Pinar del Rio Province Attractions
The province of Pinar del Rio lies at the western tip of Cuba and is an area known for its natural beauty and outdoor adventure opportunities. The area has a little of everything with green fields, mountains, forests, and beaches.The interior of Pinar del Rio is home to the Sierra de los Organos and the Sierra del Rosario, and the beautiful agricultural area of the Valle de Vinales. Here visitors will find the large limestone hills known as mogotes, which border the lush valley that lies between. A portion of this area has also been named a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. At the far western end of the Pinar del Rio is where travelers will find some of the regions most beautiful beaches, as well as offshore scuba diving opportunities. Scattered across the province are fields of tobacco, sugar cane, and rice, as well as pine forests, making it one of the greenest areas of Cuba.
Cayo Levisa, off the north coast of western Cuba, is a popular tourist destination with sun seekers. The island is part of the Archipelago de los Colorados and features a beautiful white sand beaches. All types of water sports are available, including windsurfing and sailing. The offshore reef is a great spot for snorkeling or scuba diving. Ferries depart for Cayo Levisa from the mainland at Palma Rubia, and take about fifteen minutes to complete the crossing. There are a variety of accommodation options on the island and it is well set up for travelers. Apart from the beach and ocean there is not a lot to do on Cayo Levisa in terms of sightseeing, it's mostly a relaxation destination.
Parque Nacional Vinales (Valle de Vinales)
The Parque Nacional Vinales is a beautiful fertile valley in the Sierra de los Organos, north of Pinar del Rio. This is one of, if not the most, promoted destination in the Pinar del Rio province. In 1999 the Valle de Vinales was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is characterized by steep limestone hills called mogotes, which rise up separating the valleys, creating a very dramatic landscape. The valley floors in the Parque Nacional Vinales are agricultural areas where tobacco, as well as fruits and vegetables are grown. For outdoor enthusiasts the Parque Nacional Vinales is a great place to go walking in the hills or horseback riding.The main town in the area is also called Vinales.
The town of Vinales in the Valle de Vinales is a pleasant spot and a good base from which to explore the surrounding area.The main square is the Parque Marti, where visitors will find some of the town's most impressive buildings. The late 19th Century Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus and the Casa de la Cultura both stand on the main square. The Casa de la Cultura also houses a small art gallery and offers cultural activities. One other building worth seeing is the Casa de Don Tomas, built in 1888. It has recently been restored and is now a restaurant.The botanical garden, El Jardin de Caridad, is a welcoming place featuring orchids and other plants.
The Guanahacabibes Reserve was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1985, and protects the flora and fauna. Access to the park is restricted and primarily by jeep tour with a guide, unless special permission is given by the Pinar del Rio Forest Reserve.The Guanahacabibes Reserve is on a long peninsula jutting off the far western tip of Cuba. Its varied and beautiful landscape is home to approximately 600 species of plants, over 170 species of birds, 30 species of mammals, as well as numerous types of reptiles and amphibians. Sea turtles inhabit the area and lay eggs on the beaches in the spring.
Maria la Gorda
One of the best beaching areas in western Cuba is at Maria la Gorda, with beautiful white sand beaches and calm clear waters. Just off shore, miles of coral reefs teaming with all kinds of marine life make this a popular diving and snorkeling spot. There are also off shore wrecks and caves for more adventurous divers. Diving is easily arranged at any of the local dive or through excursions arranged through nearby resorts.Despite the appealing landscape the area is not overly developed and travelers who make the journey to this area will not have to deal with large crowds or tour groups. There is some accommodation available in the area.
Parque Nacional la Guira
The Parque Nacional la Guira is what remains of an estate once owned by Don Manuel Cortina, who was driven out of Cuba, and the property was eventually nationalized. This large park contains a number of gardens, statues, a Chinese temple, and the ruins of an old Gothic mansion. It is a nice place to wander through and relax for an hour.Nearby to the Parque Nacional La Guira are the Cueva de los Portales, caves which also once belonged to Cortina. The caves are famous for being one of Che Guevara's hideouts at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some items belonging to Guevara are on display in the cave.