In Search of Cuba's Eclectic Color and Character

Gritty and great, colorful and lively, Cuba represents a proud nation of eclectic culture and uniqueness unlike any other. Not only is a trip to this amazing country a venture back in time, its also to one of promise and change for the future.

Cuba is in a state of flux with many signs of change apparent throughout the country, yet its people and culture remain vibrant as ever, I explored this country with a photographer's eye in an attempt to capture some of it's eclectic color and sheer diversity.  

For a small nation, it packs quite the punch of urban and outdoor environments all equally picturesque and utterly unique.

La Habana Vieja (Havana Old Town)

Cubans are immensely proud of their vehicles, full of as much character as the drivers themselves

Our story began as many do amongst the sights and sounds of Havana, the old town (La Habana Vieja) is the centre of many minds-eye scenes, from the tiny hole in the wall Cuban Cafe's to the cobblestone streets, Baroque architecture and gritty crumbling structures.

Early morning wanderings and unique perspectives of Havana

Early mornings in Havana are sublime, with a peacefulness about the streets unlike any other time, long shadows and moody lighting add to already colorful scenes and its highly recommended to explore as the sun rises in the background whilst the cool air meanders about the street scenes.

A land of contrasts...

Cuba definitely is a land of contrasts. One can be wandering through streets surrounded by crumbling buildings and turn a corner to see staggeringly beautiful neoclassical monuments or the walls of 16th century forts from the New World.

The astonishingly beautiful and ornate Gran Teatro de la Habana

Cuba's iconic Malecón 

This esplanade on the fringe of the greater Havana is a spectacular location to sit and watch the subtle hues of a Cuban sunset sink below the city skyline - almost equally as colorful as the locals and tourists alike enjoying the scenery amongst the sounds of Cuba's vibrant culture.

Warm hues of a Cuban sunset over the Havana shore

With a history laden with attacks from pirates and corsairs, Havana fortified its harbor to protect its heritage and geographic location, these forts remain today and hark back to a different era for the city - they're also immensely picturesque at sunrise and sunset

Trinidad

But of course there is much more to Cuba than Havana, searching for more of Cuba's color our next stop was the peaceful town of Trinidad, a stunningly pretty colonial town flanked by the rolling green hills of the Escambray Mountains and nestled in between sugar plantations and tobacco fields. Time has truly stood still here with its cobblestone streets and perfectly preserved architecture.

A colourful Cuban sunset over Trinidad

Aptly named a UNESCO world heritage site, Trinidad exudes character and history whilst being an active town and rural hub for the surrounding farms and plantations.

Streets of Trinidad

Valle de Viñales

Cuba certainly hosts a staggering amount of scenic diversity, one of its crown jewels is the dramatic geologically significant Valle de Viñales.  Towering limestone formations called Mogotes shape this landscape intertwined between rust coloured fields of tobacco and coffee, still being toiled by ox and cart.

Cuban cowboy and Viñales mist

Sunrises and sunsets in this region don't disappoint and nor did our final sunrise hike to the village of Los Aquaticos, as the sun crept from behind the towering mogotes, the sun bathed the entire valley in golden beams of sunlight.

Needless to say we certainly found some of the colour and character that makes Cuba so unique, this is just small fraction of some of the diverse scenes that dot this wonderful island nation, with many more hidden treasures to be found...

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. We also acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Adrien PatanéExplorer

Hiker | Photographer | Explorer