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What To Do And See On Your Cuba Holidays?

Nov 28, 2007
Something I often find myself getting asked from friends and relatives who know my expertise in the island is what the average Cuban holiday actually involves. This is a question I simultaneously love and hate answering - I love it because it gives me an opportunity to chat at length about a topic I love, but I hate it because if they've asked that question it means I'm going to be there for a while. You see, simply put, there is no 'average' Cuban holiday, and everyone goes to the island for different reasons and receives a unique experience in return. The experience holiday makers get on their Cuba holidays can be relaxed, cultural, exhausting or breathtaking - but never forgettable.

For a start there's the accommodation - your 'average' Cuba holiday maker will first have to decide whether they want to stay in the lap of luxury in a five star resort, or to opt for the basic but more authentic experience of staying in a private house with a local. Whichever style accommodation you opt for, what you choose to with your days is the next point at which the idea of a stereotypical Cuba holiday shatters: You could choose to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes and charming caves at the stunning Vinales Valley, enjoy the open roads and unexplored areas of the island with a hire car (the roads are virtually deserted, as evidenced by the dozens of hitch-hikers) or be that little more active with some horse-riding or diving to discover the wreckages of sunken ships!

Havana is an area I have already written articles about (and no doubt bored those who have asked me to death with my desire to share my enthusiasm) but it really does deserve a mention here for the ample and varied opportunities it provides Cuba holiday makers. Culture vultures will delight in the museums, while music aficionados will be truly taken with the salsa clubs and live jazz that is hard to miss in the city. The big city life gives the capital a real energy, and with a population of around 2,000,000 it's hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the place, which at times feels an uneasy mix between modern metropolis and 1950s throwback - part of the charm of the place is its seeming fixation of classic cars that you just don't find (still working) anywhere else in the world! And escaping the big city life is easy - the beautiful white sands of Havana's beach is just a 30 minute trip away from the town centre.

But a Cuba holiday isn't just about Havana, and while it would be very easy to spend your whole holiday there and feel you'd taken in so much that you must have seen everything, the truth is that you'd be majorly missing out.

Take Varadero for example - as Cuba's biggest beach resort with an impressive 12 mile long peninsula, this is the ideal spot for those looking to experiment with water sports or diving on their Cuba holidays. Then there's Trinidad, which history buffs will delight in: the quant village feels virtually unchanged in 300 years and as a result is positively steeped in history. Or for more recent highlights in the island's history, who could resist a trip to Santiago de Cuba - cradle of the Cuban revolution and nowadays a luxury spot for foreign visitors to the island?

There are hundreds of ways you could spend your Cuban holidays and I'm really only scratching the surface. Spend your whole time on one activity, or mix and match your hobbies to create a unique Cuban adventure, one thing's for sure: There's no such thing as a typical Cuban holiday.
About the Author
Emma Lelliott is the general manager of Captivating Cuba, an independent Cuba holiday specialist. With offices in Havana and the UK, Captivating Cuba can offer expert advice on where you should visit on your Cuban holidays.
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