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Cuba’s Hidden Gem: Exploring the Beauty and Culture of Holguín

We recently were invited on a FAM trip by Hola Sun Vacations to experience what there is to offer on the east side of Cuba. After only having been to Varadero a few times in the past with day trips to Havana, we were very impressed by Holguín and its surrounding areas. It was a whole new world with lush greenery and nature and lively friendly locals. In this series of blogs, we’re going to take you through our amazing journey of discovering a unique area in Cuba! If you’re planning a trip to Cuba, we highly recommend using Hola Sun Vacations.

Holguín, Cuba is an absolutely stunning destination that should not be missed! Located in the eastern region of the country, Holguín is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning natural surroundings, and rich history and culture.

Attractions

Loma de la Cruz Park

Located on a hill overlooking the city, this beautiful park offers panoramic views of the surrounding area that are simply breathtaking.

One of the standout features of Loma de la Cruz Park is the iconic cross that sits atop the hill. There is a 458-step staircase that leads to the hill, but it can also be accessed by car. Standing tall, the cross can be seen from all over the city. When making a prayer or wish, one must walk around the cross three times before touching it and praying. The whole group participated and one by one, we touched this beautiful landmark. 

Restaurante Loma de La Cruz also sits on top of the hill near the cross. There was live entertainment, cigar and rum tastings, great cocktails, and appetizers at this fantastic restaurant. Highly recommend having a drink while watching the sunset over Holguín. 

American Cars

As a special surprise for our group, a lineup of beautiful vintage classic American cars, or “Maquinas” was waiting at Parque San Jose in the middle of Holguín. In groups of 4, we chose our preferred car and got in. Then our parade started! Escorted by the local police, we were driven around the colorful and vibrant streets of Holguín honking our way through to attract attention from the locals. As we drove by, locals watched our loud, exciting, and fun experience. It was the perfect and unique way to tour the city and one of our favorite memories. I highly recommend experiencing being a passenger in these classic American cars.

Hotels

We stayed at the Gran Muthu Almirante for the full week we were in Cuba. It’s located north of Holguín in Guardalavaca, almost 1 hour and 15 min transfer from Holguín Frank País International Airport. The drive was quite pretty with hills and valleys filled with bright green forests. 

We were lucky enough to stay in the club Elite section of the resort, which is an adults-only section. It has its own lobby bar, pool, and restaurant which are reserved for those staying in the section. We thoroughly enjoyed the Gourmet Elite Restaurant which had great selections for breakfast and dinner items. 

The room was spacious, with modern amenities and a cozy atmosphere. The bathroom was very large with two vanities and a separate room for the toilet. There was lots of storage space and lighting. The room opened up to an oceanview balcony which had great views. The staff kept our room super clean as they came in the morning and during dinner. Our fridge was always stocked up. 

Guardalavaca is considered one of the best beaches in Cuba. The crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches here are simply breathtaking, and there are plenty of opportunities for water sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and boat rentals.

I had the pleasure of visiting the resort’s spa during my stay, and it was an absolute oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation. As soon as I arrived, I made use of the spacious lockers to store my belongings before setting off to explore the facilities. The pool, hot tub, and cold plunge provided the perfect mix of options for refreshing and revitalizing my body. I booked a massage therapy session and was thoroughly pleased with the results. The sauna and steam rooms were the perfect places to unwind.

The resort was not too large; the route to and from the main building was relatively short, and there were lots of easy-to-follow signs so it was impossible to get lost. 

The resort’s restaurants were very good. We attended the Japanese restaurant “Yukata” and it was a great night. The hotel also has a rooftop bar, which provided a great spot to relax and take in the views of the ocean. 

The staff at the resort was truly top-notch. From the moment we arrived, we were greeted with warm, friendly smiles and a performance! Our butler in the Elite section was amazing, he was more than happy to answer any questions we had and help us get settled in. The housekeeping staff was equally wonderful, ensuring that our room was always clean and well-stocked with everything we needed.

The bartenders at the lobby bar were always ready with a smile and a refreshing drink, and the servers at the restaurants were attentive, and friendly, and went above and beyond to make sure we had a fantastic dining experience. We were consistently impressed by the level of service we received from every single member of the resort staff, and it really made our stay that much more enjoyable.

Overall, I would highly recommend Gran Muthu Almirante to anyone visiting Guardalavaca. A great location, beautiful facilities, and friendly staff make this hotel perfect!

The People

During my visit to Holguín, I was struck by the friendliness and hospitality of the people I met. Everywhere I went, I was greeted with smiles and friendly conversation. Whether I was enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, exploring the city’s beautiful beaches, or simply walking through the streets, I always felt welcomed and at home.

One of the things that I loved most about the people of Holguín was their passion for life. They seem to approach every day with enthusiasm and joy, and they are always eager to share their culture and traditions with visitors. 

Overall, I can honestly say that the people of Holguín were the best part of my visit to the city. Their warmth and hospitality made my trip truly memorable, and I can’t wait to go back and visit again someday.

If you want more information or need help planning your next trip to the region, feel free to contact us at farah@nextdeparture.ca or Hola Sun Vacations

Did you check out our other blogs about Cuba?

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