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Baracoa


The remote location at the eastern end of the Cuban island has kept the influence of mass tourism quite low, despite the idyllic location. Baracoa can be reached by bus from Santiago de Cuba (four hours) or by plane from Havana (two hours).

To the east the Fuerte Matachín (built in 1802) is still standing and contains houses and museums. To the west the Fuerte La Punta (built in 1803) houses a restaurant; there is a small beach next to the fort. The third fort, El Castillo, which sits on a steep hill with a commanding view of the town and both bays, is now Hotel El Castillo. The other hotels in Baracoa are Hotel Porto Santo, Hotel La Rusa, Hostal La Habanera and Villa Maguana. There are also a few casas particulares. The Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Asunción houses the earings of the Cruz de la Parra, a cross that Cali is supposed to have brought from Spain. Although it has been carbon dated to approximately that period, it is made from a local type of wood, which means at least part of the story is not correct.

A cabin in the hills near Baracoa
A cabin in the hills near Baracoa – image credit: Dirk van der Made

There are two music venues near the central Parque Independencia, the touristy Flan de Queso and the more traditional Casa de la Flana.

Nearby are the rivers Miel and Toa, the latter of which has many waterfalls, the best known of which is ‘el Saltadero’, which is 17 m high.

The 575 m high table mountain el Yunque (the anvil) is 10 km to the west of Baracoa. It is a remnant of a plateau and because of its isolation it houses several unique species of ferns and palms. The only official and easiest approach to climb it starts at campismo El Yunque (simple lodgings for Cubans only), where a guide is obligatory (about 15 euro).

From Baracoa, it is possible to visit the Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt located about 20 kilometers north.

Salto Fino is the highest waterfall in the Caribbean, located in this municipality, is produced by a sudden drop in the Arroyo del Infierno (Hell’s stream), a tributary of the Quibijan river. That river, along with 71 others, flows into the Toa river, which is the largest river in Cuba. The 305-meter-high Salto Fino waterfall is recorded as the 20th highest water chute in the world.

Baracoa has some very typical dishes, such as cucurucho, a mix of coconut and lots of sugar and other ingredients like orange, guava and pineapple and wrapped in a palm leaf. Another is Bacán, which is made from bananas and wrapped in a banana leaf. And of course there is lots of chocolate in this cocoa producing region.

Sample a Beloved Local Concoction

Concoction - Cuba

Sweet cucurucho, a tasty mix of coconut, sugar, honey, nuts, guava, papaya, and more (each blend is different), is a foodie craze just waiting to happen. Ingeniously packaged in a palm frond and secured with a hook for easy transportation, simply scoop out the delicious paste with your fingers and pop it into your mouth. Locals claim the campesinos (country people) make the best stuff, so look out for roadside sellers just outside of town, or for makers living near Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt, the neighboring national park.

Featured image credit: Paul Postiaux

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