#CubaEmotions: 7 Holguin Highlights
Known euphemistically as “the city of parks”, Cuba’s fourth-largest urban center retains a laid-back and friendly atmosphere that put visitors instantly at ease. There’s too much reality to witness, too many rhythms to absorb and not only in the city but in the homonymous region as well.
Holguin’s beauty was first spotted by Christopher Columbus who, docked here in October 1492, describing the region’s broccoli-green coastal hills as the ‘’most beautiful land he had ever laid eyes on’’.
Parque Calixto García is Holguin’s most important Central Square, to the north is Parque Cespedes and to the south is Parque Peralta. Base yourself around the four central squares and you’ll see most of what’s on offer.
Beyond the center.
The Plaza de la Revolución east of the center is a huge monument to the heroes of Cuban independence , bearing quotations from Jose Marti and Fidel Castro. The tomb of Holguin’s local hero, Calixto Garcia is also here.
Loma de la Cruz
Of course, no walk is complete without a climb up to Loma de la Cruz, a little off the grid but well worth the detour. A 275 m-high hill with panoramic views. A cross was raised here in 1790 in hope of relieving a drought, and every May 3 during Romerías de Mayo devotees climb to the summit where a special mass is held. It’s a 20-minute walk from town (or you can flag a bici-taxi to the foot of the hill). This walk is best tackled early in the morning when the light is pristine and the heat not too exhausting.
Romerías de Mayo
Is a week-long art party with exhibitions, music, poetry and festivities. The national rap competition and La Loma de la Cruz pilgrimage are among the highlights.
Mirador de Mayabe
This motel, high up on the Loma de Mayabe has specially good views, taking in vast mango plantations. The Mirador de Mayabe claims its fame is a beer-drinking donkey named Pancho , who hangs out near the bar!!… J Just be careful in the mornings, he might as well be drunk as a lord..! J
Guardalavaca (quite literally, ‘’guard the cow’’)
It’s a string of resorts draped along a succession of idyllic beaches. Glimmering in the background, a landscape of rough green fields and haystack-shaped hills remind you that rural Cuba is never far away.
Two megaresorts line this superior stretch of beach 6 km to the west of Guardalavaca.
Sol Rio de Luna y Mares, an amalgamation of former Sol Club Rio de Luna and the Sol Rio de Mares. The main advantages are the better food (Mexican and Italian restaurants) and the enviable tropical beach.
Paradisus Rio de Oro. This resort has five stars written all over it and would stand up against anything on the Caribbean. A Japanese restaurant floating on a koi pond. With almost 60 royal-service rooms, paradise is the word.
Holguin is a region of right balance between relaxation and realism and if you delve a little deeper, you´ll find the pine-scented purity of the Sierra del Cristal, the tranquility of Cayo Saetía, the bustle of the provincial capital or the inherent Cuban-ness of Gibara versus the tourist swank of Guardalavaca. Outside its dazzling north coast resorts, the city remains timeless and benevolent in its mystery.