Some of the best visiblity and cleanest waters in Cuba can be found off the coast of Cienfuego. The sites are close to the town and the waters calm, making this a very relaxing place for any level of diver.
There are a couple of centres on the road to Trinidad or ask for information in your hotel. With over 50 sites no more than 10 minutes from shore, you're spoilt for choice in the variety of dives available.
Explore caves, wrecks, walls, the impressive cathedral of 'Notre Dame' which you have to see to believe. Sea life includes turtles, barracuda, massive jewfish, eagle rays, lots of species of fish and corals and maybe a whale shark if you're lucky.
The Camaroneros I and II sites are made up two fishing boats that have become an artificial reef and are now covered in corals. The Crown is a nice deep dive with lots of narrow coral channels to explore. This is also a great site for macro photography lovers.
Kerchief Point is full of marine life and large gorgonians or head to Punta Sabanilla for a colourful dive site and lovely reef full of crustaceans and molluscs just waiting to be found.
This is some lovely diving that will keep you occupied for a good week or so. You'll enjoy your time under the water in Cienfuego.
(By Kelly Luckman)
The city of Cienfuegos (meaning 100 fires) is located on the south coast of Cuba, 250km from Havana. Fondly named 'The Pearl of the South', UNESCO put the city of Cienfuegos on the World Heritage list in 2005 due to its fine example of 19th century architecture.
The Jaime Gonzalez Airport is 5km out of town with international flights to and from Miami. There are no direct connections to Havana but you can easily reach Cienfuegos by bus or car in five hours or from Trinidad, which only takes two hours. There is also a train but they can be unreliable. The easiest way to get around is to either hire a car or moped, hail a taxi or take a stroll.
There are a good few hotels around the town, you'll pay anywhere from $30-$100 a night for a double room. For a special experience, stay in one of the many B&B's where you'll be hosted by a Cuban family. They are cheap and chearful and you'll get all the insider information about the best places to go in the city. Prices range from $20-$40 a night per person. There are a few hostels as well with similar prices for a dorm bed.
Stroll around the Pueblo Nuevo and take in the sites of Plaza Jose Marti, the Cathedral de la Purisma Conception, Arco de Triunfo and the great live music and Teatro Terry. There are a couple of cemetaries such as La Reina and Tomas Acea with some interesting war monuments and sculptures. Head to the hitorical museum if you want a bit of history about the place.
The El Nicho Waterfalls is a lovely place to take a refreshing dip and nice walk. Pack a picnic lunch as the restaurant there is a little expensive. The Botanic Gardens are really pretty or head out to Punta Gorda to see the Palacio de Valle and all the cool 1950's houses. You can take a boat trip, fishing trip, take a walk along the Malecon (sea front) for sunset or do a bit of diving or snorkellin.
Just one hour out of town is Santa Clara which is the resting place of Che Guevara and has a good museum. The Castillo de Jagua is an 18th century fortress that was built to protect the city from pirates. There is an unfinished nuclear plant behind that castle that's worth exploring.
The real entertainment comes out at night where the bars come alive with salsa dancing, so grab your dancing shoes and a mojito or cuba libre (rum and coke) and dance the night away.
Spend a few days exploring this historical town, it's a great, relaxing taste of cuba.
(By Kelly Luckman)