Geography, Distances, Culture and Features of Havana, Cojimar, Guanabo and Matanza

As mentioned in the introduction, the area of interest is the corridor between Havana and Matanza, in the northwest part of Cuba. More often than not, visitors to this region of Cuba come through the Varadero airport which is normally quite a bit cheaper to fly into from Canada. This particularly true for Canadian charter airlines and All Inclusive operators such as Sunwing, Air Tansat, WestJet and Air Canada. Several maps are provided below to better illustrate the location, proximity and size of the area and associated towns and city.

The first of these maps is of Cuba, and the location of the area under review.

Within this northwestern part of Cuba, the specific corridor runs from just to the right of Matanza (the Veradero airport is just 20 kilometers away from Mantaza) all the way to Havana. As mentioned the distance between the Havana and Matanza is approximately 105 KMs and the Varadero airport is approximately 15 kms further past Matanza . The highway between the two cities is called the Via Blanca and is quite interesting in itself, particularly if you are a first timer. The highway largely follows the ocean (so if you can, try to get a bus or taxi seat on the right hand side). Along the way you will see beautiful ocean/beach views, the large, very real and fascinating Cuban city of Mantaza, luscious mountains and deep, deep valleys, small fishing towns and their marinas and much more.

The next few maps are zoomable google-like URLs of Havana, Guanabo, Cojimar and Matanza. These links allow users to navigate and assess each location.





Some quick bullets on each city follows:


  • Population: 2.1 Million

  • On the ocean, but no beaches

  • Lots of shopping, restaurants and bars.

  • Huge city but must see is Habana Vieja.

  • Great colonial and some art deco architecture, museums, government capitol buildings, lots pf hotels, lots casa particualara, many restaurants.

  • Lots of trees, parks and statues and of course related history.

  • Great tourist bus that you can jump on and off all day long

Cojimar (distance from Havana approximately 5 KMs):

  • Population: NA but if I had to guess maybe 10,000

  • Cojimar is somewhat separated in two. At the end closer to Havana is Villa Pan-American which was the site of the 1991 Pan American games and has much of the remaining infrastructure such as a large stadium and type of main Games boulevard. These games and this corner of Cojimar are very important part of Cuban pride and history. At the other end of Cojimar, the part I like, and that which is described throughout this web-site is the sleepier and more traditional fishing village made famous by Ernest Hemmingway.

  • On the ocean, no beaches

  • Very quaint village harbor with extremely old stone fortress. A Malecon (large brick rock ocean retaining wall and walk way that circumvents the ocean bay that the community converges upon in the early evening) . Fishing boats coming in and out of harbor throughout the day.

  • Most famously known to be the place where Ernest Hemmingway docked his fishing boat, wrote books in a now famous Cojimar Hotel/Bar on the bay and the real site location for the 1954 Hemingway movie called the Old Man and the Sea. Take a look the following video URL which is a snippet of eth spencer Tracy movie and which includes footage of Cojimar’s harbor, old Spanish fortress, marina and malecon etc…


Guanabo (distance from Havana approximately 15 KMs):

  • Population: Not available nor published. I would guess its approximately 5,000

  • Beach: Many kilometers of open and public beaches

  • Given length of beach and proximity to Havana, Guanabo is a major late spring, summer and early autumn destination for thousands of Cubans from Havana.

  • Approximately 6 very, very good and low cost restaurants and many other very low cost traditional Cuban restaurants.

  • Approximately 10 patio resto/bars on main street.

  • Many casa particulara and 4 to 5 Cuban hotels, two of which I am familiar with (each 1 star) and am comfortable recommending.

  • Two great Cuban dancing/live music nightclubs that go to 2:30 in the morning.


Matanza (distance from Havana approximately 105 KMs):

  • Population: 129,000

  • City is very well known for its many bridges and envelops a very large bay on the ocean.

  • There is at least one public beach in the city.

  • There is a long Rodeo Drive like streets in Matanza (not quite) that is quite heavily frequented by townspeople on both Saturday and Sunday that is quite interesting.

  • Matanza has a very entertaining and very high quality baseball (the Croquodillas) team that plays in a fun and very cozy downtown baseball stadium.

  • There is also a central park that is exactly downtown and acts almost like the hub of the city on which is located a beautiful and perfectly maintained colonial hotel. a very old and traditional drug store. On Friday and Saturday nights the whole town seems to converge at the square leading to a great mingling of kids, families and teens. Also impressive is the thousands of birds that leave in the morning and then all come back towards evening. It’s much like a natural bird commune or village with lots of bird excitement when they return, chirping like crazy.