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Driving the Southern Coast Road


Though it suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy in late 2012, which compounded the havoc wreaked by previous hurricanes, the lonely southern coast road between Pilón and Santiago de Cuba offers one of the most exhilarating drives in Cuba, with the Sierra Maestra rearing up directly from the roadside, and the ocean swirling from a Caribbean postcard-blue to an indigo black. The road undulates up and down the mountainside and, at one point, due to persistent damage, has fallen into the sea; it is sometimes passable by negotiating the track and the sea. Sometimes passing inches from the ocean, skirting rockfalls and crossing or diverting via broken bridges, this is a hair-raising route, and you should always seek out local advice before setting out to drive it, either in Niquero or Pilón in the west, or in Santiago. The journey from Pilón to Santiago (where the last petrol station is) takes 6–7 hours because of the state of the road.

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