We took a nice 75-minute taxi (1952 chevy) ride for 30cuc from Santa Clara to Cienfuegos. We had booked Casa Babi on Airbnb for less than $25 a night. It was a great location right along the malecon (sea wall) and walking distance to all the major sites. The manager Darien and his family were fantastic. They have two beautiful, young girls and my daughter took to them immediately. We had a nice room, private bath, mini fridge, A/C, fans and breakfast for 5cuc if wanted.
We headed right to the beach – a 15-minute taxi ride to Rancho Luna. It’s an ok beach – very coarse sand with rocks and clear, calm water. There is a restaurant with beach front table service (they actually brought a table and chairs to our beach spot) where we had a good meal of chicken, rice, beans, cucumbers and slaw for 5 cuc. They didn’t have lounge chairs but if you got food service you got to keep the upright chair the whole time.
The taxi charged one flat price for round-trip and I didn’t pay him (15cuc) until he came to get us on our agreed upon time. Took shower (seemed to be cool only but ok because so hot outside). I figured out later that many of the showers have a valve where you can turn the hot water up.
We took a nice bici-taxi tour around town for 10cuc (arranged by my host) – that took about 90 minutes. Really nice as we could stop when want, get on-and-off, and our cyclist narrated the tour. At the end of the malecon is a cute little beach area where people picnic, play music, swim and just hang out with family and friends. Next time, we will go hang out there.
We stopped for a quick bite at place called rapido (not really fast). They have wi-fi (which is very scarce), a kids play area and lots of tables where people also hang out to catch up with friends. Lots of people also hang out on sea wall across street as wi-fi reaches there.
Next day we were going to the El Nicho waterfalls but I decided it was too much – that we would just stay in town. There is a really nice swim club on the waterfront – Club Cienfuegos. There’s an area with an outdoor swimming pool, poolside restaurant and bar, marina and some activities for kids. The main building has a beautiful patio with a view and live music, a bar, a store and even a little high rooftop for photo ops or a romantic kiss.
I paid 10cuc and got entry to the pool and 7cuc worth of food and drink. Beer is 1cuc and a really good meal was only 4.50cuc. I ended up buying couple of beers for my friends. My hosts came along and we had a fantastic afternoon playing with the kids and soaking up the sun. There were definitely a lot of locals.
We walked along the malecon and stopped to play at a little playground at the end (kind of sad) and I wouldn’t recommend going as grass was high (mosquitos) and most of playground was rusted or broken. We had a good dinner (pork schnitzel and mashed plantains) prepared by the family then we all hung out along the malecon. Ellie played with the girls while I got to know my host family and friends. That really is the best part of travel – getting to know the locals and becoming fast friends. It makes it feel like home.
Another fantastic stay in Cuba… stay tuned for more of our travels to Cuba.