Route type: suitable preferable for hybrids & mountain bikes
Stops: Santiago de Cuba city, Hotel Sierra Mar, El Jigüe (La Plata), Pilón, Media Luna, Manzanillo, Bayamo, Holguín
Distances: 70 km, 65 km, 50 km. 38 km, 50 km, 67 km. 71 km
Suggested Duration: 8 nights & 9 days
To begin route: Take the Viazul bus to Santiago de Cuba. Return to Havana on the Viazul bus via Holguin.
Difficulty rating: Moderate
This is a scenic route, especially the section from Santiago de Cuba to Pilón which borders the southern coastline on your left and the Sierra Maestra mountains on your right with spectacular scenery.
To reach Santiago de Cuba you should take the Viazul bus, overnighting in the city on arrival. We suggest planning on discovering the city of Santiago de Cuba the following day. Recommended historical-cultural sites include the Moncada Barracs, the Santa Ifigenia Cemetery, Céspedes Park, the El Cobre Sanctuary, the Emilio Bacardí Provincial Museum, and more. In Santiago de Cuba you’ll discover varied accommodation options including Hotel Meliá Santiago, Hotel REX, Hotel Las Américas, Hotel Hotel San Juan, hotel Hotel Libertad, and more, in addition to many Private Accommodation options. Begin your route to Sierra Mar the following day.
Santiago de Cuba – Sierra Mar (70 km)
You must leave Santiago de Cuba via the Paseo Marti. Coming from the Provincial Train Station, the road parallels (at a distance of roughly 500 meters) the historic Santa Ifigenia Cemetery where National Hero Jose Marti and Cuban Revolutionary Leader Fidel Castro’s remains rest. At the end of Paseo Marti, turn left and another 800 meters ahead turn right onto the Guama road. The road is completely paved and will take you past Mar Verde, 17 kms from Santiago de Cuba, and later Caletón Blanco beach, 29 kms from Santiago de Cuba. You can observe the remains of Spanish galleons enroute, relics from the Naval Battle of Santiago de Cuba, from the end of the 19th century. The difficulty level is relatively easy to Hotel Sierra Mar, and 12 kms ahead you’ll find Los Galeones perched atop a hill. The paved road to Chivirico has few elevations and wonderful vistas. Diving is available from Sierra Mar and the wrecks of the galleons may be explored.
Sierra Mar – El Jigüe (La Plata) (65 km)
Continue west on the coastal road passing the villages of Chivirico, El Uvero, and La Mula campground located 54 kms past Sierra Mar. At La Mula you can rest or overnight. There are also private accommodation options in the área. About 4 kms past La Mula, the road condition deteriorates and some sections will be unpaved and difficult for vehicular acces, but transitable via bicycle. The remaining trip to Marea del Portillo will be slower, and is dotted with coastal elevations.
El Jigüe – Pilón (50 km)
The road here is only intermittently paved as it’s been damaged by hurricanes in the area, so keep in mind that its passage will be slower than via paved surfaces. You’ll pass the Marea del Portillo & Farallón del Caribe hotels, Punta Piedra motel, and then arrive in the village of Pilón. There are accommodations in the hotel zone as well as Private Accommodation options in Pilon.
Pilón – Media Luna (38 km)
This leg is considered difficult due to the elevations that exist in the first 20 kilometers of the route. If you have time and are interested in knowing more about Cuba’s history, you have several variations you could consider here for extending your route. For example:26 kms after Pilón, rather than taking a right to Media Luna, you could instead turn left towards Niquero/Las Coloradas and arrive at Cabo Cruz, where you can enjoy the Desembarco del Granma National Park, an ecological area rich in flora & fauna, archaeological sites and site of the historical 1956 arrival of the Granma Yacht with Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara and 79 additional members of their revolutionary expedition. In Niquero and las Coloradas there are private accommodation options, plus Hotel Niquero. The return to Media Luna (approximately 53 kilometers from Cabo Cruz) is not difficult. In Media Luna you may visit the Museum/Birthplace of Celia Sanchez Manduley.
Media Luna – Manzanillo (50 km)
As this route is relatively easy and your time shouldn’t be constrained, you may want to consider a visit to La Demajagua, from where the Cry of Yara was realized. The historic site marks the beginning of the War of 1868, constituting one of the most relevant & transcendental acts in Cuba’s history, one which began a revolution and fight for the country’s total Independence which would last almost 100 years. Continue your trip to overnight in Manzanillo. Here you have accommodation options at Hotel Guacanayabo, in addition to Private Accommodations.
Manzanillo – Bayamo (67 km)
The City of Bayamo was the second Villa founded in Cuba and is the Cradle of Cuban Nationality; the Cuban National Anthem was first sung here. This is a quiet and easy route, flat with few elevations, with vistas of sugarcane fields and the Sierra Maestra mountains to accompany you. Leaving Manzanillo you should take P Rosales avenue towards the town of Yara. From here take the road to Veguitas & Barranca to continue to Bayamo. You’ll enter Bayamo via Amado Estevez avenue, which will take you straight to the center of the city. Multiple cultural and historic options await in the city, including the Museum/Birthplace of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes “The Father of Cuban Homeland”, the Wax Museum, La Casa de la Trova (troubador’s house), the Beatles cultural center etc. Bayamo also features a multitude of private accommodation options as well as lodigin in the following hotels: Royalton, Sierra Maestra, Telégrafo, Villa Bayamo.
Bayamo – Holguín (71 km)
The leg from Bayamo – Holguín is very east, almost straight and completely flat. Coming from the center of Bayamo you should head fort the Central Road (Carretera Central) heading northeast, passing the airport which will take you directly to the city of Holguín. In Holguin choose from hotels: El Bosque, Mirador de Mayabe, (this last property is just outside the city) and private accommodations.
From Holguin you have the option to take a Viazul bus directly to Havana, or alternatively consider routes such as:
- Ciego de Ávila–Havana
We don’t recommend riding Holguín – Las Tunas – Camagüey via bike on the Central Road, which is narrow and can be dangerous with considerable truck/bus/vehicular traffic.