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Peninsula de Zapata

Home to the country's—and the Caribbean's—largest wetland, the Península de Zapata is world-renowned for superb bird-watching and fly-fishing. Its pristine coastline also provides excellent dive and snorkeling sites. The peninsula backs onto the Bahía de los Cochinos (Bay of Pigs), named for the cochinos cimarrones (free-range or runaway pigs) that Spanish colonists lost or deliberately stocked in the Zapata swamps during the 16th century. In more recent history, the Bay of Pigs became famous as the site of the failed 1961 invasion attempted by Cuban exiles with the backing and training of the U.S. CIA.

The peninsula remains a fairly remote, undeveloped area, with very limited and basic lodging options. But for divers and birders, it's a must. For curious travelers with limited time, the Varadero hotels organize day trips to the best diving and snorkeling sites, as well as visits to the popular crocodile-breeding center.

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