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Posted by Cayla Capri
Cuba Havana Be Loved By You
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Cuba’s photogenic beauty can be as conventional and pamphlet-perfect as coral reefs, knockout beaches and limestone cliffs, or as offbeat and gallery-permissible as verdant tobacco fields, retro Chevy’s, and gaudy, polychromatic murals. Dip your freckled toes in both worlds, indulging in the conveyor-belted cocktails of resort-life, and the fearless pretty of a country so well-endowed with radical culture.
the romance
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Most Cuban resorts offer packages that include a suite, unlimited meals, a never-ending supply of booze, and water sports like snorkeling or sailing. By day, you’ll be an all-inclusive babe, tan, languid and a bit tipsy, soaking up the sun seaside, and by night you’ll be a trendy, trollopy dancing-machine, taking over downtown Havana – like a lazy, life-loving superhero. Be sure to take a break from all the indulging in the good stuff and catch a seriously beautiful sunset as you sit by El Malecon, the city’s sea wall.
the scenery
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What’s cool about Cuba is that if you never left the resort, it wouldn’t really matter – the sandy beaches and turquoise waters are enough stimulation for any beauty-seeker. Toss in some vast green mountains, a handful of historical landmarks, and a paint-splattered colonial building here or there and you have the unparalleled Cuban experience.
For a honey of a natural landscape, head to Baracoa. This settlement is surrounded – and isolated – by the thick vegetation of a wide mountain range, overlooking 10 crystal-clear rivers and a gorgeous bay. Needless to say, this location calls to travelers and adventures who want to explore nature in a postcard-worthy setting.
the adventure
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If you’re going to be living it up at a resort for the duration of your stay, make sure to at least dig the other beaches and the requisite underwater exploits: scuba diving and snorkeling. Varadero is the most popular, but it tends to be pretty crowded and sweltry. Guardalavaca is a great, uncongested hot spot, despite its beautiful stretches of power and greenery. If seclusion is more your thing, head to Cayo Sabinal – its small beaches are picturesque and unspoiled. The hidden cays of Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo and Maria la Gorda are model spots for diving, which should not be missed.
the secrets
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Even though the World Heritage town of Trinidad is only a few square blocks in size, it’s jam packed with pastel-colored colonial houses and cobblestone streets. Take a tour on a horse-drawn carriage and revel in the beautiful architecture, particularly the 18th century mansion, Museo Romántico.
Wondering where you can score fat Cuban cigars and vintage costume jewelry? Street markets are everywhere in Cuba – Old Havana and Guardalavaca both have daily markets filled with souvenir stands that boho shopaholics should definitely check out.
If you fancy yourself a Latin American history buff, you’ll want to check out some of the famous historical sites – visit La Cueva de los Portales, which served as Che Guevara’s hideout.
the attractions
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Step back in time to the centuries-old historical city center of Old Havana (Habana Vieja). A week is barely enough time to explore all of the winding streets and alleys, chalk full of antiquated Buicks and wrought iron gates, massive fortresses and eye-catching cathedrals. Check out Castillo del Morro, the historic and striking fortress guarding the Havana Bay entrance, and Plaza de Armas, the main town square.
If you and your honeyscoop are heading to Cuba to party, make sure to catch Santiago de Cuba’s carnival, a yearly event smack dab in the heat of July. Don a costume, join a conga line and follow the floats down the street as you dance to the rumba. If you’re jetting from a winter wonderland wedding to thaw in the Caribbean, head to the small town of Remedios and take part in Las Parrandas, where the huge street carnival comes to a climactic close on Christmas Eve.
before you go
What to Expect
Summer: May – October is the rainy season. Temperatures are in the mid-20's
Winter: November – April is the peak season, with temperatures in the mid-20's
Light and casual, bathing suit essential!
Cuban peso (CUP)
The Lingo
A valid passport and a Tourist Card or a visa (available from travel agents or airlines)
Local Delicacies
Ajiaco: a stew made with meat and vegetables
Cucurucho: a mix of coconut, sugar and fruit wrapped in a cone-shaped shell