As cruise ships are not able to dock here you will be tendered ashore.
For travelers, Isla de la Juventud’s primary attraction is its great scuba diving.
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100 km. from Havana Province, on the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Cuba's main island and separated from it by the Batabanó Gulf, lies Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), the biggest island on the Canarreos Archipelago, with a surface of 2200 sq. km. For more than three centuries it was an important anchoring place for every pirate and corsair roaming the Caribbean Sea.
Tourist industry here has lots of places to offer visitors. Without question, the best known of them is the Colony International Diving Center, located within the Punta Francés National Sea Park, traditional home to Photosub international encounters of submarine photography which bear witness to the top quality of its sea bottoms.
This island also has an interesting cave system in Punta del Este Beach. One of the most astonishing caves is Number 1 Cave, having on its walls over 200 pictograms depicted by the island's aboriginal people.
Other charming sights include the island's beaches, among which Bibijagua Beach stands out. The eroding effect of the sea on the marble rocks has blessed it with striking black sand.
Cayo Largo del Sur, Cayo Iguana, Cayo Rico, Cayo Rosario and so many other attractions complete the variety of landscapes and set the immense beauty of the Isle of Youth apart.
Official taxis are pretty expensive for long distances. Rides around town, out to the airport, or to one of the nearby beaches should cost between CUC$2 and CUC$7. A full day with a driver should cost around CUC$70.
There are also numerous horse-drawn taxis, which generally charge around CUC$1 to CUC$2 for short rides, or between CUC$4 and CUC$6 per hour.
The island’s most publicized attraction is the Presidio Modelo (Model Prison), located about 5km (3 miles) east of Nueva Gerona. The massive five-story circular prison blocks are dire and imposing, and even brief visits give you an idea of how uncomfortable they must have been. This is the prison where Fidel Castro and other surviving conspirators were sent following the failed Moncada raid.
There is a turtle hatchery 20km away, but no transport from the park.
As in any third world country, most of the merchandise available is designed for tourists to take back home. The biggest Cuban exports for tourists are rum, cigars, and coffee, all of which are available at government-owned stores or on the streets. For genuine merchandise, you should pay the official price at the legal stores.
Watch out for:
Being that all restaurants are owned by the government and run by underpaid employees, the food in Cuba is notoriously bland. Within Cuba, the best food will generally be found in your casa particular or in paladares (locally owned restaurants in private homes).
CUC is the currency most tourists will use in Cuba. It is how you will pay for hotels, official taxis, entry into museums, meals at restaurants, cigars, rum, etc. Conversion into CUC can be done at exchange houses (casa de cambio, or cadeca). These are located in many hotels and in other places throughout the cities. The Euro is widely accepted, unfortunately the US$ is not.
ATMs are rare in Cuba. Credit cards are not widely accepted.
The official language of Cuba is Spanish.
The emergency number in Cuba is: 116.
In many cities the only way for tourists to access the internet is through the government's communications centers ( ETECSA ), it is not cheap and there is good chance that someone is "watching" your doings on the PC.
Shopping hours : Mon-Sat 0900-1700, Sun 0900-1200.
January 1st: January 1st is celebrated as a public holiday throughout the rest of the world because it is New Year. Although this same date is celebrated as a public holiday in Cuba, the reason for this public holiday in Cuba differs. January 1st is a public holiday in Cuba because it is Liberation Day.
January 28th: This date is special in the history of Cuba because it is the birthday of Jose Marti, the father of Cuban independence.
April 19th: This day is commemorated in Cuba every year because it marks the anniversary of the Cuban victory at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, when US backed Cuban exiles tried to invade Cuba and topple the Socialist Government.
May 1st: Like much of the world, 1st May is Labour Day and this is a public holiday in Cuba.
July 30th: This day is celebrated in Cuba to commemorate the martyrs of the Cuban revolution in 1959.
August 12th: This is the date that the Cuban dictator Machado was overthrown in 1933.
October 8th: Special ceremonies take place in Cuba annually on this day to remember the murder of Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara in 1967.
October 10th: This is an official public holiday in Cuba and schools and offices are closed on this day. This public holiday in Cuba is known as the day of Cuban culture.
December 25th: Although the socialist government in Cuba have stamped down hard on religion in general and Catholicism in particular, Christmas day is still celebrated as a public holiday in Cuba.
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