For most of the year, Gibara is a small sleepy fishing town in the province of Holguin. If you go visit for most of the year, it is easily possible that you’ll be the only tourists in town.
However, this changes for a week every year with the Gibara Film Festival. The festival has grown from being a festival for budget films festival de cine pobre into an international event with artists from all over the world. It is no longer limited to cinema: the event is well attended by singers, writers and even tech entrepreneurs.
How to get to Gibara
The easiest way to get to Gibara is through Holguin.
The most comfortable way to get to Holguin is to fly in directly (there are flights from domestic locations such as Havana and several international flights to Miami, Panama, Toronto and others). You can of course also arrive to Holguin via a Viazul bus from anywhere in Cuba.
View Larger Map
The camion should cost you around 5 CUP per person, the colectivos should cost you no more than 5 CUC per person.
Gibara film festival
The main reason people go to Gibara is the International Film Festival. Do note, that while the film festival is international, most of the films (although by no means all) are in Spanish or with subtitles in Spanish.
To get an idea, here is the schedule for 2019.
That year included award winning Cuban films, such as “The Extraordinary Journey of Celeste Garcia”
As well as the controversial (banned in its home country of Kenya) film Rafiki:
Amongst numerous short films from Sweden, Norway, and other European countries. The subtitles however, were mostly in Spanish.
Originally the film festival was founded in 2003 by famous Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solas, to promote low budget film festivals, but the festival has since expanded in scope and has become a major event in the region, not unlike SXSW or Burning Man.
This means that there’s also events like the Technology + Culture panel, where game developers talk about the influence of computer games in popular culture.
The town itself is a pleasant small town with “off-the-beaten-track” vibes. It boasts good seafood and friendly inhabitants.
Popular nearby attractions include Los Caletones (cool limestone pits next to the beach), some caves within walking distance (tour guide recommended) and virgin beaches on the other side of the Gibara Bay.
Where to stay in Gibara
There are three hotels in Gibara as well as a wide range of Casa Particulares. Everything is fully booked during the film festival, so if you are planning to go to that make sure you book in advance.
The hotels are available for booking on Booking.com, but you should also be able to find good accommodation on Airbnb.
If you want help, plan your trip with ViaHero and get a completely customized travel itinerary complete with offline maps and recommendations from locals in Cuba. ViaHero is a trip planning platform that will help you plan your legal trip to Cuba.