The Far West

  If you wish to head for the far west of Cuba, a route through the heart of the mountains, via Cabezas and Sumidero, is long but surprisingly easy. Virtually all the climbing occurs between Pinar del Rio and Cabezas, and there's not much of it.
Then the ride is mostly downhill or level all the way to Sumidero, a tiny, pleasant town. Here a friendly farmer refused payment from Barb for a bunch of wonderful tomatoes.  
  The route continues through Valle de San Carlos, not unlike Viñales in its scenic beauty, but entirely lacking traffic and tourists.
In this area, we saw more farmers with oxcarts or on horseback than we did cars. Only once did we see a man on the road walking his pigs.  
  After Guane in the western foothills of the Sierra Rosario, the cycling is relatively flat and boring. The town of Sandino is a good place to stop. Even though the town looks uninviting, we stayed in a casa particular that was one of our favorites of the entire trip because of the good food and warm hospitality. Notice the fierce watchdog on the roof!
Playa Maria la Gorda is Cuba's westernmost beach with tourist accommodation. Cabo de San Antonio is even farther west, but it was closed to the general public when we were there because an environmental impact study was underway for a possible eco-tourism development.  
  The only food available within 45 kilometers of the beach is at the Hotel Playa Maria La Gorda — slightly over priced, but an informal and friendly place to stay. The snorkeling is fabulous, and although we did not try the scuba diving, it is reputed to be among the best in the Caribbean. And Playa Maria La Gorda is a great place to simply hang out.