The following article is published in the #RGNNCuba Magazine: Vol. III, Summer 2018, produced during ROOSTERGNN Academy’s Travel Journalism, Photography & Video Internship Seminar in Havana and Trinidad, Cuba, under the editorial direction of RGNN Expert and Mentor Benjamin Jones, assisted by RGNN Expert Juanjo Montanary. Follow #RGNNCuba for all of our Cuba coverage.

Palm trees, tropical fruit and clear blue Caribbean seas – what more could a traveler in Trinidad want when looking to relax for a day in one of Cuba’s most desirable destinations? Chances are, if one asks at their hotel or casa particular (bed-and-breakfast) where the best beach is in Trinidad, they will hear that Playa Ancón is the famous favorite. It was named after a black rock on the island that used to serve as a landmark for sailors. The rock was shaped liked the leg of a horse, which is why it got its name acona which means hind leg in Spanish. Although the beach has various resorts lining its white sand shore, like Hotel Brisa Del Mar and Hotel Cancón, it is still less touristy than others on the island such as Varadero.

Trinidad written in the sand at playa Ancón | Olivia Lemonides

Aside from tanning in a relaxing beach chair under one of the classic thatched umbrellas, one can engage in various activities such as going in a group on one of the beach’s taxi style pedal boats. One might also opt for a refreshing piña colada while cooling down in the air conditioning at the seaside restaurant Habaneros Trinidad where drinks are only 2.50 CUC’s (around $2.50), cheap in comparison to the 5 CUC’s Canchánchara (a Cuban cocktail made with honey, lime and rum) that you will be offered on the beach.

Ono Hernandéz head coordinator of watersports at playa Ancón | Olivia Lemonides

When choosing to venture into the deep blue, a certified local guide will accompany you on your excursion, costing anywhere from 5 CUC’S per person to go peddle boating, or 10 CUC’s per person to go snorkeling. Water sports at Playa Ancón are inexpensive compared to the United States or Europe and are a perfect way to have some fun and stay cool with family and friends. For couples looking to spice up their romance, try renting a kayak together for only 4 CUC’s total. These unique outings generally open around 9 a.m. and stop operations at 4 p.m. when the wind kicks up and the current begins to sway the waves.

Lifeguard at playa Ancón assisting tour group leave the shore on motor boat excursion | Olivia Lemonides

For extravagant travelers in bigger groups, renting a catamaran for 50 CUC’s per person can be a great way to enjoy each other’s company while soaking up the sun and sipping the cruise’s complimentary drinks and light meals. Seating up to 15 people, the boat will stop in the sea on the way to one of the beautiful and remote keys so that guests can swim and snorkel with a view of the magnificent Escambray mountains in the distance. Local lifeguard Carolas Jiménez assures visitors that the water is very safe, and “even though there may be sharks in the deep sea, they are nursing sharks which are completely harmless. The biggest danger on this beach is drunk people – too many mojitos!” Whether one is traveling solo, with a loved one or with a group of friends or family, Playa Ancón is just the sort of tropical paradise where everyone can enjoy the sun, the sea and the sand.

Local fisherman at the inlet of La Boca | Olivia Lemonides

If sailing the Caribbean, whether in a kayak or a more extravagant catamaran, isn’t one’s ideal beach excursion, they can head south towards La Boca, a much more remote seaside getaway. There are taxis and horse carriages that will offer to take tourists to this beach, but I find that adding some physical activity to an itinerary can make all the difference. From central Trinidad, I recommend renting a bicycle and heading towards La Boca. It is about a 25 – minute bike ride from the center, and on the way, one will pass the most stunning scenery of greenery, mountains, farm animals, and finally arrive at a charming beach town.

Roberto Carlos Ortiz Hernández (owner of Casa Villa Montaboca) and father pictured with dog | Olivia Lemonides

The sparkling water will sneak up in the distance and this is how one will know they have made it to this enchanting inlet beach where the Río Guaurabo meets the Caribbean Sea. Here, many locals chose to relax with few amenities except for umbrellas and tiny stands to get a drink or have seafood. According to local shop owner Sergio Lorente, “Cubans like this beach because there are so many less tourists in the summer.” Locals from the surrounding beach town come here to swim, fish and relax, although, Roberto Carlos Ortiz Hernández, the owner of one of the nearby bed-and-breakfasts called Casa Villa Montaboca, admits that “the water at this beach can be quite dirty, but there is amazing swimming about three kilometers down the coast at an even more private coast called La Batea with much clearer reefs, ideal for snorkeling and swimming.”

If one is looking to live like a local by the beach, they are welcome to book one of the rooms at his place – a big home with a patio and garden. Carlos Ortiz is in his early twenties, but his father, who has lived through much more, explains that it was along this coast where the Spanish explorers and colonists founded the city of Trinidad in 1490. Even though the sea is linked to this tragic aspect of Trinidadian history, Ortiz asserts that “the water is still a source of joy for the Cuban people”.

Waterfall Salto de Caburni | Olivia Lemonides

Finally, the sun in Trinidad can be quite strong, especially in the summer, and so if one is looking for a nice way to cool down without the presence of oppressive sun rays grab water shoes and head to the Salto de Caburni waterfall. One can take a taxi for 25 CUC’s from the city center to the entrance of the national park where you will pay an additional 10 CUC’s for access to the most scenic and extraordinary waterfall hike. On this tranquil nature walk, one can hear the cooing of Cuba’s national bird called the toco roco, whose feathers are red white and blue resembling the colors of the flag.

On the drive over, you will see baby goats, horses and cows, as well lizards, snakes, and an abundance of butterflies on the path, making this enchanting excursion all the more worthwhile.  The hike is primarily shaded by gigantic green leaves, adding a tropical touch to this already magical trek. It takes about a half hour to hike to the grand waterfall that is very well worth it at the end. Here, there are tourists from all over as well as locals jumping from varying heights into the clear, refreshing falls. If one is looking for some exhilaration, it is safe to jump from one of the higher rocks, but make sure to keep your legs straight and your arms in to avoid whip lash or bruising! Feel free to stop here for as long as you like, but keep in mind that your driver may be waiting to take you back. When the daily grind of being a tourist gets exhausting, one can recharge, relax and cool down at one of these water(full) wonders.