Located at the end of the highway as you head out of Holguin, Gibara in south-east Cuba is off the usual tourist map. A coastal fishing village with leafy parks and charming piazzas, its isolation has helped it to retain its character and history.
Once a year this low-key spot buzzes with life as one of Latin America's trendiest indie film festivals rolls into town. Every April a number of productions are shown in the town's only cinema. Locals liven up the streets with food stalls, live comedy and dancing and this sleepy town is given a new lease of life.
Check out the Museo de Arte Colonial and the Museo de Historia Natural, housing a collection of stuffed birds and a Great Whale skeleton. Stained glass windows are a local feature of the town's architecture and can be spotted along the streets, ask a local to show you the way.
Gibara has had an interesting history, originally as a key port that developed good trade links with Spain and America. In 1920 the main highway was built meaning that its strategic importance became less significant, then its train link died which impacted this even further. In 2008 Hurricane Ike blew through nearly blowing the whole town away, and in 2012 Hurricane Sandy dealt another blow. However, its rustic charm still prevails and its ‘off the beaten track' nature means it's the perfect destination for those looking for a culture, historical riches and an authentic Cuban experience.
There are plenty of attractions and places to visit in the surrounding area, including the Playa de Caletones, a Wild West looking beach village, or you can go diving in the majestic flooded cavern of Tanque Azul de Caletones. Its stunning coastal setting and beautiful architecture make a charming and understated corner of Cuba that should not be overlooked.
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