There are very few countries in the world as richly and immediately evocative as Cuba. Just the mention of its name seems to conjure images of faded Spanish-Colonial buildings, 1950s-era American cars parked on sun-soaked street corners, and salsa dancing to the libidinous beat of Afro-Cuban rhythms.
Broadly speaking, Cuba attracts two kinds of tourists. First are those attracted by the fascinating recent history of the country, which despite having withstood over 60 years of communist rule, US embargoes, and the sudden withdrawal of Soviet Union-sponsored subsidies in 1991, has not lost any of its national character. Others choose to holiday in Cuba for its magnificent white-sand beaches, staked with lush palm trees and framed by some of the best diving and snorkelling sites in the world.
There is much to see and do in Cuba, encompassing historical attractions (such as the Museum of the Revolution and the Bay of Pigs Museum), wonderfully charming small towns, beautiful natural surrounds (the Vinales Valley), world-class beaches (the Playas del Este), and – of course – more hedonistic pursuits, such as cigar factory tours, salsa dancing, and more bars and nightclubs than even Hemingway could’ve been thrown out of at closing time.
While it must be mentioned that Cuba suffers from a lack of infrastructure – and might not provide the most ‘comfortable’ travel experience – those willing to just ‘go with the flow’ will be richly rewarded.
Cuba is a country like no other: visitors here experience the thrill of the new; of being in unfamiliar territory. There is much to see and do, particularly if you enjoy Havana’s majestically decaying colonial architecture and revolutionary artefacts infused with communist iconography. Cuba is a vibrant, fun and unique holiday destination and just wandering around the streets or along the pristine beaches is entertainment enough for most visitors. There are, however, plenty of cultural and historical attractions for those who enjoy sightseeing, including the Museo de la Revolucion, the Capitolio Nacional, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Then there are the fabulous beaches, mercifully free of the rampant resort development you’ll find elsewhere in the Caribbean. And the beaches are not the only natural wonders. It is a pity that many visitors never get out of the capital because the countryside holds a wealth of natural splendour and interesting attractions, such as the sugarcane palaces of Trinidad and the colonial city of Sancti Spiritus. Cuba is also developing its potential for eco-tourism with environmentally stunning areas like the Montemar Natural Park which includes forests, marshes and beautiful clear lagoons. The cave systems of Gran Caverna de Santo Tomas are also pleasantly unspoiled, allowing for a more authentic caving experience than many of the glitzy tourist-orientated caves found on the international circuit.
Cuba is a year-round destination, although it is busiest over the cooler winter months between December and March.