Cayo Largo

Cayo Largo - Playa Sirena
Cayo Largo - Playa Sirena
It's 05:15 hours; I'm sitting in the café bar of the hotel Nacional and drinking coffee. The bus for my today's excursion to Cayo Largo will pick me up here. Cayo Largo is an island south of Cuba, a part of the big corral reef. I'll fly to the island. In 05:30 the bus arrives, collects the passengers and takes us to the small Baracoa airport, 30 km west of Havana. The small airport hall looks like a Russian hospital waiting hall, with a few wooden chairs in it. We find out that we have to wait 2 hours for the flight and we are pretty angry because of being brought so early to the airport. More tourists arrive. We get boarding passes that look like playing cards for kids. And now surprise: we fly with a brand new ATR-42! The leather seats would make even Lufthansa jealous! A pleasant 32 minute flight follows; we fly over Isla de la Juventud, the biggest Cuban island (not counting Cuba itself) and land on Cayo Largo.

Our Cuban guide announces immediately that she speaks only Spanish. For those who don't - sorry... We are a group of about 20 not very interesting people. There is a group of Italians and a few others that speak Spanish among them. They take us to a motor-boat and we sail out. Our first destination is an islet with iguanas (a kind of reptiles). We watch them, touch them and leave.

A bath near a sandy beach follows. The depth of the sea here is 0-100 cm. It's heaven for those that love to sit on the sand and do nothing (not my case). I manage to see a sea ray swimming above the sea bottom. It's the Cuba I like!

We sail out and anchor right above a coral reef. The depth here is a few meters. We are given masks so we all jump in the water and snorkel around. There are colorful fish of different size and shapes everywhere. I meet a group of 50 cm barracudas. I swim around the corals paying attention not to touch them since they're sharp (maybe they told us that just to keep us from damaging the corals?). I encounter a 1.5 m shark. It's small and doesn't look dangerous. I try to swim behind it and touch it, but it's much faster than me.

After 45 minutes of snorkeling, the next destination is Playa Sirena, the most beautiful of all the beaches I saw on Cuba. Words can hardly describe its beauty. After the swim, we have lunch in the nearby beach restaurant. Then we leave back to the airport.

This time we have no luck with the plane. We got an old (Russian?) plane that doesn't seem able to get off the ground. There are about 30 seats inside and only 8 very small windows (so the passengers can't see if a part of the plane falls off). The paint is falling off the ceiling, the windows rattle, there's rust everywhere... After the landing the majority of the passengers took pictures standing in front of the plane, to show at home what kind of plane they flew with. I went to inquire the pilot about the age of the plane. He claimed the plane had only 15 years but I'd rather say it had some 30 or 40 years.

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Cuba: Viñales
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