Just under an hour's drive east of the provincial capital of Holugin lies the Guardalavaca region, where some of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba can be found. It is not only the most important vacation spot for package tourists in the east of the island, but one of the most important in Cuba. Besides the beaches, the region is known for its wonderful diving sites.
Guradalavaca translates literally to "guard the cow." However, since Cubans pronounce the "v" like a "b", it can be assumed that the name comes from "gurda la baca", which means "guard the boat". There are many narrow, set-back coves in the area, which were ideal for harboring and keeping ships hidden in earlier times.
In one of these bays - the Bahia de Bariay - Christopher Columbus' ships reached Cuba for the first time on October 28, 1492.
There are a series of beaches in the area. At the western end of the region, two small bays are Playa Blanca and Playa Pesquera. While Playa Blanca is primarily visited by Cubans, there is a small hotel complex at Playa Pesquera.
A little to the east is the larger Playa Pesquero, where there are four hotel complexes. It is a very nice beach. If the hotels are full, the beach also gets a bit crowded.
For travelers looking for an idyllic retreat away from mass tourism, the Cayo Saetia is an absolute insider tip. It is one of the most beautiful beaches with the finest white sand and turquoise water.
See & Do
- Parque Nacional Bahía de Naranjo
- Delfinario de Bahía de Naranjo
- Conuco de Mongo Vina
- In the Parque Rocazul there are a number of animals (pigs, peacocks, beavers and turtles). It is possible to do to explore the sight on horseback (2h). The park offers a beautiful view of the countryside and the bay. You can take a tour with an ox cart. In addition, there are boats that can be used to go out on the bay for fishing. Especially, families can spend a great day here.
There are no Viazul buses or other public transport in Guardalavaca. Therefore, if you want to leave the resort zone, you must either rent a car or take a cab with a driver. With the state cabs, the trip to Holguin costs about 40 USD. Private drivers with vintage cars are usually a bit more economical. They may be found for as little as 50 USD for the round trip.
However, shared cabs also run to the bus station in Holguín. These cabs leave Guardalavaca near the residential buildings, a few minutes' walk south of the hotels. The fare for the almost one-hour ride is officially 1 USD per passenger each way. From the bus station in Holguín, you can take a horse-drawn carriage to the city center.
The shared cabs return the same way, leaving Holguín near the bus station, at the 12-story prefabricated building. You better not be too late on the way back to Guardalavaca.
Most travelers stay in Guardalavaca in one of the large hotel complexes. The hotels are distributed on the main beach and three other bays, which are located a few kilometers west of the main beach. However, there are also a number of basic guest houses, which are primarily suitable for short stays during rental car tours due to the relatively limited infrastructure.