Guanahacabibes

Tourist Destinations

Cuba's westernmost tip, the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, holds a true natural treasure characterized by exuberant vegetation, fauna and flora, as well as the attractions of the region's sea bottoms.

The territory also treasures the imprint of Cuba's first inhabitants, who named the region Guanahacabibes. In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the region a Biosphere Reserve.

The Guanahacabibes National Park is the country's largest natural reserve and is separated from the rest of the island by an isthmus of white-sand plains where Cuba's largest lakeside area lies. A relative small area holds some 100 lakes, as well as the largest and purest fields of silica sand, which is 99.8 percent pure.

The peninsula, one of the last refuges of aboriginal communities fleeing from the Spanish conquistadors, according to experts, also holds some 140 archeological sites linked to the life of aborigines, who were known as guanahatabeyes.

Research has shown that aboriginal communities in different stages of development settled in the region, although the largest population consisted of fishermen and pickers rather than harvesters.

Ecotourism enthusiasts can enjoy a wide range of options, from themes trails such as "Las Perlas Cave", "Forest Facing the Sea" and "Guanahacabibes before Columbus", to excursions to Cabo de San Antonio (Cape San Antonio) and local communities, which are representative of the region's population. Development prospects include the incorporation of such options as the trails "La Majagua" and "Hoyo del Palmar", and excursions to "El Valle Community", "In favor of Ecological Agriculture" and bird-watching spots in Cabo Corrientes (Cape Corrientes), La Bajada, el Bosque, Hoyo del Palmar and Herbazal de Ciénaga.

In Guanahacabibes, nature tourism is a major attraction in a 50,000-hectare National Park inhabited by 172 species of birds belonging to 42 families, 11 of which are endemic and 84 are migratory.

As a peculiar sign of the region's potential for nature tourism, experts say that four of the seven species of marine turtles living on the planet have survived in the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, thanks to Cuban authorities' protection programs.

Coral reefs in a perfect state of preservation are the foundations for the development of underwater programs in Cuba's warm crystal-clear waters.

In that regard, experts say that Cuba has a seductive underwater history that reaches every corner of the country and is complemented by naval battles and legends about pirate attacks near the coast.

At the María La Gorda International Dive Center, diving enthusiasts can stay in 55 cabins, which are equipped with all amenities demanded by modern tourism, so that they can enjoy their leisure time before diving again in the warm water surrounding the Caribbean Island.

The "Los Morros de Piedra" Marina, in the region of Cabo de San Antonio (Cape San Antonio), is one of the latest options of the local leisure industry, as part of a strategy to provide vacationers with more than traditional beach and sun options.

The fast-growing center renders such services as piers, fuel supply, drinking water, electricity, security and protection, and ship's chandler. Among the development projects in the region is the construction of cabins for vacationers who want to stay overnight and enjoy the pristine environment, barely touched by human hands.

A score of diving spots and a marine platform made up of coral reefs inhabited by a wide range of vertebrate and invertebrate species can be found in the region. ,

The waters surrounding the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, especially Cabo Corrientes and Cabo de San Antonio, are inhabited by species of high economic value like the red snapper and the wreck fish, although divers can also find other kinds of treasures.