Baracoa is a hidden gem at the far eastern end of Cuba. It's here that Christopher Columbus landed on his first voyage and the Iglesia de la Asunción in Baracoa holds the Cruz de la Parra, the cross he planted here in 1492. Two decades later the town was founded by Spanish conquistador Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar - making it Cuba's oldest settlement.
Today the former capital - which is surrounded on one side by a wide and beautiful bay and the other by a thick mountain range - is low-key and quiet in isolation, making it a pleasant spot for a relaxing break during your Cuban travels. Hiking in the mountains that surround Baracoa is also excellent, with challenging trails and spectacular scenery. The anvil-shaped mountain of El Yunque is a prominent feature.
The Baracoa region is the wettest part of Cuba, so the vegetation is thick and varied. Bananas, coconuts and cacao are some of the crops grown here. Cucurucho, a mixture of fruit, coconut, honey and nuts served in a cone of palm leaves, is a delicious local treat.