As winter sets in over here in Korea, I’ve been daydreaming often about beaches and sweaty climates, like Cuba. I dug through the thousands of pictures I took over the summer, and picked some of the best ones from my favorite city we visited: Baracoa. On our first full day in the city, the two of us each spent $10 on our activities, half of which was for bike rentals, so I wanted to share our choices & how we explored Cuba for less than the price of a cocktail in Washington DC. Coincidentally, this tour even includes that fancy cocktail, along with a day of biking to work it off! It’s been a lovely trip down memory lane, but it’s not done yet— look for more Cuba before 2016 is up. So let’s dive right in!
Max’s $10 Bike Tour of Baracoa
- Rent a bike ($4CUC).
- El Sendero del Cacao ($2CUC).
- El Horno de Coco ($0.50CUC).
- Rent 1 hour of kayak on Río Toa ($0.50CUC).
- Coktel de Naranja de Toa en Racho Toa ($3CUC).
Total: $10CUC ($1CUC = $1USD)
Your first order of business is definitely to rent a bike for the day. You can either ask your casa owner about bikes, or walk around asking about them. All the quotes we got for bikes were $4CUC per day ($4USD), but make sure to arrive early. The best bikes go fast, so always test the brakes first! It’s more polite and likely quicker to ask your casa owner, and they may even have one for you to borrow, but sometimes people just rub you the wrong way or you simply want to spread the love.
El Sendero del Cacao
Your first stop of the tour is a family-run government-owned cacao plantation just a few kilometers out of town. Finca Duaba is the home of El Sendero del Cacao, where you can explore the family’s farm & casa del cacaotero, either with or without a guide. Their estate consists mainly of the small cacao plantation, and after the tour they will try to sell you products made from Cuban cacao, not all of which are unique to their estate, but some of which are worth buying. You also get a small cup of complementary local hot chocolate, made with coconut milk. I bought some cocoa butter and a ball of cacao paste, both of which were most likely made at the close-by government factory.
El Horno de Coco
Not to be confused with cacao, coco means coconut in Spanish. On our way further down the highway and away from town, we ran into a wall of the stuff. Not literally, but it sure smelled like we had. It turned out to be a coconut roasting factory, and an older gentleman named Ivanesto gave us a very detailed tour and some coconut snacks, all without asking for anything in return.
So technically this was free, but I tipped what we had, which was about a dollar. To be candid, that was actually probably equal to or more than what he earned that day, so I think it was fair compensation. At no time did I ever get any vibes that he was expecting anything in return, either. I’d give at least $0.50 a person if you encounter the same kindness & openness as we did.
Kayaking on Río Toa
Next, bike or walk up the path to River Toa & rent a two-person kayak from the owner. It’s just $1CUC for an hour, and that’s perfect to explore the water and get some upper-body exercise. You may even be able to get closer to the Tibaracón, a natural phenomenon which you can see from the ranch.
Coktel Hour on the Finca
To finish your tour, relax at the wooden bar and enjoy a cold beverage of rum, passion fruit juice & orange juice while overlooking the river or exploring the various paths around their small farm. They maintain a variety of local plants, and if you ask nicely they’ll tell you all about them. If you’re more introverted, much of their garden is also labeled.
Once you’ve thoroughly exhausted yourself, never forgetting to stop and explore ever nook & cranny of rural side roads, return to town. Grab a nice dinner and some vitamin sea and marinate on your day.
If you followed our tour, what did you think of it? Has anything changed? Let me know in the comments below!