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Painting, Marriage And Bird Watching: Niche Aspects Of Cuba's Tourism

Jan 26, 2008
There's no doubt that Cuba is an amazing holiday destination. Sure, I would say this given my job, but I like to think I would be just as enthusiastic about the island, even if my career didn't make it convenient to want to sell Cuba as a holiday destination! If I were asked to name the main selling point of a holiday to Cuba rather than anywhere else in the world, it wouldn't be because of the weather, the history or even the fine cigars (although all these points are tempting in their own right), it would be for the huge variety of niche activities encouraging travel to Cuba - an amazing feat for a comparatively small country. It's a horrible cliché of the travel industry, but Cuba is an island where there really is something for everyone.

Here's a low-down on some of the niche activities you can get up to while exploring the niche aspects of Cuba's tourism:

Salsa Dancing

Cuba is of course, very much the world's centre of salsa and there are plenty of options to strut your stuff once the sun has set. The bigger cities - particularly Havana and Santiago de Cuba - where there are plenty of larger venues for Cuban holiday makers to dance the night away. If you worry your two left feet are going to show you up against the naturals, getting lessons in the bigger cities is also remarkably easy, and you'll be dancing like a pro in no time!

Horse Riding

Sure, this isn't everyone's idea of a dream Cuba holiday, but there are definitely a few going to be enamoured by the idea of riding across the picturesque valleys of Trinidad, where the ruins of old sugar mills are dotted across the hills. The Vinales Valley is the other breathtaking area in which horse riding is a must, and while beginners may feel a bit nervous, you can't beat the feeling of freedom and the majestic views that horse riding in Cuba provides.

Deep Sea Fishing

As celebrity endorsements go, you can't really beat a classic figure of literature as a spokesman for your island. Ernest Hemmingway's extended 'holiday' in Cuba is well documented, as is his love of fishing on the North West coast of Cayo Guillermo. Fishing is legal throughout the island, so there are many unexplored hotspots in which to kick back, enjoy the weather and relax on your boat, letting your fishing rod do the work.


There's places to dive all over the world, but travel in Cuba offers a unique experience for those looking to see the ocean surrounding it. For starters, the tropical fish are fascinating, colourful and varied, and the visibility of the clear ocean is incredible meaning you won't miss a sight. The waters are also warm - over 24 degrees centigrade all year round - meaning you won't want to leave! Beginners will find the facilities to learn to dive before they head out, meaning nobody has an excuse to ignore this amazing part of the Cuban experience.

Swimming with Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins is a Cuba holiday experience like no other, and something which will stay with you forever. Various resorts including Varadero and Holguin offer the activity, while those interested in the mammals, but a little wary of getting too close can enjoy a dolphin show.

Bird Watching

Cuba's vast and varied set of endemic bird life means that the island is a wonderful holiday destination for budding bird watchers. Endemic species include the Cuban Green Woodpecker, the Cuban Trogan, the Cuban Tody and Cuban Blackbird. If you're lucky, you may even see the Bee Hummingbird - though as it's the smallest bird in the world, the chances are that you might miss it!


A less well tapped area of Cuba's tourism industry, but what better way of enjoying the Caribbean sunshine then with a round of golf? Cuba's golf courses are on level ground, covered with well maintained grass and lakes against a backdrop of breathtaking hills. Keen golfers will appreciate the spaciousness of the courses, while beginners will be pleased to seek out the advice of local trainers to improve their game before getting serious!


It may be unconventional a holiday focus as you can find, but both budding artists and appreciators of the art world will find Cuba a thought provoking backdrop with a thriving art scene. The old style Colonial buildings of Havana make ideal subjects to sketch, and if you travel to Cuba's Vinales Valley, you'll find an inspiring scene sure to inspire anyone with artist's block. For those who prefer to enjoy rather than create, the Havana National Museum of Fine Arts is a must, with various collections of Cuba art from colonial times to the latest hot contemporary works.


You may need to learn to horse ride, dive or play golf in Cuba, but there's only one scenario when a Cuban wedding would be appropriate (well, two - but your partner may not appreciate the second! Planning a Cuban wedding can lead off in many different avenues from an unforgettable tying of nuptials on the golden sands of the island's many beaches, to an idyllic church service followed by a night of boozy salsa dancing - a Cuban wedding has enough variety to keep both families (and all the guests) happy at the once in a lifetime celebration!

This is only really scratching the surface - the truth is that an island as versatile as Cuba is overflowing with potential. The weather is almost always perfect, the beaches and towns are romantic enough for couples, while there is enough entertainment for families and singles. A holiday in Cuba has far more variety than such a comparatively small country should be able to offer!
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 advice on every aspect of Cuba travel from Weddings to the best diving sites.
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