My shades are up and my head is laid back as the waves rock back and forth bringing a gentle breeze while I wait for my drink on Antón Beach. It finally arrived, served by a Cuban man whose job is to slice open coconuts for the tourists visiting this beach just five miles from the southern Cuban town of Trinidad.
Familiar with the other, similarly-named island nation, until recently I didn’t know there was another Trinidad in the Caribbean where I could shove my feet in the sand and enjoy a refreshing beverage. This Trinidad, like most of Cuba, can be very hot in the summer months but the city has quite a few relaxing sites within its friendly environment.
I find it a little redundant but sometimes necessary that many people go on trips to various places and then find that they need a “stay-vacation” to unwind from the vacation. But there are more gratifying ways to spend your final days on your trip that won’t leave you exhausted from your travels.
First stop, the beach! Antón Beach is where I went to escape the incessant heat throughout my stay in Cuba. Although it was still hot and the water was salty, I found the Trinidadian waves to be much more tranquil than the other beaches of Cuba and kept me from overheating like one of those 50’s Chevys which cruise the country’s streets.
After swimming around for a while, I huddled under the cool shade of the brassy grass umbrellas. There were quite a few of these parasol trees around so no need for me to bring my own shade canopy – It’s already provided.
While I rested with my coconut in hand, I watched fellow vacationers enjoy their drinks, read and play with their kids. To my left, was a small hut a few feet away called Antón Grill. Walking in, I saw people eating and drinking with the seascape of the Caribbean in front of them. It was the perfect screensaver – One they could actually dive into.
What some American and other vacationers can appreciate is that Antón Beach doesn’t charge you a fee to enjoy its waters and scenery. If you’ve ever visited the Jersey shore beaches like Seaside Heights or Wildwood, you’re usually charged an entry fee. So if you exclude the bar and grill indulgences, Antón Beach is an easy and inexpensive way to treat yourself and your companions to a beautiful day at the beach.
For me, free is generally my favorite price and there’s no other number that can put me more at ease. It seemed Antón Beach allows for many peaceful preferences that can suit one’s vacation relaxation needs but Trinidad in general had some other options for visitors to unwind.
Up the bumpy stone layered boulevards of Trinidad lead me to Calle Rosario. From that street I could see the tower of the Museo de la Lucha Contra Bandidios, or The Anti-Bandit Musuem, but just next me was a quiet massage business in the Plaza Mayor district. I went inside and the owner handed me a business card that promised ‘The Art of Well Being’.
Eladio Santana Zayas, 48, operates this massage service and his traditional style of massaging is for relaxing. “It’s good for stress,” he said. He knew some English, and whatever little language barrier there might have been, he would simply type it in phone and hold up his Spanish translating app to communicate with me. Around the massage table, he had fans to keep me cool and slow smooth jazz music to calm me through out the massage. People can even order drinks if they like.
He only charged me 8 CUC (around $8) for a half hour massage and the rate for a full hour is 15 CUC, compared with the United States where most massage parlors charge at least $60 for an hour.
Vacationing American student Jordan Hart, 19, said, “The pressure was just right and their technique was really unique.” With a fair warning she comments, “Don’t go if modesty is an issue”, but “it’s worth the initial discomfort and the price.” Compared with previous experiences, “This was the best massage of my life,” Hart said.
Santana Zayas’ busiest time of year is during the popular winter months with the town is flooded with tourists. But it was July so I didn’t need an appointment and visitors stopping by during the summer months don’t have much of a wait, if any at all.
My last recommended Trinidad site is just a few steps from the massage parlor, in the Plaza Mayor square where many white benches are provided to sit and enjoy the garden-like scenery. It’s a great place to conclude any tiring day and watch the sun go down.
As night falls, music clubs and restaurant businesses come alive for other future activities. So if I wanted to visit La Casa de Musica for a daiquiri or to dance a little salsa, it’s at arm’s reach.
Once back in my room at our bed-and-breakfast, I felt at ease in that I didn’t have to spend much or anything at all to enjoy these pleasant areas of Trinidad. These three places, either done all together or one at a time, are the perfect way to end any vacation.
Services de Masaje/Massage Services; Plaza Mayor; 10:30am-7:30pm; (+53) 01 52958401.