María la Gorda Beach, listed as a reserve of the biosphere by UNESCO, is located on the southern coast of the western end of Cuba, in the inlet of Corrientes, Guanahacabibes Peninsula, 300 kilometers west of Havana.It is a beautiful beach with a wide fringe of white sands bathed by the Caribbean Sea and with extensive areas of coastal vegetation.
María la Gorda Beach got its name from a piratical anecdote with many legendary versions. María is said to have been a Portugese pirate (it has in fact been recorded that there was a pirate called María Cruz around 1820). She was apprehended and handed over with other women as part of the booty of another pirate that had made his headquarters on that secluded spot of Cuban geography. She never returned to Europe. Old and fat, María became the owner of the warehouse, the tavern and the boarding house that were built there to meet the needs of filibusters, buccaneers and merchants.
One can go to María la Gorda either by taxi or renting a car. A taxi ride can range from CUC 20.00 to CUC 40.00 the round trip. You can also go by train from the city of Pinar del Río to Guane, and there take a bus to Sandino and then a taxi to the beach.
This warm and limpid beach is famous for the astounding beauty of its sea bottoms and coral reefs. Its great variety of landscapes makes it an ideal spot for divers and ecotourists.
The International Diving Center at María la Gorda Hotel offers introductory courses and guided immersions in coral reefs and sea caverns.
One of the most distinctive features of this place is the fact that at only 14 meters under the surface one can find black coral formations inhabited by many kinds of fish, such as barracudas and red snappers. These coral formations are known as Black Coral Valley. Among its many attractions there is a hundred meter coral wall and a cave at 18 meters under the surface, called Salón de María, where small feather coral can be found.
have ranked María la Gorda’s sea bottoms among the ten most
beautiful in the Latin America subcontinent, due to the richness of its
fauna and the extraordinary fairness of its corals.