brisas trinidad del mar

Snorkeling in Cuba

Rescued from islandHaving gone snorkeling in remarkable locations throughout the world such as my 2014 snorkeling adventures in Vanuatu, in the crystal clear reef waters of the second largest atoll, Rangiroa, and even last December at Two Step Beach in South Kona, Big Island, I was really looking forward to snorkeling in Cuba. I read wonderful things about the reefs south of Trinidad, Cuba, and I had hoped the experience would be a primary attraction of our trip to Cuba. The trip the Los Angeles Cuba travel agency planned for us was so far off base it was disappointing and not at all what we expected.

Instead of a snorkelers paradise, we were dumped at a spot with a sunken dock, along with a bunch of other tourists who spent most of the time flailing about and bumping into us. There were a few fish but nothing like I had hoped to discover. Plus, we developed a couple of rashes from being shoved into coral-covered dock posts, after being allowed a whole 20 minutes for snorkeling in Cuba.

I could overlook the plain-jane accommodations at the Brisas Trinidad del Mar Resort in anticipation of snorkeling. After a four-hour drive from Havana, we were tired. There were long lines at the check-in desk and much discussion about the fact they messed up our room reservations for this hotel as well by trying to separate us into two different rooms. Finally, we were handed a key and headed out to find our room. Both of us collapsed on the bed, and that’s when I realized our room reminded me of the set from Hogan’s Heroes. It wasn’t so much the rotting, rat-infested mattress on the other bed or the black mold around the air conditioner, or even the fact that there were no rugs anywhere, nothing but cold cement walls and a hard tiled floor. It was the depressing feeling of being stranded in a government building after dark, wearing an orange wrist band while everybody else in the hotel sported yellow ones. I detest wrist bands. I dislike all-inclusive resorts.

Our view out the sliding door to the balcony was of the children’s pool and all the racket that entailed. Imagine if you will what it would be like if the California Department of Motor Vehicles operated a resort in the Caribbean, and you’d have a pretty accurate picture of this hotel. I grabbed a handful of CUCs and headed to the lobby.

After explaining the situation to the hotel desk clerk, she offered us an oceanfront room for $20 more and escorted me to preview it. It was as acceptable as acceptable would get. Still peeling paint in the tub, a trickle of water when the hot water is turned on, but at least the black mold was not as prevalent as it had been in the other room. I still had to sleep on Colonel Klink’s bed, though. There were no wash cloths in the bath. I gave the clerk another $10 CUCs as a tip and she promised to send a bellboy to unlock the safe.

All afternoon I called the front desk to try to get the bellboy. Made 4 phone calls and each time the clerk promised to send up a bellboy. When? I asked, today? tomorrow? Next week? Finally we went to the lobby, grabbed a bellboy by the hand and dragged him back to our room. I watched another tourist try to explain to the desk clerk that she had no towels in her room; she was apparently really bad at charades, she made swimming motions like a fish with her hands pressed together or maybe she was praying, hard to say. I didn’t feel so bad because at least we had 2 pitiful towels.

The trip to the island of Cayo Blanco also involved a short-cut from the other side of the island that I had orchestrated, which involved cuts and lacerations to our legs while attempting to cut through the brush with our bare hands. This was a bad idea, equally as bad as the one my husband came up with, which was walking around the entire island instead of going back the way we came, and you can guess what I wanted to do. High tide set in, the beach vanished, and I made the entire trip in a pair of Chanel flip-tops, carefully balancing on top of bleached coral. When we finally returned to the spot where the boat was anchored, overheated and sunburned, the catamaran was gone . . .

More tomorrow. But for today, below are terrific photo highlights of snorkeling in Cuba:

snorkeling in cuba

Brisas Trinidad del Mar Resort entrance.


snorkeling in Cuba

Catamaran from Marlin Marina to Cayo Blanco for snorkeling in Cuba.

As we waited for the Catamaran at the marina, we found a small Cuban dog to teach new tricks to:


snorkeling in Cuba

Catamaran journey from Marlin Marina to Cayo Blanco in Cuba


snorkeling in cuba

Elizabeth Weintraub swelters in the hot sun at Cayo Blanco, Cuba


Snorkeling in Cuba

Ocean side of Cayo Blanco island off the coast of Trinidad.


A family of crabs with stolen shells crawled and buzzed under a shady area on the island in this video:


snorkeling in cuba

Sunset on the beach at Brisas Trinidad del Mar

Photos and videos: © Elizabeth Weintraub, Canon SX50

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