La Is­la de la Ju­ven­tud

Guía de Excelencias Cuba - - Summary -

It is the se­cond is­land in ex­ten­sion of the Cu­ban ar­chi­pe­la­go and, along with mo­re than 600 cays and is­lets, it forms part of the Ar­chi­pié­la­go de los Ca­na­rreos. It is se­pa­ra­ted from the main is­land by a strip of sea of 80 km. Known as "The Is­land of a Thou­sand Na­mes", it was na­med “La Evan­ge­lis­ta,” by Co­lum­bus on his se­cond vo­ya­ge, a na­me with which it be­ca­me fa­mous as a ha­ven for pri­va­teers and pi­ra­tes. Un­til 1975, it was na­med "Is­la de Pi­nos," the da­te on which it was re­na­med as "Is­la de la Ju­ven­tud,"

Ca­pi­tal: Nue­va Ge­ro­na Ex­ten­sion: 3 056 sq. km De­nonym: pi­ne­ro/a Li­mits: it li­mits to the north with the Gulf of Ba­ta­ba­nó, to the east with the wa­ters of the in­su­lar plat­form and the pro­vin­ce of Ma­tan­zas, to the south with the Ca­rib­bean Sea, and to the west with the wa­ters of the in­su­lar plat­form and the pro­vin­ce of Pi­nar del Río. Ac­cess: it has a na­tio­nal air­port and an in­ter­na­tio­nal air­port, in ad­di­tion to the “Vi­lo Acu­ña” In­ter­na­tio­nal Air­port in Ca­yo Lar­go del Sur, equip­ped to ope­ra­te lar­ge air­crafts. Its ot­her ac­cess route is ma­ri­ti­me from the Sur­gi­de­ro de Ba­ta­ba­nó in the pro­vin­ce of Ma­ya­be­que, from whe­re fe­rries de­part.

PLA­CES OF IN­TER­EST NUE­VA GE­RO­NA

As the ca­pi­tal of the Is­le of Youth, it is a small town su­rroun­ded by hills and foun­ded next to the Las Ca­sas ri­ver. Its main street is Mar­tí (39), which is bor­de­red by old res­to­red co­lo­nial buil­dings.

Par­que Gue­rri­lle­ro He­roi­co (Park)

Ca­lle 39 bet­ween 28th y 30th

It is the cen­ter of the so­cial li­fe of the city, su­rroun­ded by the em­ble­ma­tic buil­dings of the co­lo­nial vi­llas.

Igle­sia de Nues­tra Se­ño­ra de los Do­lo­res ( Church)

Tel 046 32 3791

Built in 1929 in Mexican co­lo­nial sty­le, it has a sim­ple mar­ble al­tar and a si­de chapel de­di­ca­ted to the Virgen de la Ca­ri­dad de El Co­bre.

Galería de Ar­te Mart­ha Ma­cha­do (Art Ga­llery)

Ca­lle 39, and. 26th streets

Lo­ca­ted in a beau­ti­ful co­lo­nial hou­se, it is fi­nan­ced by the world fa­mous plas­tic ar­tist, Ale­xis Ley­va Ma­cha­do, Kcho, and ex­hi­bits his works among

ot­hers be­lon­ging to ar­tists of the lo­ca­lity.

Me­mo­rial El Pi­ne­ro

Ca­lle 33, bet­ween 26 and 28, Tel 046 32 3195

It is the me­mo­rial whe­re the hull of the El Pi­ne­ro ferry, built in Phi­la­delp­hia in 1901 and that trans­fe­rred Fi­del to the Big Is­land af­ter its li­be­ra­tion of the Pre­si­dio Mo­de­lo in 1955, is pre­ser­ved.

MU­SEO CA­SA DE LA FIN­CA EL ABRA (MU­SEUM)

Ca­rre­te­ra Si­gua­nea km ½, Tel 046 39 6206

Lo­ca­ted 1 km south of new Ge­ro­na, this was the pla­ce whe­re Mar­tí li­ved un­der hou­se arrest for 3 months af­ter his re­lea­se in Cu­ba, un­der the cus­tody of Ca­ta­lan lan­dow­ner Jo­sé Sardá, a friend of his fa­mily´s. The mu­seum keeps per­so­nal ob­jects, do­cu­ments as well as ot­her pie­ces that tes­tify to Mar­ti’s stay in the pla­ce be­fo­re lea­ving for exi­le in Spain.

PRE­SI­DIO MO­DE­LO (FOR­MER PRI­SON, CU­RRENTLY MU­SEUM)

Re­par­to De­lio Chacón, Tel 046 32 5112

Lo­ca­ted south of the town of De­lio Chacón, and about 5 km from Nue­va Ge­ro­na, the Pre­si­dio Mo­de­lo is a uni­que of its kind com­plex in La­tin Ame­ri­ca, due to its mo­nu­men­ta­lity and sha­pe. It con­sists of 34 buil­dings, in ad­di­tion to the sur­vei­llan­ce sys­tem and the pe­ri­me­ter fen­ce. It was cons­truc­ted bet­ween Oc­to­ber of 1925 and Fe­bruary of 1933 du­ring the go­vern­ment of Ge­rar­do Ma­cha­do. De­sig­ned to hou­se 6,000 pri­so­ners in cir­cu­lar buil­dings with a guard to­wer in the cen­ter, it was known to be a si­lent pla­ce.

Cu­rrently, the mu­seum oc­cu­pies two oblong buil­dings that du­ring World War II we­re used to im­pri­son Ja­pa­ne­se, Ger­man and Cu­ban pri­so­ners. The first wing of the mu­seum shows pho­to­graphs ta­ken du­ring Ma­cha­do´s go­vern­ment, whi­le the ot­her wing was the hos­pi­tal, whe­re

Fi­del Cas­tro and 25 ot­her youths we­re im­pri­so­ned af­ter the as­sault on the Mon­ca­da Ba­rracks. Their beds are pre­ser­ved the­re with a pho­to­graph of their oc­cu­pants. To the left of the en­tran­ce of the mu­seum is the cell whe­re Fi­del was con­fi­ned in so­li­tary, with his be­lon­gings and books.

RE­SER­VA ECO­LÓ­GI­CA “LOS IN­DIOS” (ECO­LO­GI­CAL RE­SER­VE)

It oc­cu­pies about 4 000 hec­ta­res, which bor­der a bay and shel­ter a fra­gi­le en­vi­ron­ment that in­clu­des man­gro­ves, sa­van­nas, pi­ne trees and en­de­mic palms. It trea­su­res at least 60 na­ti­ve spe­cies of flo­wers, 15 of them li­mi­ted to this par­ti­cu­lar re­ser­ve, of which 14 are in dan­ger of ex­tin­ction and one is car­ni­vo­rous. It is al­so the ha­bi­tat of 153 spe­cies of birds, in­clu­ding the Cu­ban cra­ne, pa­rrots and pa­ra­keets.

AREA PRO­TE­GI­DA “SUR DE LA IS­LA DE LA JU­VEN­TUD” (PROTECTED AREA)

It oc­cu­pies the who­le southern part of the is­land. Of in­tact na­tu­re, with bus­hes and mars­hes, is po­pu­la­ted by wild pigs, deer and cro­co­di­les. The coast is bor­de­red by beau­ti­ful bea­ches of fi­ne whi­te sand and calm tur­quoi­se wa­ters protected by a co­ral re­ef. The area is a mi­li­tary zo­ne and can only be ac­ces­sed by boo­king a tour th­rough EcoTur agen­cies.

Pun­ta del Es­te

Lo­ca­ted about 20 km east of Ca­yo Pie­dra wit­hin the protected area, it has a beau­ti­ful beach and its main at­trac­tion is Cue­vas Pun­ta del Es­te.a sys­tem of 4 ca­ves that con­tain 238 abo­ri­gi­nal pe­troglyphs, is con­si­de­red as the most im­por­tant set of the An­ti­lles. For­med by con­cen­tric cir­cles, red, black and whi­te, re­pre­sent a ce­les­tial array re­la­ted to the pas­sa­ge from day to night. On March 21, with the sum­mer sols­ti­ce, the sun pro­jects its light right on the midd­le of the en­tran­ce of the ca­ve re­vea­ling a red beam re­sem­bling a pha­llus that pe­ne­tra­tes the con­cen­tric cir­cles in the back­ground wall in an ap­pa­rent illu­sion of the pro­crea­tion.

PAR­QUE NA­CIO­NAL MA­RINO PUN­TA FRAN­CÉS (NA­TIO­NAL PARK)

Lo­ca­ted at the south­west end of the Is­le of Youth, 22 km from the vi­lla­ge of Co­co­dri­lo, and 122 km from Nue­va Ge­ro­na. It oc­cu­pies 6, 079 hec­ta­res of which 4 313 be­long to the sea. The area is abun­dant with co­rals, gor­go­nians and sea turtles.

Pla­ya Pun­ta Fran­cés

It is a plea­sant beach whe­re Spa­nish ga­lleons and co­ral for­ma­tions await scu­ba di­ving lo­vers, just a short dis­tan­ce from the coast. With a small res­tau­rant, and the pos­si­bi­lity of prac­ti­cing wa­ter sports, it of­fers crui­sers passengers who co­me to the coast a uni­que op­por­tu­nity to en­joy na­tu­re.

“El Co­lony” Ho­tel and Ma­ri­na

Ca­rre­te­ra Si­gua­nea km 42 Tel 046 39 8181

Lo­ca­ted on the Si­gua­nea Co­ve, south of the Is­la de la Ju­ven­tud, its cons­truc­tion dates back to the 50's of last cen­tury. A short dis­tan­ce from this is the Ma­ri­na

El Co­lony with boats for pro­fes­sio­nal di­ving and fis­hing. For un­der­wa­ter ac­ti­vi­ties the­re are 56 di­ving si­tes, con­cen­tra­ted along the La Cos­ta del Pi­ra­ta, who­se wa­ters are protected from the Gulf Stream. The si­tes ex­tend for 15 km bet­ween Pun­ta Pe­der­na­les and Pun­ta Fran­cés. Si­te 39 is known as the "Cat­he­dral of the Ca­rib­bean," as it has the hig­hest sub­mer­ged co­ral co­lumn in the world. Ot­her pla­ces of in­ter­est are the Mu­ro de Co­ral Ne­gro and the Pa­raí­so de las Le­vi­sas whe­re you can swim with the­se friendly fish (le­vi­sas.)

To the nort­heast of Pun­ta Fran­cés a na­val battle took pla­ce bet­ween the pi­ra­te Tho­mas Bas­ker­vi­lle and the Spa­nish Fleet, re­sul­ting in se­ve­ral ships being sunk, of which th­ree well pre­ser­ved Spa­nish ga­lleons may be vi­si­ted.

AR­CHI­PIÉ­LA­GO DE LOS CA­NA­RREOS

A set of unin­ha­bi­ted cays that ex­tend for se­ve­ral km to the east of the Is­land of the Youth, is a pa­ra­di­se for na­vi­ga­tion and di­ving. It is world-wi­de fa­mous for being con­si­de­red one of the best pla­ces for wild­li­fe ob­ser­va­tion, such as the small population of mon­keys in Ca­yo Can­ti­les, the fla­min­gos of Ca­yo Pa­sa­je and the hu­ge igua­na population en­de­mic to Ca­yo Igua­na. This ar­chi­pe­la­go be­longs to Ca­yo Lar­go del Sur, the only one that has tou­rist in­fras­truc­tu­re.

Ca­yo Lar­go del Sur

Lo­ca­ted 177 km south of Ha­va­na and 120 km east of the Is­la de la Ju­ven­tud, 3 km wi­de, 25 km long and boo­me­rang-sha­ped, it has 24 km of bea­ches of fi­ne whi­te sand and crys­tal-clear tur­quoi­se and ja­de wa­ters. Its na­tu­re boasts a high de­gree of con­ser­va­tion and has co­ral re­efs and an im­pres­si­ve en­de­mic fau­na that coha­bits in har­mony with a ho­tel in­fras­truc­tu­re of high le­vel. It has ma­ri­nas ser­vi­ces and for the prac­ti­ce of di­ver­se wa­ter sports such as di­ving, fis­hing and free­di­ving. It is a pre­fe­rred tou­rist des­ti­na­tion among Eu­ro­peans and Ca­na­dians, which of­fers the pos­si­bi­lity to tra­vel by pla­ne to the Is­le of Youth, en­joy yacht and ca­ta­ma­ran tours, and vi­sit the nearby keys.

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