Jan 242015
A stunning view of Trinidad, Cuba.

A lush view of Trinidad, Cuba. What a beautiful place!

Cuba is one of my favorite places I have ever traveled, but I have never written about my 2008 trip… that is, until now.

You see, for the past 50 years, it has been illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba, except in rare circumstances. Finally, however, it looks as through the travel ban between Cuba and the U.S. will be lifted!

Me posing with a donkey and yellow wall in Trinidad, Cuba because... why not?

Me with a donkey and yellow wall in Trinidad, Cuba.

Once I saw the news that relations with Cuba were thawing, I immediately contacted my friend Oliver, with whom I’d taken that 2008 trip.

“Oliver!” I said, breathless. “Can I go through those 800 photos you took of our Cuba trip and edit the best ones? I want to publish them into articles!” (2008 was before I bought my first camera for the 2009 launch of this blog, so I always used to mooch off the photos of friends.) Oliver kindly agreed to contribute his pictures to the effort, and thus I spent the next seven hours getting these luscious photos ready to lure YOU to Cuba. Are they working yet?

Okay, okay -- no post on Cuba is complete without the fancy old-fashioned cars.

No post on Cuba is complete without the fancy old-fashioned cars… and there are plenty!

The truth is that Cuba has haunted my mind with its beauty, joy, intellect, and sadness for the past six years. If you are on the fence about visiting this legendary island when the doors for travel open, I highly suggest you leap at the opportunity — and fast — before everything completely changes.

Here's a REALLY old-fashioned vehicle. Ahh, Cuba...

Here’s a REALLY old-fashioned vehicle. Ahh, Cuba…

I am now in the process of dividing our edited Cuba photos into three articles which will be published this month. The second Cuba article will show Havana, and go more deeply into the politics of the country. It will also reveal the powerful confessions local people told about their lives.

Cuba has some of the most incredible beaches in the world.

Cuba has unreal beaches. Look at those colors!

The third article will focus on Viñales: one of the most uniquely beautiful towns on Earth. So, you may ask, what is the theme of this article? Here’s my answer: Trinidad, and beauty.

Lovely local ladies smiling in Trinidad, Cuba.

Lovely local ladies smiling in Trinidad, Cuba.

All of the photos in this article were taken during our stay in the glorious seaside town in the southwest of Cuba called Trinidad. The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can see why: Charming cobblestone streets, brightly colored houses, mountains, creamy white clouds in a blue sky… and an out-of-this-world beach.

These pastel houses and cobblestone streets are dreamy.

These pastel houses and cobblestone streets are dreamy.

As you can see from the Trinidad beach photos throughout this article, Cuba has ridiculous beaches: white sand, azure sea (warm as a bathtub), and swaying green palms. Like most of Cuba, it also boasts historic colonial architecture dating back to 1514 when the town was settled by the Spanish.

A small pizza place in Trinidad, Cuba.

A small pizza place in Trinidad, Cuba.

Like every other town we visited in Cuba, the local people were friendly and fun. We kept in touch for years with locals we met in Trinidad, though it was difficult for them to obtain Internet access to write to us.

Historic buildings mix with blue sky and palm trees in Cuba.

Historic buildings mix with blue sky and palm trees in Cuba.

That said, the time to talk politics and logistics will come (in the next article, in fact), but for now, I just want to swim in the beauty of Trinidad with you for a little. Scroll through the rest of these Trinidad photos and feel what you feel!

Here's another incarnation of Cuban blues.

One incarnation of Cuban blues.

This is me enjoying the beach and sun in Trinidad, Cuba.

This is me being silly on the sunny beach in Trinidad, Cuba.

Even waiting for a bus looks beautiful in front of a building that color.

Even waiting for a bus looks beautiful in front of a building that color.

Blue doesn't get any better than that azure ocean of Trinidad, Cuba.

Blue doesn’t get any better than that azure ocean of Trinidad, Cuba.

So what do you think? Does Trinidad, Cuba seem like a place you’d like to go? Have YOU been to Cuba? Do share! More Cuba articles are coming very soon, so stay tuned.


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  35 Responses to “I Traveled to Cuba! Here are the First Gorgeous Photos.”

  1. Trinidad is only about 2 hours south of Santa Clara where the Cuban Revolution was won on January 1, 1959. For one of the most significant places during the Cuban Revolution, Santa Clara is one of the most “non-touristy” places you can possible visit in Cuba at the moment. It is still worthy of a half day trip from Trinidad, though.

    Aside from visiting Che Guevara’s Mausoleum, there isn’t much around in this town to see or do aside from people watch and really experience Cuban life as it is today. It will be really interesting to see how much this will change once American corporations are allowed to conduct business within Cuba and American tourists begin to flood in.

  2. Awesome post! Thanks for showing me a piece of Cuba. It’s on my bucket list!

  3. Those colors are so vivid! Not even just the manmade objects, but also the landscapes. Cuba’s at the top of my travel bucket list 🙂

  4. Awesome photos!
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂



  5. Cuba looks like a wonderful country and I wish I could go there now, but I can’t.
    Now that the travel ban has been or will be lifted for the U.S I hope that the Americans don’t Americanize Cuba, I really hope that does’nt happen.

  6. Looks like Cuba has got plenty of color, blue sky, nice beaches and I’m sure kind people for the world travelers who want to check it out now after years of embargo! I enjoyed your photos Lillie.

    • Thanks, Rahman! It’s interesting that you’re writing from Iran: Another destination I’ve heard great things about in terms of tourism, which Americans are discouraged from visiting. Someday!

    • You’re right. People are discouraged, but it’s the previous travelers who can tell you how things are in this country. I’ve got testimonial from US travelers who can tell you what they think of traveling inside Iran. I’m sure more and more people will visit Iran as the word of mouth works.

    • Yes!

  7. Love the vibrant colors in all these photos. Cuba has such untarnished beauty – it’s so great you were able to experience that!

  8. Great photos. Glad you can finally share. It’s so funny because as Canadians we’ve always been able to go and because so many Canadians go and it is so common for us, Dave and I have never gone. It’s just not been on our radar. Now that it’s a big deal for our neighbours, we’re wishing we went a long time ago. I just may have to book a ticket next week 😉

  9. I’d love to visit Cuba but haven’t got around to it. As a Brit, we don’t have any regulatory issues around Cuba – we’re allowed to go anywhere in the world that we want to go — but it’s exciting to see a side of the island beyond the Havana classics.

    • Isn’t it so funny how strongly Americans yearn to get what they can’t have (Cuba travel) when the rest of the world sees it as just another destination? Ah, human nature…

  10. Great photos! The water is gorgeous!

    • Thanks! Boston is currently under two feet of snow, so looking at that warm ocean makes me happy…

  11. Great pictures. I hope to visit Cuba one day. Maybe I’ll ride a donkey?

  12. I admire the bountiful bright colors found on various buildings throughout Trinidad. The natural blue tones of the sky and water complement them so charmingly!

  13. Lillie I love the images and congrats on a FAB trip! So way cool, to visit Cuba. I figure now restrictions should be less and less, making room for more Americans to travel there. How about that beach shot! Looks like Fiji, or Bora Bora almost, that shade of blue water. As for the pizza I am seeing that pop up frequently as on of Cuba’s renowned foods which is kinda neat. Never would have thought it.

    Keep on inspiring Lillie and thanks for sharing!


  14. Nice!! As a student my son spent 4 weeks in Cuba in the 1990s with the American Friends Service Committee. Spent 2 weeks on a potato co-op farm with Cuban students (he’s fluent in Spanish) and 2 weeks travel in the countryside/Havana. Obviously, a major impact on his life. Can’t wait to go myself.

  15. I’m so excited that travel to Cuba has become much easier for Americans. I will get there, though I don’t know when yet. Lovely photos!!

  16. gorgeous photos! I’ve been to Cuba but not the gorgeous side that you were on. I went in 2005. I always said that I’d write about the experience but just never sat down to do it. I’ll have to reconsider. Boy did I want to travel to the Cuban side of the island but just couldn’t. I’m looking forward to that happening sooner than later now.

  17. Your photos are beautiful. I have always wanted to visit Cuba, but now I know I want to visit sooner than later. I really enjoyed your post.

  18. Love the photos and indeed very convincing. Love the look of the beach. Very inviting with that beautiful blue water and pearly white sand. I’ve been planning to go to Cuba and seeing and reading your blog makes me more excited for the planned trip. Hopefully, its sooner than expected.

  19. Cuba has been on my list to visit for years . . . and I think my husband has wanted to go since he was born ;). Thanks for sharing these photos!

  20. I love these photos! I’ve read so much and can’t wait to visit. THE FOOD!

    • The food was an interesting element. Because of rations, it was actually quite bad in restaurants, but very good in casas particulares (homes that host tourists). More on this in the next article…

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