Holguín is one of Cuba’s most important eco-tourist destinations with a breath-taking landscape of jungle, coastline and rugged mountains. Founded in 1523, Holguín also boasts a rich cultural heritage evidenced in its museums and fine colonial architecture.
Cuba’s fourth largest city is renowned for its Loma de La Cruz, a 261m hill bearing a wooden cross at its peak. Accessible by road as well as a 458-step climb, the Loma offers a mesmerising 360-degree panorama of the city and its distinctively symmetrical streets. Holguin is made up of a series of interconnected parks, colonial squares and national monuments.
The city in itself can easily be explored by foot. Visitors will be able to admire its charming plazas, including Plaza Calixto García (home to the Museum of Provincial History), Plaza Julio Grave de Peralta (home to the Catedral de San Isidoro, a beautiful 18th century church), together with the Plaza de la Marqueta and Plaza de las Flores. The recently renovated Teatro Suñol is an art-deco delight for architecture fanatics.
Among the most interesting places to visit in the province is Gibara, the ‘White Village’. Dubbed by The Guardian as ‘Cuba’s best-kept secret’, this isolated fishing village is filled with charming colonial plazas and is the annual host of the Festival Internacional de Cine Pobre (International Low Budget Film Festival). One of the most popular indie film events in all of Latin America, the festival draws international audiences to Gibara each April.
Gibara is also worth the visit for its colonial architecture, which earned the entire city National Monument status. Great news came last year when the Ministry of Tourism announced a development plan including a full restoration of Gibara’s historical centre (dating from the 19th century), updating the village’s marina and building boutique hotels out of the ruins of iconic colonial buildings.
A tropical jungle key located just off Holguin’s Nipe Bay, Cayo Saetía is a nature-lover’s paradise. Venture into the lush greenery to catch a glimpse of its protected wildlife, including antelopes, buffalos, deer, wild boars, ostriches and zebras, all of which roam freely throughout the reserve.
The province of Holguin is home to over 40 different beaches. Esmeralda, Pesquero and Guardalavaca are the most popular but it’s possible to live your desert island fantasy in off-the-beaten-track Playa Yuraguanal. Below the surface of the glittering Caribbean Sea, the coastal province possesses the world’s second largest coral reef, offering a myriad of spectacular diving spots.
The Parque Natural Bahía de Naranjo is a fantastic option for those who enjoy water activities. This floating tourist complex includes natural pools, a restaurant, a bar and a fun-packed dolphin centre, where visitors can swim alongside these playful creatures for an unforgettable experience.