Cienfuegos is a city on central Cuba south coast, about 2 ½ hours from Havana. The city's main claim to fame is a city center that has been listed as a World Heritage Site. But tourists from everywhere (except the United States) come to the "Pearl of the South" for a beach holiday on Playa Rancho Luna and El Inglés and to explore over 50 dive sites offshore. The calm and crystal clear waters of the bay are filled with coral reefs and deep channels that sustain a dazzling array of exotic and colorful marine life. The city and province have plenty to offer in terms of sightseeing and natural attractions. You will have to hire a car in Cienfuegos if you want to move around freely and make up your own itinerary.
The first thing you need to do to get your vacation started is book a car for hire in Cienfuegos right now and plan to visit all the dive sites along the coast near Cienfuegos. Playa Rancho Luna, about 10 miles southeast of the city, is unquestionably the best place for a beach holiday on the south coast. It has a beautiful white sand beach and a scuba diving center near the lighthouse. Even the farthest dive sites are less than 10 minutes by boat, and you get to explore six shipwrecks along the coral reefs. Besides Luna, there are three to four other famous dive sites. The deep channels at La Corona offer the chance to see everything from barracuda to whale sharks. At the Camaroneros I and II dive sites, a couple of sunken boats function as an artificial reef. The best place to see the full impact of the coral is at Punta Sabanilla, where the colorful underwater ecosystem is in full bloom.
The two most popular hotels are the Hotel Club Amigo Rancho Luna and the Hotel Faro de Luna. The location at Playa Rancho Luna may have something to do with it. In any case, it will be an enjoyable stay for a sun, sand, and scuba diving holiday. The other two top choices are the Hotel Palacio Azul, adjacent the historic city center, and the Hotel Jagua, in the Punta Gorda residential area.
The most impressive landmark is the Castillo de Jagua, at the entrance to the bay. It is an old fortress that dates back to 1740 which served to protect the town. The 19th century Cathedral de la Purisma Conception with its stained glass windows is one of the main sites on the famed city center. The Arco de Triunfo is a unique structure in Cuba. Other must-visit attractions include the Palacio de Valle and the Jardín Botánico de La Soledad a bit outside the city.
Cienfuegos is nicely located in central Cuba so that you can go across to the north coast and Havana. Or you can get a car rental in Cienfuegos for a scenic drive or road trip along the south coast, past Playa Rancho Luna, Trinidad and Playa Ancon to Sancti Spiritus. If you have the time and the inclination, continue on to Manzanillo and then go around to Santiago de Cuba.
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