Compared with the rest of Cuba–especially major tourist destinations–Viñales has very few people who will hassle you on the street. However, when you first arrive, it might be a different story. This is understandable, as Viñales is a very small town with almost 600 “Casas Particular,” which makes competition fierce.
So, the minute you first set foot in Viñales, you might appear to some like “fresh meat.” The luggage and the disoriented face says to everyone, “I’m new here, and I need a place to stay.” If you use a taxi or a rented car, this won’t be a problem. But if you come by bus, as most people do, the situation can be quite annoying. Here’s what you can expect:
The bus door will open, and a crowd of people will rush the doorway, yelling “Señor! Habitación! Mi casa barata!,” all while putting their card so close to your eyes that you can’t even see what’s on it. When you finally manage to exit the bus, you will find yourself in the middle of this crowd. For a good room in Viñales, you can expect to pay 20 to 25 CUC per night. However, the people who crowd the bus stop will likely be offering their places for 15 CUC or possibly less.
Buyer beware! They might be good rooms, but you might not get good service when you get there. Most of the people who go to the bus stop to find business have had their casa particular for a very long time, but they haven’t been able develop a good reputation. Unfortunately, these are the casa owners who are likely to push you to buy all of your meals from them and to organize all your activities, which makes for a suffocating environment. This might be a good option if you are short on cash, but there are better places to stay in Viñales.
I would recommend booking your stay before you arrive. There are plenty of good suggestions in guide books and some online. And the owners of the reputable casas will make sure you feel welcome as soon as you get there. What a relief it is to pull up in the bus, look into the crowd, and see someone holding a poster with your name on it.