Cuba is one of the most visited destinations in recent times. More and more visitors are looking forward to do a trip to this Caribbean country. The relationship between the United States and Cuba has undergone major changes in recent years. These changes have been transcendental significant and they have especially helped to make the country of Cuba more and more fashionable. Obama’s speech in Havana in March 2016 has marked a turning point in the relationship between both countries.
Reasons to do a trip to Cuba
Cuban culture, music and a their unique way of living
Discovering the unique way in which Cubans live is something that leaves an impression on visitors. Lively and cheerful, they are always ready to chat and have fun with everyone. Although sometimes lacking in luxuries, they do not skimp on a smile, a story or a joke. Visiting Cuba with Espíritu Travel opens up the possibility of having first hand interactions every day.
Cuba is the island of fun and dancing. In each corner you find a radio with music, a bar where to dance, or the possibility to join some street musicians. Of all the dances the king is the salsa. Having salsa classes in Havana or Trinidad from a local enables visitors to enjoy the spirit of the island.
Cuba is also a culture, you can discover at Hemingway’s House at Finca Vigía, where he lived for more than 10 years and wrote his masterpiece of literature The Old Man of the Sea. In addition, you can also check out the street art on Callejón de Hamel, a street art project dedicated to helping those in need. Or find the magic of Fusterlandia, where an artist, thanks to its incredible mosaics, has changed the spirit of an entire neighborhood.
Cuban cigars, rum and coffee
It is no secret that the best cigars are made in Cuba and the most popular tobacco plantations are in Pinar del Rio. That is where the best tobacco is produced, still rolled by hand and this it is one of reasons why they have become the most famous cigars all over the world. Also In addition several tobacco factories are open for visitors and visiting them in your trip to Cuba would give you an idea of the secret world of the cigar industry. For example, Partagas Serie D are one of the best sellers in the world and people pay about 25$ per cigar.
Cuba is the country of Cuba Libre and Mojito. It is a place where many cocktails are drunk, not like in other countries where the most famous alcoholic drinks are wine and or beer. Cuban rum is known worldwide. In your trip to Cuba, you can try the perfect cocktail, surrounded by the atmosphere of the 20s and 30s, a bit of jazz and a cigar. Surely you want to have a cocktail at Hemingway’s favorite bar, El Floridita.
However, if you prefer a soft drink, you cannot forget to try the coffee. The coffee produced in Cuba is world renowned for its unique and long-lasting flavor. Coffee plantations on the hills of the Sierra del Rosario are, for example, a place worth visiting: they actually include a visitor center to learn more about the history of coffee production. There, you can also have a Cuban coffee tasting session, which is served black, in small cups.
In the Caribbean they know how to have fun, especially if you travel when you celebrate some of the most famous events such as Carnival in Santiago de Cuba, the Caribbean Festival (Fiesta del Fuego) and the Procession of Easter in Trinidad. The Fiesta del Fuego takes place every July in Santiago de Cuba and is fantastic, it’s an events with parades, fireworks and a lot of dancing.
Such a mixture of Spanish, African and Caribbean culinary traditions makes Cuban dishes an explosion of flavor. Food lovers should definitely try the lobster fished in the island, but if you are not so hungry you can go for the little sandwiches made with authentic delights. This way, you can try many more local foods.
There are restaurants as famous as La Guarida, known for having among its clients Fidel Castro, his brother Raul and Che Guevara, on January 9, 1959. The owner takes pride in showing the table and the photos. In addition to receiving many tourists for their fame, it is also has a unique location and excellent food.
Cuba is an island full of spectacular natural parks. Some of them are the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park and the Pico Turquino National Park. The Humboldt National Park, which has the name of a German scientist that visited the island in 1800 and 1801, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 for its natural wealth and altitude range. It is made up of spectacular mountains, which have some of the best preserved ecosystems in the Caribbean and a great variety of tropical plants. Turquino, Cuba’s highest point above sea level, is located in the Great Sierra Maestra National Park, in the heart of the Sierra Maestra, a paradise for bird lovers. If you want to discover the local species as parrots, lizards, hummingbirds, Jutía, visiting Humboldt National Park will make your trip to Cuba very special.
The beaches of Cuba
Among the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, you can find the beaches of Cuba.
These beaches are white with very fine sand, with crystalline and turquoise waters and the most beautiful coral reefs. One of the best-known Cuban cities because of its beaches is Varadero, but there are plenty of incredible beaches all over the island. Veradero is about 80 miles away from Havana which has a large influx of visitors as it has a great variety of leisure and is one of the most famous.
Are trips to Cuba legal for Americans?
The US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Affairs (OFAC) does not allow US citizens to go to Cuba to conduct purely tourist activities. Although there are still restrictions for US nationals, the recent changes promoted by President Obama and the US government to thaw relations with Cuba have improved the situation.
Despite this, OFAC allows Americans to go to Cuba while the purpose of the trip is framed within one of the following 12 general categories:
- Family visits.
- Oficial business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations.
- Journalistic activity.
- Professional research and professional meetings.
- Educational activities: People to People tours.
- Religious activities.
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions.
- Support for the Cuban people.
- Humanitarian projects.
- Activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes.
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or informational materials.
- Certain authorized export transactions.
Individuals who wish to travel to Cuba and do not meet the requirements for a general OFAC license must apply for one of the specific licenses in the US Treasury Office.
Thanks to the recent easing of travel regulations, since May 2016 cruises are permission to sail directly to Cuba from the US without making an intermediate stop. Therefore, going to Cuba on a cruise is for the moment the only legal way for an American to go to the island just for pleasure.
Unless you visit Cuba on a humanitarian mission or for commercial or governmental purposes, traveling with a guided tour is the best option to visit Cuba.
Planning a Trip to Cuba
Requirements for traveling to Cuba
All visitors must have medical insurance to enter Cuba. Most airlines include Cuban medical insurance ($25 per passenger) in the total cost of the ticket. ESICUBA provides Cuban medical insurance and it is valid for 30 days. If you are planning on staying in Cuba for more than 30 days, you will need to purchase additional insurance to cover the rest of your stay.
If you have a valid Cuban passport or if your passport shows that you were born in Cuba, consult the website of the Cuban Consulate for more details on the additional documentation you must have in addition to your passport. Please note that it may take several weeks to obtain all the necessary documentation from the Cuban Consulate.
All other passengers will need to obtain a Cuban visa or a permit to enter Cuba before traveling. Currently, several airlines provide the visa or you can obtain through a travel agency like Espíritu Travel.
Trips to Cuba from New York
A tour operator specialized in trips to Cuba is the best option for a US citizen to travel to Cuba. Comparing all trips available on a website like Espíritu Travel in order to choose the best option for you.
Responsible travel to Cuba
There are many ways to travel to Cuba, however the best way is doing so responsibly. It is important to remember and understand that tourism supports the local community and thus one must be conscious of preserving the landscapes and nature as well as the culture of the island. If you are a responsible traveler, here is how you can help:
Share your experiences with the locals
Cubans are an open and fun group of people. You allow yourself to have interactions during your trip. Be willing and open to enjoy activities such as salsa dancing, cooking, food, culture, music, the beach or a simple conversation with one of the locals. You will learn a lot and your experience in Cuba will be much more enriching.
Support Cuban entrepreneurs
Your trip to Cuba will help families and entrepreneurs have a better future. Cuba is full of people working every day in search of a promising future that will allow them and their families a better life. As a tourist and visitor, you are helping guides, drivers, owners of casas particulares and paladares With your visit, you are already contributing to a better future for all these people.
The best accommodations in Cuba
The best way to enjoy Cuba is to stay in a private home or a casa particular. Since the 1990s, thousands of Cubans have transformed their homes to accommodate visiting guests. Cubans are charismatic and very friendly, they are the best hosts you can imagine. Guests at these private homes will never forget the delicious breakfasts the hosts prepare or the care and attention they put towards making sure their guests feel welcomed and comfortable. After staying in a casa particular, you will surely never forget your host.
Move around Cuba safely
Transportation in Cuba continues to need improvement. It is very important to us that our vehicles are in the best conditions as possible and that all our drivers are experienced and trustworthy. The roads in Cuba continue to need reparations and improvements and this is why it is imperative that we have skilled and trustworthy drivers who will safely get you around the island.
Support for the Cuban people
There are many ways to help the Cuban people. Like the saying goes, “if you are hungry don’t ask for a fish, learn how to fish.” This is the way that you can help build lasting cooperation. By supporting families and entrepreneurs you can help the daily reality of many Cuban families. Projects like Aniplant, who Espíritu Travel partners with helps to improve the living conditions of animals on the island. Supporting projects and activities like this transforms your trip from a touristic visit to a trip that has a positive impact in the lives of the Cuban people.
Best time to travel to Cuba
Cuba has a tropical weather with two slightly different seasons. From November to April, it is dry season which is less humid and mildly cooler. The average high temperature this time of the year is from 69 to 82 degrees ºF and with an average low temperature between 64 to 75 degrees ºF. This is considered high season. In the summer months, the average high temperature is around 86 degrees ºF with a lot more humidity. Hurricane season can also be found during this time between June and November. However, most of the storms are mainly in the months of September and October. Cuba is very well prepared and organized in the prevention of climate related events.
If you need more information, do not hesitate to contact us. We will help you to choose the best plan for your next trip to Cuba.