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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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María la Gorda: A Paradise for Divers

The largest Antillean Island, favored in its tourist aspirations by a privileged geographic location, takes advantage of its natural attractions to provide a one-of-a-kind offer to the thousands of vacationers who visit Cuba every year.

Cuba's leisure industry offers a perfect formula that combines beach and sun with culture, history, nature and nautical activities, including diving, whose popularity is increasing every day.

The Island's conditions for diving include 70,000 square kilometers of insular shelf, and 5,000 kilometers of coastline on both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Nearly 6,500 varieties of fish, crustaceans, sponges and mollusks, as well as 850 kilometers of coral reefs, turn the Caribbean Island into one of the best-preserved underwater ecosystems in the region.

Add to this several hundred of sunken ships from Spanish-colonial times, as a result of Cuba's role in the fleets that sailed out from the Caribbean to the Old Continent.

Three dozen specialized diving centers operate in Cuban territory, where vacationers can take initiation courses and dive in coral reefs and caverns. The centers comply with the international parameters demanded by that nautical activity.

Entrance to María La Gorda Villa, Pinar del Río
Bridge at María La Gorda Villa, Pinar del Río
Beach at María La Gorda Villa, Pinar del Río

One of those facilities, located in the Guanacahabibes Biosphere Reserve, in eastern Cuba, is María la Gorda (Mary the Fat), where divers can enjoy crystal-clear and warm waters in 39 diving spots.

Visitors can admire the largest black coral reserve in the waters surrounding Cuba.

Many experts consider that the most special characteristic of María la Gorda is the fact that divers can see black corals at a depth of 14 meters, as well as marine species such as barracudas and red snappers.

Experts consider that the seabed at María la Gorda is among the top ten places in Latin America, due to its abundant marine life and extraordinarily beautiful corals.

The name of the region comes from a legend, according to which, a Venezuelan aboriginal woman was abducted by pirates and abandoned in eastern Cuba, in an eight-km-long beach with crystal-clear waters.

The woman, whose name was María, settled in the area and opened an inn, where she offered food and pleasure to the filibusters who arrived in the region. It seems that these elements and her physical characteristics were taken into consideration to give a name to this territory.

Vacationers can enjoy the facilities provided by the center's 55 cabins, which are equipped with all amenities demanded by modern tourism, so that they can enjoy their leisure time before diving again into the warm water surrounding the Caribbean Island.

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