Cuba: Rent a bike or take mine along?
Replies: 9 - Last Post: Nov 25, 2012 12:45 PM Last Post By: CheersTerry
Oct 21, 2012 1:31 AM
Cuba: Rent a bike or take mine along?Hello
In one week, me and my girlfriend are travelling Cuba for 2 weeks. I was planning to take our bikes along, so we could gently ride the Cuban hills and forget about renting a car. But guess what: taking a bike from amsterdam with KLM to havana costs 300 euro (400 US dollar) a bike! This would be 600 euro for 2 bikes. This is way to much...
What should we do? Rent one in Cuba? Where? And what is quality of these bikes? I guess they aren't that good... Or buy one?
My main question: Is there any good place/provider where we can rent a bike for one or two weeks that are of good quality to bike tour a part of the country?
We'd like to dive also. Any good spots around pinar del rio? What's the best coastline for this: southern or northern coastline?
I guess it's easier to escape to an isle with a bike than with a car...
Thank you people for answering :)
Oct 21, 2012 5:30 AM
1I've done it both ways. I took a fold a bike on my first trip and it was fantastic. Cuba has to be the biking capital of the world. Great way to explore Havana. The following year my bike was stolen on the second day in Havana........whoops! So I bought one for 90 usd. It was like a walmart bike. Not too great but my trips were never more than 20 miles. I don't do the cross country thing. When I left I gave it to a friend in Cuba. Have fun and make sure to keep your bike locked. I was standing right next to my bike in a bar when one guy distracted me and the other grabbed it and took off!
Oct 21, 2012 5:36 AM
Long term rentals are available 'por la izquierda' (from individuals) but the chances of you finding two, in good enough repair, for inter-provincial travel are very very slim.
There are bikes for sale, but expensive and crappy.
For those interested in Cuban bike culture, come on out and experience Habana Bici Polo, every Sunday at Calle 23, corner 2, in el Vedado, 5pm. This is getting big!
Oct 21, 2012 7:34 AM
Oct 21, 2012 8:25 PM
4It comes down to How picky and flexible you are. Cuba is the type of destination where things dont always go as planned. My experience with Bike rentals has been either hit or miss. Theres been trips where I have gotten Great Bikes and others were honestly Bikes were Junk and I needed to change them several times. Depending on your level of spanish or connections in Cuba my best experiences have been renting bikes from a Cuban who happens to have a nice bike (usually brought from abroad) ofcourse this isnt always easy. If youre someone who is limited on time,with little patience and a keen Bike reader perhaps bringing your own bike might be worth every euro spent and make your trip a much nicer one.
Oct 21, 2012 10:17 PM
5Here would be my suggestion: Fly into Havana and take the bus to Vinales (3.5 hrs west). It's a pleasant small town with terrific, unusual scenery. Stay in a casa licensed to rent rooms to foreigners (there are many--for a list of some of them look at www.cubacasas.net or www.cubajunky.com) and ask your casa host to help you find a couple of decent bikes to rent. It might take you a day around Vinales to get this organized and check out the bikes and be sure they are good enough for a day trip. Then...ride 20 km west to the Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas, which I consider one of the prettiest rides in Cuba, over good pavement with great scenery, only slightly hilly, and virtually no traffic. When you get there, a hike through the cave with a guide from the national school of caving takes about 1.5 hrs. They'll keep your bike in a safe place while you do that.
Back in Vinales, when you're ready to do some diving, bike northeast to Palma Rubia--this will take you about a day-and there catch a 40-minute ferry to Cayo Levisa. There is only one licensed casa there; it's just about 400 metres before the ferry terminal--you can't miss it. A farm house type place with good food, most of it grown right there. It would be worthwhile to spend a night or several on Cayo Levisa if you want to do some diving, but that (overnighting on the island) runs about 100 cuc per night, and you might not be able to get reservations because there are only 40 units, most of them cottages directly on the beach. You would have to arrange that at the Cubanacan ofice before you leave Vinales. If you can't find a place to stay there, then you could go on the morning ferry and return in the evening to the farm house casa, which is only 25 CUC/night. (Of course, running back and forth on the ferry is expensive, something like 25 CUC round trip.) Oh, and leave your bikes at the farmhouse. No point in taking them to the island because there are no roads, no place to ride a bike there.
You could also do a good day cycling trip out of Vinales to the port town of Puerto Esperanza. Or go further northwest to Cayo Juitas, which is connected to the mainland by a 2-km-long bridge. But I don't think you can make that ride there and back in a day on a bike, and there's no place to stay on that island. Also no scuba diving there, nor any good snorkelling. Cayo Levisa is best for that.
Oct 22, 2012 9:58 AM
6O P you might ask the airline again if that is the price for bikes in boxes- from Canada it is about $80 US each bike so the quote you got seems way out of proportion. As has been mentioned here many times, bringing a bike to Cuba and leaving with someone you like and trust is a life-changer for them, since decent bikes are so hard to get and because Cubans ( at least the ones you will want to leave the bike with) have little access to that amount of cash. Certainly the most gratifying things I have brought with me.....
Oct 23, 2012 12:24 AM
7This was a report I made of the quality of bike available in Cuban stores and a picture of what you get for your money.
Nov 25, 2012 12:33 PM
8I have a pretty basic Wal-mart bike I'm thinking about taking to Havana but I don't know if it will be worth it to pay whatever the cost is to ship it-- can I buy a bike of approximate Wal-Mart quality in Havana?
Nov 25, 2012 12:45 PM
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