Cuba Bucket List

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Jamie Z, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,828
    Location:
    Around Denver
    I'm booked on the Stahlratte in April to go to Cuba with my bike. Doing my research now, read through a couple guidebooks, read some ride reports.

    For those of you who have been to Cuba, any places I should add to my list?

    Unfortunately, I'll only have two weeks. Though I'm not really a city person, I do plan to spend a couple days in Havana. I hear it's worth it.

    The rest of the time I'd like to travel through the more rural areas. See some history. Try the food, beer, and rum. Hang out with some local people. I'm not a cigar guy, though I think I'd be interested in visiting tabacco farm. Not really a beach person, either.... though I'd go just for the scenery. I mean the ocean, mostly.

    Thanks!

    Jamie
    #1
  2. navi

    navi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Oddometer:
    838
    Location:
    lower main land, canada
    I really liked Cuba, nice people ....... I spent time in Habana and Varadaro, liked both area for different reasons

    I didn't bike around, but a quick google search did bring up some ideas, Its not a big island, so I'm sure you can make the loop bigger or smaller ... but here's a couple of ideas


    Day 1: Arrival in Havana
    Arrival in the country. Welcome at VIP lounge of José Martí International Airport. Passengers do not need to queue for immigration controls or baggage claim. They will wait at a VIP lounge while qualified personnel complete all formalities. Beverages are included.

    You will then be transferred to a five-star hotel. You will have a meeting with the team and a welcome dinner.

    Day 2: Havana (approximately 50 miles / 80 kilometers)
    Start your day with a breakfast at the hotel. Then embark on a city tour of Old Havana (UNESCO’s World Heritage) and new Havana. Passengers will become familiar with the technical aspects, to which end, they will ride around different sites, including the Malecón Habanero, which is some 10-kilometer long, and the Revolution Square. You will also visit the Morro / Cabaña Fortress. Today, you will enjoy your lunch in the city, and dinner at the hotel.

    Day 3: Havana - Trinidad (approximately 205 miles / 330 kilometers)
    After breakfast at the hotel, you will depart for Cienfuegos. You will enjoy a panoramic visit of the beautiful city of Cienfuegos, dubbed La Perla del Sur. You will enjoy your lunch in Cienfuegos. Afterward, you will depart for Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the best examples of colonial architecture throughout the Americas. Accommodation at a colonial hostel or private houses. Dinner in Trinidad.

    Day 4: Trinidad - Santa Clara (approximately 75 miles / 120 kilometers)
    After enjoying your breakfast at the hotel, you will go on a walking city tour of Trinidad. Afterward, you will depart for Santa Clara via Topes de Collantes (Sierra del Escarambay), depending on weather conditions. After lunch, you will visit the Che Mausoleum and Armored Train. Tonight, you will stay at a three-star hotel in the area. Enjoy your dinner.

    Day 5: Santa Clara - Varadero (approximately 137 miles / 220 kilometers)
    Enjoy your breakfast at the hotel. You will depart for Varadero afterward. You will enjoy your lunch at your four or five-star hotel where you will stay at tonight. Today, you will visit the Dolphinarium in Varadero, and you will get to swim with the dolphins. Evening is at your own disposal. Enjoy your dinner at the hotel.

    Day 6: Varadero - Havana (approximately 93 miles / 150 kilometers)
    After your breakfast at the hotel, enjoy some free time to enjoy the beach, and lunch at hotel. You will then depart for Havana. Take a panoramic visit to the city of Matanzas. On the way, stopover at Bacunayagua, the country’s highest bridge. You will stay at a five-star hotel tonight. Tonight, you will enjoy a farewell dinner.

    Day 7: Departure from Havana
    This morning, enjoy your breakfast at the hotel. You will then have some free time, and you will be transferred to José Martí International Airport. End of services.

    Requirements
    • A valid driver's license at least two years old, good f
    #2
    mick likes this.
  3. ApexJeff

    ApexJeff Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    451
    Location:
    Tucson, Bahia de Kino
    Jamie[/QUOTE]

    Lonely Planet, Cycling Cuba, was my bible. Great rides.
    I thought the Stahratte stayed in Cuba 30 days ? Casa Particulars are the only way to stay, great families . Wherever you go you will be safe, , not to be political, but if we elect another president the people will be more friendly. Plenty to see to fit your style,
    Trinidad has a caveren night club, that is a blast for different site seeing. Snorkel the Bay of Pigs?,

    PM me for more specific rides,

    Smiles 20190325_111342.jpg
    #3
    9Realms likes this.
  4. Willsfree

    Willsfree Free to Explore

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
    Oddometer:
    81
    Location:
    SF Coast
    Cuba was awesome, especially traveling with a fluent and lovely travel companion. Trindidad, south of Topes de Collantes was a highlight with colonial vibe and Salsa dancing in the open square; horseback ride into the surrounding countryside is a great memory. I would look at Cuba on Google Earth and check out the topography to discover the mountainous areas within striking distance of your port :rilla
    #4
  5. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    36,985
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    These are some of the places I enjoyed

    Viñales Valley
    Vinales, Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/nNZcxGUkwC72r8Us7


    Near Bay of Pigs, Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/Y8oq5zYjeTnqTQVU8

    Che Guevara Mausoleum
    Santa Clara, Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/uouM1BRoikFz4KVJ9


    Remedios
    Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/3BTrH7K43H6KxbxH6

    Dropped pin
    Near Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/ros3TVCmKkNmu49X6

    Camaguey
    Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/zBFN2FWBXF5CwhUa7

    Baracoa
    Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/fzfLp98T5em14mtV6

    Santiago de Cuba
    Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/L2V9TzWp6CjvjQ4y8
    #5
  6. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,828
    Location:
    Around Denver
    Awesome! Thanks all. I'll be going through your recommendations in the next couple of days. I can already see that a few places I've already added to my list, and a few more which are new to me.

    Great picture. I'm looking forward to taking a similar photo. I've got the Cuba Lonely Planet from a couple years ago (I think it's the most recent version) and it's got a lot of listings... but every other traveler on the island also has the Lonely Planet. :lol3 I've traveled with Lonely Planet guidebooks in the past, and they do indeed become your bible.

    The Stahlratte has offered one-month trips in the past, but this year their trips are two weeks on the island... for whatever reason. (They do offer a three-week trip in January, but that's too soon for me.) Maybe they got feedback from passengers that it's easier to take a few weeks away from work and life rather than a whole month. Plus, I gotta figure that the faster turnaround allows them to make more paid trips.

    So... two weeks is what I have. Take it or leave it. Will that be enough time, or will I feel rushed? I talked to Gene and Neda who went to Cuba in 2012 or 2013, and they stayed a month. Gene told me he thought two weeks was enough time in the country. He told me that the month they spent was a little too long for them. I'm trying to decide if I should try to make a full loop of the island and see as many places as I can, or should I just stick to one side or the other? The list I have of places to see is already far too long for me to see everything even if I had a month, but nothing is absolutely-must-see. Just a list of things if I happen to be near, I'd like to check out.
    #6
  7. ApexJeff

    ApexJeff Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    451
    Location:
    Tucson, Bahia de Kino

    Attached Files:

    #7
  8. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,828
    Location:
    Around Denver
    Here's what I have on my list so far.

    CubaPlaces.jpg

    Places on the list include hikes, waterfalls, bars, restaurants, museums, art galleries, viewpoints, ruins... most of the points came from Lonely Planet, a few spots from reading ride reports and internet recommendations. Nothing on the list is an absolute must-do, and I don't plan to hop from one point to the next. Mostly I plan to wander and occasionally check the list to see if I'm near anything that looks appealing.

    I've also collected a small assortment of track files for roads that are said to be scenic or particularly interesting for some reason.
    #8
    eakins and ApexJeff like this.
  9. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    36,985
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    I've got to say the beach at Playa Santa Maria was one of the tops I've seen in the western hemisphere. Right up there with pink sand beach on Harbour Island, Eletherau.

    The resorts are very all-inclusive Canadian, but you might want the break. You need to pay to get in the island each way and so not sure how that works as an unescorted American? Maybe you just need to show a reservation receipt?

    Cayo Santa María
    Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/Tb73j1GKrpAAAKnaA
    #9
  10. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    36,985
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    #10
  11. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    36,985
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    #11
  12. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    36,985
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    He's not everyone's friend these days but this church has the first cross to come to the Americas, Christopher Columbus'

    Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion
    38 Ciro Frias, Baracoa, Cuba
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/nQQbdxpxeE9KN4AV9
    #12
  13. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,988
    Location:
    Kentucky-Eastern that is!
    An article in Smithsonian magazine in this past year covered a Cuban trip that included the author meeting with Fidel Castro's son who's a "Harley guy" and lives a very comfy life as you'd expect?
    There were several caustic letters to the editor afterwards, based on the obvious privilege enjoyed by him in owning a very expensive MC in a country blessed with poverty, food shortages and such.
    I agree it's an interesting place but tourism mostly benefits the government as the money doesn't trickle down well there.
    #13
  14. ApexJeff

    ApexJeff Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    451
    Location:
    Tucson, Bahia de Kino
    Actually. If you plan it right, stay away from the gov run hotels, and stay in Casa Particulars, and spend peso's with the locals and plan your trip staying away from the resorts and tourist traps, like the OP is planning would be great. Che's and Fidels relatives run Moto rentals and fancy tours, ran into them at expensive resorts, I just went their for a breakfast when I saw a bunch of motos parked. I found the people very nice, specifically the first time when Obama was president. I talked freely with young liberals, and older Castro folks. The most interesting with a gentleman my age, who I explained my experience as youngster in school where once a week we had air raid drills requiring us to hit the fall out shelter.
    As always, you take the trip you enjoy the ride,
    #14
  15. HellsAlien

    HellsAlien a has-been that never-was

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,252
    Location:
    Baja Sur winter, Columbia City summer
    Jamie, +1 on Trinidad, we had a great time there on New Years Eve dancing in the streets all the way back to hotel.

    Ride to Bay of Pigs museum is ok too.

    Please post up on the import/export of your bike to Cuba, looked like a huge hassle to me, or are you renting local?

    Take stuff for kids, you will be a rock star at gas stations. I took PEZ candy dispensers, the kids had never seen them before, was a big hit!
    #15
  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,828
    Location:
    Around Denver
    Lonely Planet mentioned this... and I think you simply need to pay a toll to access the area. However...

    This sounds more like my kinda place. I'll want to avoid the Western Tourist places.

    Awesome. Added to my list. I almost had to google Harlista, until I said it aloud. :lol3

    I read about that. I'm curious to explore some of the history of Columbus in Cuba. I didn't realize he'd explored Cuba. Apparently he went there on his second voyage, and according to Planet Money, he still thought he was in the east Indies. That guy just wouldn't learn.

    I keep reading great things about Trinidad. It's definitely on my list.

    For import/export, I'll be traveling on the Stahlratte. The crew takes care of most of the beauracracy.

    This isn't the place to debate ethical tourism, but I avoid giving material gifts to children while traveling in developing countries. I'm not really a kid person, but when I encounter kids, I like to try to share an experience with them. Kick a ball around, rev up the bike, let them sit on (or start) the bike (and given a couple of rides), and a couple of times in the past I've used my tire pump to inflate a deflated soccer ball. As a baseball fan, I might try to get involved in a few street games. I looked into maybe carrying a small photo printer with me, but even though there are some really compact models out there, the paper supply is not sustainable, plus it's expensive.

    Love all the suggestions!
    #16
  17. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,828
    Location:
    Around Denver
    Created a couple of tracks of good Cuban roads:

    Attached Files:

    #17
  18. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,828
    Location:
    Around Denver
    .

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,828
    Location:
    Around Denver
    .

    Attached Files:

    #19
  20. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    10,828
    Location:
    Around Denver
    .

    Attached Files:

    #20