Cueva de los Peces

Useful Information

Location: Ranchón Cueva de los Peces, 122, Cuba.
18 km from Playa Girón.
(22.1665982, -81.1365015)
Open: All year daily 8:30-17.
Restaurant: All year daily 8:30-16.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstCenote KarstBlue Hole
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN (2023): Protected Planet: The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) and World Database on Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (WD-OECM) [Online], December 2023, Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC and IUCN. Available at: online
Address: Ranchón Cueva de los Peces, 122, Cuba.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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2006 declared a protected area.
2010 Sistema Espeleolacustre de Zapata created.


The Cueva de los Peces (Fish Cave) is not a cave at all, at least not at the first glimpse. It is often called a cenote, and actually it is quite similar to one type of cenote. Cenotes are dolines, collapses of a water-filled cave system, and at the bottom of this shaft is the water of the cave, often 20 to 50 m below the surface. But there are cenotes where the water is almost at the surface, and they look more like a lake, but actually the lake is a cave entrance. This is quite similar to this Cueva de los Peces.

The site is a restaurant and a popular bathing spot at the southern coast of Cuba. There is a long fjord-like valley protruding into the island to the north, and this site is on the eastern shore facing west. This fjord is the infamous Bay of Pigs, as in "Bay of Pigs Invasion", one of the Cold War events in 1961. Located at the Carretera Playa Larga-Playa Girón road, there is a huge car park and a short trail uphill to the lake. The site is free, frequented by locals and tourists alike, and there are toilets and a restaurant named Ranchón Cueva de los Peces. At the car park is the Centro International de Buceo (International Diving Centre) which rents diving equipment. As far as we understand its intended only for the sea in front, not for the cave.

The site is quite exceptional, the water is deep blue to turquoise, the lake is elongated, parallel to the coast, and the water is surrounded by limestone rocks which show karren. The lake itself is definitely a water-filled cave, and obviously only one of dozens of similar cenotes. On Google Earth satellite images, you can see the cenotes lined up in chains. Obviously, a water-filled cave system with numerous collapses and connection to the sea. It is named Sistema Espeleolacustre de Zapata (Zapata Speleolacustrine System) and is one of the Protected Areas of Matanzas. The protected area has 146.61 km² from Playa Larga to the border with the province of Cienfuegos, and forms a 1 to 2 km wide strip along the coast.

But there is a last aspect which we have to address. The name Cueva de los Peces means Fish Cave, and actually all those cenotes are very rich in local fauna, mostly fish, but also amphibians and even a crocodile now and then. The whole area was protected mostly for its ecological value, and less for its geology.