Cuba, the revolutionary country that given its historical past and current political situation still remains to be one of the most inspiring and breath taking countries in the Caribbean, let alone the rest of world. We recently had the chance to visit this island that we can only describe as astonishing, we talked to the natives who are of all races, danced the salsa and indulged in nothing but the best. We’ve gathered the only ten reasons you’ll need to convince you to book those flights and see it all for yourself.
Genuine smiles and good conversation, the people.
Probably the most important reason to visit Cuba are the people. The natives may live a very very poor life and only make around the equivalent to 20 € a month however that will never be a reason to stop smiling. They’ve learnt to live happily with what they have, knowing that they will probably never see anything else besides the island of Cuba, as passports and flights are out of budget and traveling will only be seen on television. It’s a very sad thought that in comparison to us these people who have so little can manage to stay so proud and so happy with what they have in front of them.
Don’t be surprised when the citizens approach you on the street, it’s not a hassle it’s them simply showing and interest and wanting to know more about your culture, while they share theirs. When in Havana, we were lucky to meet natives at Havanas famous Malecón, they showed us the real Havana, took us to their homes and shared how they live which many tourists will never see. It was rough, beautiful and eye opening, we suggest to always stay friendly and let them tell you how it really is.
Green in the distance…
This country holds a lush and captivating natural environment, it’s terrestrial and underwater landscapes make the ideal combinations of beauty, variation and quality. Making eco-tourism and diving ever so popular. Be prepared to be astounded as you drive through the lush countryside.
Being the largest island in the Caribbean, it’s destined you’ll see those turquoise beaches you’ve seen on desktops, the only hard part is finding which one. The country has an array of over 300 meters of destinations to fulfill your salty sea water needs. Varadero, is a popular choice located only 2.5 hours east of Havana, best known for it’s white sand and active sea life. For those of you looking to avoid many tourists other destinations include Cayos Cocos, Santiago de Cuba, Pinar del Rio and La Boca to name a few…
Take a travel through time
Upon arrival in Havana we were picked up in a baby blue and yellow 1950’s Chevrolee, everything still intact resembling something out of an old film. Cubans held on to those American cars in the pre-revolution era, many are used for city tours, show cars and just good ol’ taxis. It’s not only a thing of Havana though, you will see the beautiful cars all throughout the country.
South- East of Havana is the colonial city of Trinidad in the province of Sancti Spiritus, a colorful small old town where cowboys still exist, you’re bound to see more horses than cars trekking through the cobblestone village like city.
If there is one positive thing that communism brought Cuba it is the lack of the concept of crime. Even in the major cities, the thoughts of pick pocketing is very unheard of. People live a very careful life and tend to be honest, you can go swimming in the water and fall asleep in the park without having to constantly hold onto your belongings. Dreamy.
There is one guarantee and that is you won’t break your bank when visiting this island, you’ll find that there are two currencies, one for mainly tourists and one for the cubans themselves CUP, and CUC. The exchange rate is fare and if you’re smart about not falling into tourist traps you’re bound to do just fine.
The cultural heritage of Cuba is enormous and varied, and perhaps one could say that the country was born to the sound of music and the rhythm of dance. Music in all its forms, from chamber pieces to the most contagious danceable rhythms or the idiosyncratic traditional dance such as the Salsa, it’s quintessential to the life and character of the inhabitants of this harmonious island. When wandering the streets you’ll see and hear rhythm and dance oozing all around you.
Indulge in the best
Whether you are a fan of rum or not, you will be once you come to Cuba. The selections are high and quality is top notch. Everywhere you go you’ll find Mojitos and fresh Piña Coladas ranging from 1-5 € now that’s a price not to be beat. Bottles of rum are found in every local supermarket ranging from 2- 12 € depending on size and brand such as Santiago Rum and Havana Club which also makes for the perfect gift.
Cigars or Cohibas in español. The natives say themselves you haven’t truly visited Cuba if you haven’t bought yourself or your friends and family a box of Cohibas, which is one of the countries most popular and exclusive exports. You’ll get them for almost 70% of the price we would pay in Europe or The United States. So do yourself a favor and treat yourself.
This is a country that is rapidly changing day to day. The communist country of Cuba is slowly becoming more of capitalist society, which many don’t know. It’s only less than two years ago that the embargo for trade with The United States was loosened, bringing in a new nationality of tourists. Let’s not forget to mention the decaying buildings that are still standing and most likely will be or decades longer. It’s incredibly inspiring to walk the streets that hold such historical value, the country breathes a rememberable past, an iconic present and a bright future.
Travel for thought
With all the said above, we believe that when you depart from this magical island you will find that the people and the country of Cuba itself have truly touched your soul and will leave you with something to hold on to for the rest of your life. Whether you’ve picked up words of Spanish, magical photography or simply lessons on life, we’re convinced you’ll be saying goodbye with a smile and positive thoughts for the future.
By Olive Duran