More about Club Amigo Farallon del Caribe - Marea del Portillo
Mountain and sea
This is a very nice place to relaxe in all included hotel resort. Not much to do around. I will recommend this hotel for retired person because there is a lot of them and the activities are for them (bingo, aquaform etc). There are 2 swimming pools, one discotheque, bars on the beach, restaurants, horse riding.
Marea del Portillo
My wife and friends have visited Marea and Farallon for years. Marea for long before Farallon was built. We made many friends there. At the insistence of our travel agent we have tried and enjoyed many other resorts in Cuba,but our hearts are still in Marea. Rio de Oro is beautiful(as is the help) Breezes next door and Rio de Luna, stayed at both, had a great time, Cayo Coco,Los Galeones,also great places. Costa Sur in CienFuegos, not so good, but the money we paid for that holiday was a pittance. We can't say that we have travelled the word, but we have, all of our adopted country.Canada. A lot of the U.S. and most of Britain. I still have a lot of feelings for the most beautiful country in the world(please, this is my opinion!)the land of my birth, Scotland. Cuba and its people are amongst the finest in the world( that's why we are making our 20 +something visit next Thursday!) Cheers, Tom & Kathy.
THE HIGH POINT OF CUBA IS MT....
THE HIGH POINT OF CUBA IS MT. TURQUINO, AT 6578 FEET (2005 METERS), LOCATED A SHORT DRIVE DOWN THE COAST WEST OF SANTIAGO DE CUBA. MY PLANS TO CLIMB IT WERE, OF COURSE, DASHED DUE TO MY UNEXPECTED INCARCERATION. AT LEFT IS A PHOTO OF THE SUMMIT TAKEN FROM SOMEONE'S WEB PAGE, ALONG WITH THE FOLLOWING INFO: Cuba Sierra Maestra
Parque Nacional del Pico Turquino is open to hikers since september 2000.
Entrance to the national park has to be paid. The entrance fee includes the guide.
Prices are as follows :
The hike to the top and back down following the same route costs 15 USD.
Hiking from one province to the other costs 20 USD.
An addition of 5 USD has to be paid when you want to visit the Comandancia de la Plata.
You can find a shelter at Campamento Joaquin, El Cojo, Pico Cuba, La Majagua. A sleeping bag is necessary as it gets very cold at night. There is a project to build some cabañas at Las Cuevas, Pico Cuba, Campamento Joaquin, Palma Mocha and La Platica.
Las Cuevas : the nearest place to sleep now is Campismo La Mula (5 USD/person), at 12 km from Las Cuevas. It is a beautiful campismo with nice cabañas. A beach is nearby. You can have drinks and dinner there. Unless you have the luck to catch a truck, you'll have to walk to Las Cuevas to start the hike. From Santiago de Cuba take the camioneta to El Frances (1 hour). Catch a truck to Chivirico (1/2 hour). There you'll find trucks going to Marea del Portillo. Ask to get dropped off at La Mula (1 hour).
Alto del Naranjo : Nearest accommodation is in the hotel or in a casa particular (ask around) in Villa Santo Domingo. The entrance to the park is there too. Alto del Naranjo is 5 km from Villa Santo Domingo, a very strenuous walk uphill on the steepest road I ever saw. Sometimes you can find transport to get up the hill. To get to Villa Santo Domingo, you can sometimes catch a truck from Bartolome Maso (irregular schedules) or a taxi from Bayamo (20-25 USD).
We thought the traject was quite difficult, you come across a lot of steep ups and downs (without a backpack it would have been easier of course). Our plan was to go to the Comandancia as well on the second day, but we only arrived at 16H30 in Alto del Naranjo and were too tired to continue to the Comandancia (3 km one way). If we were to do it again, we would do this traject in three days and include the visit to the Comandancia.
Because I "do nott" drive and because it is difficult to get around in Cuba, I decided to go from Havana to Santiago de Cuba (where my Cuban goddaughter lives) by bus. I initially came into Varadero airport and overnight in hotel there, then took bus to Havana (2 and a half hour ride), then stayed in Havana for a week.
The following week I went to the Viazul bus station in Vedado, 26 Ave. y Zoologico one hour before I left and bought ticket $51 one way to Stg. de Cuba. Check out the website www.viazul.com for schedules. But the bus I took left at 15:00 arrived in Stg. de Cuba at 6:50 am, leaves about the same time going from Stg. de Cuba to Havana.
Bus is relatively comfortable with air conditioning (gets quite hilly) bring sweater and jeans. A pillow is handed out to you, plus a rather cute touch (assist. driver comes around with a tray of candies) and you are given one each. There is a washroom (clean) at back of bus.
The bus stops at 8 stops on the way, such as Entrongue de Jaguey, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Tunas, Holguin and Bayamo. You can get out at some stops for 15 mins or so and get a drink, food, listen to some live music in some places (my favourite part of the journey).
It did not get dark until 8 pm so I got to see some of the countryside (el campo), beautiful. Try the ride, it goes at night so you can sleep abit and the time passes quickly.
Next time I will try the train, more opportunities to walk around on train, talk to people, etc.
There is another bus (Astro),that is abit cheaper but less reliable. Viazul is ALWAYS on time. Check out cuba_junky site for detailed information on modes of transportation and ways to get around in Cuba.
For me, it was great experience and I would have no problem doing it again. My only complaint was the one area I wanted to get to (Marea del Portillo, Granma Province) is hard to get to by bus (no busses going there), need to get a taxi from Stg. de Cuba. So I did not go there to see my friends.
wish we were there!
We are sitting at home in the cold and snow wishing we were back in Marea del Portillo. We have been travelling to Marea and surrounding areas for 14 yrs, and we have seen many changes but we keep going back.
We have met so many wonderful people, tourists as well as locals and thoroughly enjoy exploring new places when we go. Between the body surfing and mountain climbing we have seen many gorgous sites. We have introduced family and friends to Cuba and we have yet to hear anybody being disappointed. You make your own fun. We love Cuba and we will be back!
So I have been back for a few days now but here is my trip report.
Dates: Jan 1 - Jan 15 2004 Place: Manzanillo Cuba Resort: Club Amigo Farallon Del Caribe This is our second time at this resort.
(If you visit the resort then check out the small palm tree by the pool where you can overlook the stage area. You will find a rock painted with an underwater scene and my wife, mother in law, father in law and my name on it.)
Resort: Beautiful grounds and scenery. The hotel is set in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra mountain range which is the largest mountain range in Cuba. The area is in the province of Granma which is where Castro and his revolutionaries landed when they came back form Mexico. Therefore the area is rich in culture and history, which the Cuban peolpe seem very proud. There is another resort about 1 KM away called Marea Del Portillo which is names after the nearby fishing village. This other hotel is cheaper, one less star and not as good.
There is a golf cart that will take you between the resorts and to the dive shop. Just ask at the front desk and they will call him up if not already there.
The roads from the airport are typical Cuban roads with large pot holes and various beasts to dodge. If the bus driver seems to be driving on the wrong side of the road, don't get too worried he knows the roads well and is just trying to give you the smoothest/fastest ride possible
You are greeted at the resort by a singing group and the hotel drink (non alcohol). Chech in is easy as you already have your arm bands and room numbers. Just check in at the front desk and collect your key. I recomend that you get the safe key as it will provide you with a place for your passport, wallet, cell phone, camera etc. Next we collected our bags which were brought into the loby for us to find. There will be many hotel workers around to help you with your bags. Just tell them your room number and follow them. They will take your bags right into your room.
Behind the one wing og the resort there is a shere rock face with small ledges on it. You can get pretty close to some large iguanas. They will come within 3-4 feet of you for bananas and oranges which you can get at breakfast and lunch. Very neat indeed.
Food: Once we were settled in we went down stairs by the pool for a buffet style lunch. Lunch was great. The lunch was Hamburgers, hotdogs, fish and chicken right off of a grill. The rest of the lunch was salads and a few caserole style dishes. There were also french fries right out of the frier.
The Lunches were all pretty much the same but for variety you could go to the snack bar where they made ham and cheese, chicken and various types of sandwiches. They also make fries at the snack bar.
Dinners were different every night repeating once every week. They have theme nights which include italian, cuban, etc. Almost every night they have some kind of beast to carve up for you. For example on cuban night they roast a whole pig, on another night they roasted 5 turkeys.
Desert is mostly european style pasteries etc. They did have ice cream almost every night. They had two flavours, one fruit and once cofee.
Not bad at all.
Breakfasts were ok. The first week we were there we had nice bacon every morning. The second week the bacon was overdone. I told them on Mon and it was better on Tuesday and Wed. Thursday they had sausages instead. To go with your bacon there was 5 and 8 min eggs, pancakes, french toast, variety of fruits. The pancakes and french toast were most of the tim luke warm as they are in buffet trays. The best was the eggs and omelets cooked whicle you wait. The omlets had ingredients like ham, cheese, peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc.
Beach: The beach is not the best in the world. It is made up of darker volcanic sand so it may not be to your likeing. No problem though. For $4 you can book a trip to the nearby idland of Cayo Blanco. You board the boat at 9:00am and head out on the short trip to the island. When you leave the dock you get a quick tour of the mangroves, watch for thelarge jellies as you pass through. They are quite interesting.
Once of the island you are still enjoying the hospitality of the resort so drinks are included and they will serve you a lunch of chicken, fish, hash browns etc.
There is a snorkeling tour that you can go on for $6 more. They provide gear if you don't have any. If you do have your snorkeling gear you can go right off of the beach. With two peices of a broken up ship there is plenty to see while snorkeling.
Rooms: The rooms are a good size and have individual air conditioning units (not window). Some people may be confused but there is a card reader on the wall as you come in. Put your room key in and the power comes on. You have two double beds a desk, two night stands, a dresser, huge closet, safe, bathroom etc. Each room has one 110V outlet in the bathroom 220 in the rest of the room. This is to accomodate their european visitors as well. There is also a balcone with chairs to sit out on or to dry your towels on.
The TV in the room gets about 6 channels, TNT, Discovery, CNN and VH1 are among them. There is supposed to be a remote, if you don't have one ask for one.
Tours: There are tours going out every day. On of the tours is a "Jeep Tour" where they take you off-roading into the mountains. I have heard good reviews of this one. There is also trips to Cigar and Rum factories, as well as the trip to the Tropicana in Santiago.
Activities: There is much to do without even leaving the resort. There are spanish lessons, drink mixing, aerobics, dance lessons, bingo etc.
Every day there is a game of bingo by the pool where you will learn spanish and get the chance to win a bottle of Cuban rum.
Weekly there is soccer games, tanning competitions, horse races etc. I highly recomend the horse races. You will be amazed at some of the skills they show off.
On the beach there is wind surfing, kayacking, sailing etc.
There is also Horseback riding with a variety of places to go including the village, a hydro electric dam, farms etc. $5 for one hour, $8 for two.
Scooters, mountain bikes and cars can also be rented
About 500m from the resort is the dive shop.
Scuba Diving: I did 9 dives over the 14 days that I was there. ( spent a few days on the island snorkeling ) The dives are $30 for a single or 50 for two tank dive. If you wait to pay until the end then the diving gets cheaper. The first dive is 30 the second one is 29 and third is 28 etc. Ask to see the payment schedule to figure out how many dives you can affoard.
The dives ranges from 77 to 131 feet. We had a pretty experienced group with us. There are shallower dives. The dive site is chosen about 5 mins before you leave based on the weather, viz, and skills of the divers present. You will be required to fill out a standard waiver and show you c-card.
There are two wreck dive which are a special trip and 4 diver min. The cost is more but you get a lunch and two dives. One of the wrecks went down in the 1780's?? and was part of the spanish/american war. I have seen video and it looks spectacular. There are still guns mounted and shells can be found around the wreck.
The rental equipment was all new including tanks, 80 CU Ft steels. Most stuff was Mares or Cessi.
While I was down there, I learned to fish with a spear gun and got a few grouper, baracouda, dog fish, trigger, etc. Of course all of my catch was eaten by local Cubans who did not waste a scrap.
I was able to witness a 50 lb tuna get shot and captured. It was an amazing fight and and unforgetable experience all together.
On my last dive there were quiet a few fish shot and they took us to a small island. For $2 we were able to enjoy a fish and chip dinner with beer, pop, bottled water etc. It was the freshest fish I have ever tasted and another unforgetable experience.
I was able to observe an eagle ray and several species of jelly and fish that I have never seen before. The eagle ray in particular was quite amazing. Flying/swiming in mid water at about 100', all I could do was stare in awe.
The instructors are, Osvaldo and Miller. Osvalso has great english and is the guy in charge of diving operations. All in all the diving experience was some of the best I have had. Good stuff and I can't wait to go back for more.
Also..... Contrary to other reports from Cambridge. Anyone who brought up problems were well compinsated, with free trips to the island and free wine at dinner time.
Stay as far away from this place as you can....
Be ready for a long drive to the hotel from the airport! The beach sucks...not real sand they spray it every year with coral that is crushed, a local told me that one. The people are great, the hotel is a 2 maybe 3 star in Cuba. Be aware of jelly fish in the water which are hard to see with the black sand. I have been to other places in Cuba...save your money avoid this one. I gave it a two star...if not for the people there...deffinitly a one star!
A very relaxing trip
Just returned from a trip to this resort. Had a good time as the weather was beautiful. Having been to Cuba many times before (different areas) I would recomend that if you just want ot sit and relax , this is the place to go. The food was good but not a great variety. The beer was plentiful but the mixed drinks left alot to be desired. The beach was dark sand and very peaceful as most of the people stayed by the pool . There are some great hiking trails that give you a beautiful view of the surounding area . It appeared the most of the people staying in this and especially the sister hotel are in the +50 range. I would rate this closer to a 3 star. I would go back again but I make a practice of never going to the same place twice.The only downside to the trip was a 4 hour delay at the Manzanillo airport waiting for immigration to get their computers fixed.
Not a 4 star
Feb 16 2004 Air Transat had bumped us from a true four-star hotel in Holguin to this Hotel at the very last minute.
Accommodations: The rooms had too many problems. From the old furniture to the ripped curtains the lasting impression is that maintenance has forgotten you. Air condition did not worked so we were forced to keep the doors open what in turn invited mosquitoes and all kinds of bugs in. The switches and outlet plugs were in such bad shape that we were forced push them hard, sometimes three or four times, to get lights or TV on. If we wanted to complain we had to walk to the front desk because the telephone did not work. It had to be repaired twice. The showerhead leaked. No toiletries they left just a bar of soap to their guests. No hair drier. No HOT WATER. Although towels were available to the hotel guests at the swimming pool area the bedroom towels were picked in the morning when the chambermaid cleaned up your room and only returned late in the afternoon.
All inclusive: Did not include wine. Bar was only open from 10am to 5pm. Local drinks only. The food was the most basic. Don't expect much for although there is enough for everyone today's fish is tomorrow salad. We had expected, since Cuba is an island, to get lots of seafood and the occasional seashell. Apparently that is not included in the package. We were kept on a steady diet of pork and chicken. Any extravagance such as, lobster or seashells were considered extra. I flat fee of US$15 per person was charged. Aside from that everyone that had tried it told me it was an excellent meal. I have been told that is the way all hotels in Cuba do their business.
Location: This hotel is very isolated. It was the only thing around.
The villages that surround it were so poor that we were unable to find a restaurant. There is no sightseeing. For every little thing there was an extra charge. Because the beach at this resort reminded me of Wassaga beach (black sand, slimy bottom and lots of weeds) I expected boat the trip to Cayo Blanco, the white sand beach 35 minutes away, to be a courtesy trip. No! There was a charge even for that. So we felt trapped.
Many of the guests that seek this hotel do so to get a way from it all.
A lot of them were retirees on a budget.
The people were amazing they alone made the trip to Cuba worth awhile.
But I would never return to this place.
Marea del portillo
Les montagnes de La Sierra Maestra sont des montagnes volcaniques. À 1h30 en autobus de la petite ville de Manzanillo, coté Carraibe de l'ile de Cuba. Les montagnes sont assez désertiques. Beaucoup de cactus y poussent.
La plage de sable noir est petite et le sable devient très chaud
Sur une petite ile en face de Pilon,
petit paradis de sable blanc corailleux.
bay at Marea del Portillo
Pool at Marea del Portillo Hotel
Best place to Snorkel from the beach in Cuba
Can anyone tell me the best place to snorkel from the Beach in Cuba? I am hoping to go there this spring, and I want to be able to swim out and look at the fish--I don't want to have to take a boat trip or a tour, I just want to go snorkeling when I feel like it.
Where are places where the reefs are near enough for snorkeling?
Thank you all
Re: Best place to Snorkel from the beach in Cuba
I've been to Cuba 3 times and would not say that any of the areas of the beaches were stunning snorkeling sites, but you got what you are asking for everywhere.
The water is warmer and smoother on the southern coast, versus the north. The best was probably Marea del Portillo, simply because there were only 2 hotels there and the reef was relatively undamaged, versus the more popular sites that attracts more visitors.
Re: Best place to Snorkel from the beach in Cuba
Jibacoa bay is a lovely spot in Cuba for snorkeling. It has beautiful sea life and coral reefs that provide an unforgettable snorkeling experience.
Best places to dive?
A dear family member will be visiting Cuba in the beginning of next year. They travel with a small group of friends and some of them are keen divers. Does anyone know what the best places to dive are on Cuba / which part of the coast? Would be grateful to get some tips!
Re: Best places to dive?
We've been to Cuba several times - both the north and south side of the island (Cayo Coco, Marea del Portillo, etc.). Both my wife and I are avid and experienced divers (well over 500 dives between us).
A few rules of thumb.
1. Water temperature in the south is warmer than the north.
2. Water is calmer on the Carribbean side than the Atlantic side.
3. Smaller resorts will have reefs that are less impacted by the divers.
My suggestion is to try the south coast and look at the smaller resports if you are primarily looking to dive. The larger, more popular northern resorts will give you a more sophisticated resort experience, but less of a dive experience.
Re: Best places to dive?
Far the best is Jardnes de la Reina - islands in the south... there is plenty of big fish and sharks(in other places fish are eaten). But:
- you can go there only for 6-days safari
- there is very limited number of divers, who are allowed to dive there
- the safari is quite expensive (about 1800 euro)
But it is 5 star dive location. Other places in Cuba are just average.
Re: Best places to dive?
Thanks Manfred and Mesje for your quick replies and tips!