South of western Havana province, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the big island, is the Isle of Youth, a region linked to legends, adventures and traditions, and characterized by a unique natural environment and many attractions for tourism.
Its capital, Nueva Gerona, was founded in 1830 under the name of Reina Amalia (Queen Amalia), in honor to the then wife of King Ferdinand VII. The city is characterized by its well-preserved architecture, marked by singular neoclassical features.
History is present in the El Abra Farm, where National Hero José Martí stayed briefly. The place is currently a museum that exhibits aspects of the life and habits in the farm over 100 years ago.
In the farm, the main house, the independent kitchen, the barn and the coach house, as well as the old aqueduct that supplied water to the building, are in a perfect state of preservation.
The Isle of Youth is also home to the descendants from the first Japanese settlers who arrived there in the early 20th century. The Japanese colony is considered the second largest group of its kind in the country.
At the same time, the fishing town of Cocodrilo, formerly known as Jacksonville, is home to the descendants from settlers from Grand Cayman and Jamaica, who incorporated their Caribbean rhythms into traditional music.
In Punta del Este, in the southern part of the island, several caverns exhibit valuable exponents of cave art by Cuban aborigines, especially from the group known as "guayabo blanco", from the Siboney culture.
Many experts have considered the place a Sistine Chapel of cave art in the insular Caribbean, showing a lunar calendar, made up of 56 concentric circles (in red and black), and the nine planets of the Solar System.
Fossilized remains of humans, utensils and the so-called "Cruz Pinera" (Pinera Cross) - which shows the four cardinal points - have also been found during excavations and research in caverns.
Since the mid-20th century, the region has a peculiar botanic garden, known as Jones's Jungle. It was created by a couple of US citizens who arrived in the island in 1902, and experts considered it a small ecosystem.
Its 10 hectares are home to up to 20 varieties of mango trees and 10 of bamboo, in addition to cedar, palms, avocado, coffee and many others, creating a combination of autochthonous and exotic plants in a sort of jungle.
There are over 50 diving sites off Punta Francés, where there exists a 400-km (250-miles) coral reef, which experts consider one of the best preserved in the world. The region also boasts rich marine fauna and coastal ecosystems.
For all this, the Isle of Youth is gaining ground in the great tourist offer of the largest Antillean Island, and it is ready to welcome a large number of vacationers among thousands of travelers visiting Cuba every year.