Baracoa | Cuba’s secret paradise and our big favorite

Baracoa | Cuba’s secret paradise and our big favorite


Baracoa, one of Cuba’s best-kept secrets, and what a surprise! For a few days, we’ll take you to the eastern side of the island, to the Oriente, just a few hours from Santiago de Cuba. Discover this paradise between sea and mountains.


This is one corner of Cuba we absolutely wanted to discover. We’d heard nothing but good things about this region, which is too often overlooked by travelers due to its geographical location. It’s at the very eastern end of the island, which doesn’t make it easy to get to on a short trip from Havana. But that’s a mistake, because it’s certainly the most authentic and charming corner of Cuba, and one of our favorites of this month-long trip. We also invite you to read our other articles on Cuba:



Ravaged by Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the region was able to recover very quickly from this natural disaster. Once again, it’s a little corner of paradise, where the people are perceptibly kind. Here, we found verdant mountain landscapes conducive to richer agriculture with coffee, cocoa, juicy pineapple and passion fruit. The national parks around Baracoa are absolutely magnificent, untouched by mass tourism.

Baracoa, however, is a 4.5-hour drive from Guadalavaca and about a 4-hour drive from Santiago from Cuba but what a beautiful road! Visit Farola as it’s nicknamed, is the most beautiful we’ve done in Cuba. A road lined with palm trees, but also a desert road with the feeling of being in Morocco, with its taller-than-thou cacti, aloe vera, arid plants and steep cliffs jutting out into the sea. Arriving there, you discover a quiet little town of 80,000 inhabitants, bordered by mountains and waterfalls on one side, the sea and rivers on the other.

We set off to discover the park « Alexander von Humbolt », we climbed the « Mont Yunque » and we took the time to relax for a day at « Playa Manglito » with a visit to a cocoa plantation beforehand. All this even led us to stay a day longer than planned to enjoy the region.


Cuba | Baracoa | Sunset



Before heading off to the outskirts of Baracoa, you can take a stroll through this small town and discover the Matachín fortress, the Château de Seboruco de Santa Bárbara, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption and the house of Chocolate. But to be honest, from you to me, Baracoa’s main attraction is its environment and its omnipresent nature.


  • Alexander Von Humbolt Park

Day one and we’re off to discover the Alexander Von Humbolt located about 30 km from Baracoa (about 1 hour’s drive). To get there, take the Moa road, which is asphalted for the first part and then becomes a dirt track for around 20 km. On the roadside, you’ll find the tourist information point facing the beauty of Taco or “Bahia de Taco “. This is where the guides who will accompany you on the park’s various excursions are based. You can choose between shorter and longer routes, some of which can be completed over 2 days, but naturally require advance booking.

We chose the “El Recreo ” for a 3km route completed in around 4 hours, including breaks and stops in the natural pool. The guides are real professionals, in love with the region and equipped with lynx eyes to show you among many others the tocororoCuba’s national bird, colorful lizards, the polimitas, multicoloured snails that live on trees, snakes, centipedes, the birds that the smallest hummingbird (here called Zunúncito) and the world’s smallest frog (its size does not exceed 1 cm) which populate these forests. Plant lovers will not be outdone and will be able to discover various species endemic to the region. On the whole, walking is easy and accessible to all.

You’ll cross 4 rivers along the way, and at the end of your journey you’ll be able to take a dip in translucent water at 25 degrees, which is really very pleasant for a river bath, especially after hiking in the Cuban heat.


Practical info:

  • El Recreo Trail (3h without breaks): 10 CUC/pers including guide. (free for children)
  • Boat trip on Taco Bay (1h to 2k for 2km trip): 5 CUC/pers. If you’re more sporty and have the time, a canoe trip in the bay is highly recommended!
  • El Copal Trail : 3 km hike (3h) ending at the Copal waterfall.
  • El Balcon de Iberia Trail: 5km hike (5h), see a 25-metre-high waterfall and swim in the El Maja waterfall.
  • Bring plenty of water and a picnic if you plan to stay all day.
  • At the entrance to the park, a gentleman sells you juicy fruit for a few CUC, an opportunity to refresh yourself and stock up on provisions.
  • A cab will take you there and back for about 40 CUC.


Did you know? Alexander Von Humbolt Park is a jewel of ecotourism and one of Cuba’s leading nature destinations. It is renowned for its incredible biodiversity, and the park’s guides do their utmost to conserve this incredible environment. Here, you’ll find 905 endemic species, including 343 exclusive to this region. The fauna of this region is the richest in Cuba, with 1,200 animal species and over 1,000 plant species. That’s why it was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001.


Cuba | park alexandro de Humbold | Baracoa | nature | trek


  • Taco Bay

Back at the starting point, you can continue with the discovery of the baie de Taco. Rowing, the guide will take you to discover the bay, its mangrove forest and you will approach the coral reef that marks the separation between the sea and the bay. If you’re lucky, which we weren’t on this one, you may have the pleasure of observing the manatees that come here to feed on the seaweed they love, but also to give birth away from potential predators in the open sea. Maybe you’ll be luckier than us to see them.

Doing this outing at the end of the day and at this time of year also gives us a beautiful palette of colors and some great photos.

On the way back, you can stop off at the Maguana and Mapurisí beaches. Maguana beach is quite pretty with its coconut palms on the beach, you can go and have lunch at Victor’s in a little shack.


Cuba | Taco Bay | Baracoa

Cuba | Baracoa | Taco Bay

Cuba | Baracoa | Plage
Playa Maguana


  • Mount Yunque Park

Day two in the Baracoa region and we’re offering you a real challenge: climbing Mont Yunque, this upside-down anvil-shaped mountain that rises between 400 meters and 575 meters above sea level and is part of the protected biosphere zone Cuchillas del Toa. Mount Yunque is visible from several vantage points in Baracoa and boasts a wide variety of flora and fauna, including endemic species. Christopher Columbus referred to the mountain in his logbook as an exceptional natural monument and a true work of nature. We certainly left a little late to avoid the peak of the heat (9:30 am), so we recommend you leave a little earlier (8 am) to avoid suffering more than you have to. Allow around 2h30 for the 2.5km climb and 300m ascent. The route initially passes through plantations of coffee, banana and fruit trees before arriving on the upper part of the route in more wooded areas inhabited by millipedes. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a much-appreciated stop at a small hut where a fruit vendor has set up shop, offering you a taste of the many local fruits he cuts up in front of you for 1 CUC. A pleasant break to regain energy before continuing the steep ascent to the summit. What’s quite difficult is humidity, heat and some steep sections.

Once you’ve reached the summit – not without difficulty, given the steepness of this final section – you’ll have a panoramic view of the whole Bay of Baracoa, and the satisfaction of having made a fine ascent. The descent isn’t any easier as it’s very steep, but once back in the valley, you can enjoy the second interest of the place, the 2 waterfalls and the Duaba river. Swim in translucent waters at 25 degrees and sunbathe on rocks polished by the waters. Are you tempted? There’s no better way to unwind after a busy day.

If you don’t want to climb Mount Yunque, don’t miss the chance to spend the day here with family and friends, with a picnic lunch to enjoy the green, natural beauty of the inland. It is also possible to sleep in a pretty little house not far from the waterfalls. We can offer this as part of your trip.

Practical info:

  • Round trip trek: 5h30 approx. The last climb is quite physical. With children, the first part can be done up to the fruit-break stop, even if the last few metres to the house become steeper.
  • Entrance fee for Mount Yunque + Duaba waterfalls: 13CUC/pers with compulsory guide
  • Admission to waterfalls only with compulsory guide: 8 CUC/pers. You’ll need to take a short 30-minute hike and cross the Toa River to reach the waterfall. It’s a great memory
  • Bring plenty of water and a picnic if you plan to stay all day.
  • Take water shoes or slippers, which will come in handy on the rocks.
  • From Baracoa, it’s a 30-minute drive of 10km, and a cab will cost you about 20 CUC round trip.


Cuba | Mount Yunque Baracoa

Cuba | Baracoa | waterfall | swimming

Cuba | Baracoa | Mount Yunque | Mille pattes |Trek


  • Boca de Yumurí and its canyon

It’s not our favorite place but we have to be honest with you, we went on a rainy day so the water was quite brown. After doing the Alexander Von Umbolt Park and Mount Yunque, we were a little disappointed as it’s not a must-see. The view of the canyon is very beautiful, but I think it’s best appreciated with translucent water and at the beginning of your stay.

The Boca de Yumuri is a fairly deep, wide canyon reached by a small boat on the river, then a ten-minute walk through the river and small jungle. Once again, admission is subject to a compulsory guide. It’s rather annoying to see that in Cuba, all natural sites have to be paid for, especially as here you don’t need a guide, as the trail is very well marked and can easily be done on your own.

The rivers are shallower, and there are more Cubans, some of them cooking local dishes under a little straw hut created for the Sunday outing. You can combine this outing with the Playa Manglito nearby.


Practical info:

  • Site admission: 8 CUC /adult and free for children (6 CUC trail + 2 CUC boat)
  • The site is open from 8am to 5pm.
  • Bring plenty of water and a picnic if you plan to stay all day.
  • Take water shoes or slippers, which will come in handy on the rocks.
  • From Baracoa, it’s a 30-minute drive, and a cab will cost you about 25 CUC round trip.


Cuba | Baracoa | Yumuri


  • Cocoa plantations & Playa Manglito

The last day on the program is all about relaxation, and above all, less sport. On the advice of our guesthouse, we set off for the plage Manglito by making a stop in a Cocoa plantation. After a quick tour of the plantation and an explanation of how cocoa trees are grown, it’s time for a tasting session. Although Cubans may not know how to work chocolate like our European master chocolatiers, they do offer to buy 100% pure cocoa balls for 1 CUC and a few by-products such as cocoa cream to remedy burns or skin irritation. So don’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity to stock up on souvenirs for your friends. Otherwise, the tour is still fun, as it’s orchestrated by a very likeable but not exceptional character. Then head off to Playa Manglito for a well-deserved beach day.

Atypical with its trees on the sand, the beach is very pretty and you will find there the restaurant « Tato »., a magnificent and very popular shack on Manglito beach. Renowned in the region for its octopus, they offer fresh seafood dishes featuring fish, lobster and seafood. tetí, the region’s specialty. Note that their passion fruit Daiquiri is delicious, but be careful not to overdo it or you’ll find yourself napping on the beach a few hours after your meal. A great place to unwind.


Cuba | Baracoa | Cacao Farm

Cuba | Baracoa | Plage


Practical information Baracoa


As in most of Cuba, you’ll find all kinds of casas, ranging from 5 CUC a night to around 50 CUC a night. The price difference comes down to service, quality of welcome, breakfast, location, cleanliness of rooms… During my trip to Cuba, I selected some very pretty casas in Baracoa, including a very special one that I’ll keep carefully for my customers who book a trip to Cuba with our agency.

Below are some addresses of casas particulares and hotels in Baracoa:

  • Baracoando : This little restaurant is one of our most memorable addresses in Cuba. The owner is an atypical character who has lived by a vegan philosophy for a long time and offers recipes he has picked up in Cuban villages. He works with produce that he collects from the surrounding area, in particular from a permaculture farm near Baracoa. Don’t forget to book in advance, as the concept is buffet-style. We loved everything about his cooking and enjoyed chatting with him in French.
    As his philosophy is to offer his cuisine to as many people as possible, he charges a single price of 10 CUC/person, and his restaurant is also increasingly frequented by locals.

  • La Colina: This restaurant is located on the roof terrace of a building itself situated on the heights of Baracoa. Suffice it to say that the setting is pretty cool, with views over the city and the bay. Here, you’ll find pretty much the same dishes you’d find in Cuba, but very well prepared. The cocktails are really top-notch and the service is very friendly. A restaurant not to be missed.
  • Chez Tato to try the small fried fish, the tetí
  • Napoleon: expensive but very good restaurant
  • pearl of the ocean on the Malecón
  • Palate the good taste





To come to Baracoa is to come to eastern Cuba. It’s also possible to include the eastern tip of Cuba in your trip, making it easier to get to Santiago de Cuba and Baracoa. Air caraïbe offers flights from Paris to Havana, including one weekly stopover in Santiago de cuba. It is therefore possible to take a flight to Havana with a stopover in Santiago de Cuba. That leaves you a week to visit this part of the island.

From Havana, it is also possible to take a internal theft to Santiago de Cuba, but having tested it, it’s not necessarily something I’d book for my customers, because the planes are always late (3h30 in our case), they’re also often cancelled because the government is in charge, it’s anarchy at the airport, i.e. every man for himself, and because the planes are quite dilapidated from what I’ve heard (but I found out once I arrived safely in Havana – phew!)

You can also land in Guantánamo, but it’s a 3.5-hour drive from Baracoa and costs around 100 CUC each way.



In theory there are buses to Baracoa, but I’ll be honest with you, we drove up the north side, from Holguin to Moa, and I don’t see how the buses can get through, as it’s the most tiring stretch of road we’ve ever driven. Towards the end, the word “road” is replaced by “track”.

From Havana, with the Viazul company, buses leave and make the 19h journey for around 70 CUC/p, from Camagüey, allow around 11h drive and 35 CUC/p, from Holguin, allow 4h drive and finally from Santiago de Cuba, allow 5h for 15 CUC/p. Having spent 1 month in this country, I can tell you that the buses are not very reliable and it’s a big risk to take. The road to Baracoa from these towns is pretty bumpy and very tiring.



The east of the island is much less touristy than the west, which means that there are fewer shared cabs going to this area. You’ll need a private cab for this route, and a good budget!



Without a doubt, the best way to get there and get around once you’re there! In my opinion, a car is essential, as you’ll be able to drive freely to the various national parks and beaches. It is possible to find a car with a driver on site for day trips, a contact I keep carefully for my clients if they are not interested in the car option. The gentleman was recommended to me by our sublime guesthouse and he knows the area like the back of his hand.



Baracoa a la recette parfaite pour séduire: la mer, les montagnes, les cascades, les jus frais, des locaux adorables et du cacao! Il faudrait pouvoir y rester entre 5 à 7 jours aisément car il y a beaucoup de choses à voir. Si vous aimez la nature, les endroits préservés, la faune et la flore, c’est le lieu à ne pas manquer de Cuba.

Sachez que Cuba, n’est pas une destination bon marché et qu’il vous faudra un petit budget pour visiter l’île. Si vous souhaitez un devis pour la destination, merci de m’envoyer votre demande à

Pour tous ceux qui veulent y aller en août, il faut vous y prendre à l’avance, on commence souvent les réservations pour nos clients à partir de janvier car cela nous permet d’avoir du choix en terme de casas et de trouver rapidement une voiture.

Nous vous invitons à lire également tous nos autres articles sur Cuba:



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Cuba | Baracoa | conseils | voyage







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