The province of Pinar del Rio to the west of Havana is rich and fertile, with tobacco and coffee plantations, small farms ploughed by oxen and spectacular scenery. In the Valley of Vinales, the landscape is particularly breathtaking and it is here where rock formations known as ‘mogotes’ tower over the rust red earth. This area is wonderful for hiking, horse riding and bird watching and the small town of Vinales is a colonial gem. There are a small handful of unique hotels in beautiful locations to choose from in this area. La Ermita and Rancho San Vicente are worth recommending and the views from the Los Jazmines Hotel are probably the most memorable in all of Cuba.
There is also excellent birding and stunning scenery to be found in the La Guira National Park, a highland area where the mixture of semi-deciduous tropical and pine forests are home to several endemic species of bird. In the Sierra de Rosario Unesco Biosphere Reserve, you will find the self-sustainable model village of Las Terrazas and the very special La Moka Hotel. Beyond the countryside, Pinar’s beaches and reefs are renowned for their quality and both Cayo Levisa and Maria La Gorda have lovely low-key resorts in pristine seaside settings.