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The north shore of the province of Holguín include the beaches of Guardalavaca and the old town of Gibara, located on the celebrated Bahía de Bariay, where Columbus landed on October 27, 1492. Here, the flat land of the middle of the province gives way to a rolling landscape, heralding the high mountains in the eastern part of the country.

The capital of the province of the same name, Holguín is the third-largest city in Cuba. Founded in 1752 by Captain García Holguín, the city still boasts some colonial architecture, as well as a few good museums and a lively cultural scene. Overlooked by most travellers, Holguín will appeal to those who like to venture off the beaten path.

Toward the north coast, the road leads into a mountainous zone, the Sierra de Crystal, where traditional houses with palm roofs lie nestled in the valleys. Royal palms, the national emblem of Cuba, reign over this 54-kilometre stretch of road, which is a veritable feast for the senses.

Parque Natural Bahía de Naranjo, a few hundred metres before Guardalavaca, is a good place from which to set out on a sea excursion. A visit to its aquarium and a swim with the dolphins are well worth your while. Meanwhile, Guaralavaca is a seaside resort with lovely beaches, magnificent underwater scenery and modern hotel complexes.

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