Pinar del Rio, Viñales and Cayo Levisa

"Pinar del Río", where the world finest tobacco is grown, was founded in 1699 and is the westernmost province of Cuba, the third most extensive and the seventh in population.

Pinar, as locals colloquially call it, counts on popular tourist attractions such as mountain ranges, beautiful valleys, forests, caves, rivers, beaches and cays.

In the valleys, ox-drawn plows transport you back in time amid quintessentially Cuban landscapes that attain their most dramatic beauty in Viñales Valley (UNESCO's World Biosphere Reserve), with incredible limestone formations (mogotes) looming over tobacco fields, plus caves for exploring, all set into a perfectly bucolic scene. The hummocks – mogotes – can only be found, apart from here, in China, Malaca, Puerto Rico or Jamaica. Geography specialists have called the Viñales Valley “the most spectacular landscape of Cuba”.

Pinar del Río is dominated by a low mountain chain - the Cordillera de Guaniguanico - which forms an east-west spine through the province.

The chain is divided by the San Diego River into two mountain ranges - the Sierra del Rosario (UNESCO's World Biosphere Reserve) in the east and the Sierra de los Organos in the west.

The mountains, which reach a height of 692 meters atop Pan de Guajaibón, edge up to the narrow, undulating north coast, where a necklace of cays - the Archipelago of “Los Colorados” - lies protected by a coral reef. The star attraction is Cayo Levisa.

The broader southern plains are covered with inferior soils that support expansive rice plantations, cattle pastures, and swamps that harbor hunting grounds and lakes stocked with bass and game fish.

A slender pencil of uninhabited land - the Peninsula de Guanahacabibes - hangs loosely of the southern tip, jutting west 50 kilometers into the Gulf of Mexico. It is a nature reserve smothered in dense bush and cactus that hosts, among other attractions, the well know international scuba diving center “Maria La Gorda”. Another great vacation spot for nature and scuba enthusiasts alike.

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