Cayos de San Felipe
Technically, they’re in Pinar del Río province, but, as yet, the only way to get to the almost virgin Cayos de San Felipe is with an organized excursion arranged through Hotel Colony on La Isla de la Juventud or the Marina Internacional Cayo Largo on Cayo Largo del Sur. One of Cuba’s 14 national parks, this small necklace of keys approximately 30km south of Pinar del Río and 30km northwest of La Isla are uninhabited save for the odd environmental researcher. The Cayos were home to a rare subspecies of the tree rat called the Little Earth Jutia, but the rodent hasn’t been seen since 1978 when black rats were introduced to the archipelago. The flat mangrove-infested isles also support turtles and numerous bird species.
Fauna aside, the main reason to come here is to dive in 22 Columbus-era-quality dive sites that see little or no dive traffic. The trip starts in Pinar del Río before transferring by bus to the fishing village of La Coloma where a boat takes you out to the cayos for diving. After lunch on board, you will be spirited over the sea to Hotel Colony on La Isla without having to suffer the purgatory of the crowded regular ferry.
You may also make this into a multi-day multi-dive odyssey called the Ruta de los Indios, on which you dive the cayos between La Coloma and Isla de la Juventud. An additional, or alternative, multi-day dive trip is the Ruta Los Galeones, which includes cayos between La Isla and Cayo Largo del Sur.