A journey through Cuba in a week visiting Vinales, Santa Clara, Cayo Santa Maria and Trinidad on the trip Grand Caribbean: Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
After Havana, Vinales is a two hour drive away. This small town is known for the colorful wooden houses that line the streets and dates back to 1871. The area is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Near the town are caves located in the protected Valle de Viñales National Park. Cuevas del Indio is the closest to the city and includes a short boat ride. Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás is more similar to real caving and to go on the tour, a helmet and headlamp are provided. This visit involves quite a bit of climbing and some hiking up the mountain. As the biggest cave in Cuba, there are some impressive caverns, bats, and plenty of stalactites and stalagmites.
About three hours away from Havana, Santa Clara, the capital of the region is the fifth largest city in Cuba.
The city is also the where the Battle of Santa Clara took place, in which Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos captured the town. They bulldozed railway tracks to derail a train full of troops. Tren Blindado is a national monument celebrating events of the battle. The bulldozer is on display as well as train carts which are converted into a simple museum and the Obelisk of Che Guevara.
Che Guevara’s Monument includes a museum and mausoleum which holds the remains of Che Guevara and his comrades after they were killed in Bolivia.
Cayo Santa Maria
This island is famous for its all-inclusive resorts and beautiful beaches. It is connected to the mainland via a 48 km causeway which is a pleasant drive.
This UNESCO World Heritage town was founded in 1514 and is famous for its colonial streets and architecture. A popular tourist destination, most sites of interest are in or around Plaza Mayor, including the cathedral and several museums.
Museo de Historia Municipal showcases antique statues, artwork, and furniture pieces. The terrace on the roof offers great views over the city.
Museo Romántico is housed in a building from 1740 displaying fine china and antiques from the time period.
Museum of the War Against the Bandits has an interesting exhibit on engagement against U.S. backed counterrevolutionaries based in the surrounding mountains. There is even a wreckage from a U.S. U-2 plane that was shot down.
From the mountains and caves of Vinales in the west to the exotic beach resorts of the cays in the north, from the historic cities of Havana and Santa Clara to the cultural treasures of Trinidad, Cuba really has a diverse offering for the curious traveler.