The central-eastern Cuban province of Ciego de Avila plays a major role in the Caribbean Island's tourist sector, as it offers excellent options for those interested in the country's beaches, nature, culture and history.
It is in this region that Jardines del Rey (King's Gardens), considered the fastest growing tourist destination in Cuba, is located.
According to legend, due to the exuberant vegetation on Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Paredón Grande, Conquistador Diego Velázquez named the region after Spanish King Ferdinand the Catholic.
Cayo Coco is the fourth largest islet in the Cuban archipelago, covering an area of 370 square kilometers, and offers 22 kilometers of excellent beaches, which are complemented by thick vegetation of mangrove and coconut trees.
Large colonies of flamingoes and other migratory birds nest in the above-mentioned islets, so the preservation of the natural environment has been a top priority when carrying out tourist infrastructure projects in the region.
The proximity to a 400-kilometer coral reef, considered the second largest in the world after the one in Australia, according to experts, is a special attraction for diving enthusiasts, who can enjoy warm crystal-clear waters in Jardines del Rey.
Ciego de Avila also has many places of interest for thousands of foreign vacationers who visit the province every year.
One of those sites is the so-called Júcaro-Moron Defensive Belt, considered one of the major military monuments in the Caribbean region and the largest Spanish fortification in Cuba and Latin America in the 19th century.
It was built in 1871 and 1872 to stop the Cuban Liberation Army from moving westwards, thus preventing the war from spreading to that region.
The 68-kilometer defensive belt – which runs from the north to the south coast of Ciego de Avila – was a singular defensive project that consisted of several facilities and structures to ensure the rapid deployment of the Spanish troops.
Among the province's cultural treasures in the Principal Theater, which was inaugurated in 1927 and is considered to have one of the best acoustics in Cuba, according to experts.
Ciego de Avila's cultural wealth also includes the Church of San Eugenio de la Palma, the patron saint of the provincial capital, the House of Culture, the Art Gallery, the traditions in the Jamaica neighborhood, in Baraguá, the festivities in Majagua, and the "parrandas" (carnivals) in Chambas and Punta Alegre.
Few rivers run through the province, including the Caonao, which is 133 kilometers long and is the natural border between Ciego de Avila and Camagüey in the northeast, and the Jatibonico del Norte, which marks the northwestern border with Sancti Spiritus.
Ciego de Avila holds major reservoirs like the lagoons La Redonda (4.5 square kilometers), which is an excellent place for trout fishing, and La Leche (67 square kilometers), whose name, which means "milk" in Spanish, comes from the peculiar color of its water, due to the sedimentation of calcium sulfate on the bottom.