Cuba in 850 Miles

Cyclist and world traveler Ryan Van Duzer takes an amazing bicycle tour around Cuba for an immersive experience to meet the locals, taste traditional Cuban food and experience the island’s vibrant culture . His 850-mile adventure – captured in his personal photos and in his own words – will inspire you to visit this island paradise. 

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

Photo By: Ryan Van Duzer

The Start in Santiago de Cuba

“I began the 850-mile bicycle adventure in Santiago de Cuba, on the far eastern side of the island. I didn't have a set route … all I knew is that I needed to be in Havana in 20 days. It was an incredibly liberating feeling to have no itinerary. It was just me, my bike, and the open road.” 

Adrian

“It's very easy to make friends in Cuba. I met friendly and curious people every day who wanted to know all about the United States. There aren't a lot of American tourists, most visitors are from Europe and Canada. I met this guy Adrian on the streets of Santiago and he proudly showed me around his city.” 

Sunset

“The sun sets behind the mountains on the Bay of Santiago. This is the city where Fidel Castro announced the victory of the Cuban revolution on January 1, 1959.”

Bike POV

“Cycling in Cuba is an absolute dream. There's barely any traffic and the scenery is stunning. The only thing I had to worry about was having enough water. This Colorado boy wasn't acclimated to the tropical heat.”

Coconut

“In the States, we pay top dollar for Coconut water, but in Cuba, it's one of the cheapest roadside refreshments. This guy chopped open 6 coconuts and I quickly drank them down. It was the best 50 cents I ever spent.” 

Best Way to Get Around

“Bicycles are the main form of transport for most Cubans. They're simple, easy to fix and a safe form of transportation since there isn't much vehicle traffic on the roads.”

Bike Taxis

“Bike taxis rule the streets in every city on the island. They cost a few pesos and can carry a few people.”

Cuban Host Family

“Lourdes and Alexi were my host family in Guantánamo. I never stayed in hotels. I preferred to rent rooms in Casas Particulares. Many Cuban families supplement their meager incomes by opening their doors to tourists. It's a great way to get to know the locals, and if you're lucky, they'll prepare a tasty meal for you.”

La Farola

“The eastern side of the island is home to the Sierra Maestra, the highest mountain range on Cuba. The jungle clad hillsides are a beautiful sight, and a challenging ride if you’re on a bike.”

Rice and Beans

“Luckily, I love rice and beans, because this is pretty much what's available. Food is pretty simple, as they're limited to eating only what's grown on the island.” 

Cool Off with Ice Cream

“After cycling for hours in the heat, I always searched for the ice cream man, it was my favorite way to end the day. People set up shop outside their homes and sell these tasty treats for one peso (about 10 cents).” 

Horse Parking

“It’s not uncommon to find valet horse parking in the colonial city of Trinidad.”

La Boca

“La Boca, a tiny fishing village south of Trinidad, is a great place to jump into the warm Caribbean water. This is also where I attempted to even out my horrific tan lines.”

Local Pizza

“In addition to rice and beans, I ate a lot of these tiny pizzas. Although not quite as tasty as a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza … they did the job.” 

School Children in Old Havana

“A trio of kids walk to school on the streets of Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Cuba is the safest Latin American country I've ever visited, and the streets were always full of kids playing games.” 

Dominoes

“My favorite time of day in Cuba was when the sun went down – it's when the streets come alive. Kids play baseball, vendors sell food and the Domino players come out in full force.” 

Ché Guevara

“The revolutionary Ché Guevara is admired all over Cuba. Locals pay homage to him on billboards and artistic murals. He can also be found on souvenirs in shops everywhere if you want to take him home.”

Jo Garcia, A Friendly Local

“Cuba is not a place where you'll ever feel lonely. The locals pull you aside and strike up a conversation everywhere. This is my buddy Jo Garcia. I sat with him for 30 minutes while he told me all about growing up in Havana.”

Traffic in Cuba

“I shared the roads with many a horse-drawn cart. I swear everyone is always smiling in Cuba. These are definitely my kind of people.” 

Vintage Car

“There are not a lot of cars in Cuba, and the ones that have survived are beautiful relics from the 1950s. I felt like I had traveled back in time to my grandparents’ generation.”

A Bike for a Gym Teacher

“At the end of my ride, I gave my bike to this guy, Yuleti. He's a gym teacher and will use the bike to ride to work. Although there are many bicycles in Cuba, they're mostly old Chinese clunkers. This bike will hopefully last him a lifetime.”