Cuba Holidays – Tours & Adventure Travel Guide
“Cuba is nothing less than a story of contrasts. It possesses not only one of the most colorful histories, but one of the most violent. From the conquest of Columbus, the introduction of African slaves, the many wars fought for control of her warm waters, to its own bloody revolution, it seems the fertile soil must be due to the blood spilt over this land. The often brutal suppression of its people has never been able to suppress its soul, and Cubans remain some of the proudest the world knows. With all this heartbreak and spiritual malaise it is difficult to fathom how this island gave birth to such celebratory music and dance. Truly a contradiction, and one that must be witnessed first hand.”
Cuba Holiday Highlights
Culture – While each year Cuba presents more and more options for the adventure traveler, it is its people and rich culture that above all people come to see. The grand, though decaying, architecture and museums of Old Havana make this city as enjoyable to stroll through as its European counterparts. Cuban literature and poetry is widely enjoyed around the world. Not to mention the work of the foreign authors who called Cuba home. Namely, Hemingway, Stephen Crane and Graham Greene.
Former Spanish tobacco and sugar plantations gave birth to two products that Cubans celebrate and take a tremendous amount of pride in the cigar and rum. So much so that the traditional Cuban shirt, the guayabera, often has a pocket designed for safeguarding multiple cigars. Many people's familiarity with Cuba ends at two of its most famous exports: the mojito and the daiquiri, both made with liberal amounts of rum.
It is in the arts, particularly music and dance, where Cuba has more than punched its weight. For a country whose population has never exceeded 12 million its contribution to world music and dance is staggering. The Son was, and is the, center of Cuban music and dance, but it's offspring: Salsa, Rumba, Mambo and the Cha-Cha-Cha changed the way billions both played and danced to music. Besides these truly unique Cuban forms of music and dance, Cuba has given the world a number of instruments as well, including the maracas, the güiro, and the marímba.
Sports are also a national pastime if not a passion. Cuban baseball players are revered throughout the United States and Latin America. It's possible to see some of the best players in the world only on a Cuban holiday. Cuba has little interest in having their best players “stolen” when they participate in international competitions. Cuba also dominates amateur boxing as well as competing with the best in volleyball.
Cuban food is a fusion of Spanish cooking mixed with spices and flavors of the Caribbean. It is wonderful, with quality ingredients and the passion of the people is undeniable.
Fishing – Cuban fishing is unregulated throughout the entirety of the island. This extends to the many rivers and streams, lakes and streams in the interior, to the big game fishing that has made Cuba a famous fishing destination for many, but perhaps most famously, Papa, Ernest Hemingway. The deep-sea fishing so romanticized by Hemingway offers sport fishing year round. While sail fishing, for many the ultimate in sport fishing, is at it's best in April and May, Cuba offers great big fishing opportunities year round. Grouper, snapper, and tarpon are catchable and provide a great trip in each and every calendar month. Wahoo, dolphin tuna, and yellow jacks fill the Caribbean and are great for trolling for, or again due to Cuba's lax regulation can be angled for from Cuba's many piers and shore casting locations.
Bird Watching – For bird watchers, and bird enthusiasts, Cuba is necessary visit. Because of Cuba's isolation from most of the world over the last 50 years, certainly from their closest neighbors, Cuba is a land often untouched and certainly unspoiled by man in many parts of the island. Cuba is home to over 355 different species of birds and his home to at least 25 that exist no where else. The smallest bird in the world calls Cuba home, at first glance it is often mistaken for an average sized bumblebee (it weighs less than a one penny coin). The next time you have a complaint about your aerobics instructor think of what it would be like to have to beat your wings over 3,000 times per second.
Diving – The Caribbean is famous for its scuba diving and snorkeling, it is no surprise then that Cuba, The Caribbean's largest island, provides some of, or the best diving in the region. Cuba offers over 35 dive centers on the island in 14 specific dive regions. Presently, operators are working over 100 dive sites year round. Each center is PADI certified and you will need to bring your papers and certifications. For the beginning diver Cuba provides many opportunities for you to obtain your first certification. Diving in Cuba is a year round affair with water temperatures rarely straying from their average of 24 degrees Celsius (76 degrees Fahrenheit). Cuba offers reefs, shipwrecks, and tropical life unparalleled in the area with accommodations for any budget located near each dive zone.
Walking, Hiking & Trekking – Cuba, again due to its under visited and policies of the Castro government offers some of the most pristine and untouched mountain terrain in all of the Caribbean. Making it a favorite for those interested in exploring the beauty of this countryside on foot.
When to Go
Cuba enjoys a warm tropical climate year round. While the best time to visit is probably the winter months, though for sport fishing, the summer presents the greatest advantages. Cuba has a profound rainy season from May to October and humidity will of course be higher during this time. While September and October are often lovely, these are the months when Cuba is most prone to a visit from a tropical storm or hurricane. Generally, Cuba can be enjoyed year round as long as you know what to expect.
- While no specific immunizations are necessary to visit Cuba, precautions should be taken to avoid Dengue Fever. This means adequate amounts of mosquito repellant, especially during the day, when Dengue is a threat.
- Bring extra prescription medications and copies of your prescriptions. While Cuban doctors are world class, their access to specialized medicines is quite limited.
- Cuba is a safe country, but pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are not terribly uncommon. Use your head. When out in Havana at night, bring what you need, no more, no less. Just like anywhere else in the world.
- Avoid buying too much on the street, especially cigars. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- If possible, learn some Spanish, which is not too difficult to pick up and will help you tremendously.
Cuba Holidays In Focus
While there do exist museums and stunning architecture outside of Havana it is in Havana that you will learn the most about this country. There are a number of walking tours available in Havana and although it is not a difficult city to navigate, if you do not read Spanish you will not have the chance to understand all that you are seeing. It is in Old Havana that you will find the most historically significant colonial architecture as well as the bulk of Cuba's museums. These include: The Museum of Colonial Art, The National Museum of Fine Art, The National Museum of Music, The Simon Bolivar House, The House of Benito Juarez, The House of Jose Lezama Lima, The Car Museum, and The Cigar Museum to name just a few. It is not necessary to plan your route in Old Havana and it advised that you do not. Let its maze of colonial streets and alleys open up to you and take in what presents itself.
While in Havana it is quite easy to arrange for a tour of one of the famed tobacco plantations or rolling factory. Tours of Cohiba, Partagas, and Romeo y Julietta, among others, are open to the public year round. The Havana Rum Museum presents a captivating exploration into this national drink allowing you to not only stock up on souvenirs but sample Cuba's finest rums before you decide what to purchase.
Music and Dancing are omnipresent in Old Havana and impossible to gauge where you will find yourself most comfortable, ask around. Rap, Rhumba, and Salsa are everywhere in the evening and the locals are certain to have their fingers on the pulse and a clearer understanding of where to find the heart of Cuba.
For Cuban food Paladares, or family run restaurants, are your best bets. They provide an alternative to the state run restaurants that are best avoided.
Numerous fishing operations run sport fishing vacations all over the island. Cayo Guillermo offers seclusion and was a favorite spot for the author Ernest Hemingway. Fishing excursions are popping up all over the area providing better value for the tourist. Located in the same island chain, many forget the Cuba is an archipelago, Cayo Coco is the second largest beach area in all of Cuba. It offers excellent deep-sea fishing as well
As fresh water alternatives with the many lakes in the area. With plans to build an international airport this area will not possess the charms it presently maintains for long.
Pinar Del Rio in the Sierra del Rosario region of Cuba is perhaps the area most diverse for the observation of Cuba's varied species of birds. This UNESCO biological reserve is a favorite for ornithologists the world over and one of the only places in the world to observe the red and blue Cartacuba. There are guided birding tours just outside the UNESCO site with a money back guarantee, which will ensure your satisfaction. Additionally, the Vinales Valley presents an opportunity to see the most species of birds endemic to the lush island that is Cuba.
Diving on Cuba Holidays
Once again Cuba provides diving enjoyment for everyone, here are the widely regarded top sites on or just off the island:
Cayo Largo is nearly 200km from Havana and is one of the most remote diving locations on the south side of the island. It is, however, reachable by internal flight with a flight time of considerably less than one hour.
Maria La Gorda presents great diving for the experienced diver. Featuring night trips, caves and caverns. There are a number of locations for the less experienced and the site includes a number of eighteenth century shipwrecks and black coral walls. Nearly four hours from Havana, it requires a serious commitment.
Cayo Levisa is and excellent choice for those who don't wish to stray to far from Havana. An hour to the northwest it features some of the larger tropical fish on the island.
Playa Giron located near the infamous Bay of Pigs features a number of purposeless sunken ships in the nineties and is a favorite among Cuban divers. Allow four hours from Havana.
Faro Luna is the choice of the underwater photographer. It has the clearest water and over 30 dive sites. The coral formations reach so far towards the surface they can be seen before your dive has begun.