A real highlight of our Cuban trip, and a good contrast to Havana and Trinidad.
Definitely worth at least a three-night stay, if time permits, rather than a day trip.
The valley of Vinales, and the very small town of the same name, are looked after with pride by the local people. The whole area had a cared-for look, and we were lucky enough to visit in warm, sunny, settled weather, when it was at its best.
Very early in our stay at Vinales we were fortunate in meeting a young man called Jose who asked if he could guide us round this area. He speaks only Spanish (we have suggested that he learns some English) but as we had a Spanish speaker with us it wasn't a problem. Jose turned out to be honest, kind, and a very good ambassador for his country. Here's what we did:
The first day we went walking through the tobacco fields with a sort of running commentary about the cultivation of this crop, interspersed with lots of information about the local fauna and flora and the general lives of the farmers. Jose was very patient with our friend who could only walk slowly due to asthma problems, and we ended up at an idyllic sort of hillside hut where we could relax with drinks before the return journey. We then went for coffee at someone else's home - Jose has a friend, Aldo (also a lovely person) - who has a taxi (a 1950s American car). After coffee we visited some of the limestone caves in the area for a short boat trip on an underground lake. After a rest at the hotel, Aldo collected us and took us to Vinales where Jose's mother-in-law cooked supper for us at the Casa Rosendo y Lila (where Jose can be contacted). She really made an effort - lovely savoury corn cakes, soup, salad, beans and rice, fish, and fruit salad - far too much for us to eat though we did our best. A great evening.
On the second day two of us went riding to explore a different part of the valley. It's forty years since I've been on a horse but felt very safe, mostly because we didn't break out of a gentle plod ... Jose took us up to a stunning viewpoint (we had to get off and walk the last bit, while the horses rested). The sun gets extremely hot, so hats are advised. We enjoyed it so much and will always remember it as a great experience. We then went into Vinales town later in the day - this seems a very easy-going, laid back sort of place, with small painted houses, some souvenir stalls, coffee places, and a particularly good restaurant, El Olivo.
And then, on the third day, we had to leave ... but with such wonderful memories!
If you own or manage Valle de Vinales, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.