Biking Cuba – Day 9 (Gibara to Guardalavaca)

After only one relaxing evening and night in Gibara (note to self: stay here longer next time!), we headed out to Guardalavaca. The beaches in Guardalavaca are some of the nicest ones in Cuba, so we wanted to get there and enjoy them before our Cuba stay was over.


There is a way of biking the entire route from Gibara to Guardalavaca, but the roads are not well mapped or documented by other cyclists. The route is fairly long and the condition of the road iffy. In Gibara we were told to take a ferry from one side of the bay to the other side, instead of biking around the bay. We’d still need to bike once we got across the bay (near Playa Blanca) to Guardalavaca (there’s no ferry going from Gibara to Guardalavaca), but we’d be cutting our biking time by a bit (and eliminating lots of unknowns).

This is the size of the ferry.

Getting on the ferry isn’t easy. It’s a tiny boat that can hold maybe 16 people legally, but 21 if five foreigners with bikes show up and are willing to pay double. It was suppose to leave around 8 or 8:30 am, but we ended up leaving around 10:30 (try not to set your watch by Cuban schedules). If you’re ever in Gibara and want to take the ferry, get to the terminal very early and put your name on the list. It’s a “first come first serve” kind of situation and most people start to show up around 7 am.


Again, as is with any other wait time in Cuba, no one seems to mind. People patiently wait, chat amongst themselves and no one stresses over the ferry not being there on time. This must be one reason why life expectancy in Cuba is so long! (that and the free, state of the art, medical services)


When the ferry finally showed up and we all climbed in, I was a little worried. It wouldn’t have taken much for this little boat to capsize. Our bicycles were piled on top of each other at the back (or the front? I know nothing about boats) of the boat and we were suspiciously low and close to the water.


No one seemed worried though, so I just sat back and relaxed and listened to Stuart chatting up the Cuban couple next to us (the man had a Phd in Horticulture or something. Does everyone in Cuba have a Phd?).


Here’s Gibara’s shore.


It was a beautiful calm day, with very little wind. Not so good for parasailing, but good for our little ferry.

This is the area where Christopher Columbus first landed in Cuba. I don’t know exactly which beach it was and whether or not it’s commemorated in any way. Jo was determined to find the exact spot, but we just concluded that being in the general vicinity of the landing was good enough.


The ferry made a stop in one little village (some people left and others got on), but we were told to stay on until the next stop.


The next stop let us out in the middle of nowhere. There is no village here. Just the boat ramp and a dirt road. Once we got out, people started to walk down this road, so we followed.


We met some cows. They weren’t good with directions.

There are a few villages we passed before getting to Guardalavaca. The first one we needed to find was Fray Benito. And then Rafael Freyre. Once we got to Rafael Freyre we got to a major road going into Guardalavaca. Lots of signs here, so there really were no more chances of getting lost.


The road leading to Guardalavaca from Rafael Freyre is the same road that goes all the way to Holguin. It’s frequented by tour buses transporting Canadians and Europeans from the airport in Holguin to the beach resorts of Guardalavaca. This is still Cuba, but increasingly more touristy Cuba. In addition to tour buses, I noticed a whole lot more new cars rushing past me (rentals) and even a few cyclists in cycling gear (tourists).

Sorry to be so down on other tourists. It’s just that when I travel so far, I would rather not be reminded of the world I left behind as much as possible. But that’s the price you pay if you want to see powdery white beaches!

Hello Guardalavaca.

Screenshot 2016-07-06 08.25.11

Today’s Ride: 24.4 miles, 918 ft of elevation, moving time: 2:48:47, elapsed time: 3:37:48, average speed: 8.7 mi/h

YTD Biking Miles: 489.9




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