Playa Giron

A popular destination for diving and snorkeling, this beach town is famously known as the site of the Bay of Pigs invasion. On April 17, 1961, much of the ill-fated invasion took place here. More than 1,100 men of the 1,300 Cuban exiles who made up the landing force were captured, with more than 110 killed. (Five minutes in close contact with the mosquitoes of the Zapata swamp will explain a lot about this fracas.) In December 1962, most of the prisoners were returned to the United States in exchange for Cuban prisoners in the United States and a ransom of $53 million in supplies. Even today, "La Victoria" is one of Cuba's great rallying points and sources of pride.

About 2,000 people live in sleepy Playa Girón village in the middle of which stands a billboard that reads: Playa Girón—la primera derrota del imperialismo norteamericano en américa latina (Playa Girón—the first defeat of U.S. imperialism in Latin America). Along the road between La Boca de Guamá and Playa Girón, you'll also see concrete slabs commemorating Cuban defenders who fell in the invasion, as well as a huge billboard noting the spot the invaders managed to reach before retreating. The beach itself is quite windswept, protected from rough seas by an unsightly, concrete sea wall, which is crumbling, so it's not the ideal tropical beach scene.

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