Destination Overview CUBA

Cuba

Cuba is the biggest island of the Caribbean with a full-length of 1.250 km and between 50 and 250 km wide. It has 11 million inhabitants, mostly living in cities like Havana. As a communist country since 1959 Cuba is defying the nearby United States. The US has an embargo against Cuba and you will see very few tourists from there. Most visitors come from Canada and Europe, around 4 million per year. You will not find major brands and retail like in other western countries. Without McDonalds eateries and Gucci stores you will find this country surprisingly different and unique.

Who says Cuba, says sand-white beaches dotted with palm trees. Varadero is very well-known and there are also many keys in front of the coast, easily accessible by bridge roads from the main land. Cuba has also lots of green with many nature parks all over its extensive territory, most of them in mountainous areas. You’ll find here tropical jungle, easily accessible by well-maintained trails and always with the option of a local nature guides’ assistance. The trails usually end at a fresh waterfall where you can swim in. Cuba has many endemic birds, great for birdwatchers.

 

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Cuba has sunshine almost every day of the year. Winter (Nov-April) has day temperatures of 20-25 degrees Celsius and summer (May-October) of 25-30 degrees. The difference is the humidity. In the summer the air is a bit heavy and an occasional tropical shower in the late afternoon is possible and refreshing. In the winter air is mostly dry and it rains a lot less. For this reason, most come in this period. As part of the Caribbean in Cuba July till end November is hurricane season. The best tobacco in the world grows in the west of Cuba. In the months of December till April you can visit the farmers while they are working their fields. A cigar factory visit must be on your bucket list. It is also the birth place of many cocktails like mojito, daiquiri, rum coke, … All are based on mixing rum with something more. Everywhere you find bars and terraces to try out the cocktails that of course nowhere else better then in Cuba.

Cuba is one of the major music producing countries of Latin-America. You find the traditional Cuban music known as Buenavista Social Club style music. This is a list of evergreens from the first half of the 20th century combining genres like son, salsa, guaracha, mambo, chachacha, and gauguanco. There is also Cuban Latin Jazz with mainly instrumental and improvised music. But the Cuban music scene today is very much alive with mixing genres and producing hip hop, jazz, and also pop music.

Top Destinations

Havana– The capital of Cuba. Here you can find the Cuban culture and history. Most know the Colonial part, Patrimony of Mankind by UNESCO. A little enclave of Spain in the Caribbean. But the city is a lot bigger with incredible sites like the Malecon, the Revolution Square, and the Castles of Havana. Havana is essentially a living museum for pretty vintage cars and one should not miss taking a ride in one of these classic convertibles.

Viñales – The area of Viñales and surrounding Vuelta Abajo is the best place on earth to grow tobacco. But it is also an area for eco-tourism. The valley of Viñales with the mogotes is incredibly beautiful and one can discover it on foot, horse back or by jeep safari. And everywhere you will meet the humble and hospitable Cuban farmers who show their daily lives in the fields.

Trinidad – This little town used to be the centre of the Cuban sugar industry around 1800. Sugar barons built palaces in the centre in the typical style of Colonial era, the streets were cobble stoned, and the houses painted in light pastel colours. This historic centre has prevailed through the years and is now Patrimony of Mankind.
Varadero – World famous are the beaches of Cuba and Varadero is the best: 20 km of white sand beach along the narrow peninsula that goes straight into the sea. You find in Varadero hotels of all levels from low key fun hotels to high end luxury resorts. Almost all are all-inclusive and located with a direct access to the beach. The centre of Varadero has a low key night life for those who want to get away from the all-inclusive ambience.
Santa Maria Key – Or Cayo Santa Maria is a small group of islands that are connected to the main land by a 42 km long causeway built through the sea: the mere ride is worth the visit! And the islands Santa Maria, Las Brujas and Ensenachos are great examples of the keys that dot the Cuban North coast. It’s all about pristine nature here and of course beaches.
Santiago de Cuba – The other main city of Cuba after Havana, but completely different. The historical city up the hill has nice plazas and many colonial buildings from different eras. Amongst them is the majestic Cathedral but also the oldest building in the Spanish colonies: the House of Diego Velasquez, the Spanish conqueror of Cuba.
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