The lost city of Baracoa
Near the eastern tip of the island and situated closer to Haiti than Havana, was founded in 1511 as the first villa in Cuba. It was the first capital city of Cuba, but was forgotten over time as the rest of the villas were founded, due to only being able to be accessed by the sea. La Farola Road, is one of the seven wonders of Cuban architecture of the 20th century was built in the 70’s providing access to the city.
Baracoa is a true natural paradise, with 29 rivers, Atlantic Ocean to the North, amazing mountains to
the South. If you were ever looking for El Dorado, this place is it! And if the sights weren’t amazing enough it is also a true foodie paradise with amazing seafood, unique dishes, delicious cacao, and the freshest coconuts around.
Fertile forests, azure seas, foot-tapping tunes and delicious desserts – don’t miss the quirky eastern city of Baracoa.
Baracoa has beautiful beaches away from the crowds and noise you find in huge resorts of the norther beaches. The clear sea at Playa Maguana and its bright colours are unmatched in the region. Its smooth waves rock you and it’s a great pleasure to float on these waters, protected from sea currents by a series or rock and coral reefs. El Manglito epitomizes the laid back Caribbean beach. Bask on the good vibes under the sun and palm trees, stroll on the light colored sand and
bathe in the shallow waters, enjoy a mojito or a beer and have a nice lunch of fresh fish or seafood right by the sea. Or go for a swim at Playa Blanca near the idyllic fishing village Boca de Miel. Here a rustic bridge that crosses over the Rio de Miel is the perfect place to snap a pic before heading to the caves.
Baracoa’s most impressive museum, La Cueva del Paraíso is a series of caves that were once Taíno burial chambers. Among nearly 2000 authentic Taíno pieces are unearthed skeletons, ceramics, 3000-year-old petroglyphs and a replica of the Ídolo de Tabaco, a sculpture found in Maisí in 1903 and considered to be one of the most important Taíno finds in the Caribbean.
One of the greatest off the beaten path things to do in Baracoa is visit Parque Natural Majayara just southeast of town. As you hike you’ll arrive at the home of the Fuentes family sells fruit and coffee fresh from their finca. A little ways beyond that stop there’s a cave, Cueva de Aguas, a cave with a sparkling, freshwater swimming hole inside. Tracking back up the hillside you’ll come to an archaeological trail with more caves and marvelous ocean views.
If you are up for hiking, visit El Yunque, the table-shaped mountain that towers over the village of Baracoa. Although it sits a mere 575 meters above sea level, it is a tiring hike to reach the summit. Prepare for some hard work, a lot of sweat and beautiful views of the tropical rainforest. After an intensive sun-drenched hike, nothing is more rewarding than a refreshing swim in the river while
looking up at a beautiful waterfall. Or seek out Salto Fino, he tallest cascade in the Caribbean inside the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Teaser of the senses
When you are done admiring nature, you can check out the trio of muscular Spanish forts that were protecting Baracoa. Fuerte La Punta, built in 1803, now houses an amazing restaurant. Fuerte Matachín, built in 1802, that now houses the Museo Municipal. The small but beautiful building showcases an engaging chronology of Baracoa, including polymita snail shells, the story of Che Guevara and the chocolate factory, and the particular strand of music Baracoa gave birth to: kiribá, a forefather of son. Alternately, you can make your way to Castillo de Seboruco. Baracoa’s highest fort, although barely recognizable as a fort these days, it serves as Hotel El Castillo.
For a different kind of museum, visit Casa del Cacao. It exhibits elements of history relating to the cultivation of Cocoa in the region and the history of the Mayan culture. The museum also explains the treatments of the grains, their sun drying process in large drawers and finally the toasting on wood fires in special pots, cleaning and milling. And if you still feel like chocolate, they have a chocolate factory producing chocolate bars and other treats for sale.
For a small town Baracoa sure has a lot to offer! If you thought it was only your days that were going to be jam packed here, think again!
The nightlife is amazing in Baracoa with live music, and various styles of rhythms, you cannot go wrong. Whether you visit Casa de la Trova, Cuba’s smallest, zaniest, wildest and most atmospheric place or Casa de la Cultura, make sure you grab a mojito and put your dancing shoes on as you will be participating in the dancing in no time!
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