Where does the name Guardalavaca originate?

Guardalavaca Beach Photo

The word “Guardalavaca” – Guarda La Vaca – literally means “guard the cow” in Spanish. Many people have had their theories of how this odd name came about. Several viable accounts as to how this name may have originated start with the version that maintains that Guardalavaca is nothing more than a malapropism for its original name Guardalabarca, which translates to “guard the ship”.

History has it that area was once heavily targeted by sea pirates, and Bahía de Naranja near what is now the town of Guardalavaca is a sheltered and shallow bay connected to the open sea by a tapered inlet, which made it a proper safe haven to guard ships against marauding pirates.

A second account brings us to the most probably explanation in which the name may have originated from pirates going after the cattle grazing in the area. When pirates were spotted, the local farmers would thus cry, “Guardalavaca” – Guard the Cow!

The Cuban government has attempted on several occasions to change the unflattering and nonsensical name of the tourist area but they have so far been unsuccessful in choosing a candidate or removing the legacy of the official name of Guard the Cow…