Vinales, Cuba is the most beautiful place I have visited so far in my life. The scenery is straight out of Jurrasic Park with the prehistoric mountains and farmers fields as far as the eye can see. We only spent a few days here but I would recommend staying longer as you can do so much from Vinales, hike the national park, visit the beaches, wander the local town or just chill out by a pool. Here are some tips for the area…
Stay at Loz Jazmines, also known as the Pink Palace. It is a boutique hotel, a 5 minute taxi ride outside of town, incredibly relaxed, has a pool and the best views of the area. Splurge for a junior suite, you are only paying 5CUC more for a little house in a separate section with great views of the valley. Bookings are essential and can be done online. Persistence here is key as the government run site is cumbersome and regularly times out before your booking is complete. Want to just turn up? You can try and if no luck the restaurant next door, Buena Vista, also has rooms. You can then use the pool at Loz Jazmines for free through an agreement with Buena Vista or if you are staying in town pay 3CUC to the hotel for a ‘day pass’ to hang out.
The freshest and yummiest food is found here. Vinales benefits from the local farm land with all the food coming from the area and fish from the sea nearby so the meals here were the best we had in Cuba. Try Buena Vista for a traditional Cuban meal (next door to Loz Jazmines) or El Olivo in Vinales for yummy western, Mediterranean food if you want something less Cuban.
Dance with locals in the square. A couple of CUC at the door and you can join locals in a open roof bar for a salsa and beer. Honestly having only done my first Salsa lesson that morning I found this place quite intimidating and 98% of the dancers on the floor were Cubans who have been salsaing since they were knee high to a grasshopper! It is worth going for some people watching and who knows another night you probably find plenty of tourists up on the dance floor!
Take a tour. Plenty of things to do here. We went on a bus and a boat to Cayo Levisa in search of some snorkeling. The water was too rough to go out but it was a perfect day under coconut trees working on my tan and taking dips in the sea. Another day we spent going to a Cuban farm learning about cigar making, to various factories for liquor and cigar production and finishing with a boat ride through some gorgeous caves.