Western Cuba: Places to Explore

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María la Gorda

Named for a voluptuous young woman who was allegedly captured by pirates and returned to this westernmost Cuban point only to set up a brothel, María la Gorda is on the Bahía de Corrientes, two and a half to three hours from Pinar del Río over difficult road. The small, quiet beaches and clear water make the trip worthwhile, as does the chance to encounter boar, deer, crocodiles, wildcats—though you're more likely to see Cuba's ubiquitous land-crab population headed for the seashore to lay eggs.

The flat, scrub-forested Península de Guanahacabibes was the final refuge for Cuba's Ciboney aboriginals fleeing first the Taíno and then the Spanish conquerors of the late 15th and 16th centuries. The Bahía de Corrientes has some excellent virgin beaches, and the 90-km-long (56-mi-long), 30-km-wide (19-mi-wide) peninsula is known for certain species of birds found only here—notably, the tiny zunzuncito and the torcaza.

María la Gorda at a Glance

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