Location & how to get there
Marea del Portillo Beach is linked to the other part of the Granma province, in southeastern Cuba, by road. It is over 550 miles (900 km) east of Havana, near Santiago de Cuba and Holguin. Bayamo, capital of the province, has an airport for domestic flights, and Manzanillo-the closest city to Marea del Portillo-has an international airport.
The province also has road and rail connections with the rest of the country. The Granma highway, which links it to Santiago de Cuba Province, is 130 miles (210 km) in length and has 32 bridges-one of which is 2690 feet (820 meters) long- that span the mouths of several rivers and offer some particularly stunning views.
What to do
Activities include scuba diving and snorkeling at the coral reef, fishing, other water sports, going for all-day boat rides to nearby cays, hiking, exploring the nearby mountains by jeep or on horseback (as you climb, you can note changes in the lush tropical vegetation and see towering peaks, valleys, rivers and virgin forests) and drives along the coastal highway (with scenes of great beauty). In addition, there is evening entertainment.
Accommodations and facilities
The 3- and 4- star Marea del Portillo and Farallon del Caribe Hotels have around 270 air-conditioned rooms, each with satellite TV. Their services and other features include games rooms; a swimming pool with special areas for children; several restaurants and bars; transportation appropriate for use in the valleys or mountains; equipment for snorkeling, scuba diving and other water sports; a doctor on call 24 hours a day; and shops.
Nearby Places of Interest
During your stay at Marea del Portillo beach, you can visit Turquino National Park, in the western part of the Sierra Maestra Mountains. The park contains the highest peaks in the country. Climb up to La Plata, where the simple building which was once the Rebel Army's headquaters has been turned into a museum.
Or go down to Las Coloradas Beach, where the water is warm and there is a museum honoring the 82 men who returned to Cuba from Mexico aboard the Granma cabin cruiser in 1956 and landed here to form the nucleus of the rebel army.
Take the El Guafe ecological and archeological trail to see the cave systems in which Cuba's original inhabitants once lived and still bear signs of that culture. Or go up to the Yaguas Look-Out Point for a panoramic view of the mountains and sea; to Cruz Cape, to see its beautiful marine terraces; or to Hicacos Point, which has nearly 2 miles (3 km) of fine sandy beaches.
While in the province, visit its capital, Bayamo (founded in 1513), where Cuba's National Anthem was sung for the first time. The oldest part of the city is well preserved and contains the Main Parish Church; the house in which Carlos Manuel de Cespedes (the Father of this country) was born (now a museum); several hotels, restaurants and cabarets; and an adequate service infrastructure.
Other points worth visiting include Manzanillo (founded in 1784), a picturesque coastal city which has the main port in the province; the La Demajagua Park, that surroundings the sugar mill at which Cuba's first War of Independence began, in 1868; and the Birma Hunting preserve, a natural preserve with at least 30.000 birds and comfortable accommodations. A crocodile-breeding center is in the same general area.