Caribbean Tourism

Travel Information

The South Coast: Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo (pop: 4 million), the capital and chief seaport, was founded on 5 August 1498 (although the first houses were built in 1496) by Columbus’ brother Bartolomé on the eastern bank of the Río Ozama and hence was the first capital in Spanish America. For years the city was the base for the Spaniards’ exploration and conquest of the continent: from...

Getting There

Air In addition to these scheduled flights there are hundreds of charter flights from N America, Europe & S America which are usually cheaper but vary according to the season. To Santo Domingo... From North America: American Airlines fly from Boston, Miami and New York; Continental, Queen Air, Tower Air and TWA also from New York. Aeromar and Apa...

Roseau

Roseau (pronounced Rose-oh), the main town, is small, ramshackle and friendly, with a surprising number of pretty old buildings still intact. The houses look a bit tatty with rusting tin roofs and a general lack of paint, but there is still some attractive gingerbread fretwork in the traditional style on streets like Castle Street. Quite a lot of...

The Islands

Isla de la Juventud: There are three good reasons for visiting the Isla de la Juventud: diving, birdwatching and checking out Cuban provincial life away from tourist resorts. The island is a good place to go for a weekend out of Havana, although if you plan to see the whole island you will need more time. Additional Resources :Isla de la Juventud : Litte...

Culture

Literature: The Cuban Revolution had perhaps its widest cultural influence in the field of literature. Many now famous Latin American novelists (like Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortázar) visited Havana and worked with the Prensa Latina news agency or on the Casa de las Américas review. Not all have maintained their allegiance, just...

Zapata Peninsula

The whole of the south coast of Matanzas province is taken up with the Zapata Peninsula, an area of swamps, mangroves and beaches. It is the largest ecosystem in the island and contains the Laguna del Tesoro, a 9.1 sq km lagoon over 10 m deep, an important winter home for flocks of migrating birds. There are 16 species of reptiles, including crocodiles....

Santa Clara

Santa Clara (pop: 237,581 alt: 112m) is a pleasant university city in the centre of the island best known for being the site of the last and definitive battle of the Revolution and the last resting place of Che Guevara. It is 300 km from Havana and 196 km from Varadero. In December 1958, before Castro entered Havana, Batista sent an armoured train with...

Sancti Spíritus

Sancti Spíritus, (pop: 100,000) the provincial capital, is about 80 km northeast of Trinidad and 90 km southeast of Santa Clara. Like Trinidad, the town was founded by Diego Velázquez in 1514 and is one of Cuba’s seven original Spanish towns and has a wealth of buildings from the colonial period. The Iglesia Parroquial Mayor del Espíritu Santo, on Plaza...

Cienfuegos

Cienfuegos, on the south coast, is an attractive seaport and industrial city, sometimes described as the pearl of the south, and there is a very Caribbean feel to the place. French immigrants at the beginning of the 19th century influenced the development and architecture of the city, which is a fascinating blend of styles. There are interesting colonial...

Ciego de Avila

Ciego de Avila (pop: 86,100) was founded in 1849, and consequently is short of fine historical buildings and monuments. It is an agricultural market town with a large thermal electricity plant. The main road from Havana to Camagüey passes straight through the middle of town; most people just keep going. The main square is the Parque Martí, with a church and...

Camagüey

Camagüey (pop: 772,000) has been politically and historically important since the beginning of the 16th century and still has a lot of well-preserved colonial buildings, most dating from the 18th and 19th centuries. Many generations of revolutionaries have been associated with Camagüey and several key figures are commemorated, the most notable being Ignacio...

Trinidad

Trinidad, (pop: 60,000) 133 km south of Santa Clara, is a perfect relic of the early days of the Spanish colony: beautifully preserved streets and buildings and hardly a trace of the 20th century anywhere. It was founded in 1514 by Diego Velázquez as a base for expeditions into the ‘New World’and Cortés set out from here for Mexico in 1518. The five main...

Vinales

North of Pinar del Río, the road leads across pine-covered hills and valley for 25 km to Viñales, a delightful, small town in a dramatic valley in the Sierra de los Organos. The valley has a distinctive landscape, with steep-sided limestone mountains called mogotes rising dramatically from fertile flat-floored valleys, where farmers cultivate the red soil...

Pinar del Río

The capital of Pinar del Río province is lively and attractive, and it gives a good taste of provincial Cuba. The centre consists of single-storey neo-classical houses with columns, some with other interesting architectural detail. Cigar factory There is a cigar factory, one of the town’s main tourist attractions, which reputedly makes the best cigars in...

Matanzas

Matanzas (pop: 115,000) is a sleepy town with old colonial buildings and a busy, ugly industrial zone. Both the rivers Yumurí and San Juan flow through the city. Most of the old buildings are between the two rivers, with another colonial district, Versalles, to the east of the Río Yumurí. This area was colonized in the 19th century by French refugees from...