For many travelers, especially those coming from the United States of America, Cuba is an island nation whose postcard-perfect beaches hold a mystery unique to communist nations. Now that it is possible to legally travel to Cuba as an American, the obvious question is, “Where to go in Cuba?” More specifically, “Where to go in Cuba besides Havana?” Although Havana is a top destination in Cuba, it’s certainly not the beginning and end of this vibrant country and its spirited, resilient people.
Home to classic cars, and the legendary vices of fine rum and exquisite cigars, what is Cuba really like? There are historic destinations where you can discover the history of the land on a guided tour, or through art and architecture. Explore the highlands, where you can hike mountains and take in the geology of the land. Go off the beaten path in Cuba and make the most of your time in the country when you visit the locations many travelers miss. Whatever experience you choose, you'll realize that Cuba is indescribable, and that you can't really know the country until you've been.
Frequently asked questions
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- How Much Does It Cost to Visit a National Park or Reservein Cuba?
There is no separate entrance fee for national parks, but visitors may have to hire a guide to enter the park. American visitors in particular must visit national parks as part of a travel program, which costs money. Tours within the parks also cost money, and the price depends largely on the types of activities that are offered.
- Where Are Cuba's National Parks & Reserves?
You can find national parks and reserves in nearly every region of Cuba.There are national parks on the coast that give visitors access to rare sights like coral reefs and mangrove forests. Go and see the reefs of María La Gorda in western Cuba, in Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park. Visit Ciénega de Zapata National Park in southern Cuba to see some of Cuba’s wetlands – this is also one of Cuba’s top destinations for fishing and birding.
Cuba has deep, dark pine forests with winding trails and interesting birds. Topes de Collantes Natural Park is in southern Cuba, right outside of Trinidad. In eastern Cuba you can visit Pinares de Mayarí, which is remote, serene, and filled with old pines.
- I Want a Nature Vacation. Where Should I Goin Cuba?
During a nature vacation, make sure to visit Cuba’s excellent national parks. Cuba takes pride in its national parks, which are some of the best preserved in the Caribbean. A few have been named UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their varied flora and fauna and sheer impressive vistas.Visit Cuba's incredible coast to see some of its rare plants and animals. Guanahacabibes Peninsula National Park boasts mangrove swamps with diverse populations of birds. For more bird watching, head to southern Cuba to visit the wetlands of Cienéga de Zapata National Park.
Some of the healthiest and most interesting coral reefs are in Cuba are along the coasts of national parks. Jardines de la Reina is the largest and healthiest coral reef in Cuba. You can also see rare black coral reef near the beach at María La Gorda.
In western Cuba travelers can see famous Cuban tobacco farmed the old-fashioned way in Viñales. Descend into the Viñales Valley to see the ancient, rocky formations called magotes. The forest of Pinares de Mayarí is made up of beautiful old pines, and serves as a home to a healthy population of birds. Go east to the Sierra Maestra to climb Cuba's tallest mountain in Pico Turquino National Park.
- Where Are Cuba's Airports?
José Martí International Airport in Havana is the most popular airport for visitors to use. Camagüey, a city in central Cuba, has the Ignacio Agramonte International airport. Havana also has a domestic airport called Playa Baracoa Airport.Cuba’s major cities have their own airports. Heavily visited islands like Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo del Sur also have airports for domestic flights.
- What Should I Wear or Bring to a National Parkin Cuba?
Make sure you bring sunscreen, water, and insect repellent on your visit to a national park. Cuba is usually sunny and fairly warm. Dress in layers and bring a jacket if you intend to ascend any of Cuba’s mountains. It can get quite chilly, especially in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra.
- Are National Parks and Reserves Safein Cuba?
Cuba’s national parks are generally quite safe. Venemous or dangerous animals are not usually a problem for visitors. You may have trouble finding well-marked trails or maps, so the greatest danger is getting lost. Avoid this situation by hiring a guide before you set out.
- Are Cuba's Parks and Reserves Well Developed?
Cuba’s government does not have a lot of money to spend on national parks. You won’t find much in the way of visitor’s centers, and you may not always be able to find good maps – in which case, make sure to visit with a guide. Don’t rely on national parks to provide any necessities, and pack anything you might need in a backpack.