Participating in sports is one of the most widespread activities in the world and, for some time now, tourist sites have presented options to travelers who seek more than to enjoy nature or learn about a culture, but also wish to take advantage of novel geographical features in order to stretch their muscles.
Cuba, rich in landscapes and seascapes, off ers not only excellent locations for enjoyment, but a rich sporting tradition, so there are countless forms of recreation for visitors besides sun and beaches.
Both land and water provide sports options throughout the island, such as hiking, spelunking, biking, climbing, fi shing, diving and snorkeling, among others.
For diving and snorkeling we especially recommend several facilities in Pinar del Rio and Havana Provinces, as well as on the Isle of Youth, Jardines del Rey Keys and the eastern beach of Guardalavaca.
Each of these boasts several diving sites with spectacular coral reefs, and the opportunity to swim with a wide variety of fish and other species of the gorgeous Caribbean fauna.
The Isle of Youth, the largest land area of the Canarreos archipelago, has an International Diving Center (IBC) with 56 diving sites. The transparency of its waters and the appeal of its seabed have made it the preferred location for the annual International Underwater Photography Contest (Fotosub)
HIKING AND CLIMBING In recent years, trekking has gained importance among tourists who enjoy walking through tropical landscapes, breathing clean air and observing the wonders of flora and fauna up close.
The best sites for these healthy walks in Cuba are located in the Viñales Valley in Pinar del Rio, where visitors are attracted by the wooded hills, caves and caverns.
A slightly different opportunity for interaction with nature is offered by the marshes of Zapata, in the southern area of Matanzas Province, with several wildlife sanctuaries of great ecological value and many species of endemic birds and crocodiles.
Of course, the Sierra Maestra mountain range, in southeastern Cuba, is a natural botanical garden where flora rangs from prehistoric ferns to fragile orchids, and one finds waterfalls and pools, varied wildlife and rugged trails. There are specialized guides available to accompany visitors in tours of the lush region.
Another activity that has lately become fashionable among visitors to the island is climbing. There are many sites in Cuba with great settings for this type of adventure, chiefly for the clean air and the total absence of dangerous animals or poisonous plants.
Climbing sites can be found in the municipality of Santa Cruz del Norte in Mayabeque Province, at the Guamuhaya Massif in central Cuba, and in Santiago de Cuba in the east. Perhaps the main places climbing spots are to be found is in the abovementioned Viñales Valley, where there are more than 20 areas and the same number of trails.
Viñales also offers opportunities for spelunking in the caves of its National Park, as does Matanzas Province in its Bellamar caves. There are many others located in the center and the east of the island.