Cuba is a country that we, at Explore, are privileged to know very well. Our trips offer the most authentic and original experiences from Havana to Santiago, and the depth of our knowledge means we feel confident in calling ourselves experts on this unique destination. Read on to see why our team all agree that Cuba should definitely still be on your travel hit-list this year.
Cuba has such variety that it’s a true feast for your senses. Experience the natural beauty of Cuba, the remarkable mountains, spectacular steep limestone hills and the vast tobacco plantations in the west. Spot the colonial mansions and art deco grandeur in the cities. Tap your feet to the sound of upbeat music and meet the wonderful locals who are keen to encourage even the most nervous of salsa dancers to join in. Taste some of the local rum and become the master of mojitos and pina-coladas in a cocktail making class, and so much more.
The best time of year to visit Cuba is between December and May. Very little rain falls in these months so you can expect warm days and beautiful clear blue skies. June signifies the start of the wet season but don’t write off visiting Cuba at this time of year, as it’s not the wet season we are accustomed to in the UK. The weather is still warm and travelling to Cuba out of peak season means fewer people and an even warmer welcome from the Cubans that you’ll meet along the journey.
We’re proud to say that we’re the experts! The Explore team love Cuba and here are just some of the things they love most about this fascinating country.
Carmel – Product Manager, The Americas
"It sounds odd but I love Cuba because it must be one of the only countries in the world where every cliché you hear is true. From the streets filled with Latin rhythms to the beat-up American cars that still somehow function due to the resourcefulness of the Cuban people.
Havana and the major cities scream ‘faded glamour’, and you can really imagine the Hollywood stars of the 40s strolling around the boulevards and drinking delicious daiquiris to the sounds of a salsa band.
Cuba’s history and its influence on today’s society is absolutely fascinating. A great place to start is the Museum of the Revolution in Havana, but I’d definitely recommend talking as much as you can, as tactfully as possible, to the local guides and people who will accompany you on your trip. Some of their thoughts might surprise you!"
Caryn – Customer Services Manager
"Cycling through Cuba allowed us to get under the skin of the country and interact with the locals, and with very little traffic on the roads, it was easy to relax and take in the impressive landscape.
What makes Cuba so special is a combination of heat, music, and the smell of cigars and the taste of rum. The charm of the people and the relaxed atmosphere that you cannot help fall in love with. The mango trees everywhere with their ripening fruit. The sound of the horses hooves clip clopping, whilst the driver shouts ‘Taxi’. Riding through the streets of the small towns and villages, it’s hard to suppress the urge to shout ‘Hola!’ to everyone you pass."
James – Cycling Programme Manager
"I love Cuba. It is such an enigma and amazing to think quite how long the revolution has lasted in the Caribbean sunshine. The clichés are true – there are plenty of amazing American classic cars on the roads, the live music is excellent (it is everywhere and so infectious), the rum is delicious and the cigars too. The Cubans don’t have enough vehicles and this (selfishly) makes for wonderful cycle tours where you encounter more horses and carts than cars."
Chris – Adventure Travel Consultant
When you think of Cuba you automatically think of the rum, cigars, faded colonial buildings and salsa and although these things are great, the country has so much more to offer than this. It also has pristine Caribbean beaches, dense wild jungles, idyllic rock pools and a dance scene that makes even the most timid person want to get up!
Cathy – Product Executive
The main highlight of Cuba for me was seeing the country for the first time from a bicycle. Departing Havana City and cycling up and over the first hill you are hit by the beautiful, green and lush scenery - the warmth of the sun in your face and the fresh air is exhilarating as we cycled down the other side. We were then guided by our Explore leader to our ‘casa particulares’ - family-owned guesthouses with usually two or three rooms in the family’s house rented out for tourists. The friendly locals made us a delicious traditional Cuban lunch of fresh fruit juice, sandwiches and beautiful home-made cakes.
After a superb feast and a rest, we were off on our way again cycling through long stretches of tarmac roads with farm animals running along the side of you. We had plenty of time to take photographs, and then, to our delight, we came across a little wooden shack, piled high with an abundance of exotic fresh fruits for us to try. All the little twists and surprises along the way made Cuba a fantastic place to visit.
Click here to discover all of our small group trips to Cuba for 2018.