Ciego de Avila Province Attractions
The province of Ciego de Avila in Central Cuba is best known for its offshore islands. Off the north coast is the Archipelago de Sabana-Camaguey, named the Los Jardines del Rey or 'Garden of the King' by Diego Velazques when he discovered these them in 1522. Among these islands are two of Cuba's main tourist resort destinations, Cayo Coco and Guillermo. Off the south coast is the uninhabited Archipelago de los Jardines de la Reina, known for great fishing and scuba diving opportunities.The main city in Ciego de Avila carries the same name as the province. It is one of the lesser visited cities in the country but allows for a glimpse of local life relatively undisturbed by tourism.
Ciego de Avila, Cuba
This capital city of the province of the same name, Ciego de Avila does not have as much to offer as many of the other capital cities in Cuba. Although the area was settled in the 1530s by Jacome de Avila, there was really little here other than a hacienda until 1840. Consequently the town is lacking any spectacular Colonial buildings. It is an agricultural based community with few noteworthy attractions. Nonetheless, the lack of tourists and tourist oriented attractions gives Ciego de Avila its own appeal, with a more relaxed and authentically Cuban feel.Most of the focus is around Parque Marti, the main square. On or near the square visitors will find the Iglesia de San Eugenio de la Palma, Ayuntamiento, the government building, the Teatro Principal, noteworthy for its fine acoustics, and the Galeria de Arte Provincial. One other attraction is the Museum Provincial with displays on the history of the Ciego de Avila.
Jardines de la Reina
Jardines de la Reina is an archipelago off the coast of Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, and Las Tunas provinces. The main access point is from the town of Jucaro, which offers boat services to these islands. The islands of Jardines de la Reina are uninhabited and are of particular interest to scuba divers and fisherman. Tourist resorts are on their way with development of some of the islands currently in the works. Until this point the limited access has left them largely unspoilt. The islands or cayos are beautiful with remote beaches and abundant wildlife that includes crocodiles, turtles, iguanas, and a large variety of birds. The reefs offer excellent diving opportunities. If you are not interested in diving or fishing it is also possible to do boat tours through the Jardines de la Reina.
Jardines del Rey
Jardines del Rey is the name given to the two archipelagoes of Sabana and Camaguey. These islands, about 400 in total, are mostly small and uninhabited but beautiful with white sand beaches and coral reefs. They were discovered in 1522 by Diego Velazquez, a conquistador that dedicated them to the king (rey), thus the name Jardines del Rey. They were later discovered by pirates who would frequent the area to hide. There is a bridge which connects the Jardines del Rey to the mainland as well as the holiday resorts on some of the most popular islands such as Cayo Coco and Cayo Guilermo. Also worth noting is the uninhabited island of Cayo Paredon Grande which has beautiful beaches.
Cayo Coco is a major tourist destination in Cuba, with white sand beaches and resorts.
Cayo Guillermo is about 10km / 6mi west of Cayo Coco and accessible by the causeway that joins the islands. This is a much smaller island, measuring only 13 sq km, with white sand beaches, sand dunes, and palm trees, all of which is protect due to its inclusion in the Santa Maria National Park. Still Cayo Guillermo is seeing rapid expansion and development, similar to Cayo Coco.Cayo Guillermo's offshore reef is a great place for diving. Deep-sea fishing is also one of the most popular activities here, with good facilities for anyone interesting in this pursuit. Ernest Hemmingway wrote about Cayo Guillermo in "Islands of the Stream" and also claimed this was his favorite fishing spot.
The town of Moron, founded in 1643, has more interesting architecture than the Capital of the province, Ciego de Avila, but is still not particularly interesting. There is a large bronze statue of a rooster known as "the Cockerel of Moron" which comes from an old story originating in Andalusia. It has some apparent moral behind it but to visitors it is a less than exciting attraction.The main reason for visiting Moron is to use it as a base for exploring some of the surrounding area. Nearby is Laguna de la Leche, the largest natural lake in Cuba. The Laguna La Redonda is also close, where people go to fish, or just soak up the scenery.