5 Hidden Gems in Cuba - Cities & Natural Parks

Posted by Maria Victoria O'Hana on 02-05-2018 10:33:19

Maria Victoria O'Hana

Whether you're a first time visitor to Cuba or a seasoned Cubaphile, we've got the ultimate list of lesser-known gems that you won't be wanting to miss on your Cuban getaway! Jade-green waterfalls, historic diving spots, charming colonial towns and picture-perfect beaches - here's Cuba's top 5 hidden gems:

1. Baracoa

Baracoa View of City

Known as the first city founded in Cuba by the Spanish colonisers, the Eastern city of Baracoa dates back to 1511. Despite being considered one of the most beautiful areas of the island, Baracoa is not a very well known tourist destination, due to the fact that the city was not communicated with the rest of the country until 1965. Today, a winding road traverses the atmospheric 575-high mountain rage that separates it from the rest of the island.

View of El Yunque Baracoa

Baracoa's highlights include El Yunque, an island-shaped mountain that sits as the backdrop to the cityscape, as well as the city's Malecón - the first sea-wall promenade in all the Caribbean, with a gentle sea-breeze and sunset view that will make you fall in love.

Baracoa Car

The city in itself is home to a charming colonial centre, steeped in rich history. However, it's the warmth and friendliness of the local Baracoenses that truly makes this isolated city stand out! If you decide to visit this beautiful oasis, then don't miss out on the nearby Playa Maguana, a stretch of powdery-white beach flanked to one side by a dense subtropical jungle and the turquoise Caribbean Sea to the other.

2. Remedios

Located on the northern coast of Cuba in the province of Villa Clara, the vibrant colonial city of Remedios is renowned for its famous Parrandas, one of the oldest fiesta traditions in all the Caribbean. Held each year from the 16th-26th December, this explosive festival dates back to 1820 and features religious processions, rumba parades, conga groups, bright, colourful floats and jaw-dropping firework displays.

Parrandas Remedios

The 8th oldest city on the island, Remedios' rich history and culture earnt it the status of National Monument in 1980. The city's central plaza is truly unique, as it's the only on the island to feature two churches - one dedicated to Cuba, and the other to Spain. Like most of the historic city center, these two churches are exemplary relics of Cuban colonial architecture.

Remedios

Remedios is also home to a marble Statue of Liberty, bought by elite residents from the Paris International Exhibition in 1906. Holding a machete in hand (symbol of the mambi fight for independence in the 19th Century), Remedios' Cuban Liberty represent's the island's independence from the colonial chains of the Spanish in 1898.

Hostal Buen Viaje Courtyard

Just an hour from Santa Clara (the 'City of Che') and an hour from Cayo Santa Maria (a paradise key off the northern coast), Remedios makes for a unique stop-over on the way to either destination. The town is home to a number of remarkable casas particulares (private home-stays), such as Hostal Buen Viaje (above), that will allow you to properly immerse yourself in Remedios' colonial enclaves. A relatively unknown gem, Remedios' popularity is on the rise - so make sure to visit soon before the town begins to crowd with tourists!

 

3. El Nicho Waterfalls

El-Nicho-Cuba

Shrouded by the thick jungle of Topes de Collantes Natural Park, the jade-green waters of El Nicho Waterfalls are just an hour away from the beautiful coastal town of Cienfuegos, and just 70 minutes from the UNESCO World Heritage City of Trinidad.

Trekking-to-El-Nicho

Quite literally off the beaten track, visitors must trail a (short!) journey across rustic bridges and through the Cuban boscage to reach this dream-like oasis.

El-Nicho-Waterfalls

Plunge into El Nicho's cool crystaline waters, or enjoy a pounding hydromassage against its foamy-white cascades. Climb up to a breathtaking observation point, or take a flirty stroll to the 'lovers den'! A visit to El Nicho is - without exaggeration - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

 

4. Camaguey

Known as the 'City of Churches', Camaguey is located right bang in the centre of Cuba, making for the perfect stop-over on the way to any number of destinations. A city of horse-drawn carriages, strolling troubadours and pastel-coloured colonial houses, Camaguey is arguably one of Cuba's most overlooked gems.

Plaza-de-los-Trabajadores-Camaguey

There's an old-time vintage glamour to the city, upheld by the resident Camagueyanos, who are known to have the most refined speech in all the island, and to be amongst the most educated and learned of Cubans.

Santa-Lucia-Beach-near-Camaguey-Cuba

Camaguey is also just over an hour away from Cuba's longest beach: Playa Santa Lucia. Across this long stretch of byzantine-blue skies and turquoise-green waters, visitors can explore a variety of stunning diving spots, or observe one of the beach's claims to fame: the daily shark feeding sessions held by local diving instructors.

 

5. Cienaga de Zapata

La-Laguna-del-Tesoro

The diamond of all hidden gems, the Cienaga de Zapata (Zapata Swamp) is a peninsular region on the southern coast of Cuba. Home to a mysterious lagoon, a replica indigenous village, the infamous Bay of Pigs, a hidden fish cave and even a crocodile farm - the Cienaga de Zapata has so many hidden gems of its own that we've dedicated another entire blog post to it!

Jaruca-Sunken-Wreck-in-Playa-Larga

Just a two-hour drive from Havana and Varadero respectively, this is a lesser-known destination that will make a wealth of difference to your Cuba trip. Far away from the tourist hoards, you can snorkel with tropical fish, dive inside a weathered shipwreck, pet a baby crocodile and visit military relics from the Bay of Pigs invasion - all within a 30-mile radius.

Aldea-Taina-Guama

Looking to add that extra oomph to your Cuba holiday? Get in touch with one of our Cuban-born travel agents who can help you put together a tailor-made trip packed with hidden gems and exclusive insider tips!

Tags: where to go, destinations, top destinations, recommendations, travel ideas

Talk to an Expert

Talk to an expert

All our travel consultants have lived or travelled extensively in Cuba. The advice and information they provide come from first-hand knowledge - not search engine.

ENQUIRE
About Us

About us

We are not an ordinary tour operator. We are a team of Cuba enthusiasts that thrive on creating unique travel experiences in a country we know inside out (and that many of us call home!). We do this by going above and beyond for our clients, listening to their needs and using our expert knowledge to translate this into their dream holiday.

Read more >

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all