For decades Cuba has been a forbidden destination for curious travelers. Not only has trade and travel been restricted for most Americans, but the Cuban government is so notoriously secretive that it wasn’t until this year that it allowed for photography to leave the country. In fact, Lithuanian aerial photographer Marius Jovaiša was the first to obtain government permission to fly over the Caribbean island to take photos from a bird’s eye view.

“I spent two years in the paperwork and bureaucracy stage. There were so many crazy requirements, unpleasant surprises, changes of circumstances, rules…” Jovaiša told the IB Times. “I guess the Cuban military live by the rules written in the 1960’s. Even though now you can go to Google Earth and see every square metre of Cuba, the military still tightly controls the airspace and its secrets.”

But Google Earth images of Cuba are not going to spark your wanderlust as much as Jovaiša’s aerial photo book, Unseen Cuba. The photographer says that the project took five years to complete and ended up costing a million dollars. The result? 400 stunning aerial photographs of Cuba’s pristine white sand beaches, its mystifying, mountainous countryside and the island’s historic villages and port towns frozen in time. The island is truly a paradise to behold.

Unseen Cuba has an accompanying Android and iPhone/iPad apps with exclusive interactive content.

 

Photos: IB Times