Every traveller's favorite, Gibara la Perla Hermosa, this lovely pearl of a town is a small, charming and quiet cocoon by the sea, wrapped by hills and woven with culture.
Once Holguin's door to the sea, a rich sugar port, its economy declined with the arrival of the train.
Merchant families once enjoyed the confortable life of their Spaniard forefathers, with the great Caruso performing in the Teatro Colonial, which may re-open in this decade.
A program to rejuvenate the colonial buildings, has produced Hostal Buenavista, Hotel Ordoño, Hotel Arsenita and is continuing with the ongoing renovation ofthe lovely Teatro Colonial; in May 2017, Hotel Plaza Colon with 12 bungalows opened by the newly-redone central park and wifi zone, Parque Colon.
Each month of March sees the Festival de Cine de las Cavernas (films shown in the "Bakers' Cave" - Cueva de los Panaderos !) and yearly, the Festival del Tango de Gibara. In July, nearby Caletones is invaded by DJ Masters from here and abroad who entertain throngs of aficionados till the wee hours during el Festival de Musica Electronica.
In April, Gibara hosts the very popular Festival Internacional de Cine de Gibara, a project of one of Cuba's premier directors, Humberto Solas who passed away in September 2008. It used to be called del Cine Pobre (low budget).
On this occasion only, casas without a rental permit are allowed to host festival guests and visitors as there are only 55 official rental casas and three hotels in town. So many people show up that some pitch their tent anywhere they can .
Bahia Bariay, 10
Las Tunas, 112
Playa Blanca, 27 (or by lancha)
Playa Los Bajos, 30 (or by lancha)
Playa Pesquero Nueva, 33
Puerto Padre, 75
Silla de Gibara, 35
• Parks : Calixto Garcia, Colon and Las Madres, all along main street, calle Independencia. (photos here)• Copa del Amor (legendary site in cemetery) • Fortaleza (office of the Historian : say hello to architect Alberto Mora)• Fuerte El Cuartelón • Fuerte Fernando VII • Iglesia de San Fulgencio (Parque Calixto Garcia) • Mirador, the lookout above town : restaurant, bar, snack • Museo del Arte Colonial (reopened after total rebuild as only ground floor remained after hurricane Ike destroyed the building) • Museo de Historia Natural (largest collection of stuffed birds in Cuba, whale : enjoy practicing your Spanish with young Conservador Ernesto Moreno Garcia)• Museo Municipal will eventually re-open (in 2017?) after major, arduous and long renovations following a hurricane. RESTAURANTS & PALADARS • Must do : eat lunch or dinner at La Perla del Norte on Cespedes with fabulous views from the rooftop terrace. 'Tis here that chefs Yoander and Daniel (members of national Artechef association) prepare national and local regional cuisine with seafood and other delights for affordable prices; recommended by most guidebooks. •La Cueva de Jorge Luis on calle 2da (Secunda) on road to Caletones has its own tiny farm; grill specialties; recommended by most guidebooks. •La Tinaja on J. Peralta 21-A seafood specialties. •El Coral on Sartorio 38-A Yudier & Mailé are great hosts, large 2-cuc salad, fish, chicken, crab (jaiva), wine by the glass (!); recommended by this webmaster. •La Concha facing the sea at Hotel Buenavista, above the Faro beach; •Mirador de Gibara overlooking the town and bay.
Dining room of the Hotel Ordono+ Hotel Arsenita's dining room.
In casas particulares, also renting rooms • Los Amigos at Cespedes 15 •El Patio de Lily on Mora 19 •Villa Caney on Sartorio 36.
In CaletonesLa Esperanza de Nelson Escalona, fish, catch of the day, octopus
EVENINGS • Casa del Tango, a project by Québécois Gilbert Bertrand who also created (with the UNEAC) the annual local Tango Festival ~ a feat to organize something "out of the ordinary". Go with the flow, Gilberto.
•Artex, now located by the bay on the INIT site, live music on weekends, 5cuc • Casa de la Cultura, exhibitions and more • Ciné Jiba, main venue of the film festival • Siglo XX on Parque Calixto Garcia.
LOCAL PLAYAS •Playa de Gibara, entrance of town, at the foot of Aguilera and Gomez streets ::: These are deserted in winter (Oct to May). • Playa Bavado • Playacita El Faro (great summer photo-op) • Playa La Concha PLAYAS IN THE AREA •Playa Blanca, (across the bay, by barca, the ferry which some locals name La Cachimba or by car, around the bay, about 28 k's •Playa Los Bajos, 30 km by car, past Playa Blanca : busy in summer, its casas are deserted (and unrentable) in winter •Playa Caletones, 18 km (3 small beaches in this village of 268) •Playa Pesquero Nueva (in Guardalavaca, largest resort complex in the country), 53 km.
SERVICES •Hotel Arsenita opened in Summer 2015 on General Sartorio near the church, offers 12 bedrooms, part of Cuba's E Hoteles chain, well-liked by travelers : dining room and mirador on roof. •Hotel Ordoño part of Cuba's E Hoteles chain on calle J. Peralta, opened in 2013 has 27 rooms and a dining room and a rooftop terrace. • Hotel Buenavista with its La Concha dining room and restaurant overlooking the playa of the same name is located on the seaside; upstairs, four renovated bedrooms for 25cuc with breakfasts; 20cuc pp with dinners • There is a wi-fi zone in Plaza de la Cultura (the central park - rebuilt in Spring 2017) • In Holguin : Aeropuerto Frank País (24)43-93-40, Cubana Office (24)42-57-07, Airport (24)46-25-12, Havanautos (24)48-14-15, Medical (24) 42-53-02, Transtur (24)42-41-87
TRANSPORT • Lancha/Ferry - see Gray 4 on Map - (roofed, 18-passager capacity, 1cuc). Leaves the port at least twice a day. Returns one hour later. Two stops : across the bay in front of town at fishing port of San Antonio and then over at Caliche. • Bus Two daily from Holguin, the first leaving Valiares Terminal at 7, arrives here at 9:30. Another leaves here around 3:30 p.m. from Fulgencio Park. • Taxi particular to and from Holguin for 20cuc : 30 mins; with locals, better to use an old clunker, share it with Gibareños and pay 5cuc or less per person. VIAZUL THROUGH HOLGUIN In nearby Holguin a Viazul bus stops 7 times daily from all points east and west; links above Terminal de guaguas in Gibara is close to the town beach; in Holguin, it has recently been relocated on Carretera Central "salida para Habana, Ciudad Jardín" Tel. (24) 47-4430
Hopefully in this decade, the renovation of the once famous Teatro Colonial will be completed, a project promised so long ago that most people don't remember that the great Caruso sang there. Artex and Holguin's Teatro Sunol are behind it - this time.
The Conectando Cuba daily Transtur bus leaves most Habana hotels from 7 to 7:40 am, arrives at 14h55 at Hotel Ciego de Avila (27cuc, 424km) near which it then stops for lunch (included in fare) at Parador Rio Azul, then arrives at 16h55 at Hotel Camaguey (33cuc, 545km) and gets in Holguin at Hotel Pernik at 19:55 hrs, 739km later for 44cuc. Then leaves for Hotel Melia in Santiago de Cuba where it arrives at 21h55 (51cuc, 881km). Click for PDF. Return trip leaves Santiago daily at 0700, leaves Holguin at 9h00, Camaguey at Noon, stops for lunch at Parador Oasis (468km from Havana), leaves Ciego at 14h55 and gets to Miramar, Vedado and Vieja hotels between 20h55 and 21h35.
• Playa Blanca, small deserted beach located across the bay (barely visible from atop the Mirador overlooking the town) : it's west of the old boat workshop :normally, one gets there using the ferry ON MARCH 2, 2017 THE FERRY CAME BACK TO LIFE AFTER 5 MONTHS OFF SERVICE; San Antonio a tiny fishing village both across the bay and some 3 km further (by foot : no cars around) : Los Bajos a tiny summer village with a few casas on the sea : access these spots by riding the lancha, a small 15-passenger ferry from Gibara port ON MARCH 2, 2017 THE FERRY CAME BACK TO LIFE AFTER 5 MONTHS OFF SERVICE •La Represa a disaffected dam (presa) which still holds water and forms a small lake and a waterfall where Gibarans love to spend the day...in summer. Less water and action in winter but travellers have the place to themselves. Some 5k's away, turn right before the Campismo La Caridad (42 cabañas, pool, horses) after a left turn on the way to Holguin. Ask around, everyone knows•Cueva de los Panaderos : a one-hour walk through 900m underground, swim hole 12 feet deep, 35 meters. It's up the hill on Independencia. Official guide a must. 5cuc per person, inluding helmet with headlamp. Office at 49-A Independencia Tel. (24) 84-4457 cel. 53 97 90 96 •Natural bassins (swimming in crystal-clear water) and underground marine caves, including Tanque Azul 3km on foot from Caletones. German experts say it could be the world's second longest •Sillas and other mogotes (hills similar to those near Viñales) ; climb La Silla de Gibara on foot (or on horseback from the campismo La Caridad, 8km bike ride away : superb views. (Silla = saddle)•Cueva Fructuoso, a large cave with stalagtites and stalagmites and natural swing branches. Swimming. Quite a job and about one hour to get to, as only high-clearance trucks or 4x4's can manage the road. From town, calle Independencia up the hill and straight on dirt road. Best to go around noon as sunlight will warm and light the natural pond inside. Organize this through friends or casa owners in Gibara •Guardalavaca by the dirt road (4x4 required in summer only) passing the Silla and campismo which lead to it, crossing lovely village of Fray Benito, then Rafael Freyre (village of sugar mill now museum with tourist train reserved for hotel groups), 120 km there and back •Parque Monumento Nacional de Bariay, 88 km east in Rafael Freyre (landing of Colombus, ruins, sculptures, horsedrawn coach ride, restaurant) •In Velasco, 41 km west, Casa Felix Varona Cecilia founded in 1964 by architect Walter Betancourt (1932-1978), protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright to mark his support for the Revolución
OUR RECOMMENDATIONS ::: Make sure that in your first email or phone call you specify that you want to book a room in that particular casa and that you will reconfirm your booking on arrival in Cuba. Unless you only want a room in any house which may be of the same quality, not the specific casa you booked through photos on these websites ::: So as to not abandon expecting owners with empty rooms, reconfirm (or call ahead to cancel) your booking by phone as soon as you can after arriving in Cuba ::: Please write or phone a casa owner to cancel a booking. As late as it may seem, it allows them a chance to rebook. ::: Children under the age of 16 may share a bedroom with adults for free. Specify the child's age when booking. ::: At the end of the casa name, the V signals the casa was suggested by travelers or owners but not verified by the website staff. If you try it and like it, write us about it. ::: Unless otherwise mentioned, the average room rates and service prices are : 20-25cuc per bedroom per night [up to 40+ for 4 in a room]; breakfasts 3-5cuc, dinners 7-10cuc. ::: Any casa particular anywhere in Cuba must have a hot water shower, otherwise it cannot have a permit to rent ::: Please share your Complaints, comments & suggestions webmaster [@]cubacasas.net
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LOS HERMANOS Colonial, five ac bedrooms, ensuites; patio Céspedes #13, entre L. Caballero y J. Peralta, 50m from the Malecon. Tel. (24) 84-45-42 cel. 52 91 69 28
DOBLE ROBLE Colonial, 3 ac br's (2 up), ensuites, garden patio F. V. Aguilera 18, e/ Maceo y B. Varona, 150m from town's main beach. Tel. (24) 84-47-47 cel. 53 08 37 72
EL HORIZONTE Three ac br's, ensuites, kitchens, terraces Calle Independencia 107, e/Agramonte y Cavada, up the hill with sea view. Tel. (24) 84-44-95 cel. 52 71 35 04 or 53 46 77 01
HOSTAL VITRAL Colonial, one ac bedroom, ensuite, patio Calle Independencia 36 e/ J. Peralta y Calixto Garcia, 100m from Plaza de la Cultura. Tél. (24) 84-4469 cel. 58 37 16 87
SOL y MAR Six ac br's, ensuites, three terraces, sea front Calle J. Peralta 59 (Malecon), entre J. Mora y M. Grajales, facing the sea, neighbour of Lirio del Mar and Las Brisas. Cel. 52 40 21 64 (Yvan) and 52 20 62 40 (in the casa)
VILLA BLANCA Upstairs, one ac bedroom, ensuite, terrace J. Peralta 57, e/ J. Mora y Mariana Grajales,
facing the sea, neighbour of Lirio del Mar, Sol y Mar and Las Brisas. Tel. (24) 84-2411
LUZ DEL NORTE Colonial, four ac br's, ensuites, covered patio Donato Mármol 69, entre Maceo y B. Varona, 200m from Parque Colon - and wifi area.. Cel.58 60 64 49
DOÑA ANA Upstairs, one ac br, kitchen, private terrace Maceo 137, e/ Independencia y General Sartorio, deux rues du Parque Colon. Tel. (24) 84-5230, cel 52 78 42 39
EL PATIO + PALADAR Three aircon bedrooms, ensuites, patio Calle J. Mora 19, e/Cuba y J. Aguero, 50m from the sea. Tel. (24) 84-42-69 cell 52 82 72 79
LOS AMIGOS + PALADAR Colonial, three ac br's, ensuites, patio Calle Cespedes #15, e/ Peralta y Luz Caballero, , 50m from the Malecon.
Tel. (24) 84-41-15
+ PALADAR Colonial, two ac br's, ensuites, patio Sartorio 36, entre Luz Caballero y J. Peralta, 50m from playita El Faro. Tel. (24) 84-45-52
HOSTAL 1817 Colonial, three ac bedrooms, ensuites, patio Céspedes 11, entre Luz Caballero y J. Peralta, 50m from playita Boqueron. Tel. (24) 84-45-42 cel. 52 91 69 28
VILLA BOQUERON Two aircon bedrooms, ensuites Avenida Rabi 53, right on the Malecon, facing playita Boqueron, e/ J. Peralta y Luz Caballero Tel. (24) 84-44-03 or 84-45-59
NATHALIE Two ac bedrooms, ensuites, balcony, vistas Avenida Lenin (Cavada), facing bar El Mirador overlooking the village. Cel. 53 97 91 72
RECOMMENDED BY PAPERBACK GUIDEBOOKS
Footprint Handbook (FH), Géo Guide (GG), Le Routard (LR), Lonely Planet (LP), Moon Handbooks (MH), Gallimard (NG), Petit Futé (PF), Stefan-Loose (SL) and site Trip Advisor (TA)
::: FH : Doble Roble, El Patio (Lily), Las Brisas, Los Hermanos ::: GG : Las Brisas, Hostal Vitral, La Mina, Los Amigos ::: LP : Sol y Mar, El Patio, Bayview, Luz del Norte ::: LR : Los Amigos, Los Hermanos, Las Brisas, Hostal Vitral, Villa Boqueron ::: MH : Los Amigos, Los Hermanos, Villa Caney ::: NG : Hostal Las Brisas ::: PF : Los Amigos, Villa Caney, Hostal Jacqueline, Hostal Vitral ::: SL : Los Amigos, Los Hermanos, Las Brisas ::: TA : Los Hermanos, Villa Caney, Hostal Vitral, Sol y Mar, Brisas del Mar, Villa Boqueron 18.02.18