Baracoa Cuba Guide
Baracoa
Cuba

In the Bay of Honey lies the beautiful town of Baracoa, Cuba one of the most eastern towns in the country.

It was here where Christopher Columbus first landed in Cuba but despite being the first settlement area, the town resisted tourism and being overly built up.

Located in the Guantánamo Province, Baracoa is a fairly new name on the tourist map of Cuba and in 2002 had a population of 81,256 which was an increase of about 5000 inhabitants since 1980. The slowly increasing population, which was 21,944 in 1899 is mostly due to the relative isolation of the town from other communities.

The name 'Baracoa' is a native Indian word which means 'by the sea'. Historically, the town was also called Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Baracoa.

Nowadays, Baracoa is often called the 'Landscape City' due to the abundance of natural flora. Cobblestone streets with one storey buildings, secluded exotic beaches and backed by El Yunque, a flat top mountain.

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A replica of the Cruz de Parra (Sacred Cross of Parra) which was placed by Columbus in the entrance of the town's port can be seen and the original, which has been carbon dated to check its authenticity, still remains protected within the town within the Cathedral Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. The cross is the only one that still remains out of the 29 which Columbus placed in the New World lands.

The park at the eastern side of the village is home to a statue of Columbus which has been carved from a giant tree stump. The stern expression on his face looks away from the sea.

There are 2 beaches which stand out to the north west of Baracoa. Playa Maguana is where the tourists tend to head to and has a choice of bars and restaurants to try out. Playa Nibujón is more natural and tends to be the choice of the locals.

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Seafood is typical of Baracoa, Cuba as is white chocolate due to the abundance of cocoa trees. Local delicacies include the cucurucho made up of fresh fruits, nuts and honey served in palm bark cones and the bacán which is made from banana.

When visiting the town, don't be surprised when the locals try to sell you sweets or offer their services as your tour guide to hike the nearby Cuchillas de Toa Biosphere Reserve, which is recognized by UNESCO. The reserve contains many endangered species and is one of the few rainforests in the world that has remained almost untouched by mankind.

The colonial town retains much of its charm, despite many of the coloured buildings losing their roof tiles and paintwork. There are many parks throughout town and the fortresses which have survived pirates and time still stand. A few kilometres walk from town there are crystal clear rivers flowing, adding to the impression of what is probably the most beautiful natural scenery to be found in Cuba.

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