Although I have already written a blog about our trip, I couldn’t help but dedicate an article entirely to Vinales, our favourite place in Cuba. This beautiful town set in a valley with dramatic rock formations just blew us away with it’s stunning beauty and authentic Cuban experience it offers. When I use to think Cuba, I thought, colourful classic cars, crumbly buildings, mojitos and cigars. Vinales just made me appreciate this country so much more. The entire town has opened up its doors to tourism with most houses running their spare rooms as casa’s (B&B’s) or paladors (private restaurants).
I love the fact the locals do not try to cover up or hide their culture from tourists. It just is what it is! From their horses tied to the front of their house and the tobacco fields down the road, it is all a very relaxed way of life. All houses are one story and are roughly the same size, all have a porch and all most certainly have a rocking chair where the owners sit and watch the evening arrive. Be prepared to say ‘ola’ a hundred times if you walk through the neighbourhood in the evening, everyone is outside chatting to their neighbours from their chairs. I loved copying them from our casa and watching Esmé play in the garden.
The local town is heaving with many restaurants, a town hall which vibrates salsa music from it daily as well as the traditional classic cars, horses and carts going about their business. It was such an awesome place to sit and watch the world go by. Just minutes from the town you can reach dramatic country side. The valley reminded me a little of Ayers Rock in Australia accept everything was green. Men trotted through the fields around the valley with huge cowboy hats. Truly iconic!
Do I have you captured yet? I hope so! Let me help you a little with my eat, sleep and play guide to Vinales.
El Paraiso Organic Farm is set on a hill looking down into the valley. As it says in the title, it is a beautiful organic farm growing fresh vegetables and salads for their very popular restaurant. It is by far one of the best in the area and you really do have to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The owner is quite the character and is sure to make you laugh while he gives you a guided tour around his farm. There is plenty of green space for the little ones to play. We did however have to stop a few little sneaky hands from picking the strawberries.
La Cocinita is in the main part of town. I asked for a recommendation for the most authentic Cuban food that tasted good. Unfortunately good Cuban food is hard to come by with its culinary history. This little family run Palador have the right idea. Just two options daily but everything is fresh and cooked perfectly.
Villa Las Croton is Tatty and Renee’s family home. A couple of rooms in the house are used as B&B. They are incredibly helpful and are a lovely family. Especially as they organised some of our activities for us which was great. There is an option for dinner at an extra cost if you fancy it. Something I loved is they noticed Travel Mad Dad’s birthday when they did the passport checks and made him a birthday cake on the day. How lovely! Staying in a family home may not be for everyone but we just love getting as close to the real life experience as possible. We sat in their rocking chairs of an evening whilst Esmé played on the porch.
Take a private family salsa lesson. This was one of my favourite activities although we were really terrible at it. We took our lesson in the old town hall. It was so authentic and Esmé could get involved as much as she wanted.
Horse ride around the Vinales valley. Both Travel Mad Dad and I agreed it was the most dramatic and beautiful scenery we had ever come across. I think that takes a lot for us to say considering we have travelled so much. You may or may not want to take your little one on the trip with you depending on their size, age and tolerance of an hour long trip.
Go on a tour with Discover Vinales. We had a lovely tour guide named Yaniel. His English is perfect and he loves to take his customers off the beaten track away from the main tourist hubs. He took us to an amazing underground cave where we went on a boat. We also visited a non-tourist tobacco farm as well as the beautiful El Paradiso restaurant. He was really good at tailoring the trip according to our needs with having a toddler.
Enjoying what you reading? For our full guide to Vinales as a Family, check out the rest of our Pearls here.
This post is sponsored by Pearlshare.