Remedios and the north coast

The province of Villa Clara has plenty of lesser known attractions to offer including the delightful colonial town of Remedios, famous for its Christmas-time festival but a pleasant place to visit at any time of year. Off the main tourist drag, it is a fine example of an unspoilt provincial town, where foreigners are welcomed but not hassled. Its museums, churches and galleries are well cared for and worth visiting. Caibarién, an old fishing town on the coast, has fewer charms but work is being done to restore its old buildings to their former glory. The northern coast is low lying and there are mangroves and swamps, but it is fringed with coral cays with sandy beaches and crystal clear water in the Archipiélago de Sabana. Some of the cays are being developed as a major new beach resort, while the most northwesterly point of the province is an established health spa.

Ins and outs

Getting there

There are domestic
flights
to the Abel Santamaría international airport north of Santa Clara from Havana and Varadero and international charters from Canada and Italy. It is 116 km from the airport to Cayo Santa María, the furthest resort. On the cays, an airstrip receives short-hop flights and air taxis.
Train
services are slow (two hours) and designed for local people to get to work in Santa Clara, rather than for tourist excursions. If you are travelling by
car
, a good road leads northeast from Santa Clara through Camajuaní to Remedios and Caibarién, from where a stone causeway has been built to link several cays. The causeway is a toll road. There are no
buses
to the cays.

Getting around

Hiring a car or a taxi is the best way of touring the region as public transport is intermittent and unreliable. In any case, there is no other way of visiting the cays except on an organized tour.

Best time to visit

The driest time of year is from December to April, generally considered high season with the best weather, but if a cold front comes down from the north the cays can get cool and windy. Later in the year the weather gets hotter but wetter. There are fascinating and enjoyable festivities in the week running up to Christmas Eve in both Remedios and Caibarién.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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