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Cuban architecture

Pinar del Río

Pinar del Río province is Cuba’s westernmost province and contains one of Cuba’s three main mountain ranges, the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, divided into the easterly Sierra del Rosario and the westerly Sierra de los Organos. These form a landscape characterised by steep sided limestone hills (called mogotes) and flat, fertile valleys. Such a topographic feature, the Viñales Valley, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The northern coast opens to the great Gulf of Mexico, and is lined by the Colorados Archipelago, a string of cays and isles developed on a reef barrier. The western most point of Cuba, Cabo San Antonio is located on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, which is a National Park and a Biosphere Reserve.

With around 30 diving sites, Pinar del Río is also considered one of Cuba’s premier scuba diving destinations.

Cayo Levisa, about two kilometers offshore, is known for its copious black coral and excursions to this cay are afforded by tour agencies based in the province. Another hugely popular location is María la Gorda beach, which boasts many nearby dive sites (as close as 200 m 220 yd from the beach).

An increasing number of tourists also visit the San Diego hot springs, in search of the health benefits reportedly afforded by the warm sulfur-rich waters there. An additional spectrum of health-related services has also become available at this spa, including massages and mud baths.

The province relies on tobacco farming, with Pinar del Río producing 70% of Cuba’s crop, used to make the cigars that are so prized overseas. The best tobacco, used for more expensive cigar brands, is grown in the flat lands of San Juan y Martínez.

Places to go:

  • PINAR DEL RIO CITY: The showy Palacio de Guash that houses the Provincial Museum of Natural Sciences, and the Theatro Milanés, both of them important points of reference to start a tour round the city, which must also include the “Francisco Donatien” Cigar Factory.
  • VIÑALES VALLEY NATIONAL PARK: Located on Sierra de los Organos, it is the most important of all calcic valleys in Cuba. It is famous for its flat- topped round hills known as mogotes (Knolls, or rest of hillocks of particulary solid limestone),and for its other natural sites like Palenque de los Cimarrones,Cueva del Indio,Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás, the San Vicente’s thermal springs, and the giant painting Mural of Prehistory, on a mogote hillside.
  • SOROA: Among other attractions, worth mentioning at Soroa are the orchidiarum, one of the largest of the world, the manantiales river falls, and a privileged natural look-out-point, that Castillo de las Nubes on top of a hill Known as Loma del Fuerte.
  • LAS TERRAZAS TOURIST COMPLEX: Located on Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve it is an ideal place for walking though natural paths.Visiting the ruins of ancient French coffee plantations or enjoying a swing at Baños del San Juan.
  • MARÍA LA GORDA INTERNATIONAL DIVING CENTER: Located on the Guanahacabibes peninsula Biosphere Reserve it is one of the island, s most  attractive places of its Kind, Its fully preserved sea bottom shows not only a rich and varied fauna where coral shoals are shows not only a rich and varied fauna where coral shoals are predominant, but also shipwrecks ideal for exploration.

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