The Isla de la Juventud - As an island within an island (Cuba), Isla de la Juventud has a long and
dramatic history, and with that, dozens of name changes over the years.
Still called the Isle of Pine after the Triumph of the Revolution, it
was renamed in 1978 to its current and euphonious name, Isla de la
Juventud (Isle of Youth). Thousands of students from all over Cuba and
the world came to the island to study, mainly medicine, and work in the
citrus orchards. This youthful influx gave a new and different image to
the once old and ravaged island, thus, reflected in its youthful name
The Isla de la Juventud is located south of the mainland of Cuba, in the
western region. It is surrounded in the north by the Gulf of Batabanó
and in the south by the Caribbean Sea. About two-thirds of the sea
around the island is shallow. From Cabo Frances in the south, to Punta
del Este in the eastern part of the island, depths rarely exceed 10
meters, with an average of 7 meters.
Interest in diving activities off the shores of Isla de la Juventud
began in the ‘70’s. The National Park Marino Punta Frances is
privileged with calm waters and excellent visibility. Pirates once
anchored in the limestone caves but today, it is the perfect backdrop
for divers. Not all pirate ships sailed safely away from the island and
today divers can choose from more than 70 shipwrecks in Bajo de Zambo.
Deep tunnels and channels give shelter to more than 40 species of coral
such as elkhorn, staghorn, black coral, and more. The marine life is
also abundant with a variety of fish and you can see barracudas,
groupers, snappers, sea bass, grunt, as well as, turtles.
From Marina Colony, there are at least 56 dive sites that are all accessible by boat.
But the youthful island has more to offer than just dive sites! Cienaga
de Lanier National Park, in the southeast of the island, is a wetland
consisting of flooded savannas, deciduous and coniferous trees, and
mangroves lining the coast. In addition to the rich flora, the area has
an equally rich fauna with crocodiles, turtles, deer, caimans, and
And let’s not forget about the paradisiacal beaches…and yes, Isla de la
Juventud has many! With a coastline of 229 kilometers, the beaches are
quite varied. The luxuriant growth of mangrove dominates in the north,
east, and west of the island. However, the south features a coastline
of 30 kilometers with beautiful beaches of fine white sand, interrupted
by small and sheltering covers, cliffs and mangrove bushes.
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