Around 25km east of Havana, 20km inland from the Playas del Este, the Escaleras de Jaruco, a small crop of scenic hills, make a stimulating detour on the way to or from the beaches in Mayabeque or Matanzas. The hills are around a kilometre west of Jaruco, the nearest town of any significant size, and a trip here is only really realistic if you have your own transport. Covered in a kind of subtropical rainforest, this steep-sided mini-mountain range erupts from the surrounding flatlands. The Carretera Tapaste cuts through the area like a mountain pass, leading past the fantastically located El Arabe restaurant, one of several places where you can stop and take in the view across the lush, forested hillsides and over the palm-spotted flatlands to the Florida Straits. Despite its erratic opening hours, it provides a focus of sorts for the area: in its pre-Revolution heyday, it was undoubtedly a classic, with its splendid Arabic-style interior, balcony terrace with views to the coastline and domed tower, but it’s now as low on food as it is on staff, and there’s no guarantee it will even be open when you turn up; call ahead on 47 87 3828.

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