Centre East

The three provinces of Ciego de Avila, Camagüey and Las Tunas make up a large area of mostly flat, agricultural land with few natural features of outstanding beauty, although the landscape is pleasing with livestock grazing in the meadows. The city of Ciego de Avila, also known as the pineapple town, is not a tourist attraction, but the centre is being improved with many changes for the better. North of the city, however, is one of the island's main beach resorts: the cays of Jardines del Rey, principally Cayo Coco and its neighbour, Cayo Guillermo. Extensive beaches of pale sand are now a magnet for the all-inclusive tourist market. Other cays in the Jardines del Rey archipelago are also lined up for development.

The only city of note in the region is Camagüey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, which is an ideal place to stay a few days if travelling from one end of the island to the other. The old colonial heart of the city with its labyrinthine streets has been restored to its former splendour while the shopping area is full of magnificent 19th-century buildings which have stood the test of time better than in seaside cities such as Havana or Santiago. North of the city is the long-established beach resort of Playa Santa Lucía, with hotels now starting to show their age. However, this beach and the nearby cays are irresistible for lovers of sun, sea and sand, while the diving is superb, especially if you like sharks. Las Tunas is another city which people mostly just pass through, preferring instead to visit the north-coast beaches, which are so far relatively undeveloped with few facilities.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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