Baracoa, nicknamed Ciudad Primada or “First City”, is a municipality and city in Guantánamo Province lying on Bahia de Miel (“Bay of Honey”) near the eastern tip of Cuba. Its name is derived from its status as the oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba and its first capital. It is thought that the name stems from the indigenous Arauaca tribe’s word meaning "the presence of the sea". Baracoa is quite isolated and surrounded by a wide mountain range with one road leading in and out.
Baracoa, whose main agricultural products are banana, cacao and coconut, is located on the spot where Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba at Baracoa’s Porto Santo on his first voyage to the Americas in 1492. According to tradition, Columbus erected a cross called Cruz de la Parra in the sands of what would later become Baracoa Harbor.
The most famous outdoor experience near Baracoa is Parque Nacional Alejandro de Humboldt (Alexander Humboldt National Park) located about 40 miles north. Hikers will also enjoy a guided trek up the table mountain El Yunque (“the anvil”), which is part of a plateau bearing unique species of ferns and palms. Nearby one can visit the Miel and Toa rivers, Toa River being Cuba’s largest with multiple waterfalls, the best known of which is 'El Saltadero'.
Visitors can get to Baracoa by bus from Santiago de Cuba (4 hours) or by plane from Havana (2 hours). While there, visitors can tour the Fuerte Matachín area with houses and museums, a restaurant and beautiful small beach to the west and a national park. One of the few hotels in the region is Hotel El Castillo, a renovated old fort that sits on a steep hill with a stunning view of the town and both bays. There are also two music venues to enjoy the nightlife. Baracoa dining features local dishes such as Bacán, made from bananas wrapped in a banana leaf, and the drink Cucurucho, a mix of coconut, sugar, orange, guava and pineapple wrapped in a palm leaf. For dessert no one should miss the chocolate from this cocoa producing city!