Hotel María la Gorda

Hotel in Parque Nacional Península de Guanahacabibes

This is among Cuba's remotest hotels, and the isolation has its advantages. The adjoining palm-fringed beach is pretty (if a little rocky), but 90% of people come here to dive; reefs and vertical drop-offs beckon just 200m from the hotel. María la Gorda (literally 'Maria the Fatso') is on the Bahía de Corrientes, 150km southwest of Pinar del Río.

Room-wise you get a choice of three beach-hugging pink-concrete, motel-type buildings or, further back, either attractive white two-floor apartment blocks or rustic wooden cabins connected by walkways. Far from being a posh resort, María la Gorda is an easygoing place where hammocks are strung between palm trees, cold beers are sipped at sunset and dive talk continues into the small hours.

Buffet meals cost CUC$15 for lunch or dinner; reports on the food vary. There are two restaurants and a beach bar. A small shop sells water and basic provisions. There's a steep CUC$10 (including a sandwich) charge to visit Hotel María la Gorda and its adjoining 5km beach for nonguests, although sneaking down for free beach time wouldn't be hard if you forgo the sandwich.