Good weather, idyllic beaches and beautiful sunsets are just a few of the reasons to spend the New Year in vibrant Cuba.
In part two of our Cuba travel guide we highlight some of our favourite places to visit, where to stay and enjoy some relaxation outside of the busy capital Havana.
One of our highlights on our Cuba trip was a tour of American novelist Ernest Hemingway’s villa. Located in San Francisco de Paula – 15km southeast of Havana – the author lived in his home for 20 years before returning to the US in the 1960s during the Fidel Castro revolution. He donated his house to the Cuban people and is now a museum which has remained relatively untouched.
Visitors are not allowed inside the house but there are plenty of open doors and windows to get a glimpse of the interior of the property. Hemingway’s home boasts a swimming pool, a fishing boat and a three-storey tower next to the main house. You’ll be blown away by the views in the heavily wooded grounds.
If you are looking to spend some time away from the Havana buzz, discover Jibacoa. A perfect place for nature lovers and diving enthusiasts, we stayed at Memories hotel which is located along the northern coast and is in the heart of the beautiful Cuban countryside.
It is an adult-only resort and offers guests plenty of fun activities to take part in. You’ve got mountains, a powder-white beach and an impressive coral reef. The hotel sits on Arroyo Bermejo Beach and sits in 17 acres of lush gardens and is an hours drive away from Havana.
When you’re not sunbathing you can spend your time scuba diving, snorkelling or playing volleyball. Also, if you want a work out we would definitely recommend mountain climbing in their lush forests. If that tires you out be sure to pamper yourself at their in-house spa.
Rum, fun and cigars
When you embark on your Cuban adventure it would not be a perfect trip without enjoying some of their famous rum and cigars. There are plenty of tours where you can visit cigar factories and see first hand how they’re made on the production floor.
As women who like to travel, Cuba has been one of our dream destinations and recently became a reality for us. Any preconception you may have about this island will most likely be a distant memory once you’ve experienced Cuba.
The country has an infectious vibrancy that is incredibly magnetic no matter which part of the island you visit. We both agree that Cuba is an amazing place that will certainly blow you away. There is so much to see and do in a country seeped in culture.
We both want to give you an insight into some of the best places to visit while staying in Cuba.
One of the first places we visited was Cuba’s capital…Havana. From the crumbling buildings, to the cobbled streets this city is filled with life. Our best advice would be to take a guided walking tour through Havana. You’ll get to hear the amazing history and discover new things while exploring the old town.
Take a ride in a classic car – It would not be a trip without taking a classic car ride around Havana. Cuba is home to American cars from the 1930s to the 1950s. They have a wide range of vintage cars to choose from, so definitely take the opportunity to flag one down and take a joyride through the city. You’ll get to have your own personalised tour and get to know the history of this amazing country. We would recommend you negotiate a price and length of time with your driver before taking the trip.
Necrópolis Cristóbal Colón – Far from being eerie Havana’s main cemetery (which is a national monument) is known for it’s striking religious and marble statues. You’ll get to stroll through 57 hectares of elaborate religious designs showing the graves of politicians, artists, writers and revolutionaries.
Tropicana Club – Prepare to be blown away with the bright colours, sultry salsa moves and the Latin sounds at Tropicana. A fabulous Cabaret show located in a lush tropical garden. The show is literally out of this world which features an array of performers. Their costumes are flamboyant adding a level of sauce to their eye-popping dance routines. It is the same venue where famous faces like Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack would hang out when staying in Cuba. You are provided with a bottle of rum at your table as well as mixers. So you can sit back and enjoy a Cuban cigar, enjoy a strong beverage and watch the delights of the show.
Castillo De Los Tres Reyes Del Morro (El Morro)- A fortress which was constructed between 1589 and 1630 to guard the entrance to Havana Bay is the quintessential Cuban landmark. The two castles feature a variety of experiences including a Maritime museum and another museum dedicated to Che Guevera. We would recommend visiting during the evening to attend the famous cañonazo ceremony. This nightly ceremony reenacts an 18th century ritual of sounding a canon to signal the closing of the city walls. You can sit on the massive walls and watch the sunset, listen to the sea crashing against the fort and get some breathtaking snaps of Old Havana’s skyline.
Look out for our Part II: Why you should visit Cuba.