Friday, 30 May 2014

Playa Paraiso & Playa Sirena, Cuba.

Playa Paraiso and Playa Sirena beaches on Cayo Largo are exactly what you would expect from a Caribbean island. Crystal clear and turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, those typical beach umbrellas that look as though they're straight off a postcard, and sailing. Playa Sirena was our favourite, apparently it's the 11th best beach in the world - we can definitely see why! The water wasn't as clear as Playa Paraiso, however it was a beautiful deep turquoise instead, the sand was powder soft, and best of all - I got to go sailing again.

It's been years since I went sailing, I used to do it three times a week when I was a teen, and was in the school racing team in Australia and the University sailing club. I've sailed dinghys and crewed on yachts and keel boats, but never a I've sailed a catamaran too, albeit a little one. We were really lucky that all watersports were included with our hotel, including the small catamaran and a skipper for it. We all climbed on and while the skipper took the mainsheet I took the jib and the tiller.

I took my underwater camera on the boat with me and left my GF3 on the beach hidden in my Primarni bag (it was super safe, Jasiminne left her Louis Vuitton on the bag and no one touched it!), but sadly my trusty ancient Fujifilm underwater cam was on it's last legs and promptly broke shortly after these two photos were taken...

Nevermind. I had an awesome time sailing again, and even remembered when to tack! Booyah. It really did make me miss it though, just that freeing feeling of flying over the water, it's so magical. After sailing we decided to take a pedalo out, after all, you can't go on a beach holiday without having a ride on a pedalo!

Ciara and I shotgunned pedaling, while Jasiminne was quite happy to sit at the front and take selfies relax...

Ciara and I obviously just had a laugh taking photos of each other and then taking our own selfies - we also found out that when I stopped pedaling to take a selfie, it didn't actually make any difference to the pedaling for Ciara :/ woops...

Taking selfies up-close with no makeup on made me realize just how many freckles I have on my face! :O My nanny always calls them the 'Sun's Kisses', so I'm just gonna count myself special.

Our pedalo was very relaxing, however we soon got bored of the pedaling part so headed back to the shore, went for a swim in the cool waters, and then dried off in the sunshine, slathering on Factor 50 again. 

Playa Paraiso is the beach next to Playa Sirena. We got the free shuttle train that took us from our hotel to the beaches, and jumped off at whichever beach we felt like going to that day. There was quite a bit of seaweed along the shore and the waters were much shallower than Playa Sirena, so you can't really swim as it's mainly a sandbank, but it's lovely just to lay around on whilst staying cool.

Photo from Jasiminne
Naturally photos were taken and poses were struck with effortless confidence and style... 

HA! Jokes. It looked more like this...

We lay in the water and watched fish swim around us, sometimes they got really brave and came right up to us, but then I'd get my camera out and they'd all swim off. I did manage to get this snap though...

After laying about doing nothing but take photos for far too long, we headed back to wait for the bus to take us back to the hotel. We had half an hour or so to wait, so we grabbed a 'Cuban Fanta' (way better than normal Fanta!) at the little cafe shack on the beach, and sat there chatting about our trip so far and what we wanted to do when back in Havana.

Back at the hotel we took full advantage of the free alcoholic beverages (they did the best Pina Colada's!), and had a BBQ lunch at the restaurant overlooking the beach. We stayed at the Sol Cayo Largo, which is apparently the best on the island, but despite it's 4* rating I wouldn't give it that. It was very basic, but it was perfect for what we wanted it for, and for all three of us it was a bit of a bargain too! 

After lunch we wandered down to the pool for an afternoon of laying on the cabana reading a book (Tim Winton's 'Shallows' for me) - have you noticed yet that Cayo Largo involved a lot of us just laying about?! It was pure bliss.

I also finally got to wear my summer Zara shorts! I'm not usually one for very bright clothing, but I saw these and just had to get them, I love the print on them!

If you're going to Cayo Largo I'd definitely recommend the Sol Cayo Largo, it has everything you need; basic rooms perfect for getting covered in sand from the beach, all-inclusive drinks and food, two huge swimming pools, lovely staff, excellent Pina Colada's, and they do the best fresh crepes every morning for breakfast! The resort is also really pretty, and is right on a gorgeous beach! There's also a pool bar where you can sit in the pool with your drinks to keep cool. 

One thing to remember though, is that this is Cuba, therefore every so often certain things won't be available due to imports not arriving and various other reasons, for example on our last day there was no ice-cream left, and on the day we arrived there were no beach or bath towels! Luckily we brought our own with us so it wasn't much of an issue, but it was definitely a welcome relief when they arrived on our second day.

The hotel also has wifi, but it's 8CUC per hour, which is about £5. The food was ok, we quickly figured it was much better to just have the freshly prepared food available (crepes, pancakes, omelettes, fried eggs - all which were made in front of you and to your specification) and leave the stuff that had been sitting there getting flies on it such as fruit. Cuba also doesn't to vegetables very well, they all tasted as though they had come out of a tin, which they probably had, so stick to the things they grow there such as tomatoes and peppers (capsicum). 

We departed Cayo Largo completely relaxed and content, and ready for our last night in Havana! 

However, when we got to Havana domestic airport at Baracoa, we thought it was rather odd...

This is the baggage claim terminal. No conveyor belt, no nothing, just a sign pointing to the ground. The ground staff at the airport bring the luggage over manually on a big trolley and you all just have to grab and scramble for your bag. You then walk straight through that green gate at the end, no immigration, no checks, no nothing. It was so, weird, but brilliant! It was as if they'd been in the middle of building the airport and then just suddenly stopped and forgotten to finish it. Only in Cuba eh!

More on our last day and night in Havana tomorrow! It's gonna be a goodun, promise!


1 comment

  1. Nice picture. thanks for sharing


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