Backpacking through Cuba: Day 9. Off to the Cayo Coco!

Day 9. 28/10. Off to the Cayo Coco!

We get up at 4.15 in the morning, ride a bicitaxi to the bus station and are lucky enough to get into the first guagua to Ciego de Avila. It always again surprises me how extremely cheap traveling by Astro is – for the 300km we spent around 25 Pesos Cubanos only (corresponding to 80 Eurocents).

Once in Ciego de Avila we have lunch and kind-of-hitchhike (ended up paying 30 Pesos Cubanos) a friendly elderly man to Morón. Our driver turns out to be doctor en ciencias and a profession at the University of Camagüey. We have a really nice chat and buy a lot of food in Morón to survive the upcoming journey through the expensive and touristy Cayos.

Heavily charged with bread, mayo, fruit, vegetables, rum (of course), juices, some cans of meat and water we immediately learn to know the first step into expensive land: The cheapest way to get to the Cayos turns out to be a taxi particular for 12 CUC each!

We get into our most expensive transportation yet – a light blue 1962 Chevrolet – and make a turn on to the narrow and straight road through the sea that connects Cuba with the Cayos, the islands north of Cuba which supposedly have the nicest beaches in all of the caribbean.

When entering the Cayos there seems to be no problem with the fact that I only have a copy of my passport with me and not the original but Maricel has to buy a 7 CUC voucher with which she will then later be able to buy goods on the island. In other words: Every cuban has to consume at least 7 CUC, corresponding to 175 Pesos Cubanos and therefore around half of a normal cuban’s month’s wage. Scandalous in my opinion, how can they charge their own people for getting onto one of their islands but Maricel takes it very cool and explains me that this is quite a normal practice in Cuba. By those high “entrance fees”, the normal cannon fodder cubans are being held out of the touristic areas where they might upset the rich foreigners with their poorness. Urgh!

With the voucher we buy some sweets, beer (1beer=1CUC) for ourselves and a Coke for our taxi driver

After some 45 minutes of boring driving straight on with nothing but blue ocean to both of our sides, we pass a spot where herds flamingos live. Normally the sea to turns pink with thousands of those beautiful animals, our taxi driver explains. But unfortunately today seems to be holiday for flamingos, I don’t see a single one and am quite disappointed. The flamencos were something I was looking forward to since I left La Habana…

When we arrive at the seaside we find ourselves in yet another stunning beach. Different from Guardalavaca, though, but I couldn’t say which one was nicer. While Guardalavaca falls more quickly into relatively steep sea and therefore colors into a darker blue, the Cayos seem to be a never ending steep warm lagune where the water always shines in light turquoise. Little corals here, though.

We put up the tent, learn to know some cubans who not only give us beer but also ice to keep our own drinks cool and have supper in front of our tent. While eating we experienced (at least I) the most incredible thunderstorm ever – luckily it was just over the island and not a single drop reached us. The lighntnings were AMAZING and I spent like one entire hour trying to get a good picture of them.


2 thoughts on “Backpacking through Cuba: Day 9. Off to the Cayo Coco!

  1. Hey, can you say where you pitched your tent? We are trying to find a campground on cayo coco, but maybe just have to resort to the resort. The beaches really are fantabulous, but this was our first vacation where we literally wanted to do nothing but sit on the beach and swim….and thats what we did. Next time we’d like to see more of Cuba. While I agree with your political views about keeping cubans off the island, we did talk to several families on the beach next to ours who were there for the weekend. There was a fair number of ‘locals’, and since cubans don’t actually live on the island, either the prices aren’t always as steep, or for some reason these people were spending a lot of money for something they could easily find off the island. And in most of north america, and even much of europe, its often the case that ‘the poor’ are not welcome wherever the resorts are. I’m in Canada and where I live panhandlers are given expensive tickets and are jailed to ‘encourage’ them from hanging around business or tourist areas. And thats Canada, much of the states are even worse, so I’m not sure Cuba deserves quite as much derision as you indicate. Although I certainly agree that its too bad, because the beaches there really are fine, and its a selfish pleasure that one reason for our return might be the simple fact that most of the time we were the only two people in the water at our particular resort. All the other people seemed quite content to lay in the sun next to the pool (something I guess I understand, but certainly would never enjoy).

    1. Hi Marc,

      thanks for your comment and sorry for my super-late reply. I had pitched my tent just in fron of the hotels. Sometimes they tried to scare me away but most of the time it was not a big deal. Luckily, in Cayo Coco, as a (wealthy) tourist, one is almost always very welcome. Very much unlike to poor Cubans but yes, I guess, that’s not only the case in Cuba as you pointed out.
      I hope you had a great vacation in Cuba?

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