A mountainous stretch of countryside interspersed with several tourist attractions, the Gran Parque Natural Baconao, 25km southeast of Santiago, took a real beating from Hurricane Sandy in late 2012, and currently offers few incentives for travellers. The devastation was extreme and a full recovery is still some way away. Do bear this in mind if you decide to visit, as private taxi transport here isn’t cheap and you may be disappointed by what Sandy left behind.
Some 2km along the park road past the La Gran Piedra turn-off is the Granjita Siboney, the farm that Fidel Castro and his rebel group used as their base for the Moncada attack. The pretty little red-and-white house, pockmarked by bullet holes (perhaps from target practice, as no fighting actually took place here), now holds a museum that largely reproduces information found in bigger collections in the city, with newspaper cuttings, guns and bloodstained uniforms presented in glass cabinets.
Just beyond the Granjita Siboney is Playa Siboney, 19km from Santiago and the closest beach to the city. Overlooked by a towering cliff, this brown-sand beach was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, with all its shade-giving palm trees uprooted and its beachside shacks and cabins blown away. Tourism is recovering here, though the scene is considerably less lively than it was, and some casas particulares and restaurants have survived the storm.