Isla de la Juventud

Overview

Introduction

Isla de la Juventud, Cuba, sits some distance from the country's main island, 80 mi/130 km south of Havana, and has great beaches around Punta del Este in the south (in a military zone where visitors are admitted only with a guide, easily arranged in town), but it's not primarily a beach destination and its overall appeal is limited. It's special because of its reefs: Offshore diving expeditions—among the most professionally organized outings in Cuba—leave from the Hotel Colony on the island's west side. Birders will appreciate the many endemic species, such as the Cuban crane and parrot, that can be spotted in the Los Indios Ecological Refuge.

Although it lacks the impressive colonial architecture found on the Cuban mainland, the island has several landmarks that revolve around (and glorify) the Cuban Revolution.

Prior to the early 1990s, the island was the home of thousands of students from Cuba-friendly countries.

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