Half the fun of a visit to the seventeenth-century Spanish fortress at the mouth of the Jagua Bay, known as the Castillo de Jagua, is getting there. The ferry from Cienfuegos docks just below the fortress, on the opposite side of the channel to Playa Rancho Luna, from where a dusty track leads up to the cannon guarding the castle drawbridge. Inside, a small museum details the history of the fort, which was originally built to defend against pirate attacks, and, bizarrely, charts the history of nuclear energy in Cienfuegos – the Juraguá nuclear power plant is 5km away. There’s also a couple of tables in a sunken courtyard where you can get something to eat and drink; and steps winding up to the top of the single turret from where there are modest views. It’s also worth taking a peek at the cramped and dingy prison cell and the chapel on the courtyard level.
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The Castillo de Jagua ferry
A rusty old vessel looking vaguely like a tugboat, the passenger ferry between Cienfuegos and the Castillo de Jagua chugs across the placid waters of the bay at a pace slow enough to allow a relaxed contemplation of the surroundings, including the tiny, barely inhabited cays where the ferry makes a brief call to pick up passengers. The deck is lined with benches but the metal roof is the best place to sit, allowing unobscured views in all directions.