The remote, sleepy town of Baracoa (Aboriginal for Land of the Waters) is located on the northern coast of Guantanamo Province, 88 miles from Santiago de Cuba. The town curves around the wide Honey Bay (Bahia de Miel) which is lined with beautiful sandy beaches. It is here that Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 and is Cuba’s first settlement and the country’s original capital city. Very much like Santiago de Cuba,
Baracoa has a French influence, which is due to settlers from Haiti. This quiet town has some interesting architecture, including houses which date from the 19th century, Matachin Fort which is now a museum of local history and La Punta Fort which is now a restaurant. Baracoa parish church (Catedral de Nuestra de la Asuncion) is home to the Parra Cross, the only remaining cross of 29 that Columbus erected on shore during his voyages. Surrounded by rich forests, citrus groves, coconut palms and rivers, Baracoa has a distinct tropical atmosphere. The hotels around the city are very simple and provide an excellent base for exploring the beautiful colonial city and the surrounding mountains. Baracoa’s skyline is dominated by the Yunque de Baracoa Mountain (Baracoa Anvil) which rises to 1765 feet above sea level.
There is only one road to the city which offers amazing views across the countryside to the Atlantic as it descends from the mountains in a series of hairpin bends.
Just a few miles west of Baracoa is the white sandy beach of Playa Maguana which is protected by a coral reef. This tranquil beach is set in a small cove where you will also find a restaurant and bar amidst the verdant vegetation. Also to the west is Playa Nibujon which is mainly used by local people and although there are no tourist facilities here, the beach is great for sunbathing and swimming on your family holidays to Cuba.
Things to do and places to visit in and around Baracoa include:
Alexander Von Humboldt National Park
The park straddles the Guantanamo and Holguin provinces and is one of the best preserved mountainous ecosystems in the Caribbean. Wander among the indigenous Antillean and Cuban flora and fauna for a taste of Cuban nature at its very best.
El Yunque Mountain
Trek up the mysterious El Yunque, Baracoa’s flat-topped mountain.
Yateras Stone Zoo
Here you will find around 400 sculptures of humans and wild animals which have been carved in the rocks by local artist Angel Inigo who taught himself how to sculpt.
Here you can see how cacao is turned into chocolate and then have a tasty Cuban lunch.
The Cactus Garden
Located along the Guantanamo-Baracoa highway in the semi-arid region, this huge garden is home to over 2,000 cacti.
Located at the easternmost tip of Cuba, here you will see amazing marine terraces which are among the largest in the world.
Malone Lookout Point
For panoramic views of the Guantanamo Naval Base at the mouth of Guantanamo Bay.
Experience rafting in a cayuco along Cuba’s widest river which runs from the mountains and through the jungle before ending near Baracoa. Other great rivers to explore on your late deals to Cuba are the Miel and Yumuri.