the journey from Guantanamo to Baracoa, Cuba



The colourful streets of Guantanamo City, Cuba, were pleasing to the eye, and quite unexpected.

It is only 150 kilometres (roughly 80 miles) from the city of Guantánamo, Cuba, to the village of Baracoa on the most easterly part of the island. But the journey takes three hours to drive by car or bus because of the numerous hairpin turns of La Farola, the scenic roadway that connects the two centres.

We were travelling from Santiago de Cuba to Baracoa, and stopped to have a quick tour of Guantánamo City and Guantánamo Bay. Guantánamo City is a vibrant centre of about 220,000 in the metropolitan area, and an additional 8,000 residents on the military base which is out in Guantánamo Bay.


I was really impressed by the central square in Guantanamo City, Cuba, as it it is made of solid marble!


This is what Guantánamo Bay looks like from the lookout point along the highway. We could see some of the American military installation off in the distance, but truthfully, you can’t see much even with the use of binoculars.

guantanamo-to-baracoaAs we headed east toward Baracoa, the scenery got better and better. I was surprised to see cacti and succulents growing alongside the road. And then we arrived at the start of La Farola, and the topography changed yet again, with lush forest and rugged mountains to keep our eyes glued to every mile along the way.


Travelling on La Farola is the highlight of the journey from Guantanamo to Baracoa.


You can see here how the winding road called La Farola takes you through jungle and over mountains.


take a break on your journey from guantánamo to baracoa

Be sure to stop at the rest stop along your journey on La Farola, where you will find washrooms, a fresh fruit stand, and if you’re lucky, other artisans selling handcrafted wooden pots filled with fresh local cocoa butter. They make a great souvenir!



A short while later, we arrived at a small park where the sign above welcomed us to Baracoa. We made it! I was so glad to finally check into Villa Paradiso and get ready to explore the Baracoan sights over the next few days. Have you been on La Farola? Have you been to Baracoa, Cuba? Please stay tuned for more posts to get you packing.

My thanks to the Cuban Tourism Commission for facilitating this trip and providing me with a private driver and a guide/translator for the entirety of my visit.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

71 Responses

  1. Yikes! I just read in today’s paper that 7 people were killed and others injured as a result of a bus crash on the road from Guantanamo to Baracoa. It is an extremely beautiful, but dangerous route if drivers don’t slow down on any of those wicked hairpin curves of the road.

  2. sanbrains says:

    Wow! What a lovely drive from Guantanamo to Baracoa. The views are simply breathtaking. I’ve never thought of Cuba as a bucket list destination. But, you’ve completely changed my views of the place. Dipped in sheer charm and beauty, Cuba is definitely a must-visit destination. The handcrafted wooden pots filled with fresh local cocoa butter sound interesting – a great souvenir buy.

  3. I don’t know but for some reason I like the sound of the name Baracoa and the name conjures up images of a nice piece of chocolate! I was amazed looking at the changing landscapes on the road to Baracoa. I can see wild cactuses and then slowly the landscape seems to change to lush, green forests.

  4. Shaily says:

    Wow! What a lovely drive from Guantanamo to Baracoa. The views are simply breathtaking. I’ve never thought of Cuba as a bucket list destination. But, you’ve completely changed my views of the place. Dipped in sheer charm and beauty, Cuba is definitely a must-visit destination. The handcrafted wooden pots filled with fresh local cocoa butter sound interesting – a great souvenir buy.

  5. neha says:

    The scenery at Baracoa is definitely very beautiful. I can only imagine how exciting the drive must have been for you, as you go further the natural beauty keeps enhancing and your excitement keeps increasing..isn’t it? That’s one thing I like so much about road trips to beautiful destinations

  6. What a gorgeous drive that looks like. Cuba has been on my list for ages, but no luck yet. Thanks for taking us along with you.

  7. I didn’t get to that part of Cuba when we were there last year. I loved Cuba and would definitely go back to explore more!

  8. The Journey from Guantanamo to Baracoa in Cuba looks quite picturesque. We love such winding roads on the mountains. Hopefully soon we will be able to experience it.

  9. Amrita says:

    I am quite enjoying your journey through Cuba. The country looks so beautiful! Hope to visit it someday. In the meanwhile, will wait for your cocoa adventures! 🙂

  10. A visit to Cuba is high on my list.

  11. I’ve never been to Cuba, and my image of Cuba was pretty much just old buildings in Havana, old American cars, and pretty, palm-tree-lined beaches. It never occurred to me that the interior might be something to see! Your pictures make me want to visit and venture outside Havana and away from the beach!

  12. I am amazed at the different landscapes you encountered on your journey from Guantanamo to Baracoa, Cuba, plus all the people and experiences you encountered along the way. I really enjoyed your article and photos!!

  13. I guess I never thought about even being able to get that close to Guantánamo Bay. And I never pictured a colorful little city like Guantánamo. Lovely journey through those lush areas of Cuba along the road called La Farola. Reminded me of a road trip long ago in Jamaica.

  14. Looks like it is a very picturesque journey. I had heard of Guantánamo but not Baracoa. I would love to taste local cocoa butter. Cuba has always fascinated me as a destination. It is still an offbeat destination for many. Loved reading your post.

    • Thanks very much, Abhinav. Yes, I think most of us have heard about Guantánamo because of the military base. I had no idea there was a sizeable city there as well. I don’t believe people actually eat the cocoa butter. Small amounts may be used in the making of chocolate. But primarily it is used topically, as a luxurious skin cream.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…the journey from Guantanamo to Baracoa, CubaMy Profile

  15. In this case, getting there was the journey. Enjoying this series from Cuba.

  16. Lori says:

    Great article on a short but scenic and fun drive. We’re wanting to get to Cuba, and glad that you’ve given a small glimpse into the natural beauty that exists on the island.

  17. Mina Joshi says:

    Oh I envy you. I would love to visit Cuba and your photographs have got me excited. Love the beauty of the country.

  18. Cuba is still on my radar and I hope to visit the island soon. Nice inside look.

  19. Kemkem says:

    This must have been such a fun adventure. Cuba, I have yet to visit, but l would very much like to do so. Thanks for sharing your trip and the lovely pictures.

  20. I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba for the colourful cities but I didn’t realise until I saw your pictures that it has amazing countryside as well. Another reason to have it on the bucket list!

  21. Guantanamo Bay looks breathtakingly beautiful. The buildings are colourful and fresh. Cuba is on my travel list. I yearn to go and watch or participate in the street dancing. The people of Cuba look vibrant and fun loving. What a wonderful job you have!

  22. Yeah i think Cuba has just gotten to my bucket list of places to visit. You sure look like you had fun.

  23. Anda says:

    I am a little jealous on you, Doreen. You even got to see Guantanamo Bay. Cuba has been on my list for so long! It looks like you had a blast there, which is wonderful

  24. Julie says:

    Cuba is still on my travel wishlist but the drive from Guantanamo to Baracoa looks lovely. It’s always fun to watch the landscape change as you climb to higher elevations. And the marble center in Guantanamo looks beautiful. Thanks for the Cuba road trip inspiration.

  25. Doreen — I haven’t been to Cuba but would like to. It very much reminds me of Puerto Rico — before the devastating hurricane. I worked for the Puerto Rican government many years ago in the U.S. so have warm feelings towards Puerto Ricans and and hope their beautiful island will once again be restored to its natural beauty. Many Cubans fled to Puerto Rico, by the way, during the Castro regime.

  26. I so want to visit Cuba, and your photos have definitely whet my appetite. I’m sure I would bring home a bunch of those handmade pots with the cocoa butter in them, as well!

  27. What an adventure. We are a little jealous of your visit to Cuba. Glad you chose to share it with us.

  28. Thanks for taking me on a photographic journey to a place I’ve never been!

  29. noel says:

    What a fun tour – I would love to spend time visiting different areas of Cuba and the landscape and smaller towns appeal to me.

  30. Janet says:

    Not yet. Haven’t opened it!!!
    Almost too nice to disturb.

  31. Janet says:

    I love the artisan work from Cuba. The wood carvings that are two toned are exquisite. Lovely place.

  32. Carol says:

    I finally get a glimpse of Guantanamo Bay. Is it part of Cuba that we lease or an American territory so close to Cuba? Love that solid marble square and the hairpin curves.

    • Hi Carol. I’m not sure of the details off the military base. I’m assuming that land was acquired before the rift with the US. Perhaps Roberto, (my resident Cuban reader) will be able to shed more light on the subject? And yes, Cuba is filled with many amazing views and vistas. Thx for stopping by. 🙂

  33. The colorful buildings are delightful–and a marble square! Wow! That’s incredible. What lovely pics.

  34. Priscilla says:

    Thanks for taking us off the beaten path in Cuba. There is so much more to Cuba than Havana, vintage cars and Hemingway cocktails (although nothing wrong with these either)!

  35. You do get around Doreen! You’re the only person I know who has visited Cuba. Your photography is lovely (as usual). Thanks for sharing it. This quite possibly as close as I’ll ever get to it.

  36. Linda Strange says:

    It seems, similar to the changes in the terrain, that there are several different Cubas to explore from the various cities to the countryside. Thanks for this tour.

    • You are so right, Linda. Until this year, all I really knew of Cuba was what I saw of Havana and the different beach resorts and their nearby communities. But getting off the beaten (touristy) path and exploring the authentic Cuba that is still quite traditional and untouched, is so much more enriching.

  37. Beverly says:

    Your photographs really show off the vibrant colours of the buildings and the lushness of the greenery.

  38. Esther says:

    Hi Doreen, Cuba seems like such an interesting place to visit. So scenic! Maybe some day I’ll get there.

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