Cuba is an incredible country that always makes a great impression on travellers, who marvel at its incredibly beautiful cities, somehow decadent yet full of character. Many travel to Cuba to visit its historic cities, such as Havana, Trinidad, Camagüey and Santiago, or to pay homage to Che Guevara mausoleum in Santa Clara. I surely appreciated them too, but I am a real lover of nature and adventure. That’s why it was a must to find some of Cuba’s most incredible natural attractions.
Also, if you are planning to travel to Cuba, I’m sure you’ll have heard of casas particulares, local homes that accommodate tourists. Finding the right casa particular can be a real challenge – there are some stunning homes offering great service and outstanding value for money, whereas others can be very rundown and disappointing. CubaCasa offers a selection of hand-picked casas across the island, making planning so much easier!
Here the five natural attractions in Cuba that I always recommend to visit. Mind you, this list is definitely not exhaustive!
One of the main reason travellers and Cubans alike go to Baracoa, in the Guantanamo province, is to hike El Yunque – a flat top mountain which is also visible from the city.
El Yunque is a mysterious mountain. It can only be hiked with a guide: the vegetation is so thick that it is easy to get lost. You will have to cross a river too – either on a cayuca, a traditional wooden boat, or just walking across it. In order to hike El Yunque you will need some very good hiking boots, as the frequent heavy rains in the region, which is 100% tropical, as well as the vegetation, make it very humid and muddy.
It is a slippery, difficult hike. It can also be seen on horses. At the end of the hike, you can ask your guide to take you across the river to some amazing natural pools. Again, a cayuca can take you across. I am adventurous and the water was so inviting that I actually swam across the river!
This is perhaps the most incredible place in Cuba. It is an incredible valley covered in mogotes (which are isolated steep-sided residual hills that usually have a rounded, tower-like shape and are surrounded by nearly flat alluvial plains), where the countryside is simply breathtaking.
It can be visited on a hike, on horses or on bikes. I always recommend to hire a guide, because the valley is actually quite big, there are several spots to see and it is easy to get lost.
This is where you can visit some traditional tobacco plantations, where tobacco is cultivated and picked in the most traditional way. You can also view the Mural de la Prehistoria, the Cuevas del Indio (beautiful natural caves), and reach the community of Los Aquaticos, who believe in the healing power of water.
Cayo Jutias can be reached from Viñales and is one of the most spectacular beaches in the country. Imagine a long, white and sandy beach, where mangrovias grow well into the sand.
The water is crystal clear and the coral reef can be easily reached for some incredible snorkeling and diving. Also perfect for lazy bums!
Bahia de Cochinos
Usually accessed from the lovely city of Cienfuegos, Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of the Pigs) is interesting for ist historical value: this is where the Kennedy administration had planned ist failed attempt to invade Cuba in 1961.
What makes the Bahia de Cochinos a top natural attraction of Cuba, however, is its crystal clear waters, its coral reef, and some of the best dives in the country.
Reached from Cienfuegos, I think El Nicho is not properly highlighted in any guide book. This place is incredible! It consists of a series of beautiful waterfalls on the Rio Hanabanilla. A short hiking trail takes visitors to natural pools, some quite deep so you can literally jump in.
Warning: the water is very cold, yet so clear and inviting that you will want to jump in. Carry a towel! There are various pools. The ones uphill are easier to reach so attract more visitors, but the ones that go downhill from the parking lot are actually even better.
Here the five natural attractions in Cuba that I always recommend to visit. Mind you, this list is definitely not exhaustive! And if you are looking to travel all around the country and explore the cities too, there’s a huge guide to the frustrations and fascinations on travel to Cuba.
If you want to know more about money, this post is about the cost of travelling in Cuba!
Did we inspire you to travel to Cuba? Have you been? What were your favourite natural attractions?
If you are planning to travel to Cuba, I’m sure you’ll have heard of casas particulares, local homes that accommodate tourists. Finding the right casa particular can be a real challenge – there are some stunning homes offering great service and outstanding value for money, whereas others can be very rundown and disappointing. CubaCasa offers a selection of hand-picked casas across the island, making planning so much easier!
About the Author
Claudia is from Cagliari (Sardinia) and is obsessed with travelling. A former human rights lawyer and academic, after devoting her life to the protection of cultural identity, in November 2013 Claudia decided to give in to her biggest passion and started travelling around Latin America, and she has hardly stopped since. Blogging came as a natural consequence, for Claudia wanted to let her family and friends be updated with her adventures.