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Baracoa is the oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba dating back to 1511. It lies on the eastern tip of the island and was the original capital and is Cuba's main chocolate manufacturing area. Due to its remote location on the far edge of the island, its idyllic views have largely been unspoilt by mainstream tourism.
A quite unique activity that you can undertake in this region is a tour of the chocolate manufacturing industry. The Casa del Chocolate will give you a chance to view firsthand the process from harvesting to producing the delicious Cuban chocolate. As expected with anywhere in the Caribbean, Baracoa offers three fantastic beaches; Manguana Beach (which is a little north of the city), Mangilto Beach and Nibujon Beach.
A great excursion is the town of Yumuri, 22 miles from Baracoa. The journey is made to the canyon town via a highway bordered with dense jungle vegetation,before joining the river to greet the town on its bay side. From Yumuri there are a number of beaches in the area for you to explore and some breath taking scenery.
If you enjoy excursions one not to be missed is the Yunque, a 4.3km hike up to top of the 575 metre mountain that is the region's landmark. Whilst climbing you will walk through the rich vegetation of the area, taking in all varieties of palm and coconut trees, the history and agriculture of the local area from your dedicated guides and the best views over the entire area.
Eating out is a joy in Baracoa and there are a number of fine restaurants. Restaurant La Punta is located in the 18th Century fortifications in Baracoa's bay and from the walls you will be able to take in the splendid view of Yunque, a mountain in the shape of an anvil that has long stood as the city's symbol. If you want to try the local cuisine Rancho Toa is the best place to begin. Situated on the banks of the Toa River you will find yourself presented with Caldosa, fruit salads, roasted pork, skewered chicken, coconut desserts and much more. You can even take a ride down the river on a cayuca which is included in the price. If you want the party to continue into the night La Terraza is the best of the local nightclubs and most tourist friendly.
Baracoa is easy to reach. Flying in you will have to transfer at Havana as the regional airport of Baracoa does not serve national flights. It takes roughly two hours from Havana. Another option is to catch a four hour bus that leaves from Santiago de Cuba. Once there getting around is quite simple. There are many excursions in the area taking in the mountains, jungles and rivers of the surrounding area so hiring a car isn't a necessity to see the highlights of the region. For more independence cars are readily available and start from £33 from Havana Car Hire.
Baracoa offers a unique glimpse of Cuba's rich history whilst having on hand enough trails, excursions and activities to satisfy even the most adventurous of travellers. Rich in natural beauty, crystal clear rivers and exotic trails, Baracoa is an excellent destination for those who enjoy holidays away from the beaten path.