Santa Cruz Bienvenidos © Robin Thom
Located at the end of the road, some 82 km southwest of Camaguey (passing through Santa Rosa and La Daseada), here is Santa Cruz del Sur on the Caribbean coast.

The town was almost wiped off the map in 1932
by a savage hurricane (ciclon) with winds gusting to 250 km/h and rains dropping some 10 meters of water on the ciudad causing 3,000 casualties. Today, many lovely old wooden buildings still remain, albeit in dire straits and condition.

The place is hyper-calm
like a cowboy movie town before the gunfight and lives rather well (relatively as in all of Cuba...) with regular revenues and jobs from fishing, sugar, produce and cattle.

The ever-present
langosta is a symbol of the town as it is caught offshore (as is shrimp — camarones) and is thus distributed in all hotels of the povince and elsewhere. Of course, it is illegal to serve these in any casa particular in the country ... ; )

Fishermen (pescadores) navigate to and around (and travellers may discover with luck and a buck), some of the 36 cayos off the shores of southern Camaguey province.

cayos (keys) nearest to the coast are : Carnero, Muerto, Pinipiniche, Mate Adentro, Bergantines, Pasa Honda or Güincho; the furthest : Rabihocardo and Loma). They're waiting to be seen : a ver.

In town, anyone who's not a pupil of the
Escuela de Economia or the Academia de Kayak or not involved in either culture or the arts prolly works in one of the following sectors :

The sugar industry : Empresa Azucarera Cándido González Morales, Empresa y Granja Agropecuaria Jesús Suárez Gayol, Granja Agropecuaria Ojo de Agua, Granja Agropecuaria Haití. In fisheries : Empresa Pesquera Industrial, Argelico Lara Correa, Empresa Cultivo del Camarón (EPISUR), Fábrica de Pienso. Or in agriculture, for Empresa Pecuaria Cándido González Morales.

Rumor has it many would-be exiles use (or used to) this southern,
mostly unpatrolled coast to ride the sea towards Central America and a new life.

Amancio, 60
Bayamo, 255
Camaguey, 73
Cayo Romano, 200
Cayo Sabinal, 186
Ciego de Avila, 193
Contramaestre, 52
Guayabal, 78
Holguin, 243
Guáimaro, 115
La Habana, 625
La Jagua, 20
Las Tunas, 163
Marti, 100
Moron, 233
Najasa, 60
Nuevitas, 154
Santa Clara, 351
Santa Lucia, 192
Santiago de Cuba, 365
Vertientes, 85

Feb-March 2010 : Local Exhibition in homage to Celia Sanchez
camaguey minicarte île

Map - South Coast from Camaguey to Guayabal
Map - South Coast from Camaguey to Las Tunas
Culturel Web Portal of the town Santa Cruz del Sur
Web site of Radio Santa Cruz
Photos by Robin Thom
5-day weather forescast (Wunderground)
Daily currency exchange

All the Web

POPULATION 49,904 in the regional township (municipio) in 2007 census including 16,600 in the town proper

Monumento La Caobita dedicated to victims of 1932 Museo Municipal de Santa Cruz on Calle D No. 22 e/ Central y Línea Tel. (32) 2225 — closed for renovations Awaiting that reopening, one can visit Museo Alternativo on calle Central # 129 corner of E Banda Municipal de Conciertos, orchestra established in 1908 The Biblioteca Mártires de Pino 3 was founded in 1982 The Casa de la Cultura Olga Alonso sees productions of choirs, stage plays, dance troupes, literary salons, popular art and the annual Miguel Socarrás Aleaga song contest The Najasa movie theater has been used since 1969 for galas, exhibitions and contests The Mausoleo de Pino Tres (located on road to the village of Haiti) dedicated to the victims of an ambush on "Columna No.11 Cándido González Morales" by Batista's assasins. Some photos here.

Travellers will find a couple of beaches like Bonita at 2,5 km and Las Playuelas 8 k's away. From the point (punta) of Playa Bonita with chance, fresh air and a good telephoto lens, one can see Pico Turquino, highest point in the land topping the Sierra Maestra.

Monument to the 3,000 victims of the hurricane which swept the village in November 1932 © Robin Thom, flickr

Sign says "Birthday pictures, quick service", one of few commercial two-storey buildings in town © sogestour

The Road into Town" is straight, lined with palm trees and newly-paved © Robin Thom

The nature is untouched around here, as this bucolesque, Huckleberry-Finn like scenery shows © sogestour

Before the ciclon of 1932, the whole town was built in wood dwellings. When the reconstruction process began, some 81 casas were built as examples of things to do by perpetuating the tradition of the wood workers in its main building elements : columns, cartelas, grills, balconies, railings, doors and windows and adding features used elsewhere such as attics and ramps. Source : Blog of local Journalist Maria Elena Javier

Another one of the lovely casas en madera still standing © sogestour

In this NatGeo video, what photog David Doubilet means by Gardens of the Queen is actually
Jardines de la Reina, an as-yet relatively unexplored underwater natural reserve.

Curious voyageurs will look for and maybe discover — with the help of kind fishermen and blind authorities — some of the 36 cayos "out there". Closest to the coast : Carnero, Muerto, Pinipiniche, Mate Adentro, Bergantines, Pasa Honda and Güincho; furthest : Rabihocardo and Loma.

Sierra de Najasa is a protected area 60 km northeast (30 mins. southeast of Camaguey) of here consisting of a large Hacienda with open pasture land, forest patches, palm groves and ponds. Target birds here are Plain Pigeon, Cuban Parakeet, Giant Kingbird and Cuban Palm-Crow.

One rendez-vous point is
Hacienda La Belen or ask around for eminent ornithologist Pedro Regalado who can greet you in his own casa in El Pilar or check with Ecotur here. Notes by a BritCanadian here.

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::: Make sure that in your first email or phone call you specify that you want to book a room in that particular casa and that you will reconfirm your booking on arrival in Cuba. Unless you only want a room in any house which may be of the same quality, not the specific casa you booked through photos on these websites ::: So as to not abandon expecting owners with empty rooms, reconfirm (or call ahead to cancel) your booking by phone as soon as you can after arriving in Cuba ::: Please write or phone a casa owner to cancel a booking. As late as it may seem, it allows them a chance to rebook. ::: Children under the age of 16 may share a bedroom with adults for free. Specify the child's age when booking. ::: Since October 2010, maximum bedroom capacity is not limited to two adults ::: Also, large casas are not limited to renting only two bedrooms per night. ::: At the end of the casa name, the V signals the casa was suggested by travelers or owners but not verified by the website staff. If you try it and like it, write us about it. ::: Unless otherwise mentioned, the average room rates and service prices are : 20-25cuc per bedroom per night [up to 40+ for 4 in a room]; breakfasts 3-5cuc, dinners 7-10cuc. ::: Any casa particular anywhere in Cuba must have a hot water shower, otherwise it cannot have a permit to rent ::: Please share your Complaints, comments & suggestions webmaster [@]

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Comments & suggestions

Only one in town, this casa particular has been greeting travellers for over a decade :
Calle A #33, entre Central y Linea in a residential part; tel. (32) 85-3360

Close to main street with its lovely wooden houses and public buildings, Maira's place is nicely decorated inside and even has a wading pool, laundry service, garage and meals served on the huge patio in the back; the aircon bedrooms are located off the main house in independent quarters among trees and plants.

Well worth the detour as is this incredible, historic town — but book ahead (which we did not do) because the alternative is Amancio some 60 km away.

That's where we aimed to try our luck but we got lost at sunset and had — at some crossroads near El Pilar : in the middle of nowhere — to ask for hospitality to a university student visiting his grandmother's farm where the kind lady let us sleep on a couch in the living room (with a huge pig sharing the space in the kitchen) after watching a documentary on national tv titled : "The vagina, that mysterious unknown." Only in Cuba, porsupuesto.

A cayo southeast of Santa Cruz del Sur © CatfishJohn47,

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Updated 15.09.2015

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