Colón’s Bariay: beauty and history in eastern Cuba

Colón’s Bariay: beauty and history in eastern Cuba


Nina Pereira

Natural beauty and a lot of history come together in the northeastern Cuban region of Bariay, the site where Christopher Columbus landed for the first time in Cuba, called "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" in a title granted in 1492 by the Spanish kings.

In meeting with lands unknown until then in Europe, and with different cultures, but established in what was later called America, since remote times with different levels of civilization, Columbus marked a new era in the knowledge of the planet, in navigation, geography and culture, among other areas.

After doubts and exhaustive investigations, it was determined that it was precisely there, at the Bay of Bariay, that the captain arrived with his three ships: the Pinta, the Niña and the Santa María, and disembarked on the island on October 28, 1492. They say he was still thinking that he was in Asia, in search of new trade routes.

In any case, their travel diaries collect an expression that Cubans are proud of and constantly quote: "This is the most beautiful land human eyes have ever seen," a phrase with differences in both sources, because the admiral, linguistically speaking, moved between Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Catalan.

Cayo Bariay, which today belongs to the province of Holguín, is part of the Cristóbal Colón Park, which in addition to the transcendental memories of other times, offers the visitor a variety of natural experiences, such as abundant and varied flora and fauna.

Within this area are the Bariay National Monument parks, the place where Colón landed, and the Bahía de Naranjo Natural Park, one of the best preserved in the Caribbean, the Güirito natural reserve and the Guardalavaca, Esmeralda, Pesquero and Don Lino beaches.

In the region there are about a hundred specialized trails and routes, run by the main travel agencies in Cuba, as well as 67 areas prepared for nature tourism.