Cuba's eastern region, made up of the provinces of Pinar del Río, Havana, City of Havana, Matanzas and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), offers one-of-a-kind tourist options, including excellent beaches.
The region's major tourist destination is the Cuban capital, whose historic heart, known as Old Havana, was designated Humankind's Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), due to the wide range of architectural styles present in its buildings.
Attractions such as the castle of Los Tres Reyes del Morro and the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, which are world-renowned defense structures, complement the tranquil atmosphere found in colonial promenades such as Prado and Alameda de Paula.
Cuba's westernmost province, Pinar del Río, complements its options with the Viñales Valley (Humankind's Cultural Landscape), the complex Las Terrazas (the country's first rural sustainable tourism project) and the medicinal waters in San Diego de los Baños.
The Guanahacabibes Peninsula offers excellent diving facilities at the María la Gorda International Center, which is near a large colony of black corals and offers 40 diving sites.
In Havana, considered the capital's rearguard, vacationers can enjoy excellent beaches of warm, crystal-clear water in Jibacoa, which are flanked by high cliffs that provide some privacy to sunbathers.
Havana also offers the beautiful landscape of Escaleras de Jaruco, where rocky outcrops and caverns are the perfect scenario for adventure tourism and speleological research.
South of mainland Cuba is the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, the largest of more than 600 islets that make up the Cuban archipelago, which is well known for the El Colony International Diving Center and the existence of some 200 aboriginal pictographs in cave 1 in Punta del Este.
Cayo Largo del Sur, which has a two-decade tourist history, offers vacationers 24 kilometers of pristine beaches and excellent tourist facilities.
The islet's well-preserved natural environment includes coral reefs that are complemented by neighboring keys with exuberant flora and fauna, including iguanas, pelicans and turtles.
However, the region's richest tourist diversity is in the province of Matanzas, where the world-famous beach resort of Varadero is located.
More than 40 kinds of corals, many species of fish, lobsters, crabs, turtles and more than 70 kinds of mollusks live in Varadero's sea bottom.
Other options in Matanzas are the special marine park Cayo Piedras del Norte, which is an excellent place for scuba diving, and the ecological reserve in Punta Hicacos, a safe haven for 662 species of birds that live in Mangón Lagoon, in addition to the aboriginal pictographs in the caves of Ambrosio and Musulmanes.
In southern Matanzas is the Zapata Swamp Biosphere Reserve, a stronghold for nature tourism, an ideal place for marine spelunking and the largest swamp in the Caribbean region.