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Isabela de Sagua, Cuba

Isabela de Sagua, Cuba


Isabela de Sagua is a little town which was once one of Cuba’s major ports. Today it’s a fishing enclave with a proud maritime tradition.  When you’re in the town, it’s striking that all the streets lead to the water.

There was a time, decades ago, when travelers from far and wide would disembark in Isabela de Sagua and continue their journey by train or by smaller boats that sailed up the River Undoso.


Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
Isabela de Sagua tiki huts in the water, Cuba


The word Sagua (Cagua) means place where a lot of water flows.

In the 1800s, Sagua was one of Cuba’s most prosperous towns. It was a center for import and export of products like sugar.  There were at the peak a hundred operating sugar cane plantations in the region.

With the demise of the Cuban trade economy, the port lost out.  While it is still an important city, the second-largest in Villa Clara province, its real glory is in the past. This city clings to its rich eventful history.


The town of Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
The town of Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
The town of Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
The town of Isabela de Sagua, Cuba


The locals, known as sagüeros, are proud of their history and town despite the occasional building in ruins.

Many locals build little huts in the water, which are used as restaurants.  They cook the fish dishes in their homes and bring out the food to the huts.


Tiki huts  in the water in  Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
Tiki huts in the water in Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
Tiki huts in the water in  Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
Tiki hut restaurants in the water in Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
Tiki hut restaurants in the water in Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
Tiki hut restaurants in the water in Isabela de Sagua, Cuba


Sagua is greatly influenced, in the late 1800’s, by spiritist Allan Kardec who said (and millions agree today) that the dead can “speak” to the living through a medium.  Through the centuries, there were many shipwrecks.  Some say spirits of local pirates and victims are strong here.

It is said that one part of the maritime tradition continues.  Isabela de Sagua has had many Cuba rafters leave during the night on makeshift rafts and fishing boats seeking freedom in the US.


Cuban rafters in the waters
Cuban rafters in the waters


Today, the waters around  Isabela de Sagua are among the most guarded waters in Cuba.


Isabela de Sagua, Cuba
Isabela de Sagua Map, Cuba


Read about some of the other Cuban towns such as Trinidad,  Remediosand Cienfuegos.


About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.


  1. Lyn aka TheTravellingLindfields
    March 21, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Cuba sounds like such an interesting place to visit. It is always amazing seeing places which were once prosperous.

    • Carmen
      March 22, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      Hi Lyn,

      What’s interesting is finding some of these little towns that once were very popular destinations, and now they are just little ghost towns with memories of the past.

  2. Jess
    March 21, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I never visited Cuba before, but judging after these images, I can say that the town of Isabela de Sagua, looks very silent and perfect for a travel along with my family.
    The restaurants look very rustic and I think that I can eat there many fish specialities.

    • Carmen
      March 22, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      Hi Jess,

      It’s one of these towns that you can go and have lunch at one of these little family owned restaurants and sit under a tiki hut and enjoy the water view.

  3. Jolanta aka Casual Traveler
    March 22, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Your photos of the town, especially the huts on the water are so fascinating. Must be quite something to have your meal in the straw covered hut on the water. Cuba is such a fascinating country. Thank you for teaching us about what it’s like.

    • Carmen
      March 23, 2015 at 8:50 pm

      Hi Jolanta,

      I couldn’t of ask for a better view of the water, although at times it felt like the dock was moving a little. That made me a little antsy.

  4. Lauren
    March 24, 2015 at 1:26 am

    I love how those huts look on the water! It is a little bit sad to see the town looking a bit run down, but I love that people are proud of their heritage and their town! I would really like to visit Cuba someday! I know so many people who have gone (fellow Canadians) but they don’t tend to leave the resort…I would like to actually experience the place as much as I could!

    • Carmen
      April 12, 2015 at 1:44 am

      Hi Lauren,

      It’s sad when I hear people come to Cuba to just visit the five star resorts in the keys and never get to experience what the real Cuba is about. Most of Cuba’s buildings are falling down because they don’t have the material to restore them (lack of wood, paint). Hopefully, that will change soon.

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