Cuba is hands-down the most fascinating place I’ve ever visited – photographically speaking, too. On my first day in Havana my camera might as well have been surgically attached to my hands; I just couldn’t stop snapping. Oh, look at that cool vintage car! Click. Ooh, an abandoned theatre! Click, click, click.
Hunting around the chaotic capital Havana, rural Vinales and romantic Trinidad, I found some vantage points that allowed me to take the postcard-perfect shots of Cuba I’d always dreamt of. Cameras at the ready, shutterbugs.
Like a lot of visitors to Cuba’s capital I headed to the Camera Obscura. Located on the top floor of a building at the north-eastern corner of Plaza Vieja, it’s a projection device that uses a periscope on the roof to display live images of the city onto a large screen inside a blackened room (there are only a handful of them in the world). With a few minutes to kill until the next session started, I wandered around on the rooftop outside the dark room - and stumbled upon one of the best views in Havana.
From the balcony I was able to frame the beautiful Plaza Vieja below with a view of the city skyline behind it. Perfecto.
The Capitolio is undoubtedly Havana’s most iconic building; the former seat of the government which was modelled on the Whitehouse in the US. I photographed it from a lot of places around the city (obsessed much?) but my favourite spot was on the street corner across from the Saratoga Hotel, on the side of the Parque de la Fraternidad. I only had to wait a few seconds for a vintage car to go past and boom! My very own postcard from Cuba.
This agricultural town about two-hours’ drive south-west of Havana in the Pinar Del Rio province is defined by its landscape; a sweeping green valley with a backdrop of huge limestone mountains in the distance.
I’d been given the tip to rent a bike and ride south on the main road out of town, following the signs to Hotel Los Jazmines. Here, you can pay $3 CUC (the Cuban Convertible Peso, worth the same as a US dollar) to use the hotel pool if you’re not a guest. Apart from the refreshing dip and the kitsch striped deck chairs I kicked back in, my favourite thing was the view from the deck – it must be the best in Vinales.
Just a few minutes down the road on the way back to town from Hotel Los Jazmines I passed a restaurant on the right called Casa Verde. Not only did I have the best mojito of my entire three weeks in Cuba (my traveling companion captured me having a moment with my cocktail) but I found the wooden platform they have looking over the valley to be yet another place to really take in the beauty of Vinales (and take the photos to prove it).
I couldn’t help but take a very Instagram shot of my drink with the view in the background. Green on green.
This 500-year-old Spanish colonial town on Cuba’s central southern coastline combines a variety of landscapes thanks to its position between the ocean and the Sierra Escambray Mountains.
The most iconic image of Trinidad has to be of its large yellow church tower surrounded by orange-thatched roofs, with the rolling green hills in the distance.
But where was it taken from? I happened to find out after climbing up to the rooftop of the Museo Historico Municipal, a former private mansion just off Plaza Mayor which is now home to an informative exhibition on Cuban history. And that view, too.
I prefer to be behind the lens rather than in the photo, but I couldn’t help asking my travelling companion to take a shot of me posing in front of a colourful mural on Calle Rosario in the town centre, near the corner with Calle Jesus Maria. It reads ‘Cuba’ in giant block letters filled-in with various patterns on a bright blue wall. I’m at a stage in my life where I have more photos than I’ll ever time to look at again, so it’s nice to have a shot where I don’t have to struggle to remember where I took it. Hello, new cover photo.
Erin Van Der Meer is an Australian freelance writer who is currently exploring Central America.
Follow her adventures: Instagram @erinvandermeer, Twitter @erinvandermeer, Facebook
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.