Why you should visit Pinar del Rio Province
- Soroa Gardens contain one of the largest collection of orchids in the world
- Horse ride past waterfalls, old coffee plantations and across rolling hills in Las Terrazas
- Sunrise and sunset over the stunning limestone valley complex of Vinales
- Explore tobacco plantations and visit one of Cuba’s best cigar factories
- Dive, snorkel and relax at Maria la Gorda or Cayo Levisa
Our Specialists ‘Must Do’
Without a doubt – walk or horse ride through the Vinales Valley. The scenery is reminiscent of southern China where wide flat valley floors are contained by steep cliffs and dotted with limestone turrets or mounds called mogotes. 70% of Cuba’s tobacco crop is grown here and it’s possible to visit farmsteads and the leaf drying houses. A couple of valley-side hotels offer tremendous views and are perfect places to settle on your balcony at dawn or dusk when the landscape really begins to 'show off'.
A little more about Pinar del Rio
Cuba's westernmost province is a tapestry of lush green vegetation, provincial villages, traditional farms and tobacco curing shacks. Vinales Valley is the region’s main draw for its tobacco cultivation and outstanding scenery. The limestone terrain is strewn with large cave complexes that can be visited and in the case of flooded Cueva del Indio, travelled through by boat. The village of Vinales with its one main sun-drenched street, a small church, wooden colonnades and central plaza is a great spot for some rural dining and entertainment in the evenings.
Las Terrazas is an interesting experiment in tourism and sustainable development. A community has been set up within the UNESCO designated Sierra del Rosario Biosphere to maintain the park and support the Moka Ecolodge. It’s a great centre for hiking and exploring with naturalist guides. You can also visit (and eat good hearty country cuisine) a farmstead adjacent to the ruins of a 19th century French coffee plantation. Don’t miss the orchid gardens just down the road at Soroa.
The city of Pinar del Rio is certainly worth a stop in order to visit its fascinating cigar factory, where you will be introduced to the 'leaf to humidor' process and appreciate the terrific skill required to hand roll cigars. Workers are still read to from state newspapers and periodicals while they work. A less well known highlight of the city is a visit to a local distillery to see how Guayabita (little guava) is created, a typical liquor of the province that dates back to Spanish colonial times.
For those seeking diving and snorkelling opportunities, Maria La Gorda on the western tip of Cuba, offers some of the finest reefs in Cuba and Latin America. This is one of the best-preserved underwater ecosystems in the region with more than 50 diving spots reached from your base on a white, palm fringed beach. It’s also one of Cuba’s most remote communities. An alternative is the tiny Cayo Levisa off the coast north of Vinales Valley that is accessed by a hotel ferry. Mangroves line the south, white sand the north and there are a handful of simple bungalows and a restaurant. Enforced relaxation with a little snorkelling and diving!
Did you know?
Che Guavara and his troops hid out in Cueva de los Portales within this province for three days in October 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, planning and playing chess while the world teetered on the brink of a nuclear war.
When to go
January to May is a good time to visit Cuba, it’s warm and generally the driest season. August to October can be very hot, humid and wet with the threat of hurricanes.