Península de Zapata

The Zapata Peninsula is a known destination for scuba divers and ecotourists. Situated south of the province of Matanzas this area juts out into the Caribbean Sea. The population is comparatively sparse: the area intensely protected by the locals as the greater part of the region is included in the Ciénaga de Zapata Biosphere Reserve or the Gran Parque Natural Montemar. The reserve is home to various ecosystems, crocodiles, and habitat for rare and endangered birds. During migration season, majority of migratory birds are seen at the Laguna de las Salinas and Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata.

The Bahía de Cochinos or Bay of Pigs affords some of the most sought-after cave diving in the Caribbean. A spectacular drop in the seabed created a large wall covered with coral, gorgonians and sponges. The dive site is quite accessible from the shore. There is no need to rent a boat to reach the dive site.

Playa Girón and Playa Larga are the two main beaches in Peninsula de Zapata with Playa Larga as the headquarters of the Parque Nacional Ciénaga de Zapata, the starting base for most ecotours in the peninsula. The settlement of Santo Tomas is the habitat of two tiny bird species – the Cyanolimnas cerverai and Herminia cerverai. For avid anglers, an afternoon of bass fishing is best at Rio Hatinguanico.

Must Visit

The infamous Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 was at Playa Girón. Aircrafts and other artifacts used in this historic combat are on display at the museum. La Boca in Laguna del Tesoro is the best place to meet professional charcoal makers or carboneros.