Maria La Gorda: Secluded Beach in the Heart of Nature Reserve
It is located in the Peninsula Guanahacabibes, West of Cuba. The peninsula itself was declared as Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. We drove for around 3 hours from Las Terrazas. It was only three hours driving but the closer we were, the more I felt how isolated Maria La Gorda was.
I was so excited to see how clear the sea water along the coast. The beach was white; the water was blue and calm. Maria La Gorda is a perfect place for relaxing combined with snorkeling and swimming in the sea. However, it is very isolated from anywhere. The only way to get there is by rental car; tour bus (organized by a travel agent in Havana) or classic car taxi.
Maria La Gorda means Maria, the Fat. The name derived from a story of a Venezuelan woman with enormous breasts named María, who was stranded in the coastal area of Guanahacabibes after her father’s ship crashed. It was believed that she tried to survive by becoming a food trader for the ships who passed by. But there was another story that Maria was providing prostitution service to the sailors that had made the area so famous and, in the end, being called after her.
At present, there is only one hotel in the area, and it is called Maria La Gorda Hotel. No Casa Particulares nor restaurants in the area. You will have to depend on the hotel services. The only restaurant available there was okay. Our choice was buffet or ala carte menu. I forgot the cost of the buffet; I took the buffet for lunch and dinner after found out that some menu in ala carte were also included in the buffet.
And of course, we did diving in Maria La Gorda. We stayed for three nights and did ten dives in total. The dive center is attached to the hotel. Besides of diving or any water activities, tourist can also take a trip to Guanahacabibes National Park. The hotel can help in arranging a tour guide to the National Park.
We also noticed that the area has lots of cows and they were everywhere including in the beach area. But no one from the hotel staff seemed dares to oust the cows from hotel’s complex and beach. We found out that these cows are state-owned animals, and they get full protection. Anyone who kills any (wild) cows would face jail sentences. No kidding. This is how Cuban government tried to preserve their last cows and in responding to the lack of cow’s meat and milk.