The backdrop of beautiful mountains as you descend into the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea makes diving from Santiago de Cuba something very special. Stunning underwater landscapes are abundant here, with tunnels, caverns, walls and loads of sea life, your diving experience here is sure to be memorable.
There are a few dive centres in the Cubanacán Náutica area, depending on what your interests are depends on which one you'll choose. Know where you want to dive and make sure the centre will take you there before booking. There are about 11 sites in the area and a lot of wrecks to explore.
You can see all types of reef fish, sharks and big fish such as groupers, snapper and barracuda. There are all different types of hard and soft corals, walls, caves and a good variety of macro species for the budding photographer.
Open water dives can explore the wreck Guarica, where you can hand feed the huge Black Groupers. Advanced divers will enjoy the Spring Carol, a well preserved wreck with many fish species or deep divers can head to the Ferry, a 30 metre long ship that you can swim into the hold and also see the wonderful jewfish.
The shallow but interesting site of La Cueva is suitable for all divers. La Pared is a nice wall with black coral or you might see a hammerhead shark if you're lucky. The sites of Open Water and Morrillo Chico are like an aquarium with clear water and colourful fish and corals.
If you like caves and caverns then check out Piedra de las Ariguas where the small cave is home to many Yellowfin Groupers or The Maze with passages of coral and many big fish species.
You can spend a good few days diving in the waters off the coast of Santiago de Cuba. So drop us a line if you've been there and tell us about your favourite.
(By Kelly Luckman)
The second largest city in Cuba, Santiago de Cuba is a little off the beaten track about 870km or (540 miles) south east of Havana, but if history and heritage sites are your thing then you'll find the trip out trip out here more than worth it.
You can fly there from Havana with Airline Aero Caribbean, or there are weekly service from Montego Bay and twice a week from Kingston on Air Jamaica Shuttle. There are also overnight trains from Havana and buses that go a few times a day.
The best bet for accommodation are the many 'Casa Particulares' that are spread throughout the city, this is a room in a local family's house. They are clean, comfortable and your host will probably have the best information about things to see in the area. You can find for usually between $15-$20.
There are a myriad of interesting things to do, from music to art and history and wonderful sites. The World Heritage Listed citadel of San Pedro de la Roca is a must see, being one of the best examples of Spanish-American military architecture standing to this day. The Church La Caridad at El Cobre is worth a look too. You can visit the Monacada Barracks and the Santa Ifigenia cemetery for something different.
Have a drink on the terrace of Casa Grande, with a view out over the Parque Céspedes or dance your night away at Dolores for some great entertainment. Chill on the Caribbean Sea in the area of El Morro or la Gran Piedra. Spend a couple of days relaxing on the beautiful Cayo Granma or La Socapa. Take a thrilling ride on a motorbike taxi to explore the city, but be aware they do drive like maniacs.
There are a few things to be aware of in the city as being hassled by the locals can be a problem. Know where you're going and what you want to do, as looking lost can get you into a bit of trouble! Always be aware of your things when walking on the street or your bag might become the property of a thief on a passing bicycle or motorbike.
Get out there and explore this interesting area, you'll be immersed in the great culture of Cuba and its people. Always be friendly and polite, assertiveness goes a long way here.
(By Kelly Luckman)