely searching for something, but not for the tourists smuggling themselves to the nearby city. Maybe, they check if locals illegally take something home from the hotel, especially if they work in the kitchen. Anyway, it is a mere guess.
The trip ended when we seen on the Google maps that we are near the center of Remedios. We jumped out of the bus and, laughing happily and not able to believe: what a day we had, headed in the city.
The city beach is called Ancon – you can reach it within 20 minutes with a taxi (6-8 €) or with a shared taxi (2 € per person). Quite touristic, though comfortable. I would not call it beautiful – I’m in favor of the “wild” beaches, where you see nothing but nature. Beach Ancon is surrounded by hotels and restaurants.
Nevertheless, here we have another good story: while exploring the surroundings, Matze met a restaurant guy catching lobsters. In the evening, one of these lobsters was eaten by us in his restaurant.
Cayo Coco is a small cozy beach next to Playa Giron. Ask locals how to reach it – it is only 10 minutes walking. During the day some guys sell fruit and drinks from a car and cook freshly caught fish. The water is warm, but the seabed is grassy. On the way to the beach you can shoot some nice “cliché” photos with palms without too much “witnesses” – there are only few visitors on this beach.
The closest city you can go to Cayo Jutias is Viñales. It takes about 1,5 hours to get there. We tried to find a local bus or a bus collectivo to this beach, but Viñales is so touristic, that is was scarcely possible. We ended up with booking a transfer for 15 € per person round-trip.
On this beach you can find two restaurants with attractive prices and a diving school. One dive costs around 40 € and will take place even if you alone. Snorkeling costs 12 – 15 €.
The beach itself is rather narrow but extremely beautiful (you should go as far as possible to the left): very clean blue water, white tree trunks sticking out from the fine white sand… Amazing!
For our trip back our driver set the exact time: four o’clock and not later. The explanation was hilarious: his car’s headlights didn’t work! Nevertheless, we reached the city safe and sound and very satisfied with the day. A cordial and funny evening with a couple we met in the car followed: rum, cigar, travelling stories. Definitely a wonderful day!