Cuba, the largest island in the Carribean and only 90 miles south of Key West Florida, is known for the vibrancy of her people and the local culture, salsa dancing, unspoiled beaches, and a strong art and music scene.
Cuba is now experiencing a warming of relations with the United States, including the recently re-opened US Embassy in Havana, symbolizing the ever-closer return of normalized relations and trade between these once-friendly nations. Although it has been open to tourism from around the world for many years, such as the Canadians and Europeans who visit Cuba, the country is still underdeveloped by most standards. For many travelers, that is part of the appeal and Cuba remains a beautiful place in transition.
Arrive to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, where our guide will be waiting for you and transfer in a private taxi to our private home in Havana, where you will check in and relax a bit or explore briefly on your own. In the early afternoon the guide will be available for an informal walk around town to get orientated, help you change money, use internet to check in with work or family, get water/snacks/lunch, etc. Early evening there is a group dinner and a short briefing, then back to our home for the night.
After breakfast, we will take a local, privately owned 1950’s classic convertible automobile to pay a visit to a place completely off the tourist path, and into the ‘real’ Havana. After our classic convertible ride there, we’ll make a quick visit to a community center for elderly Cubans who would otherwise be home alone. These folks actually lived through the history we all hear so much about, and it’s a tremendous opportunity to hear their stories first hand, and ask them questions. Or play a game of classic Cuba dominoes. This visit has proven to be much more fun and rewarding than people have anticipated. Then, we will take bicycles on a one hour ride through the back streets of Havana to a local, privately-owned food market, to learn a little about how their food system works, and then bicycle another half hour back to the community center to drop off some fresh fruit, bread, and treats. That will conclude our visit, and then it will be time for our own lunch. After lunch, we will take a nice long (one to three hour) walk through historic old towne Havana to drop off some school supplies to a local school. Return to our casa, as always dinner out with the guide is optional but recommended, or you can strike out on your own, as long as you eat only at privately owned (paladares) restaurants. Ask your guide for details.
We will drive first to a local farm off the beaten path, for an hour hike around the jungle and a look at how the locals are now allowed to have their own private farm business. Then we will drive to the historic Bay of Pigs, bypassing the touristy part and to an isolated beach and a snorkeling excursion into the Carribean Sea with one of our new, local private entrepreneur partners. Small, sustainable snorkeling and diving with an emphasis on protecting the environment. Finally, after lunch we continue on to the bayside town of Cienfuegos and its classic French colonial architecture. After checking into our beautiful local home we’ll have time for a long walk around this fascinating city.