Near the eastern end of the island and closer to Haiti than Havana, it was founded in 1511 as the first town in Cuba. It was the first capital city of Cuba, but it was forgotten over time since the rest of the towns were founded, because it could only be accessed by sea. La Farola Highway, is one of the seven wonders of twentieth-century Cuban architecture, it was built in the 70s giving access to the city.
Baracoa is a true natural paradise, with 29 rivers, the Atlantic Ocean to the north, astonishing mountains to
the South. If you’ve ever looked for El Dorado, this is the place! And if the views weren’t amazing enough, it is also a true food lover’s paradise with incredible seafood, unique dishes, delicious cocoa, and the freshest coconuts.
Fertile forests, blue seas, vibrant tunes, and delicious desserts – don’t miss out on the quirky eastern city of Baracoa.
Baracoa has beautiful beaches away from the crowds and noise that you find in the great spas of the northern beaches. The clear sea at Playa Maguana and its brilliant colors are unmatched in the region. Its gentle waves rocks you and it is a great pleasure to float in these waters, protected from the ocean currents by a series of rocks and coral reefs. El Manglito personifies the laid-back Caribbean beach. Enjoy the good vibes under the sun and palm trees, stroll on the light-colored sand and bathe in the shallow waters, enjoy a mojito or a beer and enjoy a good lunch of fresh fish or seafood by the sea. Or swim in Playa Blanca, near the idyllic fishing village Boca de Miel. Here, a rustic bridge across the Rio de Miel is the perfect spot to snap a photo before heading to the caves.
Baracoa’s most impressive museum, La Cueva del Paraíso is a series of caves that were once Taíno burial chambers. Among nearly 2,000 authentic Taíno pieces are unearthed skeletons, ceramics, 3,000-year-old petroglyphs and a replica of the Tabaco Idol, a sculpture found in Maisí in 1903 and considered one of the most important Taino finds in the Caribbean.
One of the best off-the-beaten-path things to do in Baracoa is visit the Majayara Natural Park, southeast of the city. As you walk, you will arrive at the Fuentes family home that sells fresh fruit and coffee from their farm. Just beyond that stop is a cave, Cueva de Aguas, a cave with a sparkling freshwater well inside. Continuing up the hillside, you will come to an archaeological trail with more caves and wonderful views of the sea.
If you fancy hiking, visit El Yunque, the table-shaped mountain that towers over the town of Baracoa. Although it is only 575 meters above sea level, it is a strenuous hike to reach the top. Get ready for a little hard work, a lot of sweat, and beautiful views of the rainforest. After an intense walk in the sun, nothing is more rewarding than a refreshing swim in the river while
looking towards a beautiful waterfall. Or look for Salto Fino, the highest waterfall in the Caribbean within Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When you are done admiring nature, you can see the trio of Spanish forts that protected Baracoa. Fort La Punta, built in 1803, now houses an amazing restaurant. Matachín Fort, built in 1802, which now houses the Municipal Museum. The small but beautiful building exhibits an interesting chronology of Baracoa, which includes polymite snails, the story of Che Guevara and the chocolate factory, and the particular musical thread that Baracoa gave birth: kiribá, an ancestor of son. Alternatively, you can head to the Castillo de Seboruco. Baracoa’s tallest fort, though barely recognizable as a fort these days, serves as Hotel El Castillo.
For a different kind of museum, visit Casa del Cacao. It exhibits elements of history related to the cultivation of Cacao in the region and the history of the Mayan culture. The museum also explains the treatments of the grains, their drying process in the sun in large drawers and finally the roasting over a wood fire in special pots, cleaning and grinding. And if you still have a craving for chocolate, they have a chocolate factory that produces chocolate bars and other goodies for sale.
For a small town, Baracoa has a lot to offer! If you thought only your days were going to be packed here, think again!
The nightlife is amazing in Baracoa with live music and various styles of rhythms, you can’t go wrong. Whether you’re visiting the Casa de la Trova, Cuba’s smallest, craziest, wildest, and most atmospheric place, or the Casa de la Cultura, be sure to grab a mojito and put on your dancing shoes as you’ll be part of the dance in no time! weather!