Paradise between the mountains and the sea
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The overlap of the blue of the sky and sea with the green of the coastal forests on the northern coast of Holguin is dazzling in Playa Esmeralda, near the area named by Christopher Columbus as "the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen".
An extensive coastal area with beaches of fine white sand, combined with greenery and mountains, a 6.5 km coral reef rich in flora and fauna, natural beauty, cities with cultural and historical heritage, the area of the discovery of Cuba and its archaeological capital, are just some of the attractions that allow the City of Parks, as this eastern province is also known, to have become an ideal destination for people looking for fun, recreation, a tropical environment, contact with nature, knowledge, tranquillity and security.
Extraordinary natural attractions and many places of interest such as the Bahia de Naranjo Natural Park, an untouched environment of thousands of hectares of land and sea plus a 32-km coast with natural beaches. Archaeological sites, caves and totally virgin cays surround the vicinity. In Cayo Naranjo there is a marine aquarium with dolphins and about 50 kilometres away is the international airport in the capital city.
The tourist region of Holguin is concentrated in the northern and eastern areas of the province and includes the coastal municipalities of Gibara, Rafael Freyre, Banes, Antilla, Mayari, Frank Pais, Sagua and Moa.
Tourism is focused on the sun and beach, followed by sailing, archaeology, diving and just admiring the scenery. Nipe is more focused on nature activities, beach tourism, boating and diving.
Tourism resources includes 34 rivers, 6 waterfalls (including Guava, the largest in Cuba) and 6 reservoirs, 5 areas of underwater caves, 19 historical and cultural sites, 135 archaeological sites and about 60 miles of white sand beaches.
But the greatest merit of the Holguin tourism infrastructure is the way it has been integrated with nature between the sea and the forest.
One of the most visited places in the province is the controversial archaeological site of Chorro de Maita, in the town of Yaguajay, Banes. This is the first aboriginal cemetery found in Cuba, where presumably there was also contact with Hispanic culture. There is evidence of all forms of burial found not only in Cuba but also in the Caribbean, and others never before recorded. It's a paradise of apparent multiculturalism, and the landscape is a riot of greens, browns and blues from the sea, palm trees and mountains.
The Loma de la Cruz, meanwhile, is a symbol of the city of Holguin, 261 meters high and with 464 steps. It owes its name to the cross placed on its top, from where you can admire the entire city, by Fray Antonio de Joy, who started the religious tradition called the Pilgrimage of the Cross, relived today with a cultural focus as the Pilgrimage of May. The festival is held every year in May, combining tradition and modernity, and making the city of Holguin in Capital of Young Art.
Characterized by its excellent environment and surrounded by the sea and 5 keys, the Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park has many eco-tourist trails, 1 rustic restaurant, aquarium, dolphinarium and locations for swimming with dolphins.
A distinctive cultural feature of Holguin is the typical cuisine of the region of eastern Cuba, the product of multiculturalism and Spanish, African, French, Hispanic and especially Haitian influences.
Holguin cuisine is simple, highlighting dishes made with sausage and chilli sauce and the locally made Mayabe beer. Among the best-known regional dishes are:
- Cassava: Unleavened, crunchy, thin and circular bread, made from cassava flour.
- Roast suckling pig: Roast in the oven or on a spit. Usually served hot with crispy crackling skin.
- Creole ajiaco: Delicious soup made with vegetables and different kinds of meat, including pork and chicken.
- Crab and corn rice: Rice with crab and corn in a yellow sauce.
- Crab cakes: Savoury cakes consisting of a pastry base filled with masses of crab.
- Rustic chicken: cooked chicken with added fried potatoes.
- Pickled Eggs: Eggs boiled and preserved in spiced vinegar.
- Fritters: Flour mixed with water, milk, eggs and yeast, deep fried and served as a dessert with syrup or honey on top.
- Holguin boniatillo: baked sweet potato puree with syrup and cinnamon.
- Jibaco Coconut Sweet: Grated coconut cooked with sugar, cinnamon and vanilla to taste.
- Esmeralda Beach
- Aquarium with dolphins
- Holguín city
- Chorro de Maíta
- Loma de la Cruz
- Cayo Saetía
- Silla de Gibara
- Las Guanas
- Cayo Bariay
- Bahía de Naranjo Natural Park
WHAT TO DO
- Bird watching
- The aquarium and dolphinarium, the Keys and Bahía Naranjo Park
- Visit museums and the historic centre
- Diving and snorkelling
- Enjoy the May festival
- Swim at Esmeralda Beach
- Climb Loma de la Cruz and view the city from its peak
- Swim with dolphins
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