Things to do in the western part of Cuba.
The best places to visit if you’re heading west.
1) Las Terrazas
A lot of people stop in Las Terrazas on the way to Viñales. As my friend Hampus said, it´s a weird, soviet style, utopian community. And I could not explain it better. Las Terazzas community has been founded in 70´s and has around 1000 inhabitants, most of them living from tourism. All the complex is really eco friendly and has everything you need. There´re schools, doctors and restaurants inside. What to do if you decide to visit Las Terrazas? You can visit the complex itself, have a good coffee in Moka Hotel, swim in the natural pools…and that´s pretty much it. Good for a half day stop. But not worth of spending over $100 a night.
2) Cayo Levisa
It´s one of the best beaches west from Havana. Located on the small island north from Pinar del Río, it can be reached by ferry boat leaving from Palma Rubia at 10am and 6pm (ferries from Cayo Levisa depart daily at 9am and 5pm). To get to Palma Rubia you´ll have to arrange a private transport. The hotel it´s quite expensive but worth it if you manage to go there on sunny days.
4) Cayo Jutías
Beach located 50km from Viñales and my favorite one. There’s no place to stay there however you can rent a car or a taxi to get there. If you choose the taxi it will cost you $60 (return) and the taxi driver will wait for you. You can also rent a scooter in Viñales for $25/day.
3) Pinar del Río
The biggest town in the area famous for its cigar and rum factories. Again, good for a short stop. Pinar del Río has probably less lovers than haters since calm and safe Viñales is just around the corner. But if you wish to see closer how cigars or rum are made you should definitely stop here for an hour or two. The town has also some beautiful colonial buildings but it´s lacking of good vibe other cities like Trinidad have.
4) Maria La Gorda Beach
I am a huge fan of this small beach in the end of the world. It´s hard to get there (no public transport, no Viazul), the food at the hotel it´s not good, and the bungalows are full of Cuban mosquitoes and small devils called santanillas (really annoying bug, smaller than an ant). But I don´t care, the beach is so beautiful. It´s a small Cuban paradise nobody is talking about but is totally worth it.
Another example of eastern socialist architecture in the middle of tropical forest. Soroa hotel and it´s natural area (waterfalls, Orchid Botanical Garden) are on To Do List of a lot of travelers. Good for a overnight stay or relaxing weekend, but not more since there’s not much to do in the area.
From all the western towns probably the most attractive place to visit. My second home. Viñales is a really small village but its location makes it really special with a plenty things to do. For more details see this post.