Havana to Vinales

map havana vinales

We picked up the car - medium size rental from Rex car at the "cruise terminal" in Havana, which was providentially only a few hundred yards from the hotel.You get the little scams everywhere in Cuba, like paying for a full tank of petrol, and not getting any credit back if there is any gas left in the tank when you return the car. At 65 CUC a tank, they can cream of 6 or 7 CUC a car, and guide books warn that fuel gauges are doctored to show full when they are not - another few CUC to be made here. Mind you this is life in Cuba.

Getting out of Havana was simple, we just took the Malecon (promenade) heading west, and we were soon out of the city. The one big plus of driving in Cuba is that there are very few cars - for example arriving back in Havana from the east there is a 8 lane motorway with fewer cars than you would see on a Scottish Highland byway.

Once clear of Havana we had our first navigation mistake, and instead of taking the coast road to Vinales as we had intended, we somehow ended up on the motorway. When there are no signposts, and I mean that nothing whatever to guide you, so you have to develop an instinct as to which roads to take, and at this stage of our trip, our Cuban instincts were not finely honed enough. I should add that we had a good road map. but it is very difficult on the map to tell where road junctions actually are. Anyway the error was no problem, and we headed west on the motorway instead, arriving in Vinales after about 4 hours driving.

That left enough time to explore the surrounding area that afternoon - it is known for its caves (like the American tourist said "when you have seen one cave you have seen them all", so we chose to forgo the opportunity to see more)

Click on any of the small pictures below to get a large image

Hotel la Hermita. Vinales Hotel la Hermita. Vinales ermita hotel vinales la ermita vinales
Hotel La Ermita, Vinales ..its pool ..its buildings .. and restaurant with a view

We stayed 2 nights at the Hotel La Ermita, which has a stunning, and I mean stunning, hill top position high above the town of Vinales. The Ermita is a "typical modern" Cuban hotel. By that I mean dated by European standards. It is a series of 2 story buildings in large grounds and complete with a large but basic swimming pool. Reception was "reserved" as reception tends to be in Cuba. We did enjoy the snack bar area, where the drinks were good, cheap, and served with a smile. The barman offered us fresh orange juice (I suspect it was a fiddle) but it was the only fresh OJ we tasted in Cuba.

The sunsets (see Photos below) were spectacular. We ate in paladares both nights, but the restaurant position was stunning (you have breakfast there too). Breakfast is standard Cuban, but you can avoid the processed cheese and spam by opting for fresh fruit and freshly cooked egg, pancake or omelet.

Only problem we had was on the last morning breakfast was inside (not out on the terrace) - apparently the roof had become dangerous. I had to prevail upon the staff to open the shutters so that at at least the clientele could see out.

Click on any of the small pictures below to get a large image

rocks vinales sunset vinales paladar vinales paladar vinales
Modern rock painting
Sunset our first night
Lobster meal in a local house,the
.. ladies stop your car to get you
cuban beach beach in Cuba beach north cuba chris beach
Cayo Jutias
with its lighthouse...and
sandy beaches, real white..
..sand and hardly a punter
beach pinar del rio tobacco drying shed sunset vinales sunset vinales
..and lunch and a mohito.
Tobacco drying shed
and another glorious sunset
with weird cloud formations

Vinales to Cienfuegos

Our Cuban Holiday