Question: We would like to visit Cayo Levisa and Viñales and are wondering whether to go direct to Cayo Levisa from Havana or go to Viñales first. How long would the journeys take by car?
Answer: Whereas there is regular bus service from Havana to Viñales (see below), there is no longer any bus service from Havana to Cayo Levisa. So you have several options:
1) Take a Viazul tourist-quality bus from Havana to Viñales, and then arrange local transport “on the spot” to get from Viñales to Cayo Levisa, and back again to Viñales to return to Havana by bus. In Havana, the Viazul bus terminal is located at Avenida 26 y Zoológico, Nuevo Vedado (just in front of the entrance to the City Zoo), Telephones (537) 881?1413, 881?5652 and 881?1108. The cost of a one-way Viazul bus ticket from Havana to Viñales is CUC 12 and the trip takes about three and a half hours. Depending on the time of year, there are two to three buses a day. Additional information can be found on the Viazul website, which appears to exist only in Spanish, at either www.viazul.com or www.viazul.cu
2) Rent a car in Havana for the complete round trip. From Havana to Viñales (no stops, 189 km) takes about three and a half hours. From Havana to Palma Rubia (the small sea port where one gets the boat from the mainland to Cayo Levisa) takes about two to three hours. From Viñales to Cayo Levisa takes about one hour. If you rent a car, it doesn’t much matter in which order you do the trip. (But see below for information about the boat schedule to and from Cayo Levisa, as this will help you plan your trip.)
3) From Havana, the state-operated Cubataxi – the country’s largest taxi company – charges CUC 69 for the one-way trip to the Palma Rubia sea port. The road trip takes approximately three hours from the capital. If you use the taxi option, you would be well-advised to make arrangements for the taxi to pick you up on your return from Cayo Levisa, as there is no taxi stand at the sea port for transport either back to Havana or onward to Viñales.
Located on the north shore of Pinar del Río Province, Cayo Levisa is a secluded islet with three kilometres of beach, a small resort consisting of individual oceanfront bungalows, and 23 diving sites on a beautiful coral reef just 100 meters from shore. One reaches the islet by boat from the small Palma Rubia sea port. The boat leaves the mainland daily at 10am and 6pm (departing from Cayo Levisa at 9am and 5pm). The transfer, which takes about thirty minutes, is provided as a courtesy for guests of the hotel on the islet. There is a modest charge (about CUC 10 per person) for non-guests.