The Isle of Youth (Isla de la Juventud) is the largest of the islands that make up the great Canarreos Archipelago (which comprises of over 600 islets). The island itself is actually 62 miles (100 kilometers) off the southern coast of Cuba and so getting there usually involves a flight from Havana. However, for the more adventurous, a catamaran service departs to the island from the port of Batabano daily. The catamaran service takes two hours to reach the island. Alternatively, you can elect to take the ferry service, but you should know that this is a much slower way of getting to and from the island.
HISTORYKnown locally as the "Isle of a thousand names", Isla de la Juventud has had a rich and colorful history since the day -during his second voyage- in 1494 (June 13) that Columbus discovered it. Since then the island has periodically been known as La Evangelista, the name Columbus gave the island, the Isle of the Treasure and Isle of the Parrots, the names given to the island before the Spanish colonized it, and it was used as hideout for pirates, to the Colony of Reina Amalia (Queen Amalia), the name given to the island on December 17 1830 - when the Spanish finally did colonize it. In more modern times the island has been called the Isle of the Exiles, so named because this was where everyone who opposed the central regime was sent into exile, and the Isle of Pines. Finally, in 1975, the island became the Isle of Youth (its name today). Aside from that, at one time or other the island has been the center of attention for the British, who tried to steal it, the Belgians, who tried to buy it, the United States, who said it was theirs anyhow, and even the Japanese, who just moved there! So, as you can see then, one very interesting place!