Taking the Hershey Train through Cuba
Thankfully, we were well prepared and researched as mentioned in this article.
How do you find the Hershey Train Station
The Hershey train is an electric rail-car which departs 3 times per day from the Casablanca station, on the eastern shore of the Havana harbor, and travels all the way to the city of Matanzas. 3 major stops: Havana, Hershey, Matanzas. In between there are lots of little stops, but I seriously doubt you will find yourself at one of these. Our train was having a number of problems that day, so I would guess we made at least 50 stops . . . yup! 50!
How do you get to the Casablanca Train Station in Havana?
The Casablanca station is located outside of the city of Havana, on the other side of the Bay of Havana. You can get to the station by taxi, but the cheapest and shortest option is to take the Casablanca ferry. This is also adds more color to your journey. Because we only had backpacks, we took a BiciTaxi to the Regla Terminal.
The Regla ferry terminal located at the corner of San Pedro and Santa Clara in Old Havana. When you arrive at the ferry station, make sure to inquire if the next ferry is traveling to Regla or Casablanca. You want to get on the one going to Casablanca. The ferry ride only costs about 1 CUC per person. As you can see in the picture above, I wore my trustworthy flyfishing shirt where I had already set aside the coins and small bills I would need in a pocket. I didn’t want to be rummaging through an envelope of lots of cash.
At the Regla terminal, we had arrived just in time, which he had planned on getting there early so we had a buffer between connections. Since we arrived about 1 minute before departure, they were really rushing us through and they will also search your bags. Our host at the Casa mentioned that the ferry had been hijacked 8 separate times by a Cuban resident. The Cuban resident held a gun to the captains head forcing him to drive to Miami.
Once the news got back to Fidel Castro . . . . well, Fidel had him shot.
So now, they search everyone. Frankly, they didn’t seem too concerned with us considering my husband is 6’4” blonde blue . . . clearly American dude.
Once you are at the Casablanca landing, you will see the Casablanca train terminal just to the west. It’s a very small terminal, looking more like a tram stop. The overhead electric wires will indicate exactly where it is.
(heading to Cuba, you’ll want to read this)
Price To Take The Hershey Train
The price to use the Hershey train depends on how far you want to go. The main stop between Havana and Matanzas is located in the miniscule town of Hershey (renamed to Camilo Cienfuegos). It is at the halfway point between the two cities. Travel up to this stop costs 1.40 CUC for foreigners. Travel all the way to Matanzas costs a total of 2.80 CUC.
Due to our train having problems, they would only let us pay for a trip to Hershey. Once they discovered the train would make it to Matanzas, then we coughed up the rest and we received a ticket. Very similar to NJ transit, IMO.
About 1 km north of the town of Hershey, there is the larger, coastal town of Santa Cruz del Norte. It’s easy to walk to and interesting to explore, and you are almost sure to be the only foreigner there.
In order to get back to Havana, simply go back to the station, pay the fare, and take the next train.
It was a beautiful trip – especially when we were moving since we were able to get a nice breeze – and everyone was super friendly. In fact, I took my GoPro to the train conductor area and the 2 conductors will let you hang out with them while taking pics. I stayed up front for almost an hour chatting and taking lovely photos. **Be warned, it is a very bumpy ride and they leave both side doors open – HOLD ON to something if you want to stay inside the train.
Just past the Hershey train station, we passed the old sugar refinery built by Milton Hershey.
Here is the Hershey Electric Train Schedule:
The train schedule is listed below, but note that it can change without notice, mostly due to equipment failures. On some days, when there are electrical problems, the train doesn’t operate at all. You are on Cuba time!
And for the record, I did pick up some CHOCOLATE in Cuba. Mostly milk chocolate but still satisfying
P.S. I highly recommend as much research before you venture into Cuba, check out this interesting book
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