Eastern Cuba: Places to Explore


  • Baracoa

    Cuba's first Spanish settlement was founded in 1512 by Diego Velázquez, who went on to settle six other cities. Today Baracoa is one of the island's most charming towns. Its historic center is bounded by... Read more

  • Bayamo

    Bayamo, the capital of Granma Province, is descended from one of Spain's first seven villas: the 1513 settlement of Villa de San Salvador de Bayamo, which was near present-day Yara before being moved to... Read more

  • Chivirico

    A little more than halfway to Santiago lies Chivirico, a beach town with a nice all-inclusive resort. The beaches here offer all kinds of water-sports activities; the diving is particularly noteworthy... Read more

  • Guantánamo

    Despite its scenic parks and aging manses on wide palm-lined streets, many feel that the eponymous provincial capital is ugly and boring. The people, however, are beautiful and vibrant. Much of the populace... Read more

  • Guardalavaca

    The north coast of Holguín Province has some of eastern Cuba's finest beaches. Guardalavaca, a funny name that translates as "guard the cow," is the most famous of these. (One theory behind its name is... Read more

  • Holguín

    "Holguín was for me … absolute boredom," wrote Reinaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls, an autobiography that became Julian Schnabel's Academy Award–nominated film in 2000. "The town was flat, commercial... Read more

  • Manzanillo

    The charming, cheerful port of Manzanillo stretches 3 km (2 mi) along the Bahía de Guacanayabo. It has a beautiful historic district whose pastel-painted structures have elements of Moorish architecture... Read more

  • Media Luna

    The road south from Manzanillo passes through cane fields and smoking sugar mills to the town where Celia Sánchez was born. Eight kilometers (5 miles) south of this town lies the turn-off to Pilón and... Read more

  • Parque Baconao

    The Baconao Biosphere Reserve starts at San Juan Hill in Santiago and covers some 800 square km (309 square mi) east of the city. In addition to beaches and mountains, it contains several museums, a flower... Read more

  • Parque Nacional Turquino

    The Sierra Maestra was the base of Castro's rebel army, and a tour through its dramatic terrain makes it clear why the revolutionaries chose it as a place to hide from—and launch clandestine strikes against—Batista's... Read more

  • Playa las Coloradas

    Throughout Granma Province, signs marking municipal limits bear the town name and an image of the Granma, the boat that carried Castro and his rebels to Cuba in their 1956 "invasion" of the island. Playa... Read more

  • Santiago de Cuba

    To earn the title Hero City, Santiago has played an important role in island history, from the beginnings of the wars for independence to Castro. Yet it also has an independent spirit, bred through its... Read more

  • Yara

    West of Bayamo, the road to Manzanillo passes through banana farms and cane fields. The biggest settlement between the two cities is Yara, a striking sugar town in the shadow of the Sierra Maestra. The... Read more