Top 5 Best Birding In Cuba
Cuba is renowned for its wildlife that you can't find anywhere else in the world; it is one of the greatest pleasures of visiting this amazing land. Cuban bird watching locations draw people to this island and those with the patience will find it a rewarding and unforgettable activity. So here are the 5 best birding in Cuba you absolutely don't want to miss.
1. Guanahacabibes National Park
This is among the largest nature reserves in Cuba. Favored by a geographical position, hard work of scientists, and pristine ecosystems, the Guanahacabibes National Park has become the most popular destination for bird watching. Some of the bird species can only be found in Cuba, for example, the blue-headed quail-dove, the bee hummingbird, and the Cuban tody, to name of few. Moreover, over 50 species of migratory birds can be spotted; they travel through the Mississippi corridor and settle in the Guanahacabibes Peninsula during winter months (from October to March).
Speaking of the National Part itself, it is home to the biggest lakes and rivers in Cuba. When you're taking part in bird watching, you will also see dinosaur-like Iguanas, turtles, deer, pigs, crocodiles and snakes. And imagine ending the trip in a freshwater pool; this is one of the days that must happen to you!
2. Turquino National Park
This park is situated in the center of the picturesque Sierra Maestra Mountains. It features the highest Cuban peak Pico Turquino that measures a breathtaking 6,480 feet in height. The flora and fauna of this mountainous park are quite diverse. Nature tourists would love the unique rainforests, huge pine trees and arborescent ferns. The fauna matches the flora in diversity, and birds, mollusks, reptiles and other creatures create a unique ecosystem that you can't find anywhere else. There are 80 species of birds, including Cartacuba, the Zunzun and the Tocororo. The trip to the Turquino National Park will be an absolute highlight of your next visit. The most adventurous of you can even undergo special training to make the Pico Turquino climb and see more of this park.
3. Zapata National Park
This is the largest swampland providing one of the greatest opportunities for bird watching in Cuba. This is where 83% of all endemic species of the region live. Some of these include salt flats, crocodile-infested swamp, and scrubland, along with the beautiful Zapata Wren, Zapata Sparrow, and Zapata Rail.
There are trails into the forest used by bird watchers. This includes but not limited to the Santo Tomas trail, Bermejas trail and Soplillar trail. Some of the bird species living there include the rare Gundlach's Hawk, Bee hummingbird, Fernandina's Flicker, and the Cuban Parakeet.
The park itself is sparsely populated and carefully protected; most of the land is home to a wide variety of ecosystems. And we haven't even started on the clear waters of Cuba, with beautiful coral walls and drop-offs, making this park a popular destination for bird watchers.
4. Cayo Coco, north coast of Cuba
Cayo Coco is a small but popular beach hotspot with first class hotels on the beautiful shoreline. The place is surrounded by sea grass, mangrove swamp and sand dunes with pristine seas. And like the cherry on a cake, over 200 bird species choose this place their home. Some of the endemic species include the metallic gray Cuban Gnatcatcher and the Oriente Warbler. This place is also home to one of the largest Caribbean colonies of Greater Flamingo.
Cayo Coco is known for its wide selection of marine life that chooses to make this beach paradise a home. On neighboring Cayo Paredon Grande, patient visitors can spy on the Cuban Vireo and the common inhabitants such as Thick-billed Vireo and the Cuban Woodpecker.
Everyone searching for a pocket of tranquility in a busy place should escape the main beaches of Cayo Coco and head to Cayo Santa Maria's beach. It is the most tranquil beach in Cuba that stretches for over 13 kilometers of calm clear waters, fine white sand, and unique ecosystems. The stunning coral barrier protects it from winds and waves are never overwhelming.
5. Cuchillas del Toa, Eastern Cuba
Bounded by rivers, forests and mountains, Cuchillas del Toa is largely isolated, which makes it one of the main attractions for nature tourists. It is one of the most charming Cuban destinations due to the wide diversity of landmarks, such as the mountain El Yunque, and the unique cultural scene, such as the annual festival commemorating Cuban independence.
Pine forests, high rainfall and coastal bays make this one of the most fertile places in the world. Cuchillas del Toa offers rich pickings for bird watchers with dozens of endemic species living in the forests. 12 endemic bird species make this place home, including the Cuban Parrot, the Cuban Parakeet, the zunzuncito, and the Oriente Warbler. In the mountains, you will also find the endangered Hook-billed Kite and the rarest in Cuba, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
Cuchillas del Toa also offers beaches to suit every taste, from remote to family friendly and crowded. You can choose between the black sands of Playa Duaba, golden Playa Maguana and gray Bahía de Baracoa.
The Best Time For Bird Watching In Cuba
If you can choose any time of the year for traveling to Cuba, we would recommend coming during winter months when more bird species are on the island including transitory birds and winter visitors. Transitory birds are also in Cuba between August and October, and then they come back in February and April. However, during summer months you can spot breeding species and little babies, which is unforgettable.
We would also recommend hiring a car to be more flexible on your bird watching trip. Some of the best bird watching locations are miles away from public transport routes so a vehicle would be quite helpful.