Maria la Gorda
The westernmost point in Cuba is best known for its amazing diving. It’s a tough place to get to due to a lack of public transport, but make the effort and you’ll be rewarded with well-preserved reefs and a laid-back diving camp.
If you’re not much of a diver, it’s still worth a trip to the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, where Maria la Gorda is situated. It’s a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in its own right, with sea turtle nesting sites, mangrove swamps, and dense forests. It’s one of the most isolated areas of Cuba, as the nearest large population centre is found more than two hours away.
A popular stop on the tourist trail, and with good reason. Get out of the town centre and explore on horseback, by bike, or hike some of the many trails. You can also go bird watching and rock climbing in the area.
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
Over in eastern Cuba lies this spectacular park which is known as the best-conserved area of forested mountain ecosystems in the Caribbean. You can organise tours of the park in Holguín.
Cienaga de Zapata National Park
This national park occupies an entire peninsula on the south coast of the island. It’s home to swamps, mangroves and wetlands where you can spot flamingos, crocodiles and many other species.
Cuba has some fabulous beaches, and Varadero is the most well-known. However, make the journey to Cayo Coco and you’ll have unspoilt stretches of sand to yourself. As an extra claim to fame, the beaches were featured in two Ernest Hemingway novels.
Topes de Collantes nature reserve
Escape from the tourist crowds of Trinidad and visit the pine-covered mountains of the Topes de Collantes natural park. It’s just outside the city in the Sierra del Escambray, and there are some good trails and waterfalls to explore.
This planned tourism project isn’t as wild as some of the other attractions on this list, but it’s close to Havana and a great place to spend a day or two. Hike the trails, fly down zip lines, and dive into the swimming holes.
It’s the highest and longest mountain range in Cuba, and it’s also famous as the hideout of the Castro brothers and their revolutionaries during the 1950s. Head to the southern areas to see how the mountains sit almost on the coastline.
Another one for beach lovers. It’s known as the first settlement in Cuba, and there is a flat-topped mountain called El Yunque that has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It’s also close to the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park.
Desembarco del Granma National Park
Named to commemmorate the landing of the Castro revolutionaries in a yacht called the Granma, this coastal park is home to amazing cliffs and waterfalls. There are reefs and mangroves to explore, and the rest of the park boasts a strange terraced topography thanks to limestone formations.