Playa Larga is located in the Matanzas Province of Cuba and, together with Playa Giron, is better known as the Bay of Pigs. We chose to visit Playa Larga for the good reviews it gets for snorkeling and for the chance to experience some Cuban wildlife at the Zapata Peninsula National Park.
We spent 2 nights in Playa Larga, staying at B&B El Varadero, which we booked direct with the casa via email (30 CUC per night, 5CUC for breakfast). This was a lovely casa particulare which a had great views of the ocean, making breakfast and dinner times that bit more relaxing!
View from the casa’s restaurant
We arrived at Playa Larga following a long journey in a private transfer from Viñales (complete with rum-induced hangover!). This private transfer was booked with TaxiViñalesCuba.com and cost 125CUC. We chose to get this private transfer due to time constraints, and also because getting from Viñales to Playa Larga is tricky without getting a private transfer!
5 hours after leaving Viñales we finally arrived in Playa Larga. We decided to spend the day relaxing as the next two days were full with activities. Playa Larga is quite a small town, and has only recently begun to develop a tourist trade, so there is not much to do in the town itself. The beach, although peaceful, is not a traditional white sand beach. With this in mind we decided to sit outside our room and read our books while enjoying the sounds of birds and the waves crashing against rocks nearby.
The outside of B & B El Varadero
We had breakfast early on Day 2 as we had pre-arranged with our casa to do a snorkeling tour on this day. The price of the tour was 15CUC per person, which was a bargain considering what we got to experience on this day. We were picked up by an old school yellow school bus. There was about 15 other tourists and, after getting our snorkeling gear, we set off on the 20km trip to the part of the ocean where the snorkeling was to happen.
About half of our tour were going diving, so that is an option, but we just decided to stick to snorkeling (diving is 25CUC per person). We got to snorkel at this spot for 2-3 hours, and there was even a bar and chairs to relaxing and sunbath on after, if you so wish. The sea was a hive of activity due to the nearby coral and we spent 2 hours taking videos of all the tropical fish we spotted.
Snorkeling in the Cueva de los Peces
After snorkeling we were taken to Cueva de los Peces, which is a flooded cave. We were able to swim and snorkel here also for about 1 hour. The water in this cave can look quite unappealing to swim in, but we jumped in anyway and made the most of it! We spotted more fish and, as you cannot see the bottom of the cave, we were pondering what else could be down there!
We were dropped back to Playa Larga some 7 hours after setting off. Overall, we rated this tour highly and advise anyone in the area to give it a go!
Day 3 was also our final day in Playa Larga as we had a transfer to Trinidad organised for later in the day. With this in mind we decided to organise a tour in the Zapata National Park. This national park is touted as being one of the worlds best for birdwatching and is the only place in the world you can spot the worlds smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird. The half day tour, which we organised with our casa, was 10CUC per person.
We, along with a French couple staying at our casa, were collected by a taxi and taken to the national park. The road to the national park was littered with crabs, with their pincers trying their best to burst the tyres of the taxi! After playing a long game of dodge the crab we arrived at the national park and were introduced to our guide.
Crabs on the road!
Many other taxis arrived from the area and our tour group ended up at about 15 people. The guide was very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the area and we saw a jutia, bats, lizards and hummingbirds (not the Bee Hummingbird unfortunately). Having visited Costa Rica the previous year we had high expectations for this tour, however it did under deliver unfortunately. The guide decided to feed the jutia (an oversized rodent) and allow the tourists to “pet” him.
A pygmy owl spotted in Zapata National Park
Spotting the flora and fauna wasn’t the only thing we got up to on this tour however. We were shown around a cave in the park which contained some bats. There was also a stop at a cenote and this provided some people with the chance to go for a swim. Overall this tour disappointed us (and others in the group) so I wouldn’t recommend it. I believe that there are some good birdspotting guides in the area and ,with some time and preparation, booking with one of them would make for a better experience!
The cenote in Zapata National Park
We arrived back at our casa before lunch and we collected our bags before heading off for our next adventures, Trinidad!