Guardalavaca

This area was described by Christopher Columbus as ‘the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen’. It consists of undulating hills blanketed in tropical vegetation, with large lagoons bordering unspoilt beaches. Thanks to a limited number of resorts, Guardalavaca is a quiet, idyllic location for a relaxing beach holiday whilst being conveniently situated for exploring the diverse sights of eastern Cuba.
 
Places to Visit
 
Holguin City 
At the time of its colonisation, slavery did not really spread to Holguin and with the native population wiped out, this city is very much steeped in Spanish history and colonial architecture. With no port, the city grew slowly but by the nineteenth century it had established a solid economy through sugar, fruit and tobacco production. During this century it also played an important part in the wars of independence and the main square is named after one of its most famous sons, Calixto Garcia. Don’t miss the climb to the top of Loma de la Cruz (450 steps), which affords spectacular views over the area. 
 
Chorro de Maita 
This substantial site unearthed by archeologists revealed some 60 skeletons together with a number of artefacts all dating from the pre-Colombian era. At the nearby town of Banes the archeological museum exhibits flint knives, axes, terracotta vases and a gold idol dating from the 13th century. 
 
Naranjo Bay 
This large unspoilt bay, part of a national park, is home to a small aquarium containing dolphins and sea lions. The departure point is only a few minutes’ ride from the main resorts, making it an easy and accessible excursion for families. As well as the main show, swimming with the dolphins themselves is a very popular option. Two dolphins each are assigned to groups of 6-8 people in various different pools, so waiting time is not too long, and swims last approximately 15 minutes 
 
Cayo Saetia 
Once a private game reserve, imported animals including ostrich, zebra, antelope, wild boar and water buffalo, are now roaming freely on this virgin key. One hour jeep safaris enable you to observe these animals close up or if that is not your style, the idyllic white beaches offer a wonderful escape with colourful fish and coral perfect for snorkelling. Separated from the mainland by a narrow waterway, most visitors reach the key by helicopter.