Viva La Cuba!
Prepare yourself to step into a time-wrap and let your senses contradict each other. Cuba, quirky with it’s nostalgic vintage transports, Spanish-colonial architecture and Caribbean culture fused together with communist rule and modern society – this island is a magical and unique yacht charter destination.
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The Republic of Cuba
Geographically The Republic of Cuba is a part of the Greater Antilles and is located in the northern Caribbean and include the main island of Cuba (the largest island in the Caribbean) as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor islands and islets.
The main island has and area of over hundred thousand square kilometers and has over 11 million habitants. Culturally the country is considered part of Latin America where the habitants are multi-ethnic with roots in the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples that has had a long history of Spanish colonialism and introduction of African slaves with the addition of close relationship with the Soviet Union.
With nine areas listed on UNESCOs World Heritage List (seven cultural and two natural), a visit to the island is a must for anyone having interest in Caribbean history and heritage.
For more general information of Cuba go:
Cuba Travel & Tour Guide
Ancient History – The Mysterious Taino of the Caribbean
North West Cuba
National Park of the Guanahacabibes Peninsula
On the most western tip of Cuba you will find The Guanahacabibes National Park. It is one of Cuba’s largest natural reserves.
The ecologically rich peninsula is separated from the rest of the island by white-sand plains and was one of the last refuges of aboriginals fleeing from the Spanish conquistadors. It has many archeological sites linked to the life the early habitants known as Guanahatabeyes.
UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve includes both sea and land areas – coral reefs, rocky and sandy beaches, evergreens, mangroves and more. The biodiversity of flora and fauna is high including many threatened species.
The Viñales Valley
Located in the Sierra de los Organos encircled by mountains and dotted with spectacular dome-like limestone outcrops resides the Viñales Valley. Protected by UNESCO’s World Heritage list, the valley’s farmlands and villages is vernacular with an agricultural production that still using traditional methods.
Havana is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city is approx. 730 square km / 280 square miles and is the largest city in Cuba. It is located on the north-westen shores of the island and Old Havana was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century. Today Havana has expanded to not only include Old Havana but also Vedado and newer surrounding districts so the city is now has 15 municipalities.
Havana is a successfully fusion with it’s colonial past and the modern society. Havana is considered as the largest city in the whole of the Caribbean and possibly one of the most culturally-rich city center across the globe. Venture out into this bustling city filled with culture with passion, exuberant dans and music, see the cathedrals, the castles, the museum and do not forget to enjoy a Cuban Coffee at one of the many culture rich cafes.
One of Old Havana’s most beautiful spots is the Cathedral Square – Plaza de la Catedral. It is one of five main squares in Old Havana and the site of the Cathedral of Havana.
Old Havana and its Fortification System is an UNESCO World Heritage listing. “Urban plazas surrounded by many buildings of outstanding architectural merit and narrow streets lined with more popular or traditional styles permeate the historic centre of the city. Its overall sense of architectural, historical and environmental continuity makes it the most impressive historical city centre in the Caribbean and one of the most notable in the American continent as a whole”
The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana is a dual-site art museum you can spend including a wast array of items. The international section exhibits include arts from 500 BC, a Spanish collection, Roman mosaics, Greek pots and British art whereas second section displays purely Cuban art.
For more information of Havanna go:
Cuba’s Official Travel & Tourism Guide – Havana
UNESCO – Old Havana and its Fortification System
The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana in Havana
Cuba's North-facing Coastlines
Considered having Caribbean most beautiful beaches the North Coasts of Cuba have plenty-fold of resorts and upmarket tourism infrastructure, Varadero in the very north being the most developed area all types of entertainment, activities and not to be forgotten a famous 20km stretch of blond sandy beach.
Further South Cayo Coco is anothe busy tourisdestination whereas the Playas Flamenco, Pilar, Perla Blanca and Los Pinos are more tranquile and almost desserted and excellent get-away spots for solitude and relaxation.
North of the Guardalavaca resort area Playas Turquesa and Esmeralda are another set of picture-perfect beaches with golden or white soft sand and crystal clear waters whereas the resort and beach of Guardalava itself has a backdrop of gentle hills and cane fields enticing Cubans and tourists alike.
Further south east on the north facing shores resides the nature reserve Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. This is another UNESCO protected site making a total nine listings on the World Heriate list and two on the Nature reserve list.
- UNESCO’s Alejandro de Humboldt National Park: “Complex geology and varied topography have given rise to a diversity of ecosystems and species unmatched in the insular Caribbean and created one of the most biologically diverse tropical island sites on earth. Many of the underlying rocks are toxic to plants so species have had to adapt to survive in these hostile conditions. This unique process of evolution has resulted in the development of many new species and the park is one of the most important sites in the Western Hemisphere for the conservation of endemic flora.”
Center of Cuba
Historic Centre of Camagüey – Camagüey – “One of the first seven villages founded by the Spaniards in Cuba, Camagüey played a prominent role as the urban centre of an inland territory dedicated to cattle breeding and the sugar industry.”
Santiago di Cuba
Santiago di Cuba is the second largest municipality of Cuba and is a vibrant soulful city abundant with life, music, arts, food and culture and located on the foot hills of the Sierra Maestra mountains on the south-eastern coastline.
Parque Céspedes, not far from the port, is a city square surrounded of colonial architecture and is a must if you wish to indulge in the romantic Cuban street life.
The cherished Basílica Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre – National Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Charity is a Roman Catholic basilica dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary is located at El Cobre, west of the city.
All Caribbean island locals are proud of their heritage and islands and Cuba is no exception. Carnival & Festival del Caribe – Fiesta del Fuego is grand annual event which takes place in early July allowing the Cubans celebrate their heritage and culture.
Santiago de Cuba is privilidged with two of the UNESCO World Heritage listings:
- San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba, is the most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture, based on Italian and Renaissance design principles and was constructed during the 17th century to protect the important Port of Santiago. The fortification is an intricate complex of forts, magazines, bastions and batteries.
- Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba, is the remains of the 19th-century coffee plantations in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra. The site illustrates not only the architectural and archaeological material evidence of 171 old coffee plantations but also the infrastructure for irrigation and water management, and the transportation network of mountain roads and bridges connecting the plantations internally and with coffee export points.
For more information of Santiago di Cuba go:
Cuba’s Official Travel & Tourism Guide – Santiago di Cuba
UNESCO – San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba
UNESCO – Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba
Cuba's South-facing Coastlines
Cuba’s southern coast is privileged with two of UNESCO’s World heritage listings and one UNESCO listed Nature reserve namely:
- UNESCO’s Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos: “Cienfuegos was established in 1819 on the Caribbean coast of south central Cuba. Although located in Spanish territory, many of its first settlers were of French origin from Bordeaux and French colonies such as Louisiana. A commercial port town, located in the heart of a fertile agricultural region producing sugar, cane, mango, tobacco and coffee, its prosperity was primarily linked to the 19th-century sugar boom. By the 1860s, Cienfuegos was the third most important city in Cuba, by economical wealth.”
- UNESCO’s Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios: “Trinidad, located in the central Cuban province of Sancti Spíritus, was founded in the early 16th century but owes its existence and its historical raison d’être to the sugar industry that flourished there and in the nearby Valley de los Ingenios (Valley of the Sugar Mills) from the late 18th century to the late 19th century. The exemplary city of Trinidad’s prosperity during this period is clearly legible in its existing built environment, its buildings ranging in expression from modest, vernacular variants to elaborate, luxurious edifices.”
- UNESCO’s Desembarco del Granma National Park: “Desembarco del Granma National Park (DGNP) is situated in the Southwestern tip of Cuba, and more specifically in the municipalities of Niquero and Pilon in Granma Province. The property lies within the tectonically active zone between the Caribbean and the North American Plate and conserves the limestone terraces of Cabo Cruz at the western end of the Sierra Maestra Mountains. A series of these elevated terraces extends from 180 meters below to 360 meters above sea level.”
The picturesque city of Trinidad with it’s special feel, cobbled stoned streets, colourful houses sets a relaxed tempo perfect for a chilled day’s sightseeing before venturing to the close by nature park Parque Natural Topes de Collantes to the west or to Playa Ancón, a long beach with natural flair, a perfect spot to go snorkelling or diving.
Isla de la Juventud & The Canarreos Archipelago
Isla de la Juventud – Isle of Youth, is the largest of over three hundred islands and islets in the Canarreos Archipelago – Archipiélago de los Canarreos, has an estimated population of 100,000. This is a off-the-beaten-track location, a white sand beach paradise. Once a pirate stong-hold the modern society has not yet taken over the island so prepare yourself to step back in time.