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A Guide to Baracoa, Cuba

Accueil » Americas » Central America & the Caribbean » Cuba » A Guide to Baracoa, Cuba

Baracoa is one of Cuba’s best-kept secrets! This small colonial town located on the coast is surrounded by mountains and rivers.

Baracoa is far from the usual tourist spots, making it the perfect destination for visitors seeking authenticity and nature lovers.

💡 Planning Your Trip to Cuba 💡

✈️ Flights: To find the best deals on flights, Captain Ulysses highly recommends using Skyscanner or Omio.

🇨🇺 Visa: Before you depart, be sure to apply for your tourist card (which is your visa for Cuba). You can easily order your tourist card online through CubaVisa.

🛏️ Accommodations: To book your accommodations in Cuba, the Captain recommends Expedia. In Baracoa, the Captain especially recommends 3 casas particulares/B&Bs with very good value for money (Casa Lester, Casa Las Palmeras, Hostal Rubio)

📸 Activities: To book your activities, the Captain highly recommends Civitatis.

Brief history of Baracoa

With a population of around 80,000, Baracoa is situated in the Guantanamo province in the Oriente region, at the westernmost part of Cuba.

Its remote location has helped to protect it from mass tourism, but it has everything that visitors desire: sea, mountains, and chocolate!

A Brief History of Baracoa

Baracoa has a rich history. Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba in 1492 and established the town in 1511, making it the first Spanish settlement in Cuba. Despite being the oldest Spanish colony on the island, Baracoa is the only place where the indigenous people, the Taínos, managed to survive the Spanish colonizers.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Baracoa’s location attracted pirates and smugglers, who made the town a center for smuggling in the Caribbean. When Haiti gained its independence, French settlers fled to Baracoa, bringing chocolate and coffee with them. Since then, Baracoa has remained a major producer of chocolate.

Baracoa was difficult to access by land for a long time and was cut off from the rest of the island until the 1960s when the Carretera Central was built. It now provides easy access to the town, which is still a hidden gem in Cuba.

The Weather in Baracoa

Baracoa’s weather, like the rest of Cuba, is divided into two seasons: the dry season (late November – late April) and the rainy season (May – November).

Here are the temperatures, precipitation, and sunshine hours in Baracoa by month:

January22 to 28 °C / 71.5 to 82.5 °F
20 mm precipitation
6 hours of sunshine per day
February22 to 28 °C / 71.5 to 82.5 °F
17 mm precipitation
7 hours of sunshine per day
March22 to 29 °C / 71.5 to 84 °F
38 mm precipitation
7 hours of sunshine per day
April23 to 29 °C / 73.5 to 84 °F
41 mm precipitation
7 hours of sunshine per day
May24 to 30 °C / 75 to 86 °F
78 mm precipitation
8 hours of sunshine per day
June25 to 31 °C / 77 to 88 °F
58 mm precipitation
9 hours of sunshine per day
July26 to 32 °C / 79 to 89.5 °F
37 mm precipitation
9 hours of sunshine per day
August26 to 32 °C / 79 to 89.5 °F
45 mm precipitation
8 hours of sunshine per day
September25 to 32 °C / 77 to 89.5 °F
70 mm precipitation
8 hours of sunshine per day
October25 to 31 °C / 77 to 88 °F
100 mm precipitation
8 hours of sunshine per day
November24 to 30 °C / 75 to 86 °F
67 mm precipitation
7 hours of sunshine per day
December23 to 29 °C / 73.5 to 84 °F
39 mm precipitation
7 hours of sunshine per day

During the dry season, temperatures in Baracoa are cooler, but during the rainy season, temperatures can reach above 30°C/86 °F. While it doesn’t rain much in the dry season, the rainy season is characterized by regular and intense but short-lived showers. The sunshine in Baracoa ranges from 6 to 9 hours per day.

Getting to Baracoa

The town of Baracoa may still seem remote and difficult to access today, but there are several options available for travelers:

Flights to Baracoa

Flights to Baracoa are infrequent, but Gustavo Rizo Airport serves the town and is located in the east of the island. Cubana de Aviacion offers flights to the airport from Havana or Santiago de Cuba.

Alternatively, travelers can fly into Guantanamo or Santiago de Cuba and take a taxi from the airport to Baracoa. The drive is about 3.5 hours from Guantanamo and 4 hours from Santiago.

Buses to Baracoa

Viazul buses also serve Baracoa from major cities like Havana, Camagüey, and Santiago de Cuba. The journey times are 19 hours from Havana (66 CUC), 11 hours from Camagüey (33 CUC), and 5 hours from Santiago de Cuba (15 CUC).

Taxis to Baracoa

It’s more difficult to find collective taxis in the west of the island, as it’s less touristy than the east. Private taxis are available, and travelers can inquire about them at their casa particular. However, the fare is likely to be high.


What to see in Baracoa?

Wondering what to see in Baracoa? Look no further! Here are some must-visit places in the town:

The Three Forts of Baracoa

Baracoa’s strategic location made it the hub of smuggling in the Caribbean. To protect the town, three fortresses were built: the Fortress of Matachín, the Castle of Seboruco, and the Fortress of La Punta. Visitors can still admire them today!

The Fortress of Matachín

Built-in 1802 to protect the Bahía de Miel, the Fortress of Matachín now houses the Baracoa Municipal Museum. It invites visitors to discover the history of Baracoa from the time of the Taínos, who inhabited the island before the Spanish colonization. Entry to the museum costs 1 CUC.

The Castle of Seboruco de Santa Bárbara

The construction of the castle began in 1739 but was not completed until 1900. It overlooks the entire town and offers a panoramic view of El Yunque from its viewpoint. The castle now functions as a hotel and boasts a pool with a sea view.

The Fortress of La Punta de Maisí

Located one hour from Baracoa, the lighthouse of the Fortress of La Punta de Maisí overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Lucky visitors may even catch a glimpse of Haiti in the distance. A white sand beach stretches at the foot of the fortress.

The Cathedral of Nuestra Senora de Asunción

Built-in 1803 on the central square of Baracoa, the Cathedral of Nuestra Senora de Asunción has undergone many transformations over the centuries. The building was completely renovated in 2012. Inside the cathedral, visitors can admire the “Cruz de la Parra,” the only survivor of the 29 wooden crosses that Christopher Columbus erected upon his arrival in Cuba in 1492.


The Casa del Chocolate

Although it is advertised as a museum dedicated to chocolate, the Casa del Chocolate (also called Casa del Cacao) is mainly a shop where visitors can buy chocolate bars or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at a table. There are only a few explanatory panels.

El Yunque Natural Park

This anvil-shaped mountain, which is 575 meters high, is located about 10 kilometers from Baracoa and takes about 20 minutes by car to reach. Visitors can explore the area on their own or opt for a guided excursion.

👉 El Yunque Trip from Baracoa


The Alejandro de Humboldt National Park

This ecotourism gem invites visitors to discover the island’s incredible biodiversity. We highly recommend a visit to this park for any traveler passing through Baracoa! It is best to book a guided excursion on-site or in advance on the internet.

👉 Alejandro de Humboldt National Park Trip from Baracoa


Boca de Yumurí and the Yumurí Canyon

Boca de Yumurí is a small fishing community situated at the mouth of the Río Yumurí in the Yumurí Canyon, about 30 kilometers southeast of Baracoa. Visitors can enjoy hiking, boat rides, and snorkeling. Excursions can be booked on-site or on the internet.

👉 Yumuri Canyon Trip from Baracoa

The beaches of Baracoa

Baracoa may not be known for its beaches, but the region does offer some nice spots to take a dip. However, during the summer, the beaches can be crowded with Cuban vacationers.

Playa Manglito

This beach is situated in a lagoon on the road to Yumurí, lined with almond and coconut trees. Visitors can explore the waters with snorkeling gear or enjoy a drink at Tato’s bar on the beach.

Playa Maguana

Located 20 km north of Baracoa on the road to Moa, this beach offers a white sand shoreline and turquoise waters. Visitors can take a bus from the city center for 4 CUC or pay 20 to 25 CUC for a taxi. Overnight stays are available at the 16 bungalows of Villa Maguana Hotel.

Playa Blanca

This small beach near Boca de Miel is a nature reserve, and visitors must pay 2 CUC to the guard to access it. It is within walking distance from Baracoa.

Playa Duaba

While not the most beautiful or cleanest beach, Playa Duaba is within walking distance from the city and offers a view of El Yunque in the distance, bordering the Duaba River.

Recommendations for your trip to Baracoa

Accommodation in Baracoa

If you’re looking for a casa in Baracoa, Captain Ulysses recommends:

Restaurant in Baracoa

 La Terraza (Flor Crombet No. 143, between Ciro Frías and Pelayo Cuervo), located in Casa Nilson, serves delicious seafood and offers a panoramic view of the city. We paid 35 CUC for a three-course meal each, two beers, and service.

Practical information

Banks & Exchange Offices: Banco de Crédito y Comercio on Antonio Maceo No. 99, Banco Popular de Ahorro on José Martí No. 166, and Cadeca on José Martí No. 241.

Bus station (where you’ll find the Viazul agency): located at the corner of Avenida Los Mártires and José Martí.

Travel agencies / excursions: Cubatur on Antonio Maceo No. 181, and Infotur on Maceo No. 129 at the corner of Frank País and Maraví.

Internet: Etecsa Telepunto on the corner of Antonio Maceo and Rafael Trejo.

Post office: located on Antonio Maceo No. 136.

👉 Book now:

✈️ Flights
🇨🇺 Visas
🛏️ Accommodations
📸 Activities

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