Vinales Cuba valley is a farming area famous for tobacco. Grown to supply the world renown Cuban cigar industry. Made famous by people like Winston Churchill and Fidel Castro.
It’s a small rural village that’s grown a tourist industry around the karst mountains. With their many caves and challenging rock faces from climbers to hikers it has a wide outdoor and environment interest.
There is a National Park with at least 15 different routes of varying length and difficulty. Hiking and cycling are popular as the roads are not busy and the area is quite flat.
To get to Vinales we took the Viazul bus from Havana. As we arrived the bus was swamped by a dozen or so local ladies loudly shouting the advantages of their casa regulare. Thrusting business cards or information sheets at anyone getting off.
It was a bunfight. People getting off, others selling accommodation mixed with taxi drivers touting their services.
We had booked in a casa regulares (Cuban homestay) a few kilometres out of town and negotiated a fee with a taxi driver.
Vinales Bus Tour
The hop on hop off bus goes to all the main attractions in the valley. There are 19 bus stops. The cost is a very reasonable CUC5 (USD5) for a day pass and tickets can be bought on the bus.
It operates from 9am and does 6 trips through the day. The full circuit takes about 65 minutes and there is a one-and-a-half-hour break between each bus. Giveing one ample time to visit any of the attractions.
These attractions include:
Mural de la Prehistoria
A 120-metre-long and about 50-metre-high painting on the side of a mountain. The painting which symbolizes the theory of evolution and took 18 people 4 years to complete.
Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas
The second largest cave system in America with about 1 kilometre accessible to visitors. The guided tour takes about 90 minutes.
Cueva del Indio
The first 200 metres is walked and the final 400 metres is by motor boat. The cave is artificially lit.
Cueva de San Miguel
This is a short 10-minute cave tour that ends in a restaurant!
Where you can see the leaves being dried in a thatch barn. You can also buy unbranded cigars. The ones smoked by the locals.
Sunday in Vinales Cuba
It was a Sunday afternoon. As we sat in town enjoying a coffee and cake we watched the local traffic policeman. Magnificently shod in a pair of shiny black boots complete with silver chains and spurs. As people walked by they would stop, greet him, shake hands, have a few words and walk on.
This stopping and greeting people with a kiss on the cheek, a hug or handshake was very prevalent. Nice to see!
Cafes were filled with local farmers eating enormous plates of food and swigging rum from the bottle. Chattering away.
Leaving Vinales on a Viazul bus is a unique experience. You first have to go to the office next to the square to get a ticket and luggage tags. At some prescribed time, you then have to walk about 500 metres to where you board the bus. Fortunately the weather was sunny and warm … in the pouring rain this must be a very fun walk!
Vinales Cuba in Summary
- If visiting Cuba, it's a worthwhile trip. It provides an insight into another side of Cuban life … the one that has changed very little since the Revolution.
- Farmers going about their business in a tight knit community with limited resources.
- The town is littered with casa regulares. People desperate to make money independently. Investing in whatever way possible to upgrade their facilities and attract customers.