Ciego de Avila is the flattest in province Cuba, never rising more than 50m above sea level. Although there are relatively few rivers running through the province, there is a good system of underground irrigation which makes the area fertile and productive; sugar cane and pineapple plantations make up the bulk of local crops.
The province was once home to a large Indian population and there are several semi-preserved sites which are worth looking up. There are also remnants of the fortifications, built during the late 19th century, which were used to divide up the island during the War of Independence.
Cayo Coco is the forth island in term of size forming the Cuban archipelago; with 370 square kilometers, it is located to the Atlantic coast of Cuba, close to the Canal Viejo de Bahamas. It is linked to the main land by a stone road, 17 km long.
Today, Cayo Coco is a paradisiacal place relevant for the balance and degree of preservation of the ecosystem it has attained, by protecting its virgin atmosphere isolated from modern world. Its beach is 10 Km long, of fine sand and warm and crystal-clear waters.
A privileged reserve for flora and fauna, this key hosts species such as the wading birds, particularly the coconut the island was named after, the gray heron, and the pink flamingo which total over 30 000 and is among the biggest herds in the world. It is also favorite habitat for other bird species such as the cormorant, woodpecker, mockingbird, pelicans and many duck species.
A 10-30 Mt. coral reef, over 10 Km long, adds more attraction to the place; the diversity and abundance of marine species make divers feel in a real aquarium.
Very few places in the world can compete with such beauty; one may find the Mega lops atlantica, the Trachinotus, as well as big snappers, meros, sharks and barracudas, adding more attractive to diving at the places "Coco Diving Center" may offer.
Just west of Cayo Coco is Cayo Guillermo, a much smaller coral key connected to Cayo Coco by a causeway. The mangroves off the south coast of Cayo Guillermo are home to pink flamingos and pelicans, and there's a great diversity of tropical fish and crustaceans on the key's Atlantic reef. This was a favorite fishing spot of US writer Ernest Hemingway, who mentioned Cayo Guillermo in his book Islands in the Stream.
The main hotel is named Villa Cojimar, for the fishing village near Havana where Hemingway kept his boat, and the resort's restaurant is called the Bodeguita de Guillermo, after Hemingway's favorite Havana bar, the Bodeguita del Medio.
Playa Pilar, a lovely white beach near the west end of Cayo Guillermo, is named for Hemingway's boat.
Cayo Guillermo is probably the number one sportfishing destination in Cuba. The deep-sea fishing facilities are good, and several freshwater lakes on the mainland are within commuting distance.
Ciego de Avila City
The city, 460km east of Havana and 110km west of Camaguey, has developed as something of an historical halfway house; travellers used it as an overnight watering hole before continuing on to the islands of Trinidad and Santo Domingo in the 19th century.
An interesting place to visit is Parque Marti and a few blocks from there it is the Teatro Principal, a 500-seater theatre which is due to undergo further restoration works. This was built by a rich socialite, Angela Hernandez Viuda de Jimenez, who battled to create a cultural mecca in her home town.
The Museo Provincial on Calle Jose Antonio Eschevarria is worth a visit if you are interested in the area's role in the struggle to overthrow Batista while the Centro Provincial de Arte building on Calle Independencia may appeal to some. The Casa de la Trova on Libertad No 130 can occasionally deliver a raucous night out.
Traffic in the town is almost all horse-driven, and the longest possible journey should only cost a few pesos by pony trap. The town is built on a strict grid system centered on Parque Marti but there are few buildings of note, the most popular meeting place on the square is the Casa de Agua (Water House), which serves free glasses of the local mineral water, as well as homemade refrescos (soft drinks) and fruit juices.
This small coastal town lies 36km north of Ciego de Avila. Its citizens, known as Moronians, have traditionally made their living from fishing although, with tourism beginning to blossom in the nearby resort of Cayo Coco, the town is looking optimistically towards a new, more lucrative future.
Close to the city on the northern coast is a strange lagoon called Laguna de la Leche, which is home to a variety of wildlife, most notably several thousand flamingos, it is a prime fishing lake and consequently is very popular with anglers, It is Cuba's largest natural reservoir and it was strategically important during Cuba's 1895 War of Independence. It is a lagoon milky-white from sodium carbonate deposits that seem to nourish snook and tarpon.