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LODGING IN THE REGION
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Views from Villa Azul located inside the national park at its entrance, La Bajada © yusniel cordero lacher

VILLA AZUL
Yusniel Cordero Lacher
Calle A, No. 36, La Bajada, inside Parque nacional de Guanahacabibes. Tél. (48) 75-1017 Cell 52 78 20 47 @

Yusniel is a physiotherapist who started renting in January 2014 - 500 m from the park's visitors center and 14 km from Maria la Gorda beach, hotel and diving.

Newly-built casa has one air conditioned bedroom with two double beds for 20cuc per night with its own ensuite bathroom.
Meal service available : desayunos 3cuc, dinners 8cuc.



Front of Villa Azul, facing the bay ] The bedroom with its two double beds


MOTEL ALEXIS - CARMEN CORDERO
Zona L 33, in Sandino one block east of the main road that runs through Sandino, 52 km east of La Bajada. Tel. (48) 42-3282 or 42-3557

Carmen, the ex next-door neighbour and an experienced casa owner herself, took over when Alexis and Nelyda went to live abroad.

This casa — the town's best-known — is your best overnight bet if you're making the long trip to Playa Maria La Gorda or Cabo San Antonio

Carmen rents one large bedroom with private entrance on the side; aircon and private bathroom. If need be, there is a smaller bedroom in front which can share the bathroom.

Rates : 20cuc for room for night


In Sandino, Carmen's casa particular © sogestour
In Sandino,
Carmen's casa particular ] Our memorable dinner © sogestour


VILLA EDILIA
Located near Policlinico in Sandino 52 km east of La Bajada; attractions nearby : Playa Punta Colorada 25 mins; freshwater fishing in Río el Salto at 20 mins, Scuba Diving Centre at María la Gorda 40 mins away by car - Tel. (48) 42-3843 @

Two aircon bedrooms, each with private bath; living/dining area. Serves as paladar private restaurant; meals served. Terraza with DVD, fridge, TV, música cubana etc. Laundry service, bar, taxi; excursions to Playa Bailén, Boca de Galafre, Cortés etc.


Rates : 20cuc per room for night


In Sandino, Villa Edilia rents two ac bedrooms


MOTEL SUNSO y GINA
Zona O in Sandino, 52 km east of La Bajada - Casa 22 Tel. (48) 42-3131

If you're really in a bind and have to sleep in this town — and Carmen's place is full and her friends' as well, then, only then, look for this casa.

The couple rents two basic bedrooms each with private bath and ac; mini patios, dining area, etc.

Yada, yada, yada.

Rates : 25cuc per bedroom for night

Sandino Sunso y Gina •]• A bedroom © sogestour
The facade of Sunso & Gina's ] Patio & velo © sogestour


The 8 km beach at Maria la Gorda seen from offshore © Cuba-Diving.de
Playa Maria La Gorda beach was named for a woman (Fat Maria) who was supposedly abandoned by pirates; she had to sell her body so the story goes. The fine sand stretch is five miles (8 km) long. The seabed here is one of the richest in Cuba in terms of biodiversity and has the largest colony of black coral (Antipathes spp.) in the archipelago. At its 39 scuba-diving sites, you can see gardens of gorgonians, sponges, a long wall with grottoes, abundant marine fauna and artefacts showing that both pirate and merchant ships used to anchor here.

HOTEL & C.I.B. MARIA LA GORDA
35 bedrooms + 20 bungalows sitting on the bay of Corrientes; location 21°49' N, 84°28' W; radio HF 3600, VHF 16 and 19; management by Gaviota; 14 km from Bajada (park admin), 66 km from Sandino, 150 km from Pinar del Rio, 295 from La Habana Tel. (48) 77-8077

Maria la Gorda beach units on bahia de Corrientes © efimova, flickr •]• The cabanas behind © gaz, panoramio Rates & Details on this here website

Lodging is available in bedrooms in the main seaside building — some with sea view or else in one of the more recent 20 bungalows renovated in 2009 located in the back reachable by wooden plankwalks; units are equiped with own private modern bathrooms, hair dryers, direct phone lines, satellite tv and a am-fm radio.

Also : mini-kitchenette, mini bar, fridge, individually-controllable a/c unit, ceiling fan, balcony or terrace.

Available amenities : café, boutiques, bar, laundry service, bike rental, swimming pool.

Centro Internacional de Buceo (C.I.B.) (International scuba diving centre) Scuba Diving Courses under auspices of SSI or CMAS; two boats are used to ferry divers (28 or 12-diver capacities); multilingual diving instructors : español, english, français, russki e italiano; some dive sites and other details here

"It is hard to get there, you need to take a taxi or a bus from Vinales and it is expensive to get there, but the hotel itself is not that bad.

"If you don't have your own car, it is a mission (and expensive) to get here. We made the effort for the diving, which was supposed to be good ... in actuality, it was a really bad experience.

Make sure you take the room with sea view. You have to pay a surcharge (around 10 or 15 cuc for the whole stay) but will have an amazing view.

The bedrooms are big enough with decent shower and hot water, the beach is just 2 steps from the room, and you have everything you need to relax, water is amazing, never saw so clean sea. This is a perfect place to dive, if you are lucky enough, you will dive with the turtles.

You can do the snorekling and well for the boat but also around the pier on the beach. If you are looking a place to dive and relax after running around all the cities in Cuba you will love it." CzajaZeboGornik, Dubli, Eire, Nov. 2014, tripad

"The place is very popular and there is only one dive shop, so the boats and groups are overcrowded.

We were diving with 15 people to a DM and 40-50 people on the boats. It's chaotic and there's no room to move on the boat or prepare your equipment.

The dives themselves are very boring and short, given how many people are with you it's difficult to do anything more interesting.

It's very expensive too, the prices quoted do not include equipment, which is additional and charged per dive.

Overall, I would recommend skipping the diving here and spending more time in Vinales." Shiri1130, Perth, Australia November 2014, tripad

photos © robin thom photography - link
Villa Laguna Grande ©
VILLAS LAGUNA GRANDE
12 cabañas on namesake lake, close to hitherto unknown bay of Guadiana; under the Islazul (low-budget chain) management, in Bolivar, 82 km northeast of La Bajada Tel (48) 84-3453 or 84-2430

In a quiet and natural setting, the thatched-roof cabins offer freshness from the sun and rest in a double occupancy room including air-conditioning, a fridge, a private ensuite bathroom, satellite tv

The main building installations include a restaurant and dining room, bar and a games room.

As this area is for nature lovers, guest can enjoy the lake for fishing or swimming or go for a horse ride or trek along the adjoining parks' trails.

Villa Laguna Grande •]• Map of region on click
On the shore of Laguna Grande (8 sq-km lake), Villa Laguna Grande from Islazul : 12 modest and affordable but comfy cabañas; horse riding trout fishing, hunting in the El Limon Reserve ]Map of the region on click

Coucher de soleil sur le détroit de Yucatan © jwvanderzalm, panoramio
VILLAS CABO SAN ANTONIO
In one of the most deserted spots in Cuba, 16 recently-built modern chalets off the beach (narrow gravel road to marina passes in front); run by Gaviota chain; almost at the end of the seaside road, some 55 km west of La Bajada, the park entrance. Tel. (48) 75-7656

Australian websurfer Neb said this about getting there in Feb 2008 : "The hotel could not arrange for our transfer from Havana so we took the Viazul bus to Pinar (12cuc) then a taxi — an old rusty Lada! — for the last 200 km for which we had to pay 90cuc!!!!!

An adventurous ride! We were told we had been had because others claimes to have paid only 60cuc."

Web site for more info and reservations - 76cuc daily double here

Villas Cabo San Antonio © j@b travels, flickr.com
The so-named « Villas Cabo San Antonio » opened in 2006 and local cows don't seem to mind © j@b travels, flickr.com

The rest of Neb's comments : PROS:
- Remote location, far from everywhere! Absolutely relaxed and peaceful environment.
- Well sized villa's, with all mod cons.
- Staff all lovely and helpful.

CONS:
- Killer SANDFLIES! Got >100 bites after my first session at the beach. Take industrial strength protectant, and DO NOT lie directly on the sand. Use the beach chairs, which still does not guarantee you won't get attacked! A BIG problem.
- Poor insulation between each side of cabin means you hear everything in the adjoining room in your cabin.
- Limited restaurant menu gets boring after ~4 days.

Another client Penher said in November 2009 : "Located deep in the Peninsula Guhananacacibes (after a 61km drive — amazing!) Villas Cabo San Antonio is made up of small wooden bungalows which are quite spacious and comfortable. The place is magical and will appeal to hikers and lovers of solitude ... The welcome is friendly, the restaurant is pleasant, and Josvel the waiter attentive. Small downside : no real activity on premises but nothing serious ... Small local game : find the nearest gas station located in the Marina (?) 3km ... once you have found it, you will need to return in reverse (as road is too narrow) which may be the longest drive in reverse of your life ... memorable ! "
HEED THE HINTS IN THIS FINE PRINT
::: 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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Updated 24.02.2015