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The beach right in front of the hotel quickly hits coral and rock outcroppings as soon as it meets the water. In fact, sand is at a premium here. You'd definitely be wise to bring along a pair of waterproof aquatic shoes or sandals. The best beach for sunbathing and swimming is about 1km (1/2 mile) southwest of the hotel near an abandoned marina. There are also some excellent beaches out toward Cabo San Antonio on the Guanacahabibes Peninsula.

Scuba diving is the principal activity here, and this is one of the top dive destinations in Cuba. More than 50 dive sites are within a 1-hour boat ride of the resort, and many are much, much closer. Visibility is excellent and the waters of the bay here stay calm year-round. The place has a bit of a reputation for whale sharks that apparently congregate near here in October and November. However, my dive master had been working here for almost 2 years and had yet to see a whale shark. What you will see are fabulous coral and sponge formations, colorful tropical fish, turtles, eels, barracuda, and rays. It costs CUC$42 per dive, including a complete equipment package. The boat goes out at 10:30am, noon, and 3pm. There are also nightly scuba dives for CUC$40. Multiday dive packages are available for CUC$135. Snorkelers can reach some decent coral outcroppings in 3 to 7.5m (10-25 ft.) of water within 90 to 180m (295-591 ft.) of the coast. Mask, fins, and snorkeling will cost you CUC$12 per day.

Depending on boat availability, half-day fishing trips can also be arranged for between CUC$150 and CUC$250 for up to four persons, with your own equipment only. Possible catches range from tarpon to bonefish to a variety of deepwater fish.

Aside from the watersports mentioned above, the other main attraction here is exploring the nearby Guanacahabibes National Park. There are three trails in the park, and you must have a guide to hike any of them. The land here is flat and you'll find a mix of lowland scrub, pine forests, and mangrove, dotted with numerous little lakes and lagoons. There are quite a few endemic bird, lizard, and mammal species. This was also the last refuge of Cuba's indigenous tribes as the Spaniards completed their conquest, and several small archaeological sites have been uncovered. There's a little lighthouse, Faro Roncali, at the point at Cabo San Antonio, wild sandy beaches, and a park ranger station (Estación Ecológica; tel. 48/75-0366; open 9am-5pm daily) at La Bajada. It costs CUC$6 to CUC$10 per person to hike the trails (starting at 9am; insect repellent required), including a multilingual guide, depending upon which trail you hike. Specialist trips for the same price can be organized for snorkelers, bird-watchers, spelunkers, and photographers. If you just plan on driving your car out the road to Cabo San Antonio and visiting some of the beaches here, you may be able to get away without a guide; however, as a rule, they are averse to foreigners roaming around the park unaccompanied. The road to Cabo San Antonio is bordered by huge stretches of jagged rock called dientes del perro (dog's teeth). The beaches and vegetation are wild and this is only really a trip to be made if you want to stay at the truly remote Villa Cabo San Antonio (tel./fax 48/75-7655; www.gaviota-grupo.com; CUC$51-CUC$76 double). You can book the excursions from Villa María La Gorda , too. Tours from Pinar del Río and Viñales include a bag lunch and cost CUC$40 and CUC$45 respectively.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.