Jibacoa: Undiscovered Paradise
As you travel in Cuba, you sense that there are places like Jibacoa; a timeless, undeveloped village that is a little off the beaten path but has the potential that other beach and fishing villages like Varadero had before being fully developed. Jibacoa has all that potential, even better fishing and the best snorkeling haunts in the Caribbean and is perfectly situated. Jibacoa remains undiscovered but it won’t be long before it bustles with tourists.
Jibacoa is not as easily accessed as Cuba’s biggest beach resorts. But, while a few discerning and experienced Canadians and Europeans enjoy this paradise, People-to-People travelers almost never see the crystal clear waters, white beaches or the fascinating caves and mountains that present the ideal backdrop for a quiet beach town. As a result of these extenuating circumstances, Jibacoa is one of the most affordable beach towns in the country.
Jibacoa is a favorite destination for Cubans who have earned enough money to vacation on their island and who recognize the hidden treasure and potential that Jibacoa offers. There are several all-inclusive, inexpensive resorts where the accommodations are not of the Melia five-star quality, but which are sufficient for the adventurous traveler who wants to enjoy spectacular nature and hiking and swimming possibilities. Bungalows on stilts are available at some resorts in this town.
Jibacoa is off Via Bianca, Rte. 61, halfway between Havana (86 km from Jose Marti International Airport) and Varadero International Airport (58n km). However, few buses actually stop at the village of about 9,000 residents. The area’s inland farming community is serviced by the Hershey Electric Railway.
Many of the local farming communities resemble time-warped hamlets, which Jibacoa was before the end of the Revolution. Castro’s government realized the potential of this antiquated village and put it on the map but it has remained less a beach town than a farming community that sometimes seems tribal in nature.
The village is located in the province of Villa Clara in the municipality of Manicaragua. It was officially founded in 1959. 88.7 percent of the area is rural, making the spectacular beach Playa Jibacoa one of the most private and secluded beaches in all of Cuba. When resting, hiking snorkeling or fishing in Jibacoa, it is easy to lose track of time and space.
You will notice more bikes than automobiles in this area. Even the tourists prefer bicycling. Another rarity in developed Cuba that attests to the relative newness of the village is the lack of colonial architecture. Only one truly colonial styled building, which was a beach resort prior tom the 60’s, has been restored. The village is comprised mostly of peasant homes and a fairly plain church and a few low budget hotels. An unsuspecting traveler could stumble onto this destination and wonder if they have experienced a time warp. Before the end of the Revolution, Jibacoa only was home to a few hundred people.
Local sites include the Joven Club, the House of Culture, Bus Station and People’s Savings Bank. The town features the University Faculty of Physical Culture and a branch of the Medical College Mountain which has other facilities in the Escambray Mountains.
The village council strives to keep the community in touch with the national growth but for the most part, the people of Jibacoa are independent and prefer to do things their way. The wonder of Playa Jibacoa is spellbinding. Protected by an untamed coral reef, snorkelers say it is the best diving around the island. The supply of tropical fish is unparalleled for quantity and diversity. What Playa Jibacoa lacks in man-made luxuries, it more than compensates for in natural wonders. In a sense, Jibacoa is the perfect symbol of the untapped potential that is bound to captivate your imagination while in Cuba.
For information contact Dave or Yordi at Info@travelguidecuba.com. Travelguidecuba.com is not a licensed People-to-People tour provider but works closely with other licensed providers. Complete Cuba People-to-People tour is licensed (CT-2013-299822-1) by the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to engage, organize and conduct authorized people-to-people travel to Cuba that engages participants in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba.