Quick, think of words that best describe Cuba. “Rum”, “cigars”, “Havana” probably come to mind, right? As a recent traveller and unofficial expert of Cuba, there is one word I think should outweigh them all: Trinidad.
Trinidad is a Cuban city located on the south side of the country’s centre, nestled between mountains and ocean. With just over 73,000 inhabitants, Trinidad exudes a relaxed energy and seems as if it’s stuck in a time warp. It also happens to be the best place in Cuba. Ok, hear me out.
1. Wes Anderson-style charm
Havana may have gotten the reputation for being Cuba’s delightfully colourful city, but it’s Trinidad that really steals the show. The winding stretch of buildings are each a carefully-selected pastel hue, giving the streets a Wes Anderson-esque vibe. The brick roofs, cobblestone, and peeling paint further add to the town’s charm, and it’s easy to become entranced by Trinidad’s patterned facades.
2. Plenty of mountain goodness
Trinidad offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains, which are best seen from the city’s bell tower. Getting out and taking a hike is definitely recommended, especially through El Cubano National Park up to the gorgeous Javira waterfall. Jump in and swim up to a cave for some bat-watching, bathe in the shallow waters for the ultimate post-hike cooldown, or relax amongst birds and lizards (assured that nothing is venomous in Cuba). Nature-appreciating opportunities galore.
3. Some of the best beaches on the island
If you’re craving a little Vitamin D, one of the best beaches in the world, Playa Ancón is just a short drive outside Trinidad. White sand, turquoise water, few people – the winning combo? Sip from a rum-filled coconut courtesy of a man with a horse-drawn cart, then kick things up a few notches with a beach BBQ organized by your guide. This may be the best BBQ you’ll ever go to. Live music, tasty eats, and dancing await.
4. Vintage cars, without the crowds
Classic cars are a notorious symbol of Cuba and yet again, Havana seems to be the definitive place to spot them. In reality, Trinidad’s vintage car scene is just as good, if not better.
Since it is much quieter, the likelihood of you snapping that must-have shot of a ’57 Chevy without passers-by or it speeding away is basically guaranteed. Or, do your best Marilyn or Elvis impression and ride in one around town or to the beach. Old souls rejoice.
5. Literally an underground club
Although Trinidad has unrivalled scenery, beaches, and cityscape, it is more than just a pretty face. With no shortage of music, there are plenty of opportunities for some moving and shaking.
Take a salsa lesson to learn a few steps, groove to the ear-pleasing beats of Casa de la Musica, then dance up a sweat at the Disco Ayala. It’s a dance club inside an actual cave, in case you were wondering.
Check out the pastel streets of Trinidad for yourself on an Intrepid small group adventure.
Feature image c/o Ole Gunnar Onsoien, Flickr