Alejandro Robaina Tobacco Plantation
Most holidaymakers in the Pinar del Río province have no idea that they’re less than 20 kilometres from what many consider to be the best tobacco farm not just in Cuba, but anywhere in the world! The Alejandro Robaina plantation will be your only chance to visit a working tobacco plantation in Cuba – take it!
The Alejandro Robaina Story
Though he passed away in 2010 at the age of 91, Alejandro Robaina was a key figure in the history of not just this plantation, but of Cuban tobacco growing in general. His legacy still lives on here, so it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of his life story before visiting the farm.
Alejandro Robaina was born in 1919 to a family that had been growing tobacco on this land since 1845. He began working on the plantation around age 10 and, when his father passed away in 1950, he took over the day-to-day operations. After the Cuban Revolution, he was vocal about not wanting to give up control of the family farm, even sitting down for a face-to-face meeting with Fidel Castro to explain his logic. As such, the plantation remained a private enterprise.
Despite their initial disagreements, the Cuban government eventually came around to Alejandro Robaina. By the 1990s, the government recognised him as the country's top tobacco grower and even introduced a line of cigars in his name. During this time period, he became an unofficial ambassador for Cuba and its cigars, visiting celebrities, royalty, and other dignitaries around the world. He became famous for his sharp wit and personality, and legends of his exploits are still told today.
The Plantation Itself
The Alejandro Robaina Tobacco Plantation, despite its renown, remains a somewhat under-the-radar destination because it is a private enterprise. As such, the plantation’s tours exist within something of a legal grey area and little promotion is done for the site. Additionally, you won’t find any signs guiding you there—but don’t worry, it’s not that hard to find!
Start by leaving central Pinar del Río on the Carretera Central and drive for about twelve kilometres, making a left toward the small village of San Luis. Continue on for about three more kilometres until you see the Robaina sign; here you can make a second left and continue for about 1.5 kilometres on the dirt road. This will take you straight to the plantation.
Another option to get there is hiring one of the guided tours available at tourist desks. Tours are short but highly entertaining and informative; you can expect to spend about half-an-hour exploring the farm itself and more if you enjoy a meal at the onsite café. The free sample cigar at the end only helps to seal the deal!
Regardless of whether you’re a cigar fan or not, a tour of the Alejandro Robaina Tobacco Plantation is virtually a requirement during a visit to this part of eastern Cuba. For an interesting look into one of Cuba’s most iconic industries, making the trip here is more than worth it.
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