Reasons to Visit
It’s surprisingly easy to forget Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and has by far the most beaches. The powder white sand and blue waters of a Cuban beach on a sunny day feels like walking through a postcard.
The Cuban cigar is one of the countries most famous exports. They are renowned for their flavour and quality as well as the precision and skill which goes into rolling that perfect Cohiba. Visiting a cigar factory is a classic Cuban experience and taking in the plantations in the beautiful countryside around Vinales is a real highlight.
If you want to see the real Cuba, head out of the bustling towns and into the surrounding countryside. There are huge sugar cane plantations and cattle ranches, towering royal palms, impressive mountain ranges covered in thick tropical vegetation and rich, fertile fields still ploughed by oxen. You'll also see local Cubans selling their produce or going about the serious business of playing dominoes with the ever-present bottle of rum!
Cuba has a truly fascinating past. Reading about Spanish colonialism, revolution, dictatorships and more revolution unveils the country’s story and how it fits into the modern world today in its own unique way. Taking the time to learn about its past and then talking about it with the locals when you arrive is an extremely rewarding experience.
The soul of Cuba is in its music and dance. Any visitor will find the vibrant rhythms of Cuban music providing a permanent background beat to their travels. ‘Son’ is perhaps the country’s most well known music and is a passionate and sultry mix of Spanish guitar and African drum, made famous by Ry Cooder and the Buena Vista Social Club.
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Our Cuba specialists are experienced and passionate about the country - between them they have spent many weeks a year researching new experiences and ensuring everything is of the highest standard. They know Cuba inside out.
ClaireCuba Specialist01993 838 602
Rebecca ACuba Specialist01993 838 621
DrewCuba Specialist01993 838 667
SimonCuba Specialist01993 838 622
HarryCuba Specialist01993 838 646
Anna SCuba Specialist01993 838 617
There is no doubt Cuba is a stunning destination and visitors flock to its sun-drenched shores mostly on all-inclusive package holidays because, compared to other Caribbean islands, it’s inexpensive: often they never leave their holiday complex. We do not deal with the all-inclusive package side of the market but instead concentrate on designing tailor-made journeys throughout Cuba to discover the country’s fascinating history, passionate people and beautiful landscapes.
We use knowledgeable local guides to help you make the most of your time and experienced drivers to navigate surprisingly long distances. At the time of writing the Foreign Office advice is to avoid internal air travel within Cuba, hence we do not recommend flying as a means of transport around the country. Although Cuba’s focus is now on tourism to ensure its future prosperity, the country is a law unto itself when it comes to service levels and quality of food. Our trips are designed to discover the less-visited places, avoiding high-rise hotels and though they may not be luxurious, are in unique locations that incorporate the essence of the country.
UK passport holders require a Cuban Tourist card to visit Cuba: we can arrange this on your behalf. As well as being a fantastic country to visit in its own right Cuba can very easily be combined with Costa Rica or Mexico.
Cuba's official language is Spanish. English is only widely spoken within the tourist industry so having a few choice phrases of Spanish is always useful, especially in more rural areas.
Dining in Cuba is an experience that is enjoyed for the atmosphere and ambience, not for the quality of the food. This is due to food shortages and the restrictions on private enterprise. Most of the restaurants in the country are state owned and offer wholesome but not gastronomic cuisine. Dining in a 'Paladar' is a much more entertaining experience. Paladares are small, private, family run restaurants often found in a family home, giving them a unique atmosphere. The cooks at Paladares are usually more imaginative with the food available and the best meal you have in Cuba will often be in a Paladar. Vegetarians are not well catered for in Cuba as vegetables are often cooked in fat.
Cuba has a dual currency, the Cuban Peso (CUP) and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) which was introduced to offer an alternative to the US dollar. Some places only accept Cuban pesos and others only Convertible Pesos (usually tourist related establishments). Since 2004 US Dollars are no longer accepted, and an 18% commission is charged to exchange them, so you are better off taking Euros and Sterling to exchange for Cuban Convertibles. You can find ATMS in the main cities such as Trinidad and Havana but outside of these it can be difficult and even here they often do not function.
Tipping customs have recently changed and now it is recommended that tourists tip a small amount, not necessarily a percentage. At times taxi drivers, hotel porters, waiters and ubiquitous musicians will expect (or even demand) a tip. Most Cubans earn an average of £13 to £15 a month so it is no surprise that many Cubans have turned to tourism as a good tip can easily triple their salaries. However many Cuban's, especially in more rural areas, are proud people and offering a tip to someone giving you directions or inviting you into their homes for a coffee can be an insult.
Please ask permission before taking photographs.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
'The Old Man and the Sea' by Ernest Hemingway. The tale of an aged and frail Cuban fisherman fighting a magnificent Marlin.
'Ry Cooders Buena Vista Social Club'. Old veteran Cuban musicians such as Ibrahim Ferrer and Compay Segundo have formed the foundation of modern Cuban music. They play traditional 'Son' or 'Trova', a beautiful fusion of Spanish guitar and African drum reflecting the countries roots and its people.
'Fresa y Chocolate' is probably the most famous film to come out of Cuba. Oscar nominated in 1994, it is perhaps not surprising to learn that politics are the underlying theme of this work but above all it's a joyous celebration of life and non-conformity.
Cuba is not known for its good food, in fact many tourists think it difficult to find good restaurants. Since the privitisation of 'paladares', the old state-run family restaurants that were limited to 12 seats and obliged to cook purely Cuban cuisine, things have improved dramatically though.
Mojito is the Cuban cocktail and it's found all over the world. It's a tasty combination of mint, sugar, lime juice, white rum and soda water.
La Musica. It's all about the music in Cuba.
Music, colonial, beach.
Coffee, honey, rum.
Start planning your tailor-made holiday to Cuba by contacting one of our specialists...
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Further reading:Tours in CubaWhen to GoHighlightsItinerary IdeasPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationCountry Guides
Other countries in Central America, Mexico & Cuba:BelizeCosta RicaGuatemalaHondurasMexicoNicaraguaPanama
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