Get the Eastern combo! Santiago de Cuba and Holguin offer excellent beach and city tourism
“The most beautiful land that human eyes have seen” is what Cristopher Columbus said when he reached the eastern shores of Cuba in present day Holguín province back in 1492. Its homonymous capital is also known in Cuba as “The city of parks” due to its urban block like structure of 5 parks running parallel from north to south. The Martí, San José or De las Flores parks are honourable mentions worth promenading.
The Calixto García Park is the epicentre where life happens, it is surrounded by shops, colonial public squares, art galleries, museums and other relevant buildings. La Periquera Provincial History Museum is a symbol of the city and deserves a visit. A popular tradition is to climb up the “Loma de la Cruz” hill, once on top there is a tremendous view of the whole city. Nightlife recommendations are the -Casa de la Música- and the -Terraza Salón 1720- where you can enjoy the best local artists.
Holguín is also known for its unexplored and exuberant nature, its beautiful white sand beaches with transparent waters and extensive coral reefs are ideal for paradisiac enjoyment. Esmeralda and Guardalavaca beaches are the go to.
When coming to this part of the country make sure to lodge at one of the two excellent hotels Meliá has to offer, one of them is the PARADISUS RÍO DE ORO, an All-inclusive 5 star plus beach resort. Facing the sea it boasts a lush tropical Caribbean forest vegetation. Its architectural design blends harmoniously into the natural surroundings, making it a true eco-resort. It’s a two-storey bungalows with modern and elegant rooms with garden or sea views.
The other option is the SOL RÍO DE LUNA Y MARES hotel, a 4 Star All-Inclusive beach resort whose architectural design is primarily horizontal, with three to four storey blocks of rooms. It faces the sea and is embedded amidst exuberant tropical Caribbean forest vegetation and a beach zone known as Esmeralda beach. It is just a few metres away from the PARADISUS RÍO DE ORO hotel.
On the other hand Santiago de Cuba, also situated in the eastern part of the country is the second most important city in relation to population size and the economy, also known as the most Caribbean of all on the island; its people are notorious for their hospitality and warmth.
It is synonymous with rum, carnivals, coffee and deeply rooted cultural artistic expressions such as the -Tumba Francesa- which has French-Haitian roots.
Be sure to visit the Céspedes Park, it’s the epicentre of Santiago; its architectural richness is self-evident when admiring Diego Velazquez’s house (Spain’s first governor in Cuba), the Saint Carlos Club, the Casa Granda hotel , the Metropolitan Cathedral (characterised by its medieval influence) and other surrounding buildings.
The Museum of Rum is also a good choice, there you’ll be able to go through the process of rum making, appreciate different aging barrels and taste its different varieties.
Although Santiago’s beaches are not very extensive they do offer a particular scenery nuanced by the breath-taking views of the Sierra Maestra mountain range.
When visiting make sure to lodge at the modern 5 star MELIÁ SANTIAGO DE CUBA hotel just 2 km from the old town. It is the highest-standard hotel in this city. There is a fabulous bar on top from which to admire great panoramic views of the metropolis and the mountains.