Once a thriving resort town, Gibara has recently renovated several of its most stunning hotels, which lend the small town a surreal feel of opulence amidst much more faded streetscapes. But that's part of its wonder. The most opulent hotel is the Ordono, which has a beautiful lobby with views right into the heart of town (and a spectacular rooftop bar that overlooks all of Gibara).
With a lively fishing port still in operation, Gibara enjoys fresh catch at its small local restaurants and at local carts, like this one that offers shrimp right along the Malecon.
Gibara, which is the site of two major Cuban film festivals, is itself one of the country's most cinematic locations. This late-afternoon view of the harbor, with mountains far across the water, is just one striking vista.
Every block in Gibara brings visual riches, whether it's the candy-colored Hotel Arsenita, shown here, or distressed and crumbling walls with layers of faded paint and exhortations of the revolution.
Hillsides rise steeply up from Gibara's town center, giving way to tourist-friendly scenic overlooks that are like vintage postcards from colorful times gone by. This spot features cold beer and the occasional cage-toting bird seller.
Vestiges of Gibara's vibrant tourist past are evident along the Malecon, where this piece of seaside art brings Cuba's sportsman's paradise profile back into focus.
Not all the vintage automobiles in Cuba are American. In fact, a good portion are Russian, and they provide yet another layer of color and history to Gibara's photogenic streets and buildings.
Cubans love their cakes, and because resources as so scarce throughout the country, many bakeries cannot supply boxes for their confections. Which means that most people merely carry their cakes home in open air. Gibara's very popular bakery places fully decorated cakes like this on locals' open hands every day.
Every street, every doorway, in Gibara is like a frame. Behind these boys is an immaculate, tiled home being mopped down by one of the boys' mother. Outside, layers of paint provide a palimpsest that adds even more beauty and texture to the scene.
On one of Gibara's colorful town squares, this cigar factory toils on while visitors peer into the open windows and friends call out greetings. A historic factory, the founder's portrait and framed documents are arranged, almost shrine-like, at the head of the long, bright blue room.
Like so many Cuban towns, Gibara has a vibrant youth culture that looks with hope toward increased access to American ideas... and material goods. This rock climber paused for a break while he bouldered in one of Gibara's chain of underground caves (and site of one of the city's famed film festivals) and considered how different his town might become if Americans begin coming in numbers.