Western Cuba Travel Guide

Getting Oriented

Caves, beaches, mountain waterfalls, underwater reefs and galleons, and flora and fauna—from hummingbirds to whale sharks—are all present in western Cuba. Pinar del Río's vegas (tobacco fields), the mogotes of Viñales, the Robinson Crusoe-esque simplicity of Cayo Levisa's virgin beaches, the faded glory of the city of Matanzas, and Varadero's long strand are all worlds unto themselves. The swampy Península de Zapata, with its crabs and crocodiles, and the dive sites near María la Gorda and the Isla de la Juventud offer even more variety.

Pinar del Rio Province. A short distance from Havana, this province attracts nature lovers for its pine-forested mountains, nature preserves, and plantations. Settled in the 18th century, the province was built on a mixture of tobacco, sugar, and coffee plantations.

Archipelago de los Canarreos. While Isla de la Juventud caters less to tourism, Cayo Largo caters to tourists. Resorts on Cayo Largo resemble those found on beachside strips like Varadero, or the northern Cayos.

Matanzas Province. Pass the impressive bridge of Bacunayagua and you are at the western boundary of the province that is home to Cuba's best-known resort town, Varadero. Other cities in the province include the city of horses, Cárdenas, or the capital, the city of bridges, Matanzas.

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