It is one of the best kept secrets of Cuba! Baracoa is a small colonial city bordered on one side by the sea, on the other by the mountains, and surrounded by rivers.
Far from the usual tourist circuits, Baracoa will delight visitors eager for authenticity and nature lovers!
- La Gran Piedra de Santiago de Cuba: Travel Guide
- El Cobre Santiago de Cuba: Complete Travel Guide
- Baconao National Park: Complete Travel Guide
- El Yunque National Park: Complete Travel Guide
- Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca del Morro
- Best Hotels in Baracoa
- Best Casa Particular and Bnb in Baracoa
- 8 Best Things to Do in Soroa Cuba
- Alejandro de Humboldt National Park: Travel Guide
- Boca de Yumurí & Yumurí Canyon: Complete Travel Guide
Baracoa in a few words
With its 80,000 inhabitants, Baracoa is a small city in the Province of Guantánamo, in the Oriente, in the extreme west of Cuba.
Its off-center position, far from the main tourist points of interest of the country, has protected it from mass tourism for the time being.
However, Baracoa has the perfect recipe to seduce visitors: sea, mountain and chocolate!
Baracoa in Figures
- 250 km (155 miles) northeast of Santiago.
- Population 82,000
- Foundation : August 15, 1511
- Altitude : 5 m
- Surface area: 977 km2
- Weather : 30°c, 68% humidity
- Phone number : 21
A bit of history
In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba and set foot on the city’s current location.
A few years later, in 1511, the conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar founded Baracoa: it is the first Cuban city.
Velázquez was a productive conquistador: he later established the cities of Trinidad and Bayamo.
Surprisingly, if Baracoa is the oldest Spanish colony on the island, it is also the only place in Cuba where the indigenous people, the Tainos, would have survived the Spanish settlers.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Baracoa’s privileged location attracted pirates and smugglers.
They made the city a hub for smuggling in the Caribbean.
At the time of Haiti’s independence, some French settlers also found refuge in Baracoa, bringing with them chocolate and coffee.
Since that time, the region has remained a major producer of chocolate.
Easily accessible by sea, Baracoa remained inaccessible by land for a long time.
Indeed, the city was cut off from the rest of the island until the creation in the 1960s of the Carretera Central which crosses Cuba from east to west.
Banks & Exchange Offices
-Banco de Crédito y Comercio : Antonio Maceo No.
99 -Banco Popular de Ahorro : José Martí No.
166 -Cadeca : José Martí No.
Bus station (+ Viazul agency)
at the corner of Avenida Los Mártires and José Martí
Travel / Excursion agencies
-Cubatur : Antonio Maceo No.
181 -Infotur: Maceo No.
129, at the corner between Frank País and Maraví
Etecsa Telepunto: at the corner between Antonio Maceo Rafael Trejo
Post Office: Antonio Maceo No.
10 Reasons to visit Baracoa
- Baracoa is the first city founded in Cuba: it is here that Christopher Columbus and his crew landed in Cuba.
- The beauty of its Colonial architecture.
- Its cuisine is the most refined in the country, based on Cocoa, Coconut, honey and other flavors.
- Its beaches are the most quiet and among the most beautiful of the island
- Its exuberant nature and its nature hikes
- Its archaeological wealth, and pre-Columbian statues.
- Fiefdom of the insurrection against the Spaniards with, among others, the hero Hatuey
- His musical culture, including the birth of the Son Cubano
- Isolated behind the mountain range, Baracoa is one of the quietest and most authentic cities on the island.
- Its diving spots
Baracoa may still seem to be an isolated city and difficult to reach.
But don’t panic, because there are several ways to get there.
Book your tour to Baracoa Now
Just fill in the form below. The message will be sent to our local partner that will answer you in few hours.
How to get to Baracoa
Get to Baracoa by plane
If you want to reach Baracoa from the east of the island, the city has a small airport, the Gustavo Rizo airport.
The Gustavo Rizo Airport (code BCA) is located 4 km northwest of the city, just behind the Porto Santo Hotel.
Flights are not very frequent, but the Cubana de Aviacion airline company serves the airport from Havana or Santiago de Cuba.
Otherwise, it is also possible to go through the airports of Guantánamo or Santiago de Cuba.
Book your flights to Havana through one of the travel agencies, or directly with Cubana de Aviación
If your budget allows it, the plane will allow you to avoid the fateful 16h of bus.
- Address: Gustavo Rizo Airport. Highway Jaitecico km. 1 1/2, Turey.
- Tel : 21 64 53 75 | 21 64 53 76
Airline ticket reservation office
- Address: Martí n° 181.
- Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 am – 4 pm
- Tel : 21 64 53 74
From there, you will have to take a cab at the airport to go to Baracoa.
It takes about 3h30 from Guantánamo or 4h from Santiago.
Get to Baracoa by Bus
A Víazul bus connects Baracoa to Santiago de Cuba every day in each direction.
Tickets sell out quickly, especially on weekends, so book your tickets a day in advance (more in high season).
The trip takes about five hours. (Local buses are much slower.)
The national bus station is served by Víazul to Guantánamo and Santiago de Cuba.
|Baracoa – Guantanamo||Baracoa – Santiago||Baracoa – Havana||Baracoa – Camaguey|
|Price||10 Cuc||15 Cuc||66 Cuc||33 Cuc|
- Telephone: 21 64 38 80 | 21 64 36 70 | 21 64 30 93
- Address: Av Los Mártires & José Martí
- Reservations: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
However, you should know that the west of the island is much less touristic than the east, so it is more difficult to find collective cabs there.
Get to Baracoa with a Private Cab
If you cannot find any other solution, you will easily find private cabs ready to make long trips.
The easiest way is to ask for information in your casa particular.
The bill may be quite high.
Offers different types of cabs, excursions or other types of optional services, in the surroundings of Baracoa or throughout the territory
- Tel : 21 64 37 37 | 21 64 36 87
Get to Baracoa by Car Rental
The road is beautiful, and if you have the possibility of renting a car, you can take advantage of it to make stops where you want, especially the beaches and the mountainous part before Baracoa.
- Transtur rental point
- Martí 202, between Céspedes and Coronel Gallant.
- Tel: 21 645225
Car Rental Jaitecico Highway Airport km. 1 1/2, Turey, Baracoa. Tel: 21 641665
Get to Baracoa by Truck
Trucks bound for Moa (departures from 6am) leave from the national bus station, taking the very bumpy northwest road.
The life of the city of Baracoa is concentrated around the two main streets of the city, Maceo and Martí, where everything happens. It is in these streets that you can see the most charming colonial style houses.
Things to do in Baracoa
The life of the city of Baracoa is concentrated around the two main streets of the city, Maceo and Martí, where everything happens. It is in these streets that you can see the most charming colonial style houses.
This park is the historical heart of Baracoa: the locals refer to this triangle-shaped park as “Parque Central”.
The nerve center of the city, it is always very busy.
Calle Antonio Maceo runs along the south side and is pedestrianized for a few blocks, where it is called the Boulevard.
On the east side is the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción which was built in 1805 to replace the original destroyed by pirates in 1652.
Statue of Hatuey
On the park, there is the bust of Hatuey, proudly defying the cathedral.
Hatuay was a rebellious indigenous cacique (chief) who was burned at the stake near Baracoa in 1512 after he refused to convert to Catholicism.
The three forts of Baracoa
If Christopher Columbus set foot in the present location of Baracoa in 1492, it is because the city is ideally placed and offers a perfect gateway to Cuba.
Thus, the following centuries saw Baracoa become the hub of smuggling in the Caribbean.
To protect the city, three fortresses were built: the Fortress of Matachin, the Castle of Seboruco and the Fortress of La Punta.
You can still admire them today!
The Fortress of Matachín
Built in 1802 to protect the Bahía de Miel, the Fortress of Matachín now houses the Municipal Museum of Baracoa.
Located in the northwest of the city, the museum invites visitors to discover the history of Baracoa since the time of the Tainos, who inhabited the island before the Spanish colonization.
Count 1 CUC for the entrance to the museum.
The Castle of Seboruco de Santa Bárbara
Begun by the Spaniards in 1739, the construction was not completed until 1900 under the supervision of the Americans.
Located 100 meters above sea level, Seboruco Castle overlooks the entire city.
From its vantage point, it also offers a panoramic view of El Yunque.
Stairs located on Calle Frank País allow access to the top.
Today, the Castle has abandoned its military functions to become… a hotel! The decoration is certainly a bit outdated but the hotel has an unbeatable asset: a swimming pool with a view of the sea! To know more about it, it is here : Hotel El Castillo.
The Fortress of Punta de Maisí
Located 1 hour from Baracoa, at the westernmost point of the island, the lighthouse of the Fortress of Punta de Maisí overlooks the Caribbean Sea.
If the weather is clear, the lucky ones will even be able to see Haiti in the distance.
A white sandy beach stretches at the foot of the fortress.
The Cathedral Nuestra Senora de Asunción
The church was built in 1805, replacing the original, which was destroyed by pirates in 1652.
It was restored in 2011, and then again following the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016 (thanks to mainly Italian funding)
The church is best known for preserving the Cruz de la Parra that Columbus is said to have used when he landed in 1492 to claim Cuba for Spain and Christianity.
La Casa del chocolate
If the Casa del chocolate (also called Casa del cacao) is presented in the tourist guides as a small museum dedicated to chocolate, don’t get too carried away! You will find a handful of explanatory panels.
It is in fact mostly a store where you can stock up on chocolate bars or sit at a table to enjoy a hot chocolate.
Things to do near Baracoa
El Yunque Natural Park
Located about ten kilometers from Baracoa (about 20 minutes by car), El Yunque is a 575 meter high mountain shaped like an anvil, hence its name (anvil is said “yunque” in Spanish).
Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
A true gem of ecotourism, the park is an invitation to discover the incredible biodiversity of the island.
Boca de Yumurí and the Yumurí Canyon
At the mouth of the Yumurí River, in the Yumurí Canyon, Boca de Yumurí is a small fishing community located about 30 kilometers southeast of Baracoa.
On the agenda: hiking, boat rides and snorkeling!
The beaches of Baracoa
If this is not according to us the main interest of Baracoa, the region counts nevertheless some pretty beaches where you will be able to make a small splash.
That said, even if the tourists are not numerous in the surroundings, the summer, the beaches can be taken by storm by the Cubans on vacation.
Getting around Baracoa
From the airport
The best way to get to and from the airport is by cab (8-10 Cuc), or bici-taxi (5 Cuc) if you are traveling light.
Taxi-bicycles around Baracoa charge foreigners from 2 to 5 Cuc
Most casas particulares will be able to provide you with a bicycle (5 Cuc / day).
The highlight of the bike ride is the 20 km ride to Playa Maguana, one of the most scenic roads in Cuba.
There is a car rental office through the Gaviota agency at the airport.
There is a Servi-Cupet gas station at the entrance of the city, 4 km from the center, on the road to Guantánamo.
If you plan to cross the island by car, you should know that the northern road, which passes by Moa and Holguin, is the most direct, but the road is in bad condition after Playa Maguana
You can also rent mopeds for 25 Cuc in Gaviota or at Hotel El Castillo.
The rutted road out of town to Moa is a green paradise of palm groves, rustic farms and glimpses of the ocean.
There are windswept beaches, coffee farms and a rainforest.
In 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit this area hard, destroying a main bridge, but access was restored.
A large part of this area is in the Unesco Cuchillas Toa Biosphere Reserve, an area of 2083 km2 that includes the Alejandro de Humboldt World Heritage Site.
This is where the largest tropical forest in Cuba is located, with many valuable hardwoods and a large number of endemic species.
Best Tours & Day Trips from Baracoa
Baracoa’s rite of passage is the 8 km hike (from top to bottom) to the top of this mysterious and lunatic mountain.
The view from the summit (575 m) as well as the flora and along the path are magnificent.
The hike is hot and humid, and usually muddy.
Important; remember to bring at least 2L of water.
Early departure from Campismo Popular, about 9 km northwest of Baracoa, to avoid the hot hours.
All visits must be guided.
Cubatur offers this tour almost every day (16 Cuc per person, minimum four people).
The price includes entrance, guide, transportation and a sandwich.
Halfway up, a fruit stall awaits you, which will allow you to take a pleasant break. From the top, you can see the whole coast.
There are endemic plants that do not grow anywhere else. On the way down, you can bathe in waterfalls or swim in the Duaba River.
You can observe
- The tocororo (the national bird of Cuba)
- Zunzún (the smallest bird in the world),
- Polymitas (endangered colored snails).
If you are unable to reach the summit itself, ask Ecotur about the 7 km Sendero Juncal-Rencontra that divides the fruit plantations and rainforest between the Duaba and Toa rivers.
- Price : 16 Cuc
Ten kilometers northwest of Baracoa, the Toa is the third longest river on the north coast of Cuba and the largest in the country.
It is also an important habitat for birds and plants.
Cocoa and coconut trees are ubiquitous in the Valle de Toa.
A large hydroelectric project on the Río Toa was abandoned after a persuasive campaign by the Fundación de la Naturaleza y El Hombre convinced the authorities that it would cause irreparable ecological damage – technical and economic reasons also played a role.
Five kilometers from Baracoa, on the road to Moa, and one kilometer inland, Finca Duaba offers a fleeting glimpse of the Baracoan countryside.
It is a lush farm surrounded by abundant tropical plants and enhanced by a short cocoa trail that explains the history and characteristics of chocolate.
You will also visit a typical bohío (hut), or peasant hut, where the staff members actually live
There is also a good ranch-style restaurant and the possibility of swimming in the Duaba River.
A bike cab can drop you off at the junction of the roads.
- 2 Cuc
Excursion to Yumurí
In Río Yumurí, 30 km east of Baracoa is charming green river, flowing between high cliffs,
You will be able to see and hear the national bird of Cuba, the trogon (also known as tocororo)
The excursion to Yumuri, allows us to know the legend of the Honey River, the nature of the largest cocoa plantation in Cuba and its agro-industrial processes, which make Baracoa the capital of cocoa, the history of the Guineo plantations (bananas), the railroads, the sugar mills, the maritime trade, the Guineo transport cable cars, closely related to the Nengon and Kiribá festivals.
You will also find a beautiful coastline with several beaches, a unique tunnel called Paso de los Alemanes to reach the protected area of the canyon of the Yumurí river which shelters a healthy and silent environment
You may have the chance to observe various birds and the aboriginal legend of the word Yumurí to the legendary traditions of the community,
The territory offers great potential for nature tourism, among which stands out the Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve, one of the most important ecological regions of the island and the best preserved due to its virginity.
There are important national heights that, together with the mountain range, make it the Alto Oriente Cubano: the Pico Buenavista with 1,193.8, La Loma del Gato with 1,184 m and the Pico Galan with 1,181 m.
It has the privilege of possessing 3 World Heritage Sites: the Tumba Francesa, the French coffee plantations and the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, nucleus of the Toa Knife Biosphere Reserve, natural jewel of Cuba.
The Tunel de los Alemanes
Near the mouth of the Yumurí River is the Tunel de los Alemanes (German tunnel). This impressive natural rock formation, through which the road passes, is so called because, in pre-revolutionary times, a German family lived nearby and charged drivers of motor vehicles and horses for the passage.
Excursion to Alejandro De Humboldt National Park
From the city, on a 40 km route, to the center of the visit of the “Alejandro de Humboldt National Park”, declared HUMAN HERITAGE, it is the main nucleus of the Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve, it is the most important protected area in Cuba and the best preserved tropical forests of the insular Caribbean.
It has conditions for unique ecosystems, with great richness and strong endemism of species, is the place with the highest index of plants and animals compared to the rest of the world, has a reservoir of marine fauna, such as the manatee.
You can choose one of its tracks:
Sendero Bahía de Taco
A little more than 2 km by boat from the dock of Taco Bay, where the manatee lives.
Interaction with mangrove vegetation Observation of a small key, formed by volcanogenic sedimentary rocks.
Walk along the bay that offers the panorama of the estuaries, a way to visualize the shapes of the karstic relief.
During the visit, you can enjoy the chatter of parrots, cathedrals and the singing of birds such as woodpeckers, blackbirds and seagulls.
Near the Taco River, the hiker will be able to enjoy its transparent and soft waters.
Frequency: 2 per day Schedule: On request Approximate duration: 3 hours
El Balcón de Iberia Trail
Hiking on a 7 km trail starting from the Santa María River. It crosses a flat area surrounded by fruit trees, abundant coconut trees, wood trees and medicinal plants.
The trail is located in areas of the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park and its second section includes the ascent of the 740-meter-high Iberia Mountain.
In this section, there is a predominance of underwater rainforest vegetation, with woody trees and abundant fern populations.
Observation of El Majá waterfall, very close to the source of the Santa María River. The visitor can bathe in its transparent waters.
Hours : on request
Duration: about 5 hours.
The El Recreo trail
The route is 3 km long and during the first one you will cross a small valley in the mountains where you will be able to observe trees such as the royal palm, the acana and a centenary ocuje.
In the second km, near the river, we can see accumulations of pebbles of different composition carried by the currents of the mountain, where the river is born.
The trail ends with a refreshing swim in a natural pool.
Frequency: 2 daily departures
Schedules : On request
Pathway navigating for the Toa
On the way to La Perrera del Toa, where the tour begins, you will see places such as factories of coconut oil, cones and cocoa derivatives; the Duaba River, ovens to extract copra from the coconut, Brazilian ovens to process the part of the coconut that will be used for activated carbon. The tour includes a swim in the Toa River. Daily departures: from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.
The trail begins in the town of La Colmena, which is reached by an easily accessible path surrounded by coconut, coffee and banana plantations, which passes through Rencontra, a territory located on the banks of the Duaba River.
As you go along, you will appreciate a beautiful flora where the pomarrosa, the yagrumo, the royal palm, the flowering maritime pine, the jobo, the majagua and several fruit trees, such as the mango tree, the orange tree and the tangerine tree stand out.
The excursion includes a swim in the Duaba River.
Daily departures: 8:30 am to 3:00 pm
Duaba – Toa – Ecotourism excursion to Maguana beach
A tour by bus, Jeep or motorcycle from the historic center to the surrounding nature in the west of the region, enjoying the different agro-industrial processes, the extraction plants of coconut oil, Cucurucho and cocoa derivatives, we will visit the Cocoa Trail ; linked to the socio-cultural knowledge of cocoa, historical monuments of the independence wars, until arriving at the Rancho Toa farm or La Esperanza farm to enjoy the most abundant river in Cuba, in a river walk to Cayuca by the most abundant river in Cuba, bathing in the river and the beach, appreciating the typical products and traditions of the surroundings, with the possibility of a country lunch, which can continue to enrich it with a visit and a bath in the beautiful Maguana beach.
Maceo’s itinerary in Toa and Safari in Quiviján by Jeep or motorcycle
Option to follow the historical route of Major General Antonio Maceo after his landing on Duaba beach.
Most of the route follows the banks of the Toa River, the largest river in Cuba, which guides you through the landscape of the Las Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve, full of traditions such as walking in cayucas and bamboo rafts, is a highly productive agricultural area with mostly lush vegetation, is the largest watershed on the island with crystalline tributaries, healthy and great flow throughout the year, you will visually experience its natural views.
Monitongos of Hatibonico
It is a protected and exclusive nature area located in Hatibonico, municipality of Caimanera, about 20 km from Guantanamo City.
In this area, the dry semi-desert environment merges with the waters coming out of springs and rocky channels that allow to appreciate the endemic flora and fauna through the path of Los Monitongos.
The track is 1.6 km long.
During the first section, in the middle of the intramonitongo valleys with particular landscape characteristics, one can observe trees such as :
- Cimarron avocado,
- The black guayacan,
- The jatía
- The Coastal Coalman
and also appreciate different species of birds.
In the second section of the route, we can see many species of :
- of the hutias
and there is a natural viewpoint that allows you to observe the Guantanamo Valley, the bay of the same name, the naval base and the Caribbean Sea.
Travel agency in Baracoa
The natural sites being difficult to access from Baracoa, the best solution is to go with experienced guides and organized tours.
Some independent guides will probably offer their services in Baracoa’s plaza, but if you want a professional service, turn to the state agencies that offer very well organized trips at reasonable prices.
The Cuban agencies will allow you to book excursions such as to
- El Yunque (20 Cuc)
- Yumuri canyon (20 Cuc)
- Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (25 Cuc)
Martí # 225 between C. Galano and Roberto Reyes.
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. / 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Saturday: 8:30 am – 11:30 am
Phone number: 21 645358
Email : [email protected]
Address : Maceo s/n, esq. Pelayo Cuervo.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 8:00 – 12:00 / 14:00 – 18:00 Sunday: 8:30 – 12:00 .
Email : [email protected]
- Tel : 61 32 83 42
- Address: Antonio Maceo #181
- Schedule: 8am-noon & 2-5pm Mon-Fri
Address: Hotel 1511 – Maceo # 103, between 24 de febrero y 10 de octubre
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 8:00am – 12:00pm / 2:00pm – 5:00pm Sunday: 8:30am – 12:00pm
Tel : 21 64 24 78
Email : [email protected]
Useful for organizing stays at Gaviota properties, airline tickets and general tours.
Address: Calle Maceo s/n, esq. Rafael Trejo – El Parque Cafeteria
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 8am – 12pm / 2pm – 6pm
Telephone: 21 64 51 64
Email: [email protected]
OFFICE GAVIOTA (HOSTAL LA HABANERA)
Monday to Saturday: 8am – 12pm / 2pm – 6pm
Tel: 21 644115
Address: Martí #181 A between C.Frías and The Lawns.
Tel: (53) 2164 4383.
Excursions and Ecotourism from Baracoa
José Ángel Delfino Pérez
A walking plant encyclopedia and an enthusiastic geological expert, Jose must be the best private guide in Baracoa.
His professional tours take him to El Yunque, Punta de Maisí, Humboldt and – most importantly – Boca de Yumurí, a trip that includes cocoa plantations, chocolate tasting and visits to remote beaches.
Prices per person decrease for large groups.
Ask to see Jose’s ID card, as he has some unwanted local imitators.
You can contact him by phone, email or at the casa particular de Nilson Abad Guilaré.
- Tel : 21 64 13 67 | 54 25 58 19
- Email: [email protected]
- Price: 25-27 Cuc
Places to visit Near Baracoa
Beaches along the road from Santiago de Cuba to Baracoa
Although the trip takes 5 hours, it is a real ride in itself and I recommend that you take the time to take breaks everywhere.
The road from Santiago and Guantánamo runs along the coast, and turns inland at Cajobabo to reach Baracoa, along the mountain road built in 1962, which is very busy but well maintained.
Known as La Farola (the lighthouse), it winds its way through formidable curves.
Despite the broken guardrails and accident warnings, the risk is offset by the beautiful scenery: magnificent mountain views, wild jungle, coconut groves, coffee and cocoa plantations.
At the most photogenic stops, vendors sell fruits and snacks such as cuchuruchos: grated and flavored coconut, carefully wrapped in palm leaves.
Avoid anything made of polymita snail shells, as they are endangered and protected by international law.
Just outside the eastern end of the city, you will cross the Río Miel.
Legend has it that after swimming in these waters, you will fall in love in Baracoa and stay here forever.
Unfortunately, the town’s beach at the eastern end of town is gray and gritty, and the sea is rather muddy.
Ranchón del Nengón and Kiribá
The Fiesta of Kiriba and El Nengon is a socio-cultural event of a Carrier Group of the Güirito community, 10 km from Baracoa.
Located in the middle of large cocoa and coffee plantations, the families of the descendants still practice singing and dancing traditions in a farmhouse and share it with the visitors
You will be able to taste the typical drinks and dishes based on cocoa, coconut, banana, sweets, beans, calalú, bacán, cucurucho, nougats, frangollos, etc.
Natural Park Majayara
Southeast of the city, in the Majayara Nature Park, you can go on magical hikes, swim and follow an archaeological trail through a lush family farm. It’s a very low-key, do-it-yourself diversion.
Ecotur also organizes excursions in this area (20 Cuc).
Passing by Fuerte Matachín, take a 20-minute hike southeast past the baseball stadium and along the black sand beach to Río Miel, where a long, low bridge crosses the river.
On the other side, turn left following a trail that climbs through a group of rustic houses to another crossroads.
Here, a guard post is sometimes manned by a park official who collects entrance fees.
Turn left again and continue on the trail until the houses clear and you see a marked one-lane path leading left to Playa Blanca, an idyllic spot for a picnic.
Staying straight on the trail, you will come to a trio of wooden houses.
The third of these houses belongs to the Fuentes family.
In exchange for a donation, Señor Fuentes will take you on a hike to his family’s finca, where you can stop for coffee and tropical fruit.
Further on, he will show you the Cueva de Aguas, a cave with a sparkling fresh water hole inside.
As you walk up the hill, you will come to an archaeological trail with more caves and wonderful views of the ocean.
- Price : 2 – 5 Cuc
Monument to the landing of Major General Antonio Maceo on the beach of Duaba
This is the area where the symbolic historical event is framed, identifying the real place of the landing. On this beach there is an obelisk and a square in homage to the first battle of Alto del Pino.
Dishes you need tp Try in Baracoa
Baracoa’s climate and geographic isolation have created a unique Cuban cuisine based on spices, sugar, exotic fruits and coconut.
Fish is featured on most menus, but even seafood can hold a few surprises.
Count on tasting tiny teti fish caught in the Rio Toa between July and January, during the waning moon.
The region is the center of Cuba’s cocoa production and the cocoa plant thrives here, and there are a large number of chocolate stores in town
Product made from cocoa beans harvested in the region.
The beans are essentially processed into a solid piece of cocoa grated into a pan of hot milk,
The result is a delicious chocolate.
This tiny and tasty fish is found at the mouth of rivers that flow into the Caribbean Sea.
It is cooked in different ways and is often thrown as is into different dishes, or salted and dried and used like dried shrimp in Asian dishes.
It is found in abundance only in the second half of the year.
Although the cacao trees dominate the landscape, there are also many banana crops around the city.
El bacan is a grated green banana, often mixed with crab meat. It may sound strange, but it is excellent.
Baracoa’s most unique culinary invention is undoubtedly the cucurucho, a delicate blend of dried coconut, sugar, honey, papaya, guayaba, tangerine and walnuts (no two concoctions are ever quite the same) that is wrapped in an eco-friendly palm frond.
The best products are sold by the campesinos of La Farola who arrive in town from Guantánamo, a stop usually made by bus.
The biggest flavor explosion is a locally concocted coconut sauce called lechita, a mixture of coconut milk, tomato sauce, garlic and a medley of spices, best enjoyed with shrimp, aguja (swordfish) or sea bream.
frangollo, a preparation of ground bananas mixed with sugar.
Sweets are a Baracoa tour de force, thanks in large part to the ubiquity of the cacao plant and the presence of the famous Che Guevara chocolate factory. Baracoa chocolate is sold all over the island, but the local Casa del Cacao is an obvious pick-up point.
Best beaches in Baracoa
A series of black sand beaches stretch east of Baracoa, and there are 30 km (19 miles) of good cement road along the coast.
is located in a lagoon on the road to Yumurí, bordered by almond and coconut trees (you can ask the cab driver to stop there on the way).
Protected by a coral reef,you can explore the lagoon’s waters armed with your mask and snorkel, or sip a drink at Tato’s beach bar.
You can visit it during the excursion to Yumuri.
Playa Maguana, about a 40-minute drive (12 miles/20 km) from Baracoa, is a favorite beach for many people and a nice place to spend the afternoon.
Playa Manguana stretches out on a white sandy beach on the edge of a lagoon with turquoise waters.
There is a small hotel, Villa Maguana, at one end, and some rustic places to have lunch if you haven’t eaten in town.
The trees go down to the beach and the grapples grow further, so there is shade if you want it.
If you don’t have a car, a cab can be arranged, or travel agencies can arrange transfers.
There is a bus to the beach from downtown Baracoa for 4 CUC.
Otherwise, count 20 to 25 CUC for the cab ride.
- Tel: 21 641 204.
- Schedule: Open every day from 7am to 9:45pm.
Located near the small village of Boca de Miel, the small beach of Playa Blanca is accessible by foot from Baracoa.
It is a natural reserve and you will have to pay 2 CUC to the guard to access it.
Heading north on the road to Moa, take the Hotel Porto Santo/airport turnoff and continue for 2 km past the airport runway to a black sand beach at the mouth of the river where Antonio Maceo, Flor Crombet and others landed in 1895 to begin the Second War of Independence.
There is a campismo (cheap rustic lodging), a memorial and close-up views of El Yunque, although the beach itself is not a place for sunbathing.
Twenty kilometers east of the city is Playa Baragua, one of the few sandy beaches in the region.
A small enclosed bay with a beautiful beach with calm waters and a fishing village. You can visit it during the excursion to Yumuri.
Best restaurants in Baracoa
Baracoa is one of the best cities for eating in Cuba, so take the time to taste the different specialties.
La Punta Restaurant
The fort of La Punta, at the western end of the city, is a great place to have lunch, with a magnificent view of the bay.
Cuban and international food. Specialty of the house: fish in coconut milk.
Small concerts are often organized there on Saturday evening.
- Price: 5 – 12 Cuc (No credit cards)
- Address: Av. Los Mártires and the Malecón
- Email : [email protected]
- Telephone: 21 64 14 80
- Opening hours : 10h-23h Open every day
El Buen Sabor
One of the best restaurants in the city and Baracoan cuisine
Swordfish with coconut sauce, bacán (raw green plantain melted with crab meat and wrapped in a banana leaf) and chocolate desserts.
Pleasant and friendly service.
- Tel : 21 64 14 00
- Address: Calixto García No 134 Altos
- Price : 6 – 15 Cuc
- Schedule: 12:00 am – 12:00 am
Small private cafe in the center of Baracoa that sells pizzas, sandwiches and more.
- Tel: 5 238 53 16
- Address: Martí No 171
- Price : 3 Cuc aprox
- Opening hours : 10am – 2pm & 6pm – 10pm
One of the few vegetarian restaurants in Cuba, excellent organic cuisine featuring local products
The concept is very original and really worth seeing.
The Restaurant was ravaged by the hurricane in 2012, but completely rebuilt with items collected from what nature brought after the storm.
A must to put on your list of things to see in Baracoa.
Above his house, on a spectacular two-level terrace decorated in an original Afro-Caribbean style, owner Nilson serves some of the best authentic dishes of Baracoa, and therefore of Cuba.
You can’t miss the wonderfully rich pescado con leche de coco (fish fillet with coconut milk) or the melt-in-your-mouth octopus in basil ink with patacon guisado, a homemade plantain dish.
Reserve in advance to ensure a table.
- Telephone: 21 64 31 23
- Address: Flor Crombet No 143, between Ciro Frías & Pelayo Cuervo
- Price : 10 – 15 Cuc
- Opening hours : 12h-15h & 18h30-23h
El Parque Cafeteria
A favorite meeting place for almost everyone in town, you’re bound to end up on this open terrace, if only to drink a Bucanero beer and use the wi-fi.
- Tel : 21 64 12 06
- Address: Antonio Maceo n° 142
- Price : 1 -3 Cuc
- 24h / 24
Two small dining rooms and an interior patio
The menu varies according to availability.
A reliable paladar.
- Address: Calle Martí, 123
- Tel: 21 645 391
Good local cuisine, especially spicy soups and fish prepared in coconut milk sauce.
- Address: Calle Antonio Maceo, e/ Ciro Frías and Céspedes
- Opening hours : Every day for lunch and dinner
Hotel restaurant with international menu and barbecue, just outside Baracoa
- Address: Carretera del Aeropuerto
- Tel: 21 645 105
- Opening hours : Open every day for lunch and dinner.
Nice place perched on a hillside on an upstairs terrace with a beautiful view of the bay.
Excellent food prepared on the barbecue, especially lobster and shrimp.
- Address: Calixto García 158A e/. Céspedes y Galano
- Tel: 21 642 658
La Cacha Pizzería
Pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven or pasta.
You can eat inside or outside with the added benefit of Wi-Fi.
- Address: Martí #176 Altos e/ Céspedes y Ciro Frías
- Tel : 53 39 59 00
Cuban and Creole food. A canoe trip on the Toa River is included as an option. Traditional music group.
- Address: Toa, Carretera Baracoa, Moa, km 5.
- Opening hours : Every day from 8am to 7pm. Diners on Reservation
- Tel: 21 645 224
- Email : [email protected]
La Habanera Restaurant
Good Cuban and international cuisine, located in the heart of Baracoa
- Tel: 21 645274
- Address: Calle Maceo n° 126, esq. a Frank País
Restaurant Finca Duaba
Carretera de Moa km 3. You can enjoy the cocoa route, unique in Cuba.
- Price : 2 Cuc
- Tel: 21 645224
- Email : [email protected]
Santa Maria Restaurant
Cuban and international food.
- Speciality of the house: veal in wine.
- Address: Hotel Porto Santo Calle 5 e/ 8 y 9, Rpto Santa Maria
- Tel: 21 645106
State restaurant. in national peso for Cuban workers
- Address: Martí Street, between Ciro Frías and Céspedes.
- Price : 2 – 3 Cuc
- Tel: 21 643146
Los Pinos Cafeteria
Drinks and snacks.
- Tel: 21 645291
- Address: Calle Marti
The week of the culture of Baracoa
Every year, during the last week of March, this cultural celebration takes place, full of the most authentic traditions, with different activities and demonstrations of various artistic and dance manifestations, from the indigenous thing to the modern thing, framed by different local events: the feast of Kiribá and Nengón, characterized by a wide popular participation, with fairs, expoventas, dances, and it ends with the pilgrimage and the festivities of April 1.
Fiesta de las Aguas
These are festivities along the route of the millennium of the Village between the days of 10 to 15 August each year, describing the city of waters, 29 rivers, beaches, includes solemnity and commemorative activities for the yeariv. Of the Villa,
Carnivals of Baracoa
These are annual celebrations at the beginning of April with an enthusiastic program that allows recreation for children and adults. It is an opportunity to get to know the traditions of the people of Baracoa. Conga parades, musical groups and folkloric characters are organized. They dance with groups on the chords of the real Cuban son.
Ranchón del Nengón and el Kiribá
This festival is a socio-cultural manifestation of a group of porters in the community of Güirito, 10 kms. from Baracoa, in the middle of large cacao plantations, coffee plantations and the high incidence of food, where the families of the descendants frequently practice these traditions of songs and dances in a Ranchón Campestre and share them with the visitors, accompanied by their drinks and typical dishes of cocoa, coconuts, guineo, sweets, beans, calalú, bacán, cucurucho, turrones, frangollos, etc.
El Paraíso Karaoke Bar
- Address: Calle Maceo, between Frank País and Pelayo Cuervo.
- Opening hours : 21h00 to 02h00 Tuesday to Sunday
- Tel : 21 64 34 46
One of the most beautiful terraces in Baracoa, with very good cocktails.
El Parque Cafeteria
Variety of light and sweet meals.
Evening activities with entertainment and recorded music.
- Opening hours: Open 24 hours a day.
- Tel : 21 64 12 06
- Address: Calle Maceo s/n. Central Park.
Casa de la Trova
It is the best place to listen and dance to traditional Cuban music performed by local bands.
One of the most atmospheric in Cuba, you can discover the Nengen, Kiribá or let yourself be carried away to the voodoo rhythms of changüí. Order a mojito and join the show.
- Hours : every night until about 2 am.
- Address: Maceo n° 149 B, between Ciro Frías and Pelayo Cuervo, Baracoa
Casa de la Cultura
This venue offers a wide variety of shows, including a good rumba that incorporates the classic Cuban styles of guaguancó, yambú and columbia (subgenres of rumba).
Be prepared for public participation.
Modern art exhibitions featuring local artists are organized, as well as regular concerts,
Good participatory show on the terrace every Saturday at 11 pm
- Tel: 21 64 23 64
- Address Antonio Maceo n° 124 between Frank País & Maraví
- The city’s orchestra
plays every Sunday in the Plaza Independencia, and the adjacent Plaza Martí hosts chess tournaments on weekends.
El Patio de Artex
As in all Cuban cities, the Artex patios are reference points to discover the local culture and see the best bands of the region play live.
- Address: Calle Maceo No. 120 bajos, e/ Frank País y Maraví.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 10am – midnight | 10am – 2am Saturday and Sunday
- Tel : 21 64 51 97
It is the local disco, in the open air and with a magnificent view of the city
Live bands and DJs play there
Although it opens at 9pm, it doesn’t really get going until midnight when Casa de la Trova and Casa de la Música close.
Popular with the youth of Baracoa
They also have a nice restaurant
- Address: Loma Paraíso, above Calixto García
- telephone : 21 64 32 68
- Schedule: every day from 9pm – 2am
- Entry : 1 Cuc
Plan your trip to Baracoa with a local travel expert
If you would like to discover Baracoa, but don’t know where to go or don’t speak spanish , why not planning it with a travel expert ? Save hours of research
There is wi-fi access in the Plaza Independencia.
Sells wi-fi internet scratch cards and offers internet on computer terminals. Little or no line.
- Tel : 21 64 31 82
- Address: Antonio Maceo n° 182
- internet per hour 1,50 Cuc
- Opening hours : 09h00 – 19h00
International Clinic and Pharmacy
This clinic treats all foreigners
- Address: Calle Maceo e/ 24 de Febrero and 10 October.
- Opening hours: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm
- Tel : 21 64 10 37/ 38
Hospital of Baracoa
2 km from the city on the road to Guantánamo.
Address: Bohorque Street.
Tel : 21 64 71 00
Short lines for currency exchange.
- Tel : 21 64 53 45
- Address: José Martí n° 241
- Opening hours: 8:15am-4pm Mon-Fri | 8:15am-11:30am Sat & Sun
Banco Popular de Ahorro
At an ATM.
- Tel : 21 64 52 09
- Address: José Martí n° 166
- Opening hours: 08:00-11:30 and 14:00-16:30 Monday to Friday
Banco de Crédito y Comercio
At an ATM.
- Address: Antonio Maceo #99
- Opening hours: 8am-2:30pm Monday to Friday
Address: Calle Maceo No. 99 e/ 10 of October and 24 of February.
The post office overlooks the main square. There is wifi
- Tel : 21 64 24 15
- Antonio Maceo #136;
- Hours: 8am-8pm
Baracoa Multi-Service Center
- Address: Maceo, at the corner of Rafael Trejo, Baracoa.
- Tel : 21 64 31 82 | 21 64 51 31
History of Baracoa
Almost everywhere in Cuba, history is rich and interesting (although this is a statement that can be found in almost every travel guide for almost every destination in the world). However, Baracoa has considerable fame. One could say that the formation of modern North and South America began in this small, unassuming town. It was here that a certain Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 – the first place in the New World, the beginning of centuries of colonization that have shaped world history.
The town of Gibara, located a considerable distance from the coast, claimed that this was in fact the location where their town was originally landed by Christopher Columbus.
Sorry Gibara, but Columbus’ notes about the geography of the area make it clear that Baracoa was indeed the place in question. So it’s no surprise that some of Columbus’ artifacts are a top choice when it comes to doing things in Baracoa. The Cruz de la Parra is proudly displayed in Baracoa’s cathedral and is one of the crosses that Columbus brought with him on his first voyage (and is believed to be the only one that has survived).
Thanks to Karol Józef Wojtyła, better known as Pope John Paul II. In 1998, he became the first pope to visit Cuba and was given La Cruz de la Parra as an official gift. He thanked his hosts profusely, but he thought the cross belonged to Cuba. Incidentally, the cathedral in Baracoa was also the scene of a juicy scandal in August 1819.
The cathedral hosted a wedding between Juana de León (the wealthy daughter of a Baracoa landowner) and Dr. Enrique Faber (a Madrid-trained doctor who also worked in Havana). This was a scandal because a few months later it turned out that Dr. Faber was in fact a woman who had disguised herself as a man to facilitate her success in a field dominated by men
She got married because Juana de León reminded her of her deceased daughter and she just wanted to be near her, which is… touching? Their relationship was never physical (separate bedrooms helped with the ruse) and as soon as it was discovered, the wedding was called off.
Dr. Faber fled in disgrace to Santiago de Cuba. She narrowly escaped imprisonment and was exiled to the colony of Florida, where she disappeared from history, but hopefully was still allowed to be a doctor!
As you can see, an exploration of the rich and really quite interesting history of the area should be an absolute must on any Baracoa bucket list.
La Cruz de Parra
It has been kept for centuries in the parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in Baracoa.
It was taken by Christopher Columbus to the port of Baracoa on Saturday, December 1, 1492, four days after his arrival in this eastern territory.
The colonizers venerated it as a symbol of Spanish Catholicism.
It was used in the process of evangelization of the natives of Baracoa and probably accompanied the first mass presided over by the parish priest, Bartolomé de las Casas, known as the protector of the Indians.
The historic cross has survived pirates, fires, vandals and other hazards, although relic hunters have chipped away at the edges and it is now about half the size it once was.
The priceless Cruz de la Parra would be the only survivor of the 29 wooden crosses erected by Christopher Columbus in Cuba during his first voyage in 1492.
With a height of 1 m, it is now safe in the cathedral, its edges being covered with metal.
It was declared a National Monument as part of the city’s half-millennium on August 15, 2011.
But did Columbus really bring the cross?
The church maintains that he did it. So does Alejandro Hartmann, director of the local history museum, the Museo Municipal (in the Fuerte Matachín) in Baracoa.
But a host of academics disagree.
Everyone has a conflicting notion – and everyone can back it up with data. In 1989, carbon dating tests seem to indicate that the wooden cross of Baracoa was planted in Cuban soil at the end of the 15th century, which supports one part of Columbus’ theory, making it chronologically possible, but it is made from the native rapeseed (Cocoloba diversifolia), which could not have been brought from Spain.
So the mystery deepens, but the cross is still venerated.
Still it is one of the oldest crosses of the new continent
I enjoyed reading the account of Baracoa, Cuba. Having just returned from there 29 days ago, I would like to offer some comments.
All references to prices in CUC should be deleted. The former currency of tourism in Cuba is no longer. Government-owned establishment’s insist on payment by MLC card. This debit card is obtained at the Banco or Cadeca locations and charged with EURO. No US dollars, although it the card itself displays a value of USD. The one I purchased had 200 USD printed on the front. It is not truly a credit card, as the bearer must show the four digit PIN.
Local casas, restaurants, and taxis accept US dollars but will only issue change in Cuban Pesos. I advise North Americans to take at least Euro 400 with them. Don’t rely on being able to exchange CAD or USD for Euro. It is difficult if not impossible.
Baracoa has frequent electrical power outages and they happen at the most inopportune times. There were usually 3 brownouts per day. At the military-owned Gaviota hotel across the harbor, Porto Santos, the electricity never failed. Imagine that!
Most restaurants mentioned in the Wego guide we’re closed, as was Hotel Castillo. People usually stated that these places will reopen in November. Time will tell.
My favorite restaurant is Marco Polo on the Malecón. The best mojitos in Baracoa are made there with Havana Club rum and cost $2.50. Reliably good food is made in the upstairs kitchen and they have battery backup lighting, which is important in Baracoa these days.
Bottle water is in short supply and usually only found in large sizes. Bucanero beer is nonexistent.
So remember that there are no CUCs and the exchange rate for CUPs changes daily.