Quote Alive — Nhat Hahn


The sea off Nuevitas is probably haunted by the souls of pirates and corsarios, merchant seamen, patriotic sailors and fanatic submariners.

On neighbouring
cayo Sabinal, the San Hilarion Fort was used as a prison from 1831 for the few remaining pirates and as lookout for some Cuban separatists. During WWII, nazi U-boats sent by Admiral Donitz had managed to sink 78 ships in the nearby Gulf of Mexico and 153 others around these parts in the summer of 1942 alone : 231 merchant boats in 150 days north of Nuevitas and around Cuba ; (

Today, visitors drive from
Camaguey through Minas and at the highway junction they have to choose : ahead to the town, left towards Cayo Sabinal (protected area, with agriculture (yucca, corn, platanos, melons, etc), fauna refuge where the sabina trees grow : pink wood variety, distinct aroma, insect resistant) or right to Santa Lucia (all-inclusives, 1,200-rooms aimed mostly at family vacations).

The huge bay is site of a nature sanctuary, named
Refugio de fauna cayo Ballenatos y manglares de la bahia de Nuevitas with some 45 animal species (8 endemic) and 128 plant varieties of which 15 are endemic to Cuba (ie. found nowhere else on this planet).

The three cayos seen on the bay are named Ballenatos (Ballenato del Medio, 54 meters high, the Grande and the Chiquito) : along with the vast spread-out green expanses and untouched natural sites, the lovely sites on Cayo Sabinal on the west side of the strait and Santa Lucia on the east shore make it a must for travellers in quest of nature.

Camaguey Province port town (sugar and commercial fishing) is the site of some large industries (cement factory, fertilizers, thermoelectric plant) and once one of the country's most important seaports. So its bay may be a no-no for swimming but it's got a nice central park and remarkable wooden houses along main street.

Some of its oldest neighbourhoods — Canta Rana, La Loma, El Reparto, El Comercio, Pastelillo, La Gloria, Número Uno and Tarafa — still show buildings with
stained glass, imported from Bohemia, Venice and Mexico or mosaic floors and walls, made locally until 1930.

Few know that a most famous visitor,
Ernest Hemingway moored his Pilar and was a regular here during the 30's and through the second world war. He hung around La Colombiana, the Comercio Hotel, the cafetería El Chorrito, the Niza moviehouse and the billiard room of El Faro, most of which have disappeared or changed vocation.

In 1942, during "Papa's" chase of nazi U-boats, he dug in at Cayo Confites where he met a Nuevitas contact supplying him and his crew with food and drinks, well-deserved after days sloshing around in these mosquito-infested parts.

Bayamo, 283
Camaguey, 72
Cayo Cruz, 138
Cayo Sabinal, 45
Ciego de Avila, 183
Gibara, 179
Guáimaro, 137
Holguin, 245
Jaronú (Brasil), 85
La Habana, 615
La Gloria, 58
Las Tunas, 196
Manati, 70
Minas, 40
Moron, 172
Playa Santa Lucia, 67
Puerto Padre, 97
Santa Clara, 340
Santa Cruz del Sur, 143
Santiago, 400

Eduardo Muñoz Bachs (Valencia, 1937- La Habana, 2001)

Province Camaguey : clic = info
Rising and downward tides - Nuevitas bay entrance
Map — Province — Camaguey to Nuevitas
Map — Cayos on north coast Camaguey to Nuevitas
Map — ... and budget vacationing on Santa Lucia
Map — Cayos Romano, Sabinal + Santa Lucia
Camaguey Viazul Rutas 16 + 24 + 25 + 26
Island-wide bus skeds (horariodebuses.com/)
Camaguey-Nuevitas-Camaguey train schedule
National train schedule including Camaguey
Five-day weather forecast
All that's natural in Camaguey province

All the Web particuba.net

43,734 (2007)

This hilly town offering lovely views from three great lookouts : the Parque Salvador Cisneros Betancourt (with Sitial Martiano's 12 bronze plaques with quotes by the pre-Revolucion powerful local Masonic Lodges : see here), the Escuela Urbana Ignacio Agramonte or the Edificio de 12 Plantas Galeria de arte Guernica Fabrica de Instrumentos Musicales in nearby Minas (Mon-Fri 7-11hrs+13-17hrs; Sat 7-11h) : it makse and sells violins, guitars, including the unique laudes 12-chord guitars Ingenio Santa Isabel, an abandoned sugar mill on Rio Saramaguacan Yesterday named El Teatro Compoamor inaugurated in 1920 — today, 'tis the Nuevitas moviehouse Edificio de los Combatientes de la Revolución Cubana, corner of Camilo Cienfuegos and Oscar Primelles Museo Historico Municipal : old photos and stuffed animals Iglesia Católica Nuestra Señora de la Caridad erected in 1885

Restaurante El Puente. Hotel Caonaba : nothing to write home about.

Daily Internet connections 8h30 to 19h30 at Centro Multiservicios Etecsa on calle Maceo No. 40 e/ A. Arango y Agramonte • International Medical Clinic (32) 33-6203, • Taxis in Santa Lucia (32) 33-6464 or in Camaguey (32) 27-1015, • Radio Cadena Agramonte 910 AM, 93,5 FM

Hotel Caonaba, Casa de la Cultura La Avellaneda, corner Máximo Gómez and Joaquín de Agüero, Ciné Nuevitas, calle Agramonte, corner Calixto García (Tue - Sun), Banda Municipal de Concierto local orchestra founded in 1918.

Bus for Playa Santa Lucia, Astro Guagua from Camaguey Bayamo (Daily - D) 9cuc), Ciego de Avila (3xday 5cuc), Cienfuegos (2xday 16cuc), La Habana (2xday 27cuc), Matanzas (D 22cuc), Santa Clara (D 12cuc), Santiago (D 15cuc) Viazul Bus from Camaguey (2xweek) Ciego 6cuc, Holguin 11cuc, La Habana 33cuc, Sancti Spiritus 15cuc, Santiago 18cuc Trains from Camaguey (see sked link above).

On click, link to video interview of author Terry Mort, about his book The Hemingway Patrols, when "Papa" chased nazi u-boats off the coast - some spotted north of Nuevitas
. 845-150218

Kite surfing off a Santa Lucia beach with a local kid - clearly enjoying it - from Martha Santana's casa © 1983 anonimo on tripad visor.

Map Sabinal and Santa Lucia
Click to enlarge the
bay area map. Province map here.

Rare two-steepled church
two-steepled church © Juan Carlos from Toronto|• Faro Colon (Lighthouse) at the northern tip of Cayo Sabinal called Punta Maternillos

Église et vue de la baie.
Behind the church. © Eyanex on Panoramio | A puente on the township © Eyanex on Panoramio

Playa Los Pinos on Cayo Sabinal
Playa Los Pinos on Cayo Sabinal | Playa Los Cocos on Santa Lucia with local casas of La Boca at its end ©

Another deserted beach on Cayo Sabinal as seen from the top of the Colon (Faro) lighthouse. © Belén Menendez Solar, panoramio |The same Faro Colon on Sabinal, as seen from a kitesurfer's camera above playa Los Pinos in Santa Lucia. © eyanex, panoramio

La calle principal aussi déserte au petit matin qu'à la brunante, ma tante © Eyanex sur Panoramio
The calle principal as deserted early mornings as late afternoons © Eyanex sur Panoramio | Paseo Marti, another long hilly stretch © Eyanex sur Panoramio

Un flamboyan porte un ombrage apprécié au Parque Salvador Cisneros Betancourt © Stepanov, panoramio •|• Casa Castellanos © ron0315, panoramio
A flamboyan brings some shade to Parque Salvador Cisneros Betancourt © Stepanov, panoramio |• Casa Castellanos © ron0315, panoramio

"Playa Los Cocos in Santa Lucia, my favorite beach of them all is located in little La Boca village at one end of Santa Lucia (see map), 7 km from the nearest resort accessible by foot, bicycle or hitchhiking : golden sands with sheltered water to one side and the Laguna el Real to the other, dotted with pink flamingoes. Best is the neighbourhood : local holidaymakers roast pigs on the beach and drink rum in the shallow waters." Conner Gorry, Insight Cuba, 14.10.13 photo © Tyler Wetherall

Many Viazul routes pass through Camaguey daily (72 km south of here : the closest Viazul terminal) on their way (or back from) the Oriente; from there, travellers can easily find a taxi to share, payable in pesos cubanos.

Road maps of north coast from Camaguey

Cayo Sabinal as seen from across the strait of La Boca on Santa Lucia © Joaquin Rodriguez Po…, panoramio
From the Nuevitas shore, one can see Cayo Sabinal (our heretofore well-kept secret) 22km away. Sabinal, the Isla de Los Corsarios (Isle of Pirates) boasts some 35 km of beach. Is this the mythical isle treasure hunters have been dreaming of for so long ? Bring your metal detector !

Sabina is a pinkish odourfull variety of tree which resists insects and is used in woodworking. Getting to the cayo is not much fun as the "road" is like a dirt-track,
albeit for only 7km and sometimes — in summer after rain —, requires a 4x4 and patient, teeth-clenching driving. The fork to Sabinal is about 6km southwest of town.

After passing a checkpoint (the Guarda Frontera are weary of drug-smugglers) where only foreigners are let through, you reach the centre (or middle) of the island on its north shore at
Estero La Palma. Entrance fee is at the bridge to the causeway (pedraplen) : 5cuc. Fuerte de San Hilario, the still-standing old fort was used as a prison fro the ruling Spaniards starting in 1831.

Driving east you encounter
Playa Brava, white-sanded with nice snorkelling on its reef offshore. Then lies the "most popular spot" Playa Los Pinos, almost deserted like others, except for a cabana with drinking water run by Cubatur. It used to be called Club Sabinal Los Pinos (5 cabins, diving centre and a restaurant) but the cabinas were torn down as they were weather-beaten. You may still see deer and wild horses in the area; there is still a shack-like cabina for the caretaker who may, we were told, be enclined to prepare freshly-fished seafood lunch for a ... fee ; )

As this is just about the best beach, you may also see a catamaran dumping bathers and sun-seekers from the Santa Lucia Centro de Buceo (Scuba-diving center), 25km east : 70cuc per person including lunch. A German scuba divers group enjoys feeding sharks offshore. See the video here.

Should you drive to the very eastern end, you may see
Punta de Maternillos hooking north into the sea and then Playa Bonita. This is where the Cuban Marlin group runs a scuba diving post with a restaurant for lunches and dinners but no lodging. Next, Playa Chuchu, then the lighthouse and fort — Faro Colon (vertical photos above) and Torreon San Hilario — built in the 1830's to protect Nuevitas Bay. Other than that, there are nesting areas for flamingos : the largest in the Caribbean; the hill, as you come on Sabinal is called Loma La Alegria. Information : EcoTur (32) 22-5844 in Camaguey. email ecotur_at_caonao.cu

As you drive towards Santa Lucia, you come to the crossroad joining with the way to Camaguey. About 10 miles north from there, you come to another Cuban pre-revolucion oddity and proof — if need be — of how much Cuba was exploited by the USA : King Ranch (carretera de Santa Lucia, km 35, tel (32) 41-8115), namesake of the Texas spread, once the largest in "America". You'll find a restaurant, horses for hire and sometimes a rodeo show.

Refugio + Playa Santa Lucia © Jaka Photo
Locally, Playa Cuatro Vientos allows for a sight of the three cayos Ballenatos in the bahia; further for 2.5 kilometers, there's a fishermen dock named Santa Rita. Near the strip of casas in Santa Lucia's La Boca : Playa Los Cocos, quiet place at the entrance of the Nuevitas canal : go there directly by boat from town or drive the long way around tha bay. See Santa Lucia page. Excursions from Camaguey at 8h30, returns at 1700 hrs. 12cuc return. The many beaches of Cayo Sabinal above.

Hotel Cuatro Vientos, Playa Santa Lucía : 37 sites of which the 5 best vary in depth between 20 and 30 meters. ACUC certification. See Santa Lucia page.

EcoTur (32) 22-58-44 offers safaris by jeep to Cayo Sabinal (7h30-16h, 75CUC per adult). Cubanacan & Cubatur Avenida Tararaco in Santa Lucía (32) 33-6449

::: 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. ::: Since October 2010, maximum bedroom capacity is not limited to two adults ::: Also, large casas are not limited to renting only two bedrooms per night. ::: 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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• From Canada and the USA : 011 53 (add phone # preceded by the town's area code, 32) • From Europe, Great Britain, Scandinavia and Mexico : 00 53 (add phone # preceded by the town's area code, 32) ••• HOW TO DIAL A CUBAN PHONE NUMBER HERE ••• CELL PHONE NUMBERS on our town lists and casa pages are preceded by 05 for calls originating Havana; from anywhere else in Cuba, dial 01 + the 8 digits of the cell.

Click on logo to open a message addressed to that casa in your email application; or right-click to copy address. Spanish vocabulary here.

Daisy Jimenez Iejeda y Manolo
Two ac bedrooms sharing one bathroom
Calle Augusto Arango No. 39, e/Camilo Cienfuegos y Calixto Garcia Tel. (32) 41-4601 Click here to send email

The couple rents two aircon bedrooms with shared bath. Manolo knows the cayos and can organize daytrips to playa Los Pinos or Cayo Sabinal and unexplored areas of the bay. Rates : 20-25cuc per bedroom per night

Eduardo E. Seijido Cabilla
Two ac bedrooms each with ensuite
Calle Cespedes # 6, entre Martin y Agramonte,facing the police station. Tel. (32) 41-2115

This casa is a two-storey building where English teacher and esposa rent two ac bedrooms with ensuites. Upstairs br has front balcony and back terrace with bayview. Rates : 20-25cuc per bedroom per night with breakfast, upstairs; 15-20cuc with breakfast, ground floor.

Two ac bedrooms each with ensuite
Easy to find, everyone knows where 'tis

Each story has its own ac bedroom with ensuite. ground has patio and garden; meals served, laundry service. Rates : 20-30CUC per bedroom per night

Hotel Caonaba

Residencial 32, the main street of Playa Santa Lucia; casa is 2 minutes from beach. Tel. (32) 33-6135, cel. 52 97 57 65

Click for details on our Playa Santa Lucia page.

Martha Santana

Photos & contents © sogestour

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Updated 11/16/2018