Welcome to Guantánamo, a vibrant city located in southeast Cuba and the capital of Guantánamo Province. While the city is perhaps best known for its association with the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, there is so much more to discover in this beautiful part of the country.
Founded in 1797 on the site of a farm named Santa Catalina, the name Guantánamo means ‘land between the rivers’ in the Taíno language. The area has a rich history and is home to many notable Guantanameros, including athletes Joel Casamayor, Erislandy Lara, and Yumileidi Cumbá, as well as cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez and journalist Iliana Hernández.
The municipality is mountainous in the north, at Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, where it overlays the Sierra Maestra mountains, and borders the Windward Passage of the Caribbean Sea in the south. The city is spread with a square plan and is crossed in the middle by the Carretera Central highway. Guantánamo Bay is a natural harbor south of it. The municipality borders with El Salvador, Niceto Pérez, Caimanera, Yateras, Manuel Tames, and Sagua de Tánamo; this one in Holguín Province. It includes the villages of Argeo Martínez, Arroyo Hondo, Glorieta, Las Lajas, and Paraguay.
United States Naval Base:
About 15 km away from the city lies the Guantánamo Bay, a superior natural harbor which has been utilized by the United States since 1898, when it was captured from Spain in the Battle of Guantánamo Bay. Cuba leased it to the U.S. in 1903 in fulfillment of a commitment made in the 1903 Cuban–American Treaty of Relations, and remains the site of a US Navy base, as well as the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
The city is served by the Carretera Central highway, and is the eastern terminus of the A1 motorway, that is mainly under construction and will link Guantánamo with Havana. Guantánamo’s commercial airport, the Mariana Grajales Airport, is served by one airline, Cubana. It is located near the villages of Las Lajas and Paraguay. In July 2019, Cuba received its first new train cars in over four decades from China for the route between Havana and Guantanamo. The journey takes 15 hours.
Guantánamo is a city full of surprises and there is plenty to see and do here. Visitors can explore the Zoologico de Piedra (Stone Zoo), a unique outdoor sculpture park featuring life-size stone carvings of animals. The park is located in the village of Arroyo Hondo and is a must-visit for animal lovers and art enthusiasts alike. For those interested in history, the city’s Museo Provincial de Guantánamo is a great place to learn about the region’s past. The museum features exhibits on the Taíno people, the Spanish colonial period, and the Cuban Revolution, among other topics.
Food and Drink:
No trip to Guantánamo would be complete without sampling some of the local cuisine. The area is known for its delicious sugarcane and cotton wool, which are traditional parts of the economy. Visitors can also try local specialties like ropa vieja (shredded beef), arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), and tostones (fried plantains). For a refreshing drink, be sure to try a Cuba Libre, a cocktail made with rum, cola, and lime juice.
Whether you’re interested in history, art, or simply soaking up the local culture, Guantánamo has something for everyone. So why not plan your trip today and discover all that this amazing city has to offer?