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Guardalavaca souvenir market, Cuba - Guardalavaca

Guardalavaca souvenir market, Cuba

Guardalavaca souvenir market

Guardalavaca souvenir market dominates the small town of Guardalavaca in eastern Cuba.

It is here that the open top buses disgorge hundreds of hotel guests a couple of times a day and where lines of taxis and horse-drawn carriages queue up to transport visitors back to their hotels. It is the focal point of the town and, I suspect, is the only place that many of the all-inclusive tourists see beyond the cocoon of their lavish resorts.

Dozens of stalls sell all manner of souvenirs, from wooden ornaments to Che Guevara t-shirts, from paintings, postcards and photobooks (made from banana paper) to jewellery, guitars and masks. You'll find the usual assortment of keyrings, ceramic plates, leather bags and belts as well as Cuban music CDs, baseball bats and a kiosk selling Cuban cigars.

Prices are not fixed and you'll be expected to haggle. Compared to other places that I have visited, the pressure to purchase wasn't so intense, although some stallholders were more persistent than others. The vast majority of sellers were friendly and were happy to allow us to browse unhindered or to assist us in a non-pressurised way. The odd one or two were more intense in their efforts to offload their wares on us and, as expected in an area of high tourist activity, the occasional beggar hassled us for "just one peso so that I can eat".

As well as the stalls, there are a few shops with fixed prices but selling similar goods. There is a shop selling cigars and alcohol and another selling toys, postcards and guidebooks.

There are a few restaurants and snack bars around the market and the end of the market leads onto the excellent Playa Guardalavaca beach.

Address: Guardalavaca, Cuba

Directions: Guardalavaca is located in the east of Cuba, around 65km from the city of Holguin.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Dec 4, 2011
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Sun parasols on Playa Guardalavaca - Guardalavaca

Sun parasols on Playa Guardalavaca

Playa Guardalavaca

Playa Guardalavaca is the main public beach in the small town of Guardalavaca in eastern Cuba.

It is a long stretch of soft white sand, with warm turquoise sea and even the occasional palm tree to give Playa Guardalavaca that quintessential Caribbean appearance. There are a few thatched parasols under which to seek shade from the strong sun.

There are a handful of beach bars serving light snacks, cold beers, potent rum and famous Cuban cocktails such as Mojitos and Cuba Libres. We stopped briefly at one for a refreshingly minty Mojito.

At the western end of the beach is a rocky promontory upon which the El Ancla seafood restaurant serves up delicious shrimps and lobster with wonderful sea views.

Behind the beach is a large souvenir market selling wooden crafts, paintings, t-shirts, Cuban music, cigars, postcards and all manner of other souvenirs.

Address: Guardalavaca, Cuba

Directions: Guardalavaca in the east of Cuba, around 65km from the city of Holguin.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Dec 4, 2011
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Playa Yuraguanal, Guardalavaca - Guardalavaca

Playa Yuraguanal, Guardalavaca

Playa Yuraguanal

Playa Yuraguanal is a sandy beach located around 15km west of Guardalavaca in eastern Cuba.

It is the beach upon which the hotel we stayed at, Sirenis Playa Turquesa, is located. Although the beach is not exclusively for hotel guests, its relative remoteness means that the vast majority of people on the beach are guests at the hotel. It is likely that locals make use of the superior, larger public beach at Playa Guardalavaca, while guests at the other nearby hotels would likely make use of Playa Peqsuero beach rather than catch a taxi simply to use this small beach.

The sand is soft and white, the water is warm and shallow and there are plenty of trees to seek shade beneath. There is a beach bar for hotel guests, free sun loungers and a variety of watersports that guests can book. We went out to sea on a Hobie Cat sail boat one day and hired a pedalo for an hour.

For the majority of our stay the green flag (safe bathing conditions) flew, at least in the mornings, and the yellow flag (swim with caution) frequently flew in the afternoons when the wind picked up. We only saw the red flag (stay out of the water!) on one occasion just before a storm arrived.

Although the beach is generally very nice, and is cleaned by staff each morning, there is a fair amount of seaweed along certain parts of the beach. This didn't bother us - there are plenty of clear areas in which to swim - but I did see it mentioned in several reviews before our visit.

We saw a few small fish and a few crabs scuttling along the beach. There is apparently much more to be seen further out to sea and we saw quite a few people with snorkelling equipment.

Address: Guardalavaca, Cuba

Directions: Located around 15km west of Guardalavaca, in front of the Sirenis Playa Turquesa hotel.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Dec 4, 2011
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