One Day in Baracoa Itinerary – Top things to do in Baracoa, Cuba

Baracoa, Cuba’s oldest Spanish settlement, is slightly different than any other Cuban city. It’s located in the municipality of Guantánamo Province, very close to the eastern tip of the island. Its higher amount of rainfall makes this a region of lush, almost subtropical vegetation. After all, Baracoa is all about cocoa and coconut plantations and their products. Despite being hard to reach, it shouldn’t be missed on any Cuban trip, even if you only have one day of time to spend there. You can explore the cocoa and coconut plantations, enjoy the taste of Baracoa cuisine, spend an afternoon at the beach and still have plenty of time to learn some salsa moves at night.

One day in Baracoa Itinerary

 

What’s the best time to visit Baracoa?

Baracoa weather tends not to change much during the year. The annual average temperature is around 26ºC, and the daily temperature doesn’t get much higher or lower than that. With more than 180 rainy days and high humidity, Baracoa’s rainy season seems to be endless.

Nature around Baracoa

 

What’s good to know about Baracoa?

Baracoa was first visited by Christopher Colombus in 1492 and founded by the first governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, in 1511. It is the oldest Spanish settlement on the island and was the first capital of Cuba. It’s surrounded by a wide mountain range on one side and the Bay of Honey on the other, which makes it quite isolated from the rest of the country.

Baracoa
Baracoa, Author: Maxence, Source: Flickr

 

One Day in Baracoa Itinerary

Top things to do in Baracoa, Cuba

Follow this guide and make the most of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Baracoa.

Stroll around the city center early in the morning

Even a short walk through the streets of Baracoa makes it obvious this city isn’t much about impressive colonial architecture (unlike Trinidad and Havana) but more about the atmosphere and its people. From the very early hours, the locals gather around the park in front of the Cathedral ready for a game of chess or domino. It’s the perfect place to meet locals or fellow travelers, since this part of the town is quite busy in the morning.

 

Book a day excursion at a tour agency

There are several tour agencies around the city center, and all of them offer almost the same excursion packages. Book the one that combines cocoa plantations and cocoa production tour, a quick stay at Bahia de Mata, a visit to the canyon of the Yumuri River together with a river swim and some lazy time at the beach. Check more than one agency before you book, since prices can vary from 15 to 25 CUC. It’s recommended to book a tour online or via phone call at least a day in advance.

Bahia de Mata Baracoa
Bahia de Mata

 

Learn about the cocoa production and try some original Cuban chocolate

Even if you don’t book a day excursion (which is recommended), make sure you find your way to a farmer’s house to see (and taste) the whole process of chocolate production. During the lesson, you’ll get a chance to taste all of the cocoa products, including the original Cuban chocolate and chocolate milk. Don’t be surprised if the chocolate doesn’t taste exactly as the one you buy at the supermarket.

Cocoa tree
Cocoa tree, Author: Maxence, Source: Flickr

 

Take a boat ride through Yumuri Canyon

The legend of the Yumuri tells the story of native families who chose jumping from the cliff into the river and dying with dignity over being enslaved by Spanish conquistadores. While jumping, they would scream “Yumuri”. The tour of the Yumuri river includes a boat ride through the 180 m deep canyon and a swim in the clear, refreshing river water along the way.

Yumuri River Excursion
Yumuri River Excursion

 

Spend an afternoon at Playa Manglito

Most of the tours will stop at Playa Manglito – a gorgeous, quite tropical, sandy beach. Even if they don’t, you can get a taxi and go there by yourself. The beach is not as crowded as many other beaches around Baracoa, and it mostly attracts only locals. It’s a great place to enjoy a couple of mojitos in the shade of a palm tree or have lunch at the restaurant just next to the sea.

Playa Manglito
Playa Manglito

 

Try the seafood in coconut milk

Whether you decide to stay at the beach or get back to the city, you’re probably super hungry by now. Since this coastal city offers a wide variety of super cheap seafood, it would be a real miss not to try it. Baracoa is famous for its grilled lobster (or shrimps or fish) prepared in coconut milk. It’s the specialty of this specific region, so it can’t be found in the rest of the country.

 

In Casa del Cacao, try one of many chocolate drinks

Casa del Cacao serves many cacao drinks including hot chocolate with rum. If you always have to choose between those two, maybe it’s time to try them mixed together.

 

Spend the night dancing salsa

There are not that many bars and clubs in Baracoa, and they are all located close to one another. Check out Casa de la Trova next to the Cathedral Square if you’re interested in learning some salsa moves or just want to enjoy some good vibes. If you’re more into seeing professional dance, head to the La Terraza – it’s a huge open-air terrace that hosts dance shows and contests. After the show, the whole terrace becomes a huge dance area.

 

Where to stay in Baracoa?

Casa particular (private apartments) may be the best (and at times the only) choice for your stay in Baracoa. Even though it’s possible to find your casa once you’re there, due to a limited number of casas it’s better to book it online or to reserve it via phone. The accommodation there is pretty affordable, and they usually prepare breakfast at a cost of a few dollars.

There are some apartments that can be booked online through Booking.com, so you can check out some of them: Las PalmerasHostal Casa Doña BarbaraCasa Colonial Sonia.

Las Palmeras
Las Palmeras
Hostal Casa Doña Barbara
Hostal Casa Doña Barbara
Casa Colonial Sonia
Casa Colonial Sonia

Find the Best Hotel Deals in Baracoa

 

Extra tips for visiting Baracoa

Tipping in Cuba is usually not compulsory, even though they sometimes charge additional 10% for the service. If not, at least 5% is expected.

– Always check your receipt in restaurants and bar. Unfortunately, many times the bill is incorrect, and you end up paying more than you should.

– The English is not widely spoken in Cuba. Learn some basic Spanish before getting there. You’ll definitely gonna use it.

– Make your trip to Baracoa even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for all the activities and organized tours in Baracoa or around the area. Make sure to purchase your tickets to all the attractions right away to skip the queues.

 

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