Latin America Travel & Tour Information
Baracoa Travel Information
Baracoa is a tiny and charming village on the shores of Miel (Honey) Bay. It was Cuba's first founded settlement in 1512 by Diego Velásquez, being also the oldest colonial town in the Americas. Rumor has it, that Columbus set foot on the American continent for the first time here in Baracoa; the locals tell of a wooden cross that Columbus himself planted here to indicate his glorious arrival. This cross, considered one of the oldest relics in the New World, has been tested with carbon 14 and at present is on exhibit in the local Asunción Church.
Baracoa has basically remained a small and very picturesque fishing village with a, particular charm that casts a spell on every visitor. Its magic probably comes from the perfect combination of lush vegetation, high imposing neighboring mountains carpeted with dense forests and last but not least, the turquoise blue ocean.
Palm grooves and hills embrace the town, bathe at the same time by ten water courses; the surroundings have been declared a Natural Reserve by UNESCO and constitutes Cuba's largest green area which teems with a diversity of flora and fauna. This is a region of palm trees, bananas and cocoa, where chocolate remains an exclusive produce to this sector of the island.
Baracoa was practically isolated from the rest of the country's dynamics for many years until the 1960s when the road that links it to Santiago was finished. Nowadays, it is one of the most visited corners on the island due to its several attractions. In spite of its small size, the town has a lot to offer. Baracoa is also renowned by the perfectly preserved aboriginal paintings found in the caves of Patana, Potrerillo and Oscura.
One characteristic element here is no doubts the 18th-century fortification network that still stands as Baracoa secular guardian. It is definitely worth visiting Forts Matachín, La Punta and Sanguily, now serving as a small hotel.
It is especially recommended to visit Baracoa on April's first week, that is, during the Culture Week. It is a popular street celebration that coincides with General Antonio Maceo's landing in local Duaba beach in 1895 to recommence the independence wars.
The main options here are the quiet local beaches, the boat trips along the neighboring rivers, the trekking excursions in the forests and the coastline or the visit to historical sites.
Baracoa Tours coming soon!
La Farola Road
Built during the 60s, it finally bound Baracoa with the rest of the country. It was named this way due to the views that it offers in its snaking itinerary through Cuba's highest mountain range. It is considered one of the country's best engineering works and first achievements of the Revolution. It is indeed a good opportunity to take in the startling green surroundings and spectacular views along the way.
Located west of Baracoa, it is a highly popular spot among the locals. Its chief attraction lies in the impressive mountain rising behind it as a gigantic guardian to this lovely spot and a challenge to nature lovers and hikers.
About 20 km also in a westerly direction from Baracoa, this is a white sand spot nestled by a tiny village with a bar and restaurant amid the lush vegetation.
Our Lady of Asunción Cathedral
It was built in 1512 and burned down by French pirates in 1652, then reconstructed in its present style during the early 19th century. The cathedral exhibits a highly valued relic: The Grape-Wood Cross considered the last remaining from the 29 crosses that Columbus himself planted along many a place during his voyages, as witnesses to the arrival of Christianity. This Cross is the oldest catholic relic in America dating back to 1492.
Independence Park or Main Square
Built in front of the Cathedral, it is the meeting point for tourists and locals. The park features a bust in honor to an Indian chieftain named Hatuey. Regarded as the first rebel in America, Hatuey came from La Hispaniola to warn the Cuban aboriginal about the Spanish raid. He led a rebellion in this area, but was eventually captured and burned at the stake. The story goes that before the execution, the priest asked Hatuey if he wanted to go to heaven; he then questioned if the Spanish were also going there. The priest replied that all Christians go to heaven, to which Hatuey answered: ?then, I don?t want to be in a place where I'll be meeting them again.
Old forts that protected Baracoa from pirate raids
Santa Bárbara Castle is the oldest of them and owns a spectacular view over the bay, now doing as a hotel. La Punta Fort is also available to visits and has been partly turned into a restaurant. Matachín Fort, located at the town's main access, it is Baracoa's main museum. The exhibits reflect the local history through objects, myths and legends. There is a remarkable collection of polimitas pictas, multi-colored snails typical of eastern Cuba and used as money by the aboriginals.
The Anvil Mountain (El Yunque)
This is the imposing mountain that dominates the local landscape and is located about 10 km west of the bay. The ascend to the summit takes almost 4 hours and makes for a perfect place to admire the scenery and take a closer look at the diversity of local flora and fauna of several bird species, seas of palm trees, the rain forest and the local cocoa.
From Baracoa it is possible to go on an excursion to Maisi, the easternmost tip of Cuba, to observe the impressive marine terraces. This is also the island's driest area and there is a substantial chance in the landscape in respect to Baracoa.