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Cuba NatureStrange as it may seem today, Cuba was not originally situated in the Caribbean but in the Pacific. As the continental drift brought it into the Caribbean a wide variety of animal life arrived and over time these animals adapted to their new environment. Protected by its island isolation, today more than half of Cuba’s plants and animals and eighty per cent of its reptile sand amphibians, are found nowhere else on the planet. Cuba is home to what are considered to be three of the smallest species of animals in the world. These are the bee hummingbird, the pygmy frog and the butterfly bat. On any visit it is well worthwhile seeing Cuba coral reefs. Predominantly fringing reefs cover almost the entire border of the Cuban underwater shelf; longest stretches are 400km along the Archipelago de Sabana to the Archipelago de Camagüey on the north coast, notably around the northern shore of Cayo Coco and 350 km between Trinidad to Cabo Cruz in the south. There are over 500 driving centres located around the coast. One of the most popular is Isle De La Juventud (Isle of Youth) located off the south coast. Punta Francés on the island is a national marine park where the protected coral, water clarity and stunning caves have to be seen to be believed. It can be reached by a 30-minute flight daily to and from Havana airport or by boat transfers from the Marina Siguanea which take about an hour and deliver you to a gorgeous stretch of white sand beach. Catch-and-release and fly fisherman will delight in the bonefish – the ultimate sport fish – in Ciénaga de Zapata, the largest wetland in Cuba, or remote Jardines de la Reina. Excellent fresh-water fishing can be found in both man-made and natural lakes all across the island. But of course, big-story fishing (the kind Hemingway wrote about) takes place out at sea. Deep-sea fishing expeditions will challenge you to land a marlin, swordfish or yellowfin from the northern shores, or tarpon from the southern. Make sure you also see the famous “painted snails” of Cuba. These land snails called Polymita have large brightly coloured shells and the range of colours is truly amazing.
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