25 Adventures to have in Cuba

Posted: 04-Sep-17 09:43

Wanderlust magazine recently listed 25 must-have adventures in Cuba. With abundant, and largely unspoiled, coastlines, Cuba is definitely a destination for those drawn to the sea. But history and culture abound on the island, which is home to a number of UNESCO-listed sites as well as lush biospheres and national parks.

25 Adventures to have in Cuba

While the future of travel to Cuba for Americans may be up in the air, the island remains a popular destination with tourists from other parts of the world. With abundant natural beauty, culture, and history, Cuba offers something for everyone, but for travellers who may be overwhelmed by Cuba’s options, Wanderlust magazine has compiled the:

25 best adventures to have on the island

Diving among shipwrecks in Santiago de Cuba

An entire Spanish fleet sank here during the Spanish-American War, and now, after learning the basics at Scuba en Cuba, divers can swim among those nineteenth century relics.

Spend Christmas at Las Parrandas, Remedios

Each year at Christmas, the small town of Remedios becomes the site of the biggest one-night fiesta in Cuba. The holiday party traces its origins back to 1820, when a priest began the celebration as a way to bring more people to mass.

Coastal life in Gibara

Gibara is a small fishing village that was largely forgotten for many years, but is now experiencing a renaissance, including street parties and film festivals. The town is famous for its caves, and one—the Panderos cave—is now the site of film screenings.

Paddling along the Bay of Cienfuegos

Cuba is full of stunningly beautiful places to swim, dive, and kayak, but one of the best is undoubtedly the Bay of Cienfuegos. With easy-going conditions and beautiful scenery along Cuba’s southern coast, this has to be one of the best kayaking spots on the island.

Take a wildlife cruise in the Bay of Pigs

The Bay of Pigs may be famous for the failed US invasion in 1961, but today the area is equally well-known as a birding and snorkelling paradise. The area is home to numerous species of animals, including manatee and the bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world.

Take the chocolate train from Havana to Matanzas

Chocolate tycoon Milton Hershey built a sugar mill in Cuba, then built an electric train to transport workers and materials. The town is a shadow of its former self, but the train still operates, and provides a cheap and scenic way to get from Havana to Matanzas.

Explore Cuban cuisine

Because of the embargo and government control of businesses, Cuban restaurants are sometimes limited in their offerings. The best bet for a great meal in Cuba is at one of the many "paladares", or privately-owned restaurants. Another option is to take a food tour with a knowledgeable guide.

Explore central Cuba like a cowboy

There’s plenty of horseback riding to be found in Cuba, but the plantation country of central Cuba offers a unique experience. Situated on high ground with scenic views and a stay on a private farm, playing cowboy in Ciego de Avila Province is a memorable experience for anyone with a love of the outdoors.

Swim with sharks, Jardines de la Reina

The archipelago off the southern coast of central Cuba is the country’s top site for shark diving in some of the most pristine waters of the Caribbean.

Practice your photography in Trinidad

Cuba is a colourful, photogenic destination, and the old colonial city of Trinidad is arguably one of most picturesque cities. Julio Munoz offers photography classes and tours of the city that take you away from the crowds and to the spots that make the best photos.

Ride the rails

Cuba became the first country in Latin America to open a railway line in 1837, and it’s still a great (and affordable) way to see the country. The primary artery, from Havana to Santiago, will provide scenic views the length of the country.

Explore the eastern coast in Baracoa

Located in the eastern part of the island, Baracoa is known for its natural beauty, especially the Alejandro de Humboldt Park.

See the countryside in Arcos de Canasi

For those staying in Havana but who may need a break from the hustle of the city, the countryside bungalow of MontECOrales is ideal. It’s a short walk from the coastal fishing village of Arcos de Canasi and offers serene natural beauty and excellent snorkelling.

Stay with an eco-community at Las Terrazas

To really experience Cuba’s incredible natural beauty, a stay at the Hotel Moka in Las Terrazas is the perfect choice. The hotel sits amid a UNESCO-listed biosphere and is one of the most pristine parts of the island.

Explore the Wild West in Vinales

Vinales is a vast green valley to the west of Havana. Dotted with rocky pinnacles and tobacco fields, the area appears almost primordial. It’s also the heart of the country’s tobacco cultivation.

Try a Cuban cigar

Tobacco is central to Cuba’s economy and culture, and visitors to the island have a range of opportunities to explore the industry. Guided tours, like those offered by Matteo Speranza, get visitors up close and personal with Cuba’s cigar-making industry.

Explore the untouched western coast

Cuba is dotted with largely untouched and undeveloped beaches. The western part of the island, in particular, is lined with tiny, unspoiled beach communities like Playa La Mulata and Playa La Altura.

Go island hopping at Canarreos archipelago

The scattered islands of the Canarreos archipelago are postcard-perfect with white sand and turquoise water. Guests can snorkel, swim, and observe the area’s wildlife, including loggerhead turtles.

Live the life of a Campesino

For those who want an authentic taste of rural life in Cuba, consider volunteering at organic farm Finca Tungasuk. At Mayajigua’s La Picadora, visitors can book agrotourism stays.

Be a castaway on Isla de la Juventud

This undeveloped, beautiful island once housed both Fidel and Raul Castro when it was little more than a prison, but today it’s a little piece of paradise. Visitors to the island can observe pre-Columbian rock art and any number of wildlife species.

Wake the dead, Santiago de Las Vegas

Have you ever partied at a fake funeral? You can at Santiago de Las Vegas, where every February 5, “Pachencho’s Wake” is celebrated with copious amounts of rum and fake mourning.

Hide out like a guerrilla in Pico Turquino National Park

Located in the Sierra Maestra Mountains in southeast Cuba, this is Fidel Castro’s rebel hideout. Here, visitors can tour Castro’s many escape tunnels and Castro’s hut, giving a wonderful glimpse into the Revolution.

Bike along the isolated southern coast

There are few landscapes in Cuba as dramatic as its southern coast, where the Sierra Maestra Mountains meet the Caribbean Sea. A bike ride here, between Marea del Portillo and Chivirico, offers fantastic views of the sea.

Stay overnight in Guantanamo Bay

For those who want a peek at the contested US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, the closest you can get is the remote fishing community of Caimanera. Located on the western shore of the bay, the village gives a front-row seat to a site that many never see.

Tour the Valley of Sugar, Trinidad

Once the heart of Cuba’s sugar economy, the Valley of the Sugar Mills is now a UNESCO-protected area. Horseback tours give visitors the chance to explore abandoned and crumbling mills as well as the area’s incredible landscape.  

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