Synonymous with cigars and rum, the Caribbean island state of Cuba has been under sanctions from the United States for decades, but for travelers this has only added to the mystique of this tropical “forbidden fruit”, with its hot Latin flavour, fading Spanish colonial architecture, and palm-fringed shores. A holiday in Cuba is for thosemore
Varadero is awesome - Kaitlyn. Date of travel: Jan 2011
I was in Varadero cuba last week and it was great. beautiful white sand beaches and clear waters. I stayed at the Villa Tortuga and the staff was excellent.
Nick Strange. Date of travel: Jul 2005
This was our third visit to Cuba and it as as good as the first two. The flight is long between 9 to 10 hours so as other people say upgrade to Premium etc if you can. We stayed at the Playa Pesquero in Guadalavaca (Holguin). The hotel is 5* and the largest in Cuba (built 2003). Its huge but they do have electric golf carts to transport you around if you require. Rooms are spacious, clean and have en suite bathrooms. Cable tv and cd player are in the rooms. It has a huge freeform pool and plenty of sunbathing areas which are always immaculate. The beach is very nice white sand and mangrove trees - all the usual watersports are available - non motorised are free. Be warned you will share the beach with the locals but they never bother you. The sea life off the beach is limited to small tropical fish but interesting. The food front is fine - a buffet everyday plus seven ala carte restaurants to choose from with the usual usage restrictions. The buffet does get a bit repetitive but there are three other places to eat during the day offering steak, pizza etc etc. Day trips and tours I found expensive but I would recommend the Cataraman trip - great fun snorkelling and sailing well worth the money. Evening entertainment is boring although an improvement over our first visit,and there is only one airconditioned bar which also doubles as a Karaoke bar/disco and kids play area. All the other bars are just too hot to sit at!!!! All in all its a great family holiday destination - my kids loved it! Note: don't take USD, the commission they charge is extortionate and you cannot use foreign currency in Cuba - you have to change it to Convertable Cuban Pesos. Tour Operator: First Choice
Peter Carrigan. Date of travel: Jul 2005
Fidel Castro is 79 years old. Get to Cuba before he dies. If you don't, then this relaxed, idyllic, fun, cool, laid back and wild island will be given over to the Miami cowboys who are waiting to commercialise it to the max. Like tourist operators have done around the world, built white elephants for package tourists to gorge at the breakfast buffet. My lasting memory of Cuba will be seeing the odd farmer out walking the family pig. Possibly taking it down the road to a relative or a friend who has some garbage to be disposed of. Get out in Vinahles with a local guide and walk through the fields. Buy cigars from the farmer you meet and smoke 'em up big time. Great diving in Maria La Gourda, but generally if you want a beach holiday in the Caribbean head for Jamaica or Barbados. Cuba is for fun, night life and speaking Spanish fluently at 2.00am and not remembering a word by lunch time the next day. Learn to dance, kick up your heels and stay out of everywhere that mentions Ernest Hemingway. It is a rip off and the Cubans are not looking after his legacy. In fact one can not even buy a Hemingway novel...well I couldn't. But culture is alive, I was lucky enough to be part of Carnivalle in Santiago. Well run, great fun and just plain old funny. The Cubans live in another dimension. It is not the 1950s, it is something else. The country is regressing. It is not cheap, but I think your money goes to a good cause generally, especially if you stay with locals, in a casa, all very easy and very well run. Also the best places to eat. I did the 5 nights at a state run resort Island. All basically good, as I was on honeymoon, deserted beaches and skinny dipping was perfect. In fact I took 3 plastic baseball bats and traded them for favours on the islands. The Cubans love baseball, and if you visit take some caps, shirts, etc, you will strike bargains and big welcomes where ever you go. Overall I was in Cuba for 4 weeks. We had Hurricane Denise, a rental car for 4 days, used the bus service and local taxis for shorter trips. As for Havana very good museums and old Havana is just wonderful...I think in 5 years it will be perfect. Restoration complete. As long as a Florida McDonalds franchise doesn't blot the landscape with neon graffiti! Tour Operator: Independent
Kevin and Addy. Date of travel: Jun 2005
Our favourite place in Cuba was Sancti Spiritus - it certainly seems to be off the usual tourist track and the people there were the most genuinely friendly and welcoming. A really picturesque old city that was great to walk around - people greeted us everywhere. And they have the very best icecreams - creamy guava-flavoured ones!
Sue. Date of travel: May 2005
Trinidad is a great town to stay in, as well as a good base to explore the surrounds - the beaches are close by for a swim, the sugar cane plantations are full of history and very scenic (a great way to see them is to hire horses for a few hours), and there are also the mountains with waterfalls nearby. Trinidad itself is very laid-back and interesting. Every evening there is music and salsa dancing on the steps of the Casa Musica, which can be quite touristy, but worth it to have a drink and watch some fantastic salsa dancing.
Brett. Date of travel: May 2005
Don't go to the commercialised caves near town, but head a bit further out rather to the Santo Tomas cave system. This has no electric lighting and souvenir stands and has been kept in its natural state. Our guide, William, was English speaking and was excellent - and the caves were the best I have seen; some awesome limestone formations.
Bridget. Date of travel: May 2005
Definitely get yourself some Cuban pesos and try the local icecreams sold in every town - they are cheap, safe to eat and absolutely scrumptious! The delicious cheese pizzas also make a good lunchtime snack.
Audrey Jamieson. Date of travel: May 2005
If you want to experience the tobacco culture then Vinales is the best place to do it. It is in the tobacco farming area of Cuba and tours to see how tobacco is rolled etc are far more authentic (and cheaper) than the commercialised ones to the tobacco factories in Havana. We were taken by our homestay 'dad' to an old tobacco farmer who explained the whole process to us in Spanish - he translated for us into English - what an awesome experience!
Justine Berry. Date of travel: May 2005
Definitely make an effort to learn some Spanish if you are going to travel around a bit - the people have the most amazing stories to tell and its amazing what doors will open if you can communicate. And don't bother staying in expensive hotels - one of the very best Cuban experiences you can get is to stay in people's homes and eat the meals they offer. We have travelled fairly extensively and nowhere else have we encountered such charming hospitality - every 'casa particulaire' (homestay) welcomed us to their house where every effort had been put into the rooms to make them comfortable - they were always thoroughly clean, with towels and linen, had aircon or fans (or both), private bathrooms etc. The people were always exceptionally friendly and the meals they cooked for us were absolutely delicious - definitely better than eating in government run restaurants!
Cuba - Stacey Loynes. Date of travel: Dec 2004
This was my first time to Cuba and I had a really lovely time . I stayed 6 nights in Brisas Guardalavaca and 1 night at the Marina Hemingway in Havana. Guardalavaca had a lovely white sandy beaches it was a quiet resort but the hotel had enough going on there was lots of watersports and 2 swimming pools and there were 6 bars and various evening entertainment to chose from. There was a snack bar that was open 24 hours that served food like pizza, burger,chips there was 2 ala carte resturants and a buffet resturant that was all very nice and a lot to choose from . I didnt think much of Havana it was quite intimidating as there was only the 2 of us if you go to Havana I would reccomend a tour.
Joe. Date of travel: Nov 2004
You all should be a little more optimistic about traveling to Cuba. It is not against US law to travel to Cuba, only to spend US money.
Tina Goddard. Date of travel: Oct 2004
Just returned from Melia Cayo Coco in Cuba, the hotel is a 4 start rating, rooms are set in blocks of 4 apartments lots to do snorkelling, scuba diving, microlight flights, paragliding, horseriding, full games activities. Plus daily beach activities banana boats/deep sea fishing/kayaks/pedalo's etc International/Barbecue/Italian/Buffet restaurants great choice of food and drink piano bar open 24hrs serving drinks champagne and snacks, a few shops on site lots of day trip and activities trips to Havana/speedboating throught the mangroves on your personal speedboat/catamaran tours etc etc We were able to use the facilities at 3 other hotels in the group as well, the shopping is not too good (nothing apart from arts and crafts and cigars to buy) The staff are very friendly and helpful they gratefully receive tips of a dollar there is a small pool the resort is for adults only, the weather was fantastic every day was in the 80-90's it didnt rain whilst we were there. I took lots of things to give away to the staff pens and pencils/colouring books/toys/clothing/sunglasses/these things just can not be bought Take lots of insect repellant as the hotel is next to a lagoon and gets lots of mosquito's early moring and evenings althought the hotel is sprayed twice a day Car hire is very expensive but you can get cheap taxis and there is a shuttle service which is very reliable $5 per person return this drops you at any of the hotels in the region If you get a chance visit the Crocodile Farm and the Cave of the Wild Pigs (this is an underground disco for the local at night) We had a great time and would go back again the water is clear and warm you can snorkle on the reef (daily trips available) beware of the fish they are ravenous and swarm you if you feed them A great hotel for couples (offers wedding packages) if you have children then I would recommed the Cayo Guillermo Hotel its beautiful with a fantastic pool area and very hot hot tubs plus childrens clubs take lots of high factor sun cream (at least 60 for kids) Cuban cigars are cheap and are available at the hotels, dont buy from street vendors these are fakes, cigar prices are governed so they are the same price whereever you go, dont get fooled I took a day trip into Havana to see if I could get them cheaper the trip cost $300 for 2 and I could have bought them at the hotel! Try the ice cream the produce its delicious lots of different flavours papaya/guava/peach etc, beware of the drinks the cubans pour treble measures where we'd pour a short! In all the holiday cost £1978 for 2 fully inclusive with Thompsons, the only downside it is a long flight so if you can afford it upgrade. On your return book the VIP departure lounge its $20 per person you get hot and cold snacks all your drinks TV and an air conditioned lounge (well worth it the main lounge is overcrowded and not air conditioned) If you want to buy duty frees get them on the way out the duty free lounge was more like a 'poundland' shop it had nothing other than cheap goods to buy and is poorly stocked. Tour Operator: Thompsons
Jemma P. Date of travel: Jul 2004
Soni'a Place is a beautiful casa particulair (homestay)on the beachfront of La Boca. Set in a small fishing village, just outside of Trinidad, it is the perfect place to go to unwind from the hectic lifestyle of Havana. Sonia's Place is surrounded by luscious greenery and looks out on to the sea, whilst the mountains stare out at you from across the water. The hospitality that I received here was second to none; exquisite food, conversation and service. Perhaps the most wonderful aspect of visiting this tiny village is the oppurtunity to escape the tourists and mingle with the holidaying Cubans. All they want to do is chat, drink and dance until the sun comes up. The perfect Cuban experience.
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