- Ciego de Avila
- Isle of Youth
- Las Tunas
- Pinar del Río
- Sancti Spiritus
- Santiago de Cuba
- Villa Clara
- Other Offshore Islands
This region is undoubtedly the ‘tobacco region’ of Cuba. Not only is the tobacco produced there the best in Cuba, it is actually famous as being the best in the whole world. Dominated by impressive limestone hills there are many who regard Pinar del Rio as being the most beautiful province of the whole island.
Pinar del Rio is about 150 km west of the City of Havana and has a landscape to be proud of. The uneven topography features hills, mountains and valleys. These fertile valleys are referred to as “hoyos” while the characteristic flat-topped hills covered in green vegetation are what Cubans call the “mogotes”. They are actually highly weathered, overgrown limestone rocks. The region’s soils are very fertile, hence the excellent quality of the tobacco produced here.
There are numerous water springs, rivers and rainforest areas, which create a wonderful eco system, perfect for the abundant flora and fauna that makes its home here. The landscape even includes caverns and caves which can be a lot of fun to explore. The “Cueva del Indio” is a well-known hideout that was used by many persecuted Indians in former times.
The region’s capital bears the same name as the province. It was derived from the first settlement which established itself on the Guama River, an area surrounded by extensive pine woods. The city’s buildings, such as the City Hall and the Cathedral, feature distinctive architecture of the past and there are interesting museums of history and natural sciences, the José Jacinto Milanes Theatre and others, which all date back to the 19th century.
A must-see in Pinar del Río is the exquisite mountain scenery in Viñales Valley, which was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999. The wonderful biosphere reservation of Sierra del Rosario, also under UNESCO protection, is found in the “Cordillera de Guaniguanico” mountain range which is also where the highest point in western Cuba lies. This natural reserve has some of the richest vegetation in Cuba and nearly all Cuban bird life can be found here. One of the species, called the Tocororo, is the national symbol of Cuba.