Juventud Island (Isla de la Juventud) is the largest island of the Los Canarreos archipelago, located 100 km from the southern coast of Cuba. In 1494, Huventud was discovered by Christopher Columbus and until 1978 had a different name – the island of Pinos. The island is famous for its fantastic scenery, gorgeous beaches, nature reserves and some of the best diving sites in the country.
According to wholevehicles, the capital is Nueva Gerona.
It is said that Youventud became the prototype of the island in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island.
How to get to Isle of Youth
There are two ways to get to the island – by plane from Havana, or by boat from the south coast of Cuba.
Flights between Havana and Nueva Gerona are operated by Cubana de Aviación three times a day (journey time 45 minutes). Tickets can be purchased at the company’s offices located in Havana on Calle 23 esq. Infanta, Vedado and Nueva Gerona on Calle 39 esq. 18 (on the ground floor of the Cubanita hotel).
The second way involves traveling by bus from Havana to the small harbor of Batabano (journey time 1 hour 30 minutes). The bus station in Havana is located at Plaza de la Revolutión (Terminal No. 10). Hydrofoils, which are hydrofoils, and motorized catamarans go from Batabano to the island (fare 20-25 CUC, travel time 2-3 hours). Ships depart every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 8:30 and 14:30. You can also get to Batabano by taxi (cost about 30-40 CUC).
There are only two taxi companies on the island. You can also use the services of a bicycle taxi or rent a bicycle.
Prices on the page are for July 2021.
Weather in Juventud
The climate is mild, however, hurricanes are not uncommon. The average temperature in January is 19-20 degrees, in July – 30-35 degrees. The dry season lasts from September to April, the rainy season – from May to October. The water temperature does not fall below 24 degrees throughout the year.
Most of the restaurants and shops are concentrated on Calle 39, which is considered the main shopping area of the city. At the corner of Calles 24 and 35 there is a market where you can buy fresh vegetables and meat.
In Nueva Gerona, El Cochinito serves Caribbean cuisine, with pork steaks, yucca, rice and beans. The restaurant is located on the corner of Calles 39 and 24. And Restaurante La Vajilla, located on Calle 37 between Calles 20 and 22, specializes in Creole cuisine.
Beaches of Juventud
Playa Paraiso with white sand, clear water and beautiful mountain views. 3 km from Playa Paraiso is the best beach of the island Playa Bibijagua with white and black sand. And the Los Barcos Hundidos dive zone boasts the remains of sunken ships.
In the western part of the island, where the most deserted beaches are located (eg Bahía de Siguanea), is the Punta Frances Marine National Park with 56 dive sites. The marine park is home to colonies of sponges and gorgonians, and there are more than 20 underwater caves and tunnels carved into coral reefs. The most popular dive sites are: Pared de Coral Negro, Tunel del Amor, Cueva Azul, El Pasaje Escondido, Cueva de los Sabalos, Piedra de Coral, EL Salto, Ancla del Pirata, Paraiso de las Levisas and Pequeno Reino.
Entertainment and attractions of Juventud
20 km east of the capital of the island is the Presidio Modelo prison, built by order of the dictator Gerardo Machado y Morales in 1928 and consisting of four five-level circular buildings, in the center of each of which there was a watchtower. In 1953, after the assault on the Moncada barracks located in Santiago de Cuba, Fidel Castro was imprisoned in this prison along with his comrades. The two buildings that now house the museum were used to hold Japanese and German prisoners of war during World War II. The museum is open to visitors from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 to 17:00 and on Sundays from 9:00 to 13:00.
30 km south of the capital of the island is the Criadora Cocodrilo crocodile farm, which contains more than 500 animals. On the farm, you can visit pools with crocodiles, divided by age, as well as lakes where adults live. Animal feeding takes place on the farm from 9:00 to 10:00.
55 km southeast of the capital of the island is Cueva Punta del Este, a network of caves famous for Aboriginal drawings dating back to 800 BC. e. Organized tours to the cave can be booked at the Colony Puerto Sol and Villa Gaviota.
Attractions of the capital Nueva Gerona
In the capital of the island there is a Municipal Museum with an exposition on poaching and piracy in the Caribbean, and in the Parque Guerillero Heroico park there is a historical museum and the church of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores. 500 meters south of Calle 41 is the Academy of Sciences with the Natural Museum.
Nueva Gerona has a children’s amusement park, Parque de Diversiones, located on Calle 28, while the Centro de Desarollo de Artes Visuales Gallery, on Calle 39, features collections from both contemporary Cuban and international artists. In the harbor, located between streets 26 and 28, you can visit the ship El Pinero, which took Fidel and his comrades from the island after their release from prison.
Rancho El Abra, owned by the Catalan Jose M. Sarda, is an example of a 19th century colonial plantation, 2 km southwest of the city. Now the estate houses a museum dedicated to José Marti, who lived here in exile after his release from prison.