19 must places to visit in Cuba in 2023 (4of4)
HAVANA, March 11th 19 must places to visit in Cuba in 2023, the largest of the Caribbean Islands, Cuba will charm you with its charismatic vibe influenced by four centuries of African, Caribbean, and Spanish cultures.
15. Biodiverse Isla De La Juventud
Isla de la Juventud, or the Isle of Youth, is the second largest island in the Cuban archipelago (there are around 4000), situated in the Caribbean Sea south of western Cuba. It is one of the destinations in Cuba that are the trickiest to visit.
The capital city is Nueva Gerona, which is more like a village with a few casa particulares, bars and restaurants, and some museums. There is only one hotel on the island,
Particularly famous for exceptional scuba diving sites, it is also close to the southern coral reef outside Cuba, the Jardines de la Reina. Make the journey from the main island port of Batabanó in about three hours, and you can experience amazing scuba diving off the southwestern tip of Punta Francés.
Isla de la Juventud is also a paradise of biodiversity protecting endangered species such as crocodiles, parrots, sharks, and turtles. One spectacular sight on Isla de la Juventud is the Presidio Modelo, the iconic prison-turned-museum where Fidel Castro was imprisoned after the failed attack in Santiago de Cuba in 1953, an eerie-looking place today.
Isla de la Juventud is not for city lovers, this is a destination for travelers who enjoy venturing off the beaten tracks, find weird stuff fascinating, and love to explore nature reserves and wildlife.
16. Vast Mountain Range Sierra Nevada
The Sierra Nevada is a vast mountain range east of Santiago de Cuba, starting by the sea and stretching inland. The area has several national parks like Gran Parque Nacional Sierra Maestra and Parque Nacional Pico Turquino and is the main region of Cuba’s coffee plantations
Pico Turquino is also the highest point of the Sierra Maestra and the highest point in the whole of Cuba with its 1974 meters above sea level. A great destination in Cuba for avid hikers, and nature lovers who will be rewarded with amazing views of the mountains and the sea after a trek up here.
Visitors can also explore its many trails, breathtaking waterfalls, and panoramic mountain views. Sierra Maestra is home to a variety of unique wildlife, and more than 80 bird species, so make sure to keep an eye out for native birds and other animals! The Sierra Maestra is also famous for being Fidel Castro’s secret guerilla hideout in the 1950s.
17. Fidel Castro’s Secret Headquarters Comandancia De La Plata
Comandancia de la Plata possibly is the most intriguing of all destinations in Cuba you can visit. This was Fidel Castro’s hidden jungle headquarters in Sierra Maestra in the 1950s, and it still looks the same today.
Here Fidel Castro and his comrades ran their resistance campaign and guerilla warfare against Batista in the last years of the 1950s, before the Cuban revolution. Here he hid for long periods, made plans, and prepared for attacks.
Today there is a small museum here telling some of the stories of people and incidents that happened during the 50s. You will also be able to see the secret house of Fidel Castro, where he ate and slept – and even his outside toilet.
A fascinating destination you can reach on a day trip from Santiago de Cuba, a few hour’s drive and a short but hot and steep hike from where the road ends in the mountains.
18. The Secluded First City Baracoa
Situated on the eastern tip of Cuba, Baracoa is where the first Spanish colony was founded in Cuba and is known as the “Ciudad Primada”, or “First City”, the first place in Cuba to be visited by Christopher Columbus. The town lies along the Bay of Honey, and has a lush tropical rainforest climate, while surrounded by a mountain range shielding it from inland Cuba.
Before the Cuban Revolution, you could only travel to Baracoa by boat, but in the 1960s a 120-kilometer-long road known as La Farola was built to connect Baracoa with the interior of Cuba.
Having been protected from crowds of tourists by the remote location, Baracoa has a tranquil vibe untainted by over-tourism. Unique things to do in Baracoa today are the hike to the El Yunque mountain, and visit the city cathedral and the Parque Independencia.
Also check out the Cueva del Paraiso which is an archeological museum with artifacts from the indigenous Taino culture, Casa de la Trova (house of troubadours), or rent a bike to explore on your own.
You can take the four-hour-long bus ride here from Santiago de Cuba to reach this historically important destination in Cuba with amazing nature experiences as well.
19. Cayo Largo Del Sur
Cayo Largo del Sur is a relatively unknown travel destination that is often overshadowed by more popular tourist spots like Havana and Varadero. However, Cayo Largo del Sur is a hidden gem that offers a unique and unforgettable travel experience.
The beaches here are incredible. There are more than 20 kilometers of white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. The beaches are relatively uncrowded, so you can enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the island without feeling overwhelmed by large crowds.
Cayo Largo del Sur also has a fascinating history that is worth exploring. The island was once a haven for pirates and smugglers, and it played a significant role in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Today, visitors can learn about the island’s history by visiting museums and historic sites, such as the El Torreon lighthouse and the Mural de la Prehistoria.
Overall, Cayo Largo del Sur is a unique and unspoiled place to visit in Cuba that offers a mix of natural beauty, history, and culture.
Wrap-Up 19 Amazing Destinations In Cuba
With a little luck, you now feel super motivated to go visit Cuba, and hopefully, your only problem at the moment is choosing places in Cuba to visit, and what to do!
I feel you, after being based in Havana for over two years there are still things I have not been able to explore yet. But discovery is the first step on the way, a step you have just taken. Enjoy your Cuba travel planning, and the answer to any of your Cuba questions is only an email away.