Getting to Trinidad, Cuba from Canada
I flew from Toronto into Santa Clara airport on West Jet Airlines. I had a taxi waiting to take me into Trinidad, which was about an hour and a half drive from Santa Clara.
Why did I choose to visit Trinidad? I love history, so being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is lots of history to experience and much to see in Trinidad. A big plus with visiting Trinidad is that there are also beaches nearby, many good restaurants, colourful markets and museums.
Trinidad is in the province of Sancti Spíritus, central Cuba located on the Caribbean coast near the Escambray Mountains. Together with the nearby Valley of the Sugar Mills, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988.
Trinidad is one of the best-preserved cities in the Caribbean from the time when the sugar trade was the main industry in the region. Trinidad was founded on December 23, 1514 by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar.
While in Trinidad I stayed at the Bed and Breakfast, Casa El Ceramista.
Here is the review I wrote about this Casa on TripAdvisor:
I stayed at El Ceramista the first week of February this year and was amazed at the welcome, warmth and friendliness of this Casa in Trinidad, Cuba. From the moment I arrived at this Casa and for my entire stay I felt at home. Alexey, who speaks English, advised me on the local attractions, the best restaurants and excellent tours to take in the area. He arranged for a Salsa teacher to come right to the Casa to give me some Salsa lessons. My room was lovely, very clean with air conditioning. Breakfast, with a selection of fruit, breads, coffee and eggs, was outside on the upper terrace. The main level, where the family lives, is full of lovely plants. Don’t hesitate to book at this Casa for a wonderful experience of hospitality. The Casa is a 10-15-minute walk to the Plaza Mayor where you’ll find all the museums, many restaurants and Trinidad’s famous coffee shop Don Pepe’s, which serves the absolute best Cuban coffee. When I talked to the Barista, he said he makes a special blend of various Cuban coffees. I only wish I had that recipe!
Photos of Casa El Ceramista:
There are many things to see and do in Trinidad, but one of my favourite activities was to simply walk its centuries old cobblestone streets, experience daily life and admire the pastel coloured houses, many with fancy wrought iron grill work. Trinidad is easily explored on foot, but there are horse-drawn carriages or bicycle taxis to take you around if the heat gets to be too much for you.
Apart from simply exploring the streets of this colourful UNESCO World Heritage Site, the highlights of Trinidad include the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the ruins of Santa Ana Church, the History Museum with tower for views of Trinidad, the Museum of the Revolution and Counter Revolution with bell tower and fantastic view of Trinidad and surrounding area. Also, are the Plaza Mayor, Casa de Musica, cigar and rum shops, restaurants and several outdoor markets.
Photos of Trinidad:
Don Pepe’s Coffee Shop
Below is a special focus on Don Pepe’s Coffee Shop in Trinidad. If I could have I would have brought Don Pepe’s shop back to Ottawa! Cuban coffee is the best!
A train ride through The Valley of the Sugar Mills or Valle de los Ingenios”
One excursion I took outside of Trinidad was on an old steam train (dating back to 1906) through The Valley of the Sugar Mills, or Valle de los Ingenios, part of the Trinidad World Heritage Site. A visit through this valley represents the importance of the sugar industry to the Cuban economy. There are actually three interconnected valleys: San Luis, Santa Rosa, and Meyer, centres for sugar production from the late 1700s until the late 19th century. At the peak of production there were over fifty sugar cane mills operating in the three valleys.
It’s estimated that some 80,000 Africans were brought to Cuba to work specifically on these sugar-producing farms during that time period.
Highlights of the trip included a visit to the Manaca plantation whose owner, Iznaga, was one of the wealthiest plantation owners during the colonial period. While there, one can climb to the top of the Iznaga watchtower, a 45 metres high tower constructed sometime in 1816 by the owner. From this Tower are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside, including a view of what was the owner’s house (now a restaurant), also below are views of local women selling beautifully hand embroidered table cloths.
Also along the way we stopped at an abandoned sugar mill (where you take a self-guided tour) and then to Hacienda Guachinango for lunch.
Photos of train ride through The Valley of the Sugar Mills or Valle de los Ingenios:
A tour of Parc Guanayara, Lookout del Caribe and Pancho’s Coffee Shop:
I took a tour to Parc Guanayara by taxi with a guide and four other tourists (two from Argentina and two from Italy). We visited Lookout del Caribe, then went on to Don Pancho’s coffee shop and coffee plantation. The highlight was a walk through the jungle where our guide pointed out local flora and fauna, where we passed by several scenic waterfalls. The reward for our demanding walk was arriving at a waterfall fed pool for a refreshing swim.
Photos of tour to Park Guanayara lookout del Caribe and Don Pancho’s coffe shop:
Ancon and Maria Aguilar beaches:
These beaches are located just outside Trinidad and are accessible by about a 10-minute taxi ride. At Ancon Beach you can take long walks, while Maria Aguilar Beach is a smaller beach, protected at its outer limits by naturally occurring large rocks, thus creating very calm waters, like a natural pool.
Although I love history, museums and markets, you simply cannot go to a sunny, hot destination like Cuba in the middle of our Canadian winter without a few visits to a beach!
Photos of Ancon and Maria Aguilar beaches: