The other stop on our Cuba tour was the small town of Trinidad, about 4 hours southeast of Havana. Once there (after a longer than 4 hour, hot and sweaty, taxi collectivo ride) we immediately fell in love with the place and the people.
Where to Stay
I believe there are a handful of hotels in Trinidad, and definitely a few more down by the beach in Playa Ancon, but I’d definitely recommend staying at a casa particular.
We stayed at Luis’ house right on Calle Desengano (follow this road a few blocks up to the main plaza). I would highly recommend staying with him if he has availability. You can check him out here on Airbnb. He was very helpful – from having a scuba instructor come over to talk to us about the visibility (unfortunately it had rained a foot before we had arrived) to booking us a place to stay when we decided to stay for an extra night to arranging a trip to Javira waterfall for us.
The third night we stayed at Hostal La Salernitana which was another great place for 30 CUC a night just around the corner. You can reach them at [email protected] or a number of other websites (Airbnb, Hostels Club, etc.).
Where To Eat
We personally had much better food experiences in Trinidad. Here’s where we recommend!
Son y Sol – one of our favorite places the entire trip. A bit Indian-inspired. We ordered the chicken samosas to start which were on the spicy side and delicious. I had the chicken with red wine as my entree which was pretty good, but not as flavorful as Toby’s lobster with ginger and pineapple (probably my favorite thing I tried all week). They also had live music and lots of antiques in the front of the restaurant as well.
La Redaccion – we sat out back here, hoping it would be cooler than inside. It wasn’t, but there were at least fans. I had the seafood risotto (potentially not the best pick for a hot and humid night, but nevertheless delicious).
El Ranchon – I’m not sure how you’d come upon this place unless you read about it online beforehand, as it was a few blocks south of where everything else was going on on a very quiet and unassuming street. We actually ended up here after meeting a lobster fisherman at the beach and he invited us for dinner – all the lobster you could eat for 12 CUC. Do it. The food was delicious and the owner was so nice and friendly – he also has rooms for rent as well. And, they really mean as much as you can eat. Toby ate at least 2.5 pounds.
Restaurante San Jose – this came recommended from Luis. We unknowingly wandered into an air conditioned room which felt absolutely amazing. We ended up eating lunch here twice. Recommendations – the Cuban and the burger.
Where To Drink & Dance
Casa de la Musica – you can’t come to Trinidad without hearing about Casa de la Musica and as touristy as it may or may not be, you at least have to check it out for a drink, some music, and some salsa. A live band plays and there are tables and chairs in front of the stage. When they run out of chairs take a spot on the steps. Waiters come by and take your drink order, or you can visit a handful of bars around the area.
Disco Ayala – another place that you’ll probably hear about before getting to Trinidad. A disco down about 30 meters in a cave. After things die down a bit at Casa de la Musica, continue your walk up the hill and head in for a drink. It’s hot, sweaty, the floor was soaking wet (booze, cave condensation, sweat, a combination?) and costs a few CUC to get in (but includes a drink) but just do it. Even if you stay for less than 30 minutes (like we did).
Bodeguita de Medio – check this place out for a drink and some great live music – maybe even a bit of salsa dancing!
Other bars we visited were La Canchanchara (this had been recommended to us but both times we went by it was pretty empty so we decided not to stay) and the tiniest bar across from a beer garden on Calle Gutierrez. We completely failed at getting the name, but if you find it (seriously the tiniest bar ever with tiny little tables and soccer flags) tell Leandro we said hello!
What To Do
Once you’ve wandered around town a bit (it doesn’t take long to do so) it’s really more about what you can do outside of town.
Javira Waterfall – located in El Cubano National Park, you can walk, bike, take a horse, or just take a taxi there. Reading this, you might think oh, a bike ride to a hike sounds like a great idea…but in reality it is probably going to be really hot and humid. We took a taxi and never looked back. There is a 10 CUC entrance fee and a restaurant and bathrooms before you begin. The hike was about 40 minutes through the forest (crossing the river in knee deep water a few times) before coming upon the waterfall. It was beautiful, the water was cold and refreshing, and if you could handle the current you could swim all the way over to it.
Playa Ancon – scuba, snorkel or just relax at the beach! We had planned to scuba but a tropical storm had dropped over a foot of a rain on Cuba before we had arrived so the visibility was terrible. We opted for a lazy afternoon swimming in the warm water. It’s a 6-8 CUC, 15 minute taxi ride there and back. There are hotels there, and we found that the hotel next to Hotel Ancon had a little beach bar and even delivered us sandwiches to our chairs. Whether you want food and drinks or not, there are lots of lounge chairs and umbrellas to sit underneath (be prepared to pay 2 CUC).
There are a few other excursions from Trinidad, other horseback riding adventures and checking out old sugar factories, but we ran out of time.
If you are planning a trip to Cuba I highly, highly recommend making your way to Trinidad. The town is wonderful and the variety of outdoor activities you can do brings a nice change from city life.
Read more about our Cuba adventures on our Havana post, here.