Stay away from Camagüey (Cuba) if you crave culture

Cuba
Camagüey (Cuba)

Camagüey (Cuba)

I had the travel itch, that incessant need to spend all of your money and hop on a plane  At this point, I resolved to travel alone but naturally, when your friends see your amazing travel photos, they want to travel with you.    I am always down for traversing a foreign land and soaking up some culture.  Unfortunately,  I think I only achieved the soaking part.

Cuba, Si?

Cuba is a very popular and affordable destination for Canadians which is ideal because here in Toronto, winter is too long.  I never visited Cuba before and I was very reluctant on going as the reviews from friends and family was split right down the middle; beautiful beaches and awful food.    

We decided at the last minute to book a cheap 8-day all-inclusive resort in Camagüey (Cuba) called Brisas Santa Lucia




A Bag of Cristal

As soon as we got off the plane, we were steered towards our shuttle bus where men sold us bags of Cristal for $1.   I, unfortunately, was sober during our 3-hour bumpy bus ride to the resort because I don’t drink, just kidding…I don’t eat gluten.  I was taken back at how impoverished and poor that part of Cuba was, there was nothing for miles and the roads were tiny.    Unbeknownst to me, this part of Cuba only housed resorts, 3 or 4 if my memory serves me right all lined up in a row.  

 

Camagüey (Cuba)
Camagüey (Cuba)

Prison might be a stretch

While it definitely was not a prison, I felt confined to the resort.    I heard that other tourists would leave for days and travel to Havana or Varadero and come back.  Gosh, why didn’t we think of that?     The rooms were very basic, holes in the doors and frequent power outages.   The food was the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner and not friendly for food allergies.  But that was the least of my worries because I wasn’t there for food and I already had low expectations food-wise. 

"Vino blanco por favor "

More like please no more; it tasted like rubbing alcohol.  The mixed drinks were no better, it wasn’t even real juice.  I actually stopped drinking by the second day and drank copious amounts of “americanos” with some coconut cake. 

Let’s talk about its redeeming qualities

The staff are incredibly charming, entertaining and bilingual - they speak French fluently which is more than I can say for myself. They remember your names, your preferences and if you're a frequent visitor. They are great at engaging participation and conversation with everyone, I was very impressed.

The tour guide was very informative and knowledgeable and if anything happened to us, she was our liaison.

The shows were pretty much the same every night with the exception another resort hosting a White Beach Party. What I noticed that most were people leaving to hang out with the locals of Camagüey at a bar down the road (walking distance).

 

Camagüey (Cuba)
Camagüey (Cuba)

The most memorable part of the trip

The tourists.

If it wasn’t for the plane ride, the scorching sun and the ocean waves I would have guessed I was back in Canada. 90% of the tourists were Canadian, many spoke French and chances are you found at least 10 people from your ‘hood. We spent every night at ‘our table’ with a mini speaker someone brought where we would play spin the iPhone and take turns spinning a beat.

Friendships were truly born that week.

I personally, will never return to Camagüey (Cuba) as it involves too many bad memories and really isn’t my cup of tea. A perfect vacation for me involves exploration, trying new things and talking to locals. I under no circumstances have written off Cuba, I am looking forward to exploring Havana and swimming in the Ocean in Varadero.

 

Camagüey (Cuba)
Camagüey (Cuba)

 

Leave me a comment.
I am being too harsh on Camagüey (Cuba) ?

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21 comments

  1. I actually really like the honesty in this peace! When my hubby and i went to the Rivera Maya in Mexico (totally different but I have a point) we loved it. However, there were a couple things we hated, like Coco Bangos and the beach wasn’t the best. Thanks for sharing an honest opinion about Cuba!

  2. As I read your post it reminded me of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We are obviously travelers not tourists. These type of places are fine for tourists but if you want culture no way.

  3. Refreshingly honest! At least you made friends 🙂 I haven’t been to Cuba yet… long time coming… but now I know what shouldn’t do 🙂

  4. Cuba is so beautiful, but many of my Cuban American friends refuse to go there under the current regime. Sad that something could be so amazing is kept chained in poverty. Your pics were gorgeous, but sounds so unfulfilling.

  5. Will be taking my mom to Cuba for her first trip…wasn’t sure exactly what to do, but now I know what not to do:) Thanks for not watering down your opinion!

  6. I am sorry Camugey didn’t turn out to be what you expected. We just got back from an amazing vacation in Havana. I agree that there is a lot of poverty there but I learned so much about Cuban culture and we met a few local people who were more than willing to talk to us about their culture and religion. Try Havana next time, I am sure you will love it.

  7. I haven’t been to Cuba yet, but from what I heard the real culture is off the resorts. I too enjoy talking with locals and engaging in their culture. It’s great that you met some Canadians while on your trip. I would most definitely take a trip to Havana next time:)

  8. I’m curious why you didn’t venture out? You just didn’t think of it? That’s the thing with all-inclusive resorts, the people that frequent them don’t usually get out being comfortable with having the privacy and amenities in that closed/private space. Not my first or even 10th choice for a holiday. I’m much too adventurous.

    1. No, honestly I didn’t think of it and I was traveling with another person and our personalities conflicted. Next time I travel to Cuba, I want to soak up every bit of their culture 😉

  9. I never really go to all-inclusive resorts. Like you I want to go out an explore, soak up som culture, meet some locals. Sorry about your not-so-good stay in Cuba. Hopefully you make it back for a real trip someday

  10. That’s a shame you didn’t enjoy Camaguey but at least you can cross Cuba off your list. Your photos look great and very Cuban! I guess if you go to Cuba again you’ll go solo to Havana!

  11. A really honest post 🙂 At least it was warm and like you said – it isn’t prison! It is always a shame when you don’t get that culture you are seeking on a trip but at least you could relax and unwind!

  12. Thats too bad that you didn’t enjoy your trip to Cuba as much as you wanted. You’re right Canadians are awesome, but meeting some Cuban people would have made the trip so much better. It seems like the problem was more with the resort than with Camagüey.

    1. That area was most resorts and the staff lived at the resorts in their own section. I have nothing against Camaguey but if you’re looking for more than sipping rum on the beach, then I wouldn’t advise it. The locals were amazing and friendly and you’re right, the resort itself was more for relaxing than exploring.

  13. I’ve heard mixed reviews of Cuba, as well. If I ever go, I would want to explore Havana mostly. But at least the beaches look pretty where you were. I hope you made the most of it and relaxed by the ocean.

  14. To each his own – it is your travel experience. I respect your honesty about that. It is actually refreshing to read because it speaks a lot about the raw experience. Let’s be honest, there are certain aspects about travel that we hate or would rather forget. But none of those are pointed out often enough!

  15. Thanks for sharing your perspective! I’ve never stayed at an all inclusive resort before, and I honestly don’t think I ever will because experiencing the culture is one of my favourite things to do while I’m in a new country. Hopefully you will have a chance to go back someday and do some more exploring!

    1. I think we live and learn. I do think its possible to have the best of both worlds when it comes to all-inclusive and exploration. Some resorts make it really easy to leave and wander, take tours and do excursions and then you can come back to the resort and unwind. 🙂

  16. Oh boy we are about to go there for a week I hope we enjoy it more then you did
    Next time go to Varadero there’s lots to do on the main strip there and the food off the resorts is better

    1. I really hope you enjoy it as well. I know some people who go back every year (the friends I met there) and they just love it but I guess they are the type to just lay back and soak up the sun…and I am not that lol I hope you guys have a great time. Thanks, I am definitely going head to Varadero next time.

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