Cuba: At Santa Lucia Beach
By Dr. Martin Luis
After leaving Camaguey in your cuba vacations, before arriving in Santa Lucia, you were suggested to stay at Nuevitas Harbor, on the Northern coast, to continue towards the East of Cuba. We suggest doing so because there are still two interesting places to visit on the North of the province: Cubitas Mountain Range and one of the largest islands of the King´s Gardens archipelago, Sabinal. Then, you continue to the Eastern provinces about which we will give you general information before continuing your trip. You can stay at the hotel in Nuevitas when you are still in Camaguey. There is one in Nuevitas: Isla Azul Caonaba ( 2 *).
There are almost 94 km from Camaguey to Nuevitas and only one way of arriving there: the road that goes to Minas town. Continue towards Entronque de Lugareño without going into Minas. There are several branch roads: take the one that leads you directly to Nuevitas. Always carry with you the Road Guide, recommended since the very first articles.
Nuevitas is a harbor located in the bay of the same name, one of the largest in Cuba. There you will find several places we suggest visiting, which are protected areas: Ballenatos and Cubitas Mountain Range. In former works, we informed you that the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, in its department Flora and Fauna (ECOTUR), are in charge of regulating the visits to the protected areas. To go to the places we have suggested, you should address these offices, always from the province capitals, in this case Camaguey.
The Ballenatos are very interesting keys because of their environment, its flora and fauna. As for the Cubitas Mountain Range, you should not miss the Maximo River to see its "canjilones", the natural pools of this river. Here you can also find the camping site known as Canjilones. In this mountain range, there are "interpretative" paths that allow you to watch the flora and fauna of the place, besides visiting Maria Teresa Cave, the Bonet depression and the Paso de los Paredones, a gorge of about 100 meters of height. Next to it, there is the Vilato community where you can see the production of Corojo oil (made from the fruit of a type of Palm Tree) and the Casabe (Tapioca), something not very frequent to admire in this part of Cuba.
The following day, you have two choices to visit Sabinal: you either drive your car along the road that goes parallel to the North coast from Nuevitas, take the pedraplen (a road built on the water to join the main island with keys and small islands) that crosses the island by its West side and visit its beaches, such as Los Pinos and Bonita; or take the way that leads you to Santa Lucia Beach, which borders the whole bay, until you get to the mentioned beach, traveling a distance of about 60 km. Anyway, from Santa Lucia there are also organized tours to Sabinal. You choose.
To go to Santa Lucia, you should take the road that led you from Camaguey up to an intersection that passes Santa Maria and Las Flores communities next to San Miguel de Baga. There are traffic signs to help you reach Santa Lucia. In case you do not find the signs, take the road that goes to San Basilio and 5 km away take the intersection on the left which will lead you directly to the beach. From this moment on, you will find scattered dwellings and before arriving at the coast you will pass forest areas. Continue straight ahead and very near the sea there is a fork: the road to the right leads you to the camping site Punta Ganado, located on the Eastern part of Santa Lucia; whereas the road to the left drives you, next to the coast, up to the tourist resort Santa Lucia Beach, which occupies almost the whole beach of the same name. Be welcome to the Santa Lucia Beach.
This is one of the most beautiful beaches in Cuba and, even if it sounds awesome, it was almost unknown until the end of last century. Yet, it has a cultural and literary background for these waters and all the near islands and keys were frequented by the famous American writer Ernest Hemingway on his boat Pilar (one of the beaches has this same name) during his fishing expeditions. In former articles, we have recommended to visit them (Romano Key, Guajaba and Sabinal, Cruz Key, La Garza, etc). It is said that these spots, together with his personal experience, were the inspiration to write his novel "Islands in the Stream".
This place is really dreamy. In Santa Lucia you may choose among these hotels: 4 star Hotel Brisas Santa Lucia ,Club Amigo Mayanabo (3*), Club Amigo Caracol (3*) and Club Santa Lucia (3*).
The sea will always make you company in Santa Lucia. The beach has a length of about 20 km and its sand has a golden white color. Other natural beaches, as Las Tumbas for instance, located at the westernmost point of Cuba, are also fascinating, isolated and of very transparent deep blue waters. However, it has a very pronounced decline in the sea bottom so, not far from the shore, the water already covers bathers. This is another important aspect to take into account, especially if you travel with small children.
On the contrary, in Santa Lucia, the decline is not abrupt and the sea is always calm even if the wind blows strongly. This is due to the fact that in front of it, at about 2km, there is an almost continuous coral reef, which extends from the mouth of the Nuevitas Bay up to Nuevas Grandes Bay, at the limits of Las Tunas province. Between the beach and the coast there is a lagoon system (about five of them), which is crossed almost in its center by a road called Vial Sur. The road that borders the coast next to the beach, as the Vial Sur, ends at the entrance of the Nuevitas Bay. This makes possible to enjoy the place not only at the beach but you can make a tour around the lagoons and watch the flora and fauna.
The hotels are very near from each other. You can also find other places of interest and recreation such as the International Diving Center and the Marlin Marina, besides restaurants and travel agencies. But the best are the different optional tours that will make you pass unforgettable days at the sea as well as in Sabinal Island and the nearby places. Here you have several suggestions, some of them including departure and return to the hotel.
- A visit of about 8 hours along the coast bordering Santa Lucia by catamaran until Bonita Beach, located at the North of Sabinal Island. It comprises walking on the beach, snorkeling to contemplate underwater species, including sea stars.
- Another suggestion of about 7 hours is going further than the previous area, traveling the channel to the entrance of the bay where you can see a fortress of the colonial times, you visit the South of Sabinal Island and watch a colony of pink flamingos. Have lunch in this island.
There is also a tour along a path that leads to a belvedere where you can watch the indigenous flora and fauna. During the trip at the interior of the bay you can see dolphins.
- A possible option of about 3 hours is navigating to the coral reef, where the water is calm and not deep to practice snorkeling, the visibility is good and there is the very best safety to practice this modality.
Other modalities related to fishing are offered to fans. Enjoy all the possibilities that a tropical sea offers you these days. When you travel towards the Cuban East, other similar beaches and different warming places await for you.
Dr. Martin Luis is a < a href=http://www.umbrellatravel.com/cuba_hotels/vacations/home.aspx/ target=_ blank class=InkNorm>Cuba vacations and Cuba Hotels website blogger and content collaborator at http://www.umbrellatravel.com
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