Cuba has a whole lot of scenery options, but I’d be lying if I said the water options weren’t my favorite. While planning for Trinidad, I had found a small fishing village a couple miles outside the city called La Boca. We planned on staying in this small village, trekking up to the city a day or two, and spending the rest of the time exploring the beaches that began in our village of La Boca and meandered the next dozen miles south.
By the time we made it to Trinidad, Cuba, we had already walked miles and miles in Havana, biked miles and miles and gotten sick in Viñales, and hiked ourselves up mountains and around bays in Cienfuegos. Everything we saw was incredible, and we’ve got plenty of stories to go along with those stops along the way, told elsewhere on this site. However, following our active adventures before the final stop of Trinidad, the Cuban people will have to forgive us for skipping out on our plans in Trinidad city-proper, and committing to a full courtship of the beaches of La Boca and Playa Ancón.
La Boca itself is an extremely small fishing village just south of Trinidad. You can see the city from the village, as well as “the mouth” that its namesake refers to – the river down the hills of Trinidad opens up into the Caribbean Ocean. There are a few dozen homes, some of which are designated as casas particulares (home-stays, our way of lodging), while the majority seem to be just normal homes for normal fishermen.
Our casa particular was situated right in the center of the village, which really just means it was a half mile from the hills of Trinidad to the north, the stretch of beaches to the south, and open fields to the east. To the west lie the ocean and a modest beach, a mere 100 yards from where we slept each night.
The highlight of the village was the ease of which to simply to walk to the beach whenever we saw fit, at all hours of the day. During normal working hours, a small bar across the street sent a waiter back and forth with drinks. Cuba libre (a Cuban rum and coke) and I became great friends.
Playa Ancón, Hidden Coves
The second day, we were up with the sun and ready to get to the beach. Our guidebook said that from our location it was only about 2 miles to the parts of Playa Ancón that are settled with tourist facilities. We had done worse, so 2 miles along the ocean seemed fun – we set off along the single road south.
No, this isn’t a story on how awful the walk was – although, it did take us a few hours and a goofy theme song to get to a spot we decided to settle on. This is a story on hidden coves and just how cool the seaside is south of Trinidad! Along the whole route, there are different settlements. I use the world ‘settlements’, because there really isn’t another way to encompass the variety of places we passed.
Remarkably, about a quarter mile outside the village of La Boca, there was a farm of some sort across from the ocean. Keep in mind, this small road was about a car and a half wide, with one side dropping off into the ocean and the other side pressed against a mixture of fields, shrubbery and woodland. Within a section of this green, there was a farm, complete with farm animals and farmhouse. It seemed so random, but it was neat to see.
We passed a handful of restaurants, all of which were bar and seafood joints. It was humorous, because they were all so far from each other, and from the rest of civilization, that we couldn’t help but to wonder how on earth they stayed open. We’d literally have to walk a few miles before we saw the next one. We soon found that the resorts at the farthest points of the beaches were most likely the source of revenue for the majority of the region – spread out restaurants included. In contrast to resort life, we found that by living in such a small village for our duration in the area, we really got the feel for just how spread out, and ocean-oriented this region is.
The true hidden coves, however, were the curtains of beach that appeared out of nowhere. You’d be walking along this skinny road, with the rock drop-off into the ocean on the one side and the greenery on the other side, and all of a sudden an oasis of heaven would appear. The trees would open up, there would be a set up of seashells and palm trees, and a path leading to a small patch of white sand and beautiful, blue ocean. And I’m serous – the seashells were legitimately set up into art formations. There were intricate designs, mini-fencing, and artistic set ups of seashells in these random oases. It was pretty cool. Plus, we’d be the only ones for miles! We spent a few hours exploring these different coves, and finding some of our favorite hidden spots in all of Cuba.
We eventually took refuge for the majority of the afternoon at a more settled cove. Empty, hidden coves were great on a full stomach, but let me tell you how those burgers at the settled cove felt by 3 pm!
A fun video from camp for the afternoon:
By the time the sun was getting ready to settle in for the night, we definitely didn’t feel like hiking all the way back to La Boca. A few minutes of bartering and a nice drive home later, we were back on our front porch, enjoying the sun sink into the ocean and waiting for our dinner to be served!
We found ourselves playing a lot of cards during our time in this region. Everything moved so much slower, even by Cuban standards, and we as busy-Americans definitely found it a change of pace to fill so much time.
Playa Ancón, Resorts & Water Toys
The very next day, we took a Cuban 1960s taxi past the point we had walked to the day before. We found a resort on Playa Ancón and snuck ourselves onto their beachfront. This wasn’t too hard as we quickly produced money to rent chairs and an umbrella for the day, as well as making sure to inquire about the water toys. The beach crew had us with rum in hand and ready to board a boat to go snorkeling within a ten minutes.
Honestly, in terms of story telling, there isn’t much to tell about our time on the beach, because other then the time spent exploring the hidden sections of the coast the day before, we spent a lot of time laying around, spending time with each other, and watching our skin turn to the color of ketchup (I’m looking at you, Jill).
However, there were two times on the trip I was especially thrilled that my parents love me. For Christmas the week before our trip, I had gotten a GoPro. And in the following video, like the one earlier in the post, you can see a brief clip into our adventure!
The man who organized the boat trip out to the coral diving spot was the same man who was acting as a lifeguard on the beach. And by acting as a lifeguard on the beach, he was laying shirtless, taking a nap, waiting for customers on the side of his water toy shop on the sand. I’m not gonna lie, this dude has definitely figured out life – sand, water and a consistent source of revenue!
Playa Ancón is simply so peaceful and personalized. If you are looking for silence filled only with ocean waves, endless beaches, cheap rum and a lot of time to relax, get here as soon as possible. I encourage you to stay local! The resorts will be a bit noisier, and you will not get to experience the hospitality of the Cuban folks in quite the same way.
My conclusion is that the resorts were cool, and they allowed us access to the ocean in different ways than just exploring did, but – explore. Stay in a homestay and get local advice. Our host, for example, was able to tell us exactly how far to go before we hit the drop off and more interesting parts of the ocean in la boca (lower case for river mouth, instead of village name). Not to mention, he was an incredible cook!
The day we spent exploring the secret spots all up and down the coast was by far my favorite. There’s nothing quite like having your own hidden space in the world, especially when its in the Caribbean!