From Remedios it’s about 8km east to the run-down but pleasant port of CAIBARIÉN, where you’ll find the closest casas particulares to the cays – the town is a convenient base from which to explore the cays without having to pay for a package holiday or shell out for an all-inclusive. Caibarién’s streets are lined by rows of wooden sugar warehouses, painted in a faded rainbow of colours, which testify to this sleepy backwater’s nineteenth-century heyday. Largely unaffected by tourism and enjoying a leisurely speed of life, Caibarién provides a marked contrast to the development on the cays. The town in itself is unlikely to hold you for long, though on the far side, furthest from the mainland, there’s a patchy beach on a small, quiet peninsula, backed at one end by an ugly, beat-up, largely abandoned old building and at the other a quirky paladar and bar plus a small hotel. There’s also a quiet central square, Parque de la Libertad, and a seafront promenade, the Malecón.
West of town, on the road to Remedios, the Museo de la Agroindustria Azucarera Marcelo Salado is worth a half-hour stop-off.