Maria La Gorda

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Guanahacabibes Peninsula

maria la gorda guanahacabibes peninsula cuba

Guanahacabibes National Park covers the westernmost point of Cuba's main island. Its one of the largest protected areas in the country. Home to a variety of habitats including coral reefs, beaches, mangroves, scrublands, and evergreen forest, Guanahacabibes has more than 170 species of birds and dozens of reptile and mammal species. The beaches here are home to the second largest breeding population of green turtles in the country with an average of more than 300 nests per season. The waters surrounding the peninsula are important to the life of the spiny lobster and red snapper.

In the Guanahacabibes Península located in the extreme western province of Pinar del Rio, you will be surprised by the diversity of one of the region’s best conserved natural landscapes and ecosystems as well as 15 kilometres of beaches in its natural state with areas of extensive coastal vegetation. Of them, the most famous is Maria La Gorda with one the best equipped International Diving Center in the whole country.

Guanahacabibes is a National Park and was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 1987 by UNESCO with a surface of 1200 square kilometres. The peninsula’s access can be by road or vessels. The region is ideal for nature tourism, observation of flora and fauna, diving, among other water sports. It has a rich fauna among them birds, butterflies, iguanas, wild pigs, crabs, deer and as the rest of the country there are no dangerous animals or plants to man.

The diving area in Maria La Gorda, in the Corrientes Ensenada, is one of the most protected in Cuba with incredible coral reef. The valley of black coral has coral walls those measures approximately 100 meters long making of this area a diving paradise. It has also abundant mysterious caves, and remains of Spanish galleons sunk. A few meters from the shores, you can see different species of sharks and a variety of fish, among them, tuna.

In addition to diving, snorkelling, excursions and boat rides, you may experience deep sea fishing and submarine photography. For rookie divers there are courses with experiences and specialized trainers. There are also boat rentals in the marina.

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In the depths of Maria La Gorda

diving center maria la gorda pinar del rio

Is perhaps the world’s best diving spot, with an immense black coral reserve, the most colorful and exquisite fauna and like a hundred sunken pirate ship stories. From 16 feet you can see big an isolated patches of coral with an abundant sessile fauna. Small and medium size fish, lobsters, morays and crabs can be frequently seen in the boles of the bottom. From 33 feet deep these patches are joined together and increasingly higher, thus forming a chain of tall coral hillocks cut by channels and passages, with walls falling sharply and deeply. This wall shows attractive structures such as holes, tunnels and vertical caves, where you can find beautiful black coral colonies, big tubular branch or cup shaped sponges and 6,5 feet high gorgonians.

 

Maria la Gorda’s International Diving Center

Maria la Gorda Hotel

The cabins with garden view are roomy and well equipped, with air conditioning, satellite TV and a classic interior. All cabins have a balcony or terrace and well-appointed and spacious bathrooms (with shower).

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Services

  • ✓ Diving courses, internationally certified SSI or CMAS at all levels
  • ✓ Marina services
  • ✓ Anchors.
  • ✓ Food supply.
  • ✓ Immigration procedures for men and yacht.
  • ✓ Medical services (on request)
  • ✓ Water sports
  • ✓ Shop with basic supplies

Diving Sites

  • ✓ Paraiso Perdido (Lost paradise)
  • ✓ Ancla del Pirata (Pirate Anchor)
  • ✓ Las Tetas de Maria (The Teats of Maria)
  • ✓ El Salon de Maria (The Salon de Maria)
  • ✓ El Almirante (Admiral)
  • ✓ Yemaya(Goddess of the Sea)
  • ✓ El Acuario(The aquarium)
  • ✓ Jardin de las Gorgonias (Garden of Gorgonias)
  • ✓ El Encanto (The charm)

Recomendation to diving

It is recommended that if you are diving in Cuba you take your own kit with you. The minimum kit you should take is a dive computer or own depth gauge so that you can confidently monitor your dive. Cuba is a poor country and dive centres may not be ran to the standard that you are familiar with elsewhere. It is also important to thoroughly check kit before each dive, be aware of your limits and not be afraid to ask the dive guides to stay shallow or slow down if you do not feel comfortable.