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Take the road less-travelled to Baracoa on Cuba’s picturesque east coast, where natural beauty and local traditions will transport you into another pace of life entirely.

Not far from the island’s easternmost tip, Baracoa’s remote location has earned it the accolade of being Cuba’s best-kept secret.

The tiny coastal town has streets lined with pastel-coloured homes and faces out towards the ocean. In the historic centre, you’ll find wide streets, cobbled squares and a leisurely pace of life that cannot fail to charm the weary traveller.

Despite its small size, the town has plenty of museums and monuments to visit. In the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion you can see the Parra Cross displayed; this is said to be one of the nineteen crosses brought by Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean.

Indeed, it’s not unlikely, as Baracoa was the first town founded in Cuba by the Spanish colonies in 1512, under the leadership of Diego Velazquez. The remains of Matachin Fort, a system of colonial fortifications, is now a museum and well worth a visit for further insights.

It is, perhaps, the area surrounding the town itself that is the biggest draw to travellers though. Lush plantations are interspersed with wilder forests where wildlife-lovers will enjoy spotting endemic species. With some 29 rivers running through the landscape, it’s no wonder the area is so verdant. The beaches are as beautiful as you would expect. Playa Maguana is a little cove not far from Baracoa with restaurant and bar services available in the beach’s tiny hamlet, while Playa Nibujón has no tourist services but is well worth a trip with a picnic for its tranquillity and utterly unspoilt sands.

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