Cuba, a tourist destination par excellence in the Caribbean, gathers in its geography a large spectrum of leisure options in the hundreds of islets and keys which make up the Cuban archipelago.
The tourist expansion strategy goes beyond the main island towards the key formations which surround it.
Among the abovementioned formations, the Jardines de la Reina (Queen’s Gardens) archipelago, made up by hundreds of keys and islets and located in the southern central region of Cuba, stands out.
The most representative keys in this archipelago include: Alcatracito, Alcatraz, Anclitas, Bretón, Cinco Balas, Caballones and Grande; all within the so-called Laberinto de las Doce Leguas (Labyrinth of the Twelve Leagues).
The marine bottom, characterized by its extension, is also regarded as one of the best preserved in the Caribbean, holding a large variety of corals, algae, sponges, mollusks, crustaceans, chelonians and large fish.
A specialized tourist program functions in the area, with emphasis on the life-on-board options which are supported by about 17 boats and 50 diving sites along the coastline.
In addition, four turtle species (including the doggerhead turtle and the hawksbill turtle) lay their eggs in this territory which also holds the largest population of queen conches (Strombus gigas) in the country.
Meanwhile, the northern keys of Villa Clara contribute excellent beaches and a virtually virgin environment.
A causeway which extends 48 kilometers into the sea joins the main island of the archipelago to the keys Santa María, Las Brujas, Ensenachos, Cobos, Majá, Fragoso, Francés, Las Picúas and Español de Adentro, among others.
Apart from the potential conditions for tourism, the keys provide exceptional conditions to shelter a flora and fauna which include exclusive species such as the rat hutia, together with other endemic species of lizards, mollusks and birds.
Legends are also present in the area and such is the case of Cayo Las Brujas (Key Witches), whose name is linked to stories of ghosts, strange noises and apparitions that were common among the dwellers, though there are other stories of love encounters between a fisherman and a young lady from town.
Another attraction of the region is the ship San Pascual which ran aground near key Francés almost 70 years ago and has become a naval rarity since it was built of reinforced concrete and launched in 1920 at the San Francisco shipyards, in California.
Those who visit key Ensenachos can enjoy the best beaches, although the key’s small extension limits the tourist development program to about 600 rooms in order to prevent irreparable damages to the environment.
Nature itself has created the leisure conditions by contributing a coral reef which reduces the wind strength at the beach, as well as the uncomfortable heavy seas, thus providing unique sceneries to host thousands of vacationers every year.