Backpacking through Cuba: Day 6 and 7. Playa Guardalavaca.

Day 6. 25/10. From Holguin to Guardalavaca.

When I wake up Maricel is already up and brings me a cup of coffee to the bed. She has already spoken to her aunt and figured out a clever way to get to our next destination: The famous beach Guardalavaca at the north of Holguin. We have some bread and butter with coffee and milk for breakfast and pack our backpacks lightly, leaving some unnecessary equipment in aunt Nury’s house where we will be able to pick it up when we’ll come back from the beach. By horse-drawn carriage we move to the bus station, where we have to wait approx. 30 minutes until our red camion to the beach has filled up. During the 2 hour ride to Guardlavaca Maricel and I have fun translation phrases and jokes from a little calendar she brought back from her last holidays in Germany. (My favorite: “How can you tell you’re getting old?  – All plants in your apartment are alive and none of them can be smoked.”).

We arrive at Guardalavaca at 2 in the afternoon and quickly stop by one of the fancy hotel’s shops to buy a snorkel (me) and flip-flops (Maricel). When we step down the steps to the famous beach I am speechless.

Never, never never never in my life have I been to such a beautiful beach. Fine, shining white sand between my toes, bizarre tree trunks and palm trees at our left and right and a turquoise-blue water that stretches out before you until the horizon runs out. I sink into the sand and I believe I screamed with happiness. I cannot wait to splash into the water and go for a quick dive before putting up our tent right next to the surge and a grotesque tree (I guess it owes its form to the last hurricane). I don’t want to leave this place. Ever!

Later in the afternoon Maricel and I go for a dive (one after the other in order not to leave the tent unattended) and learn to know two cubans, Pedro and Ernesto, who work as night guards at the beach. The two friendly compadres offer us their services (running water in a Bar at the beach and the possibility to put up our tent close to spot their watching) but we decide to stay at our beautiful spot next to the waterside. For supper I bring two plates (!) with grilled fish, fresh fries, rice, vegetables and beer from a nearby restaurant. We eat with candlelight at a table in front of our tent, only 2 meters from the softly roaring ocean.

Day 7. 26/10. Guardalavaca.

After some heavy rainfall during the night the next morning we get up and wash ourselves in the ocean. Another beautiful day in paradise, my only remorse is that our time seems to be running out quicker then I had thought. Maricel will have to get back to her job next wednesday and that’s already in seven days. Not only that this would not give us enough time so see all the things we had planned but also seems quite stupid because she would have to work wednesday and thursday only. Friday is a public holiday and therefore makes a perfect bridge! We agree to decide on that topic later and spend the entire day scuba diving and sunbathing at our earthly paradise. I have my most beautiful scuba diving experience yet and spend 3 hours in the crystal clear water, diving with incredibly colorful fish between corals of all kind.

Later in the afternoon Maricel and I sit down to discuss the matter and figure out a way of not having to get back to La Habana so quickly. After some brainstorming on a dead grandmothers, guerrilla attacks and alien sequestrations, a simple food poisoning lie seems the most legitimate solution to our small problem and Maricel agrees to continue our adventurous journey through wednesday and thursday. I can’t wipe a big smile off my face for the rest of the day, this trip is getting better and better!

Later in the afternoon we learn to know two charming spanish girls – one of them from Valencia! – who point us to a great restaurant, where I have crabs with rice, avocado and fried sweet potatoes. To celebrate Maricel’s wise decision we later sit down in the sand with our security guards, the españolas, a bottle of rum and – as it seems – some 4 million mosquitoes and crabs crabs of all sizes. Our security guards are amused by the girl’s hysteric reaction to the sight of some 15cm big crabs next to our party place and start to collect the animals with bare hands, explaining us sexual differs and anatomy of the shell_____.


2 thoughts on “Backpacking through Cuba: Day 6 and 7. Playa Guardalavaca.

  1. Hi Benno,

    My name is Emilie and I am a Canadian law student who is about to go on vacation in Guardalavaca. I lived 4 months in Havana a few years ago so I’m pretty confident in making my way around. I have a few questions for you:

    1) How easy will it be for me to find someone to take my boyfriend and I into Holguin for cheap? I noticed on your blog you said you had someone take you in for 19 moneda national? Was this in a maquina? (group taxi?) I’m trying to avoid having to pay 15 CUC to take the tourist bus in and have a time limit.

    2) How did you like Holguin and do you have any suggestions of things for us to go and see? So far I’ve heard about parks and the big staircase to climb up for the view but that’s it. Any suggestions of where to eat or anything like that?

    3) Is there a CADECA in Guardalavaca? Is it still cheaper to change my Canadian currency into CUC and then some into Moneda Nacional at the CADECA rather than at the aeroport or hotel?

    Any help you could offer would be much appreciated. Thanks so much!


    1. Hi Emilie,

      thanks so much for your commment and sorry for my late reply! Haven’t caught up with the blog in ages…
      For anyone else interested:
      1) To be able to travel with Moneda Nacional Busses, you need a student visa or some other kind of documentation that proves that you’re not just a tourist. If you plan to travel for a long time around Cuba, those things might be worth a small investment to a shady-looking falsificador at the Habana main Bus Terminal. They’re easy to spot – might save you a lot of money! 🙂
      Did I just give you semi-legal advice? Oops!
      For 2) and 3), I cannot really help unfortunately. I myself saw relatively little of Hoguin and CADECA I do not know.



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