For Cubans and Havana residents in particular, the death of Eusebio Leal just over a year ago left the island’s capital fatherless.
The nature in the east of Cuba is imposing and inspiring and the landscapes are a spectacle. When we talk about eastern Cuba, we allude to the history of the nation since its beginning, as the old world’s encounter with the island took place precisely in this terrain: Columbus disembarked in 1492 in Bariay, a beautiful inlet in the province of Holguín.
But let’s start our tour in Camagüey, one of the seven oldest cities in Cuba. Its historic center is one of the 13 World Heritage Sites on the island and, in addition to its striking architecture, the region has excellent havens of sun and sea. Its beaches are serene and warm, and staying at them is a great pleasure. The most famous of all is Santa Lucía, on the north coast of the province, with a well-preserved coral reef, among the most extensive in the Caribbean area and excellent for scuba diving.
In search of the sunrise, we arrived in Las Tunas, the city of sculptures and verse where, every year, the traditional Cucalambeana Day and the Ibero-American Festival of the Décima and Improvised Verse are held, events in which artists and producers of the genre come together to enjoy literature and music. To admire the nature of Las Tunas you must visit Playa Covarrubias, a splendid seaside resort in the north of the province, ideal for an intense day of sun and sea, including diving.
Continuing on our way, we arrive at Holguín, a naturally privileged province, “...the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen...”, as Columbus described it when he disembarked on the shores of Bariay. Its high peaks, exuberant plains and soft sandy beaches make up a spectacular landscape. Holguín’s attractions include the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, a World Heritage Site and a magnificent natural space for those who love ecological tourism. And to enjoy Holguín’s sea: Guardalavaca and Esmeralda Beach.
Another jewel of eastern Cuba is Cayo Saetía, a fascinating islet near Holguín, considered a natural reserve because of the variety of animal species in the wild and its remarkable floral biodiversity. Its shore is inspiring and the marine platform that surrounds the key offers an ideal environment for those who enjoy underwater activities.
To the southwest, we find Granma, a province of extraordinary contrasts, where everything is enchanting: imposing cliffs, vast plains, inviting beaches, waterfalls, coral reefs and impressive caves, such as those of Samuel and Fustete. Its provincial capital, Bayamo, is the second oldest city in the country and has an amazing history.
Cradle of the Cuban nationality, in Bayamo the national anthem was born and sung for the first time, and it was the capital of the Republic in Arms. Its oldest and most enjoyable tradition are the horsedrawn carriage rides, pleasant tours in the style of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, around places of interest, a memorable experience.
And on the way, we arrive in Santiago de Cuba, the most Caribbean of Cuban cities. Its reputation for being cheerful and cosmopolitan makes it a point of call for many visitors who, once they get to know it, always come back. Santiago has the oldest house on the continent (16th century), considered the only one of its kind still preserved in Hispanic America. The house was the residence of Governor Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar and today houses the city’s fascinating Museum of Cuban Historical Environment.
Talking about the city’s music is exciting. This melodious land is the birth place of son, bolero, traditional trova and fun, contagious conga santiaguera.
And finally, the First City of Cuba: Baracoa, astonishing land, founded in 1512. A small colonial village with a provincial spirit and centuries-old customs that have survived over time. Its nature is one of the most charming in Cuba. And for those who like to delve into its origins, Baracoa has more than 60 archeological sites that speak of the Taínos, an ancient civilization that inhabited the area.
If you have decided to visit Cuba, go to the east, your journey will be well rewarded. There is only one thing that will remain unsatisfied...desire, the desire to stay longer. But don’t let that stop you, enjoy it all. At the end of your vacation you will be happy, besides, there is always the opportunity to come back.