Tourist and recreational options in Cuba, which has a strategic location in the Caribbean region, are complemented by dozens of excellent beaches and well-preserved exuberant nature.
A key element is the fact that tourists can spend excellent vacations everywhere in Cuba, from the easternmost region, in the Guanahacabibes peninsula, to the eastern part of the country.
In the latter is Santiago de Cuba, which is the second major city in the island nation and is considered the capital of the Caribbean, due to its privileged location and centuries-old history.
Founded by Governor Diego Velázquez in 1514, it was the Cuban capital until 1607, a period when the city was hit by countless disasters, including an earthquake in 1675 and constant attacks by corsairs and pirates.
Downtown Santiago, where there is a myriad of museums, is the former Arms Square, which is currently known as the Céspedes Park, in honor of the Father of the Homeland, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.
On the outskirts of the city is Gran Piedra (Large Rock) – the largest rock on earth according to the Guinness Book of Records. The majestic and imposing rock weighs 63,000 tons and is 1,220 meters above sea level.
Tourists can also visit the Baconao Park, which was declared a biosphere reserve and is famous for its stone zoo in the Valley of Prehistory, the Museum of Transportation and the Promenade of Sculptures.
Near Santiago de Cuba is the Sanctuary of the Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba's patron saint, which is visited every year by thousands of people searching for hopes to make their dreams come true.
Also in eastern Cuba, Las Tunas province offers 35 pristine beaches along more than 260 kilometers of irregular coastline, where several species of Cuban birds can be watched in such sites as the Bay of Malagueta. The province also holds the largest population of American crocodiles in the Caribbean region.
In Holguín is Bariay, where Genoese Admiral Christopher Columbus first landed in Cuba and highlighted the breathtaking beauty of the island.
The province also holds excellent beaches like Guardalavaca, Esmeralda and Pesquero, as well as the Bahía de Naranjo Natural Park and the Chorro de Maíta archeological site, where visitors can learn about aboriginal cultures.
In addition, Granma province has nearly 50 percent of Cuba's historic sites, including the city of Bayamo, the second village founded by the Spanish conquistadors in 1513 and a National Monument.
The Desembarco del Granma (Granma Landing) and Sierra Maestra National Parks complement the tourist offers in eastern Cuba. There, vacationers can watch exclusive plant and animal species, pristine forests and one of the world's most representative systems of carsic marine terraces.