The oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba and the first capital of Cuba, Baracoa has a long and rich history, and is often portrayed as a near mythical corner of the island. Several guide books have called it Cubas shangri-la.
While that may be a bit exaggerated, Baracoa certainly is like a small world of its own, isolated at the far east of Cuba, a three-four hour drive through untamed and impressive nature from Santiago de Cuba. Located in a bay, at the foot of El Yunque, Cubas version of Table Mountain, a more overwhelming location would be hard to find.
Baracoa has loads of casas particulares and a few hotels on top to satisfy the demand of tourists, as well as a couple of nice restaurants and paladars. But the biggest attraction of Baracoa might not be the city itself, although it is known to throw some great parties. The biggest attraction might be the surrounding, lush, green nature. Few areas in Cuba are more fertile and more wild than this part of the Guantánamo province.
While it has been some time, and things certainly have changed, here is what Columbus wrote in his notebook when he landed in Baracoa in 1492: "the most beautiful place in the world ...I heard the birds sing that they will never ever leave this place...."
Baracoa is absolutely worth visiting if you are touring Eastern Cuba and Oriente, some would say it's an unavoidable must-see if you are in this part of the island.