The Province of Pinar del Rio to the west of Havana offers a wonderfully different Cuba holiday. Pinar del Rio was founded by a Spanish general captain in 1774 and currently has 70 000 inhabitants.
Rich and fertile with tobacco and coffee plantations, beautiful rivers and natural springs, part of the region is conserved as an ecological 'biosphere' area. There is also little or nothing in the way of highly developed tourism and the towns and villages which dot the undulating landscape appear to be in something of a charming time warp. The population is devoted largely to the production of tobacco and it is reputed that the leaves rolled here account for the very best cigars that Cuba produces. The province relies heavily on tobacco farming, with Pinar del Rio producing 70% of Cuba's crop. If a visit to a tobacco plantation is planned, this is the place.
A little to the north of the city of Pinar del Rio is the small village of Vinales, which is surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. Karst formations with tobacco plants between them make the landscape spectacular. Hiking in this area could be one of the highlights of your Cuba holiday. To the southwest of the city lies the village of San Juan y Martinez, Cuba's tobacco capital. Many locals will offer you to show you their tobacco farm and explain how to make the best tobacco in the world. Most of this process is done by hand, from cutting the leaves to the making of the cigars.