Away from the beach – Things to do in Holguin – Explore the Caribbean with Debbie

When you open a travel brochure, or log onto a website about Cuba, what is the first thing you see? more…

When you open a travel brochure, or log onto a website about Cuba, what is the first thing you see? Obviously, it’s the beaches. Despite that, if you look a little further into this varied island, you’ll see that there are multiple destinations which are not only historic, cultural and downright beautiful, but that there are countless activities that don’t involve lying on a beach! Of course, if you want to stay horizontal on the sand for the duration of your break, then go right ahead, the beaches are more than beautiful enough for that! I personally would do a 50/50 split, to top up the tan and relax, and get out and explore. The best of both worlds!

Holguin is blessed with those aforementioned stunning beaches, with Playa Esmeralda, Playa Pesquero and famous Guardalavaca the largest and most popular beach resorts in the province. Holguin is the island’s third most popular tourist destination, and when you realise how much there is to do there, it’s not hard to see why.

The province is also steeped in history, as Christopher Columbus is believed to have landed in Playa Blanca back in 1492, and there is a monument to this historic event in Parque Nacional Monumento Bariay. Okay, so considering this is Cuba, let’s look at the water-based activities you can enjoy during your Holguin break. Because this part of the island is surrounded by the warmth of the Atlantic, you can expect fantastic diving and snorkelling opportunities. There are plentiful reefs around, and marine-life is rich and colourful, with Coral Garden one of the best. Of course, if you’d rather stay above the water-line then you can take part in one of the many water-sports on offer, or a catamaran trip to the nearby protected park of Cayo Saetia, with its wildlife and beautiful scenery. Inland is the perfect place to head for anyone who loves to walk and explore, with hills and mountain landscapes to take in. The terrain in Holguin is varied, which makes it ideal for those who like to get out and about. Holguin city itself is a great day out, and brimming with history and cultural sights. There is a museum in the city centre, as well as old colonial barracks and monuments, with plenty of squares for people watching opportunities. The city is actually nicknamed the “city of parks”, which gives something away too! A few historic sights to visit for anyone who is interested in the Cuban struggle for independence are dotted around this particular region, with Plaza de la Revolucion perhaps the most poignant. Here you can visit the commemorative square and look around the various monuments, built in tribute to fallen heroes. General Calixto Garcia’s tomb is also here. For more natural sights, Parque Nacional Sierra del Cristal is stunning, and is also the island’s oldest national park, dating back to 1930. There’s more too, with Parque Nacional La Mensura in close proximity to the island’s tallest waterfall – Salto del Guayabo. If you prefer to sit and watch the scenery roll by then head to Grupo Maniabon and jump on the steam train through the mountains.

As you can see, Holguin is jam-packed with activities, and not all of them involve the beach!

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