The Beauty of Baracoa: Cuba’s Oldest Town
By Roberto F. Campos, Photos: Publicitur and José (Tito) Meriño
I have to admit that Baracoa is the Cuban territory that I like the most, not only because it was the first town founded by the Spanish colonizers in Cuba, but also because of its mix of nature and adventure, full of beautiful landscapes, mountains, rivers and beaches.
Also known as “Ciudad Primada” (First City), Baracoa is located in the eastern Cuban province of Guantánamo, which has many natural attractions as well as charming urban areas. Founded on August 15, 1511 under the name of Our Lady of The Assumption of Baracoa by the then Spanish Governor and explorer Diego Velázquez, it is the oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba on record.
In 1518, it was proclaimed a city, as well as Cuba’s first capital and diocese.
It is due to its marvelous natural, cultural and historical attractions that Onelquis Ferrer Quindelán, the delegate of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism of the area, envisions a promising future for Baracoa.
One of the region’s most attractive tourist destinations is the Alejandro de Humboldt Park, which honors the German scientist that once fell in love with this territory, and with Cuba in general.
Baracoa is actually the province’s main touristic draw, with different outdoor and cultural options that invite visitors to enjoy its rivers, beaches, and traditional dishes, especially those made with coconut and chocolate.
Baracoa has seven hotels and some 500 private rooms, while the city of Guantánamo has four hotels and Maisí, where Cuba’s easternmost lighthouse is located, now has two new hotels.
The majority of tourists that visit the área are from Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
One of the most popular activities is the excursion along the Toa River on wooden boats, similar to those made by the indigenous population, who cut and decorated royal palms.