Cuba Travel

Guanacahabibes: A Natural Biosphere Reserve in Western Cuba

Posted May 25, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Travel.


Cabo de San Antonio. View from the Roncali Lighthouse

Cuba’s westernmost tip, the Guanacahabibes Peninsula, holds a true natural treasure characterized by exuberant vegetation, fauna and flora, as well as the attractions of the region’s sea bottoms.

The territory also treasures the imprint of Cuba’s first inhabitants, who named the region Guanacahabibes. In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the region a Biosphere Reserve.

In Guanacahabibes, nature tourism is a major attraction based on a 50,000-hectare National Park inhabited by 172 species of birds belonging to 42 families, 11 of which are endemic and 84 are migratory.

According to experts, 47 percent of all species and 44 percent of endemic species reported in the Cuban archipelago live in the Guanacahabibes Peninsula, which is also considered a migratory corridor.

The region, which also has uninhabited coasts, thus its low demographic density, begins in the Remates Swamp and ends in Cabo de San Antonio (Cape San Antonio). Its maximum width is 34 kilometers, but the territory gets narrower westwards, so many people know the region as the tail of the caiman that Cuba resembles.

The Guanacahabibes Biosphere Reserve also includes a national park of same name and the El Veral and Cabo Corrientes natural reserves.

Recent studies by specialized institutions assessed the potential of some 19 beaches, seven of which will be chosen to build lodging facilities totaling 1,500 rooms.

In addition, thousands of ships pass by near the Guanacahabibes Peninsula every year, thus reinforcing the region’s huge potential for nautical activities and scuba diving.

Coral reefs in a perfect state of preservation are the foundations for the development of underwater programs in Cuba’s warm crystal-clear waters.

In that regard, experts say that Cuba has a seductive underwater history that reaches every corner of the country and is complemented by naval battles and legends about pirate attacks near the coast.

Guanacahabibes also holds some 150 archeological sites, more than 40 of which have been discovered recently, and where pictographs, stone tools and clay vessels have been found.

The latter reveal the presence in the area of settlements with a socio-economic and cultural development that is almost unknown, due to the scarce existence of archeological evidence.

With its huge variety of attractions, Cuba’s westernmost region is paving the way to become a leading destination within the country’s broad spectrum for the development of nature tourism in its multiple modalities.


Peninsula de Guanahacabibes Reserve of the Biosphere
Areas of Natural Interest
Península de Guanahacabibes
Pinar del Río
María La Gorda, Cabanas
Península de Guanahacabibes
Pinar del Río

María La Gorda
Diving centers
La Bajada, Península Guanahacabibes
Pinar del Río
Marina Cabo de San Antonio
Pinar del Río

Member Comments

On May 26, 2004, publisher wrote:

There will be a huge ecotourism market when Cuba is open to American tourists.

On January 17, 2009, Jennifer wrote:

I travelled to this park and stayed at Maria La Gorda. This was about 8 years ago, and back then, the hotel had about 10 rooms in one main building, and an outhouse kitchen. There was literally nothing else around, except a small building for dive gear - and we loved it! Parrots were very noisy at dawn and dusk, the snorkelling and diving were the best I’ve seen in the Caribbean, or Pacific, and the iguanas, mahogany, epiphytes….were fantastic.

This is also a place where some US based researchers found a city 2km under the sea….I dived the shelf where it was supposedly found.

I recommend this place to any traveller who likes to get off the beaten track - particularly if you’re looking for a great dive holiday.