You Will Want To Visit Cuba
Has Cuba always been on your travel wish list? As Canadians, we are able to visit Cuba when we want with little restriction. It is a great packaged beach vacation destination for many. But there are also many interesting cities and towns that show off the art and culture of Cuba. A wide variety of companies now provide options to take a cruise to Cuba. Let me show you 6 great reasons to visit Cuba! And a few tips for your planning!
1) Beaches And Water Sports
Our early visits to Cuba were as beach vacations. All-inclusive packages were easy and relatively cheap to get from Canada. We found some of the most beautiful beaches. Great beaches on the resort. And long stretches of pristine white sand a cheap cab ride away. Some of the best days ended watching the sun set over the water as it calmed for the night.
We tried all the water sports on our visits to Cuba. We snorkelled and scuba dived from the resorts on the north end of Cuba. The water was ok. But we still have Jardines de la Reina and Isla de la Juventud on our scuba diving wish list. We have heard that the best diving can be found in those areas.
Beaches and water sports are definitely a great reason to visit Cuba.
There is so much history to see when you visit Cuba. We toured around Havana and saw the Revolution Square and heard about the changes that most Cubans still remember. The old wall that once circled Havana was visible in spots. Forts stood in several places. Some are tourist sites. But most have been turned into museums or other public buildings.
When we cruised into both Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos, we saw forts standing on the banks. These forts guarded the entrances to secure harbours. All around the island, large forts once protected Cuba from smugglers and invaders.
One of the reasons to visit Cuba is for the history.
In many places in Cuba, we saw remnants of the vibrant cities that existed before the revolution in xxx. Buildings showed grand architectural detail both inside and outside.
In some places we saw buildings that showed the vast range of societies that influenced Havana at one point.
And the old cars rolled everywhere through the streets of Cuba. This has become such an iconic image of Cuba. People want to tour the cities in old cars.
A chance to see amazing architecture will be one of the reasons to visit Cuba.
4) Colour, Art and Music
We were continually amazed as we walked through the streets of Cuba to find art everywhere. Interesting statues drew people in to pose. Many statues were historic figures and others were just fun art.
There was such a variety in the street art we found. At times colourful and bold. Or designed to tell a story.
The Fusterlandia neighbourhood in Havana took art to the whole community. What started as one man’s tile art dream spread from house to house. Everywhere we looked there was art and colour.
The music scene is alive and well in Cuba. Bars often had singers or bands. While we did not get to experience it, the night life was lively. And when we visited the country in Cuba, the locals loved to share their local customs and dance.
If you are looking for reasons to visit Cuba, you will find them in the colour, art and music.
5) See Life In The Country
We have visited the large city of Havana. And got another view of city life in smaller coastal cities like Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. But we have also had the chance to go out into the country and see life at a different pace.
We drove though small towns. And stopped in for coffee or a drink. One day we visited a sugar plantation. A walk through showed us life that has not changed much through the years. One day we got to enjoy a local festival. It came complete with a roasted pig!
One of our favourite memories was when a local man convinced us to go for a horseback ride on the beach. I rode horses before. But this was new for David. But the gentle horses took us for a romantic walk down the beach. With our smiling friend not far behind.
As we cruised along the shores of Cuba, we saw the smaller towns that people lived and worked in.
A chance to see life in the country might be one of the reasons to visit Cuba.
6) Picking Up Some Local Products
When we cruised to Cuba, many of the people on the ship picked up local Cuban art. There was much to choose from for souvenirs.
Still others went in search of cigars. You can buy them at many places in Cuba. We had the opportunity on one visit to see a cigar factory. The people welcomed us and showed us the process used to make cigars. And what distinguished various quality levels. We did not take home cigars, but many did.
The other favourite product to pick up in Cuba is rum. Cuba is still one of the few countries left that make rum from sugar cane. I am not a rum drinker. But David knows his rum and says it does make a difference.
The chance to pick up local Cuban products is definitely one of the reasons to visit Cuba.
A Few Tips For Visiting Cuba
If I have convinced you to visit Cuba, there are a few things to think about for your planning.
1) Restrictions To Visiting
I know that as Canadians, it is pretty easy for us to visit Cuba. There is a fee to be paid. But that is normally added to vacation packages or airfare costs.
Visitors from the U.S. have much more restrictions on travel to Cuba. And the rules change regularly. I am not sure how hard it is for people from other places. Make sure you know what the current rules are for you. There are restrictions on who you can tour with and where you can spend your money. And some reporting rules too. Make sure you check before you plan your detailed itinerary for your visit.
2) How To Travel
The first few times we visited Cuba we booked all-inclusive trips. These are typically beach resorts. There may some excursions from the resort. But this is really a good option if relaxation is a big one of your reasons to visit Cuba.
On our recent trip, we cruised to Cuba with Oceania Cruises for the holidays. The cruise ship went out of Miami and cruised around Cuba with a day stop in Havana and two overnight stops in both Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. This was a great way for us to taste test some new destinations that we might want to return to. Most of the people on the cruise ship were Americans. If they booked excursions with the cruise ship, there were sure to stay within the current rules for Americans. Many people did more than one excursion a day to get the most of what might be their only visit to Cuba.
If you don’t want a resort or cruise vacation, then it may be a bit harder to plan your Cuba trip. If will depend on the restrictions you have for visiting. But within the restrictions, it is still possible to plan a visit to Cuba that lets you see all the island has to offer.
3) Money Matters
There are two currencies in Cuba. The locals use Cuban Pesos (CUP) and tourists must use Convertible Cuban Pesos (CUC). The CUC is pegged to the U.S. dollar. But there may also be processing fees that mean it is not 1:1.
When we visited, we had no trouble using our Canadian credit cards. At this time, I am not sure how easy it is to use American credit cards. Or whether it is ok if you stay away from the restricted places.
Cash is easiest. And using U.S. dollars may be easier than some other currencies.
Internet is not generally widely available in Cuba. Although on our recent trip, we did see a lot of people with cell phones.
The first few times we visited Cuba, we stayed at resorts. They typically provided a dedicated computer to log onto the internet. And it was so slow. I am not sure if this has gotten better.
There Are Many Reasons To Visit Cuba
If you visit, you will enjoy at least one of reasons to visit Cuba. Beaches, history, architecture, art or music will keep you entranced as you visit the many spots around Cuba. And you can take home a memory of Cuba in art, cigars or rum. And after you have visited once, you will be drawn to return to enjoy another aspect of this emerging country.
We have provided just a few planning tips for when you start to think about a trip to Cuba. Rules and restrictions change regularly so make sure you do your research. There are so many reasons to visit Cuba, that you may need to plan more than one trip.
What was your favourite of the reasons to visit Cuba? Do you have another one to add to our list?
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