The name “Gibara” comes from the word giba, or hump, and refers to the Silla de Gibara, a hill which, seen from the sea, looks like a horse’s saddle. Gibarans swear this is the one Christopher Columbus mentioned in his log when approaching Cuban shores, but although he did first land in Holguín province, the hill he wrote about is generally taken to be El Yunque in Baracoa. The spot where Columbus first disembarked in Cuba on October 28, 1492, is Playa Blanca, about 20km east of Gibara, in the Bahía de Bariay; it’s marked today by a small monument on the hillside near the pretty, pale-sand beach.

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