Reef System in the Cuban Caribbean
Reef System in the Cuban Caribbean is part of the Tentative list of Cuba in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.
An 800-km-long system stretching from Guanahacabibes Peninsula in westernmost Cuba to Jardines de la Reina in southern Cuba includes 9 protected areas comprising the main marine areas in Cuba and the most important ones in the insular Caribbean due to their extension, natural values and conservation status.
Map of Reef System in the Cuban CaribbeanLoad map
The coordinates shown for all tentative sites were produced as a community effort. They are not official and may change on inscription.
As some of you who read my reviews know I'm an avid scuba diver and most of these sites make for good diving if you can reach them. But one of these reef system isn't only for diving - you can easily access a few of these sites by car: Guanahacabibes National Park, which is at the very West of Cuba. That also meant I had visited Cuba from West to East on my journey, and then driving back to Havana to fly out - it's quite a stretch of road! The park also has access to scuba diving so it's nice to get a bit of both. Shore diving AND national park.
Guanahacabibes NP is mainly a huge bird migratory spot. The guide mentioned that most are now gone during my visit but there was still a huge abundance of other birds. The area is so far away from cities that nature lives in peace, and the waters around are supposed to be protected for dolphins, turtles and other reptiles. I say supposed to because there is a lot of fishing for spiny lobster and red snappers.
María la Gorda, a white sand beach at the southern area of the park is very popular with tourists. I recommend you stay there because then you can enjoy the beach, eat at the restaurant (it's not very good but what do you expect all the way out here) and enjoy the bar, plus there is a dive shop for those willing to go below the surface. Diving here, in my opinion, is great. It's easy too, just a short distance off the beach has a wall with coral reefs (I would recommend this for your last dive of the day) and the operators will take you to a longer wall or a shipwreck not too far away. And for beginners they offer "El Acuario" (The Aquarium) at only 6m deep but with lots to see.
On a side note, Guanahatabeyes, the aboriginals of Cuba live in the park. It may be possible have some cultural part but I think that's not the point of the inscription and would be separate. Still nice to know.
p.s. picture isn't mine, it's public domain, but better than my beach pics and random birds I took.
2003 Added to Tentative List
The site has 9 locations