The east of the Island, known as Oriente, is home to the wildest part of Cuba. In the Oriente, the African roots of the population are much more present as in the rest of the country. This is the reason that several independence movements originated here.
A major part of the region is dominated by the Sierra Maestra mountain range, which is also home to Cuba's highest mountain, called Pico Turquino, which is almost 2000 meters high.
To the north and west of the southern tip, the deep valleys and high mountains turn into plain land. North of the mountains is the town of Holguín located. East from Holguin you will find the bathing and vacation paradise of Guardalavaca.
At the center of the southern coastline surrounded by the Sierra Maestra lies Santiago de Cuba, the capital of the east.
East of Santiago de Cuba you will find the provincial capital of Guantánamo and the tropical paradise of Baracoa.
Santiago de Cuba: City of Heroes
Steeped in history, Santiago de Cuba is with about half a million inhabitants Cuba's second-largest city and the capital of the Oriente. The city is embedded in a charming setting of the ocean and the green Sierra Maestra mountains. It is known as the city of revolutionaries, as several independence movements originated here. For generations, the port has made Santiago a destination for immigrants, especially from nearby Haiti and Jamaica.
Santiago has a variety of exciting attractions to offer, most of them spread throughout the narrow streets of the historic downtown area. However, there is also a great treasure of sights worth seeing in the surrounding areas, ranging from beautiful beaches to lush tropical forests in the nearby mountains.
Holguín: City of the parks
A good hour's drive north of Santiago de Cuba lies Holguín, the second-largest city in eastern Cuba. Holguín is an authentic Cuban city with a remarkable city center, where especially many parks can be visited. However, few vacationers come to the town. Most travelers only pass through the airport to reach Guardalavaca, the nearby beaches.
Baracoa: Tropical Paradise
In the deepest east, nestled in tropical nature, lies Baracoa, which was Cuba's very first city. For a long time the small town was cut off from the rest of the country. After the victory of the revolution an impressive pass road was built, linking the city to the rest of the country.
Guardalavaca: Cuba's second most important resort destination
A little less than an hour's drive east of Holguín lies the important resort in the east of Cuba. A number of larger hotel complexes are located next to the beautiful Playa Guardalavaca.
East of Santiago lies the town of Guantánamo, which became world-famous not only for the song of the Gunatanamera, but also for the American naval base, whose sorrowful notoriety needs no further explanation. Nowhere else do the self-proclaimed arch-enemy and Cuba come as close as at this point.