The beach at Punta Francés is named after the French pirate François Le Clerc, who frequented the Ensenada de la Siguanea, on the north side of the land spit. In 1809 he captured two Spanish ships laden with gold and jewels, and made swiftly for Isla de la Juventud’s southern coast to hide, rightly deducing that the theft was unlikely to pass unavenged. With just enough time to bury his treasure, Le Clerc was captured by North Americans and sent to Kingston, Jamaica, where he was promptly executed for piracy.

The whereabouts of the treasure has haunted bounty hunters ever since. The night before his execution Le Clerc is supposed to have written a note to his fellow pirate Jean Lafitte, cryptically hinting that the hoard was buried ninety paces “from the mouth of the boiling spring”, but Lafitte never received the note and the treasure is still hidden. Though unlikely to be anything more than romantic fancy, legend has it that the booty is buried somewhere in the waters of the Ensenada de la Siguanea, offshore of the southern protected zone’s west coast.

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