Punta Frances National Park
The Punta Francés National Park is known for its untouched beaches and rare species of wildlife. It covers the southern end of Cuba’s largest island, Isla de Juventud. Visitors come here for diving, snorkeling, and swimming in the clear, calm water. These beaches are some of the most secluded and pristine in all of Cuba.
This park’s coast has some of the most impressive diving spots of the Caribbean, with large sections of intact reef. Reefs here include sections of brain coral, a type of coral named for its wrinkled texture and bulbous shape. While snorkeling here you’re likely to see schools of tarpon, snooks, barracuda, and angelfish. Advanced divers should explore the tunnel of Cueva Azul, which shelters especially large specimens of tarpon.
Punta Francés’ ecosystem supports numerous endangered animals. When you go for a diving or snorkeling trip, you might get to see hawksbill sea turtles. There are also manatees in the protected waters, but visitors are not allowed to swim with these animals. This park also serves as a habitat for the American crocodile. Make time in your itinerary to hike inland, where you’ll get the chance to spot some of the island’s many lizards and butterflies.