162km (101 miles) S of Havana
Isla de la Juventud hangs like an apostrophe off the southern coast of Cuba and is the largest and westernmost island in the Archipiélago de los Canarreos. Sometimes referred to as the Island of a Thousand Names, it was called variously Siguanea, Guanaja, and Camarco by the early indigenous populations. The island was later christened El Evangelista by Columbus, Parrot Island by pirates, and Isla de Pinos (Isle of Pines) throughout most of the 19th and 20th centuries. Some even call it Treasure Island, claiming Robert Louis Stevenson used it as a model for his book of the same name. Following the Cuban Revolution, it was renamed Isla de la Juventud, or Isle of Youth, after a slew of secondary schools and colleges were built here to educate both Cuban and foreign students.
For travelers, Isla de la Juventud's primary attraction is its stellar scuba diving. The one working hotel serving foreigners caters almost entirely to divers. Other attractions include some of the most elaborate and best-preserved indigenous cave paintings in the entire Caribbean basin and the eerie prison buildings where Fidel Castro was incarcerated.