Travel to Cuba

Cuba trip

The island of Cuba is the largest in the Caribbean To travel to Cuba is to immerse yourself in a universe that is both surprising and challenging. The pearly color of the long stretches of beaches are as famous as the so recognizable musical rhythms. Going to Cuba is a dream because this country is as majestic as it maintains the vagueness. Cuban politics do not in the slightest hinder the possibility of discovering the charms of the country and its welcoming local people. With a discount on Cuba, take the opportunity to visit the island in the footsteps of Native American peoples, explorer Christopher Columbus and conquistador Hernan Cortes.

A trip to Cuba that will be memorable

These vacation destinations are symbolized by the crossbreeding of the island. From Spain to Africa, Cuba draws its roots, history and culture to showcase the best in each. In this sense, Ibero-colonial architecture is an illuminating confession. Note of course that the island is not a haven of wealth and tranquility either. Poverty is present for the majority of Cubans even if the school and health systems are delusional. No need to broach the political subject with the locals, they will carefully avoid answering you and having such a conversation. However, their sense of hospitality and welcoming are undeniably their characters. Cubans are delighted to introduce you to their traditions which include music, dance and song.

Cuba has an area of ​​approximately 109,980 km², making it the largest in the Caribbean Sea. It also explains the willingness of the settlers to settle there and develop there upon their arrival. The current population census counts 11.5 million inhabitants, of which more than three million reside in the capital of Havana and its suburbs. The main cities are Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Holgin, Santa Clara, Guantanamo, Bayamo, Las Tunas, or even Cienfuegos. For all the information for a trip to Varadero, see this link.

The spoken language is Spanish while the existing currency on the island is double with on the one hand the national currency which is the Cubano peso, and on the other, the convertible peso for tourists. The latter currency replaced the US dollar. Note that one Canadian dollar is roughly equivalent to fluctuations in currency exchange of 0.98 Cuban pesos.

Cuba is under the leadership of Raul Castro who took over from his brother Fidèle Castro. The country has a socialist regime with a single political party. This dictatorial regime based on communism was therefore strongly rejected by the United States following the 1959 revolution. Indeed, since 1962, the island of Cuba has been subject to a US blockade. Many Cubans have found refuge in the United States, especially in near Florida, where they constitute a significant minority.

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The Cuban population is quite young and tries to take advantage of the financial windfall brought by the development of tourism. It must be said that this territory brings together all the assets to become an ever more attractive destination. There are for example several sites classified as World Heritage by Unesco: the old town of Havana and its fortifications, the castle of San Pedro de la Roca located in Santiago de Cuba, the Viñales valley, the city of Trinidad and the valley of los Ingenios, the archaeological landscape shaped by the ancient coffee plantations in the Southeast of Cuba, the historic urban center of Cienfuegos, the Desembarco del Granma National Park, the old town of Camagüey, and finally, the Alejandro de Humboldt. Note also that the dance and music group named Tumba Francesa de Santiago has taken its place on the Unesco list as intangible cultural heritage of humanity. These sites are all tourist destinations to favor during your trip to Cuba.

A Cuba destination is actually vacation destinations! The island is outlined in the Caribbean Sea while stretching over 1250 kilometers. The Cuban territory is therefore quite narrow, the greatest width not even exceeding 200 kilometers! Remember that Cuba is not just about the presence of a single island because it is an archipelago. For example, there is the Isle of Youth (isla de la Juventud) and a multitude of islets forming a sort of confetti called cayos. These include cayo largo, cayo coco, cayo levisa, cayo guillermo, etc. these cayos are real little pieces of earthly paradise. You will find crystal clear water, very rich seabed and radiant sunshine. Accommodation on site is provided by comfortable Cuba hotels.

If Cuba is bordered by the Caribbean, in its center rises a low mountain range even if certain sierras, west of Santiago, are famous for having sheltered part of the revolutionaries, notably the Sierra Maestra.

The climate that prevails in Cuba is tropical even if local specificities emerge. As a result, the island only experiences two seasons, one dry in winter and one wet in summer. The duration of the dry season goes from November to May with a temperature constantly approaching 25 ° C. The wet season, from June to October, reveals short but rather violent rains. Warm waters are generally perfect for triggering cyclones, which is the case in Cuba during the wet season. Nevertheless, civil security makes it possible to anticipate these events in order to perfectly protect the entire population.

Going on a trip to Cuba will make you want to come back

Book a hotel in Cuba is to create an opportunity to borrow the local culture to the sound of music and the rhythm of dances. And you have the choice with first of all the mythical rumba. Based on percussion and vocals, it alternates three styles. The first, quite physical, is for men, the second, slower, for couples, and the last is more inflamed. The close bodies are the benchmark of Latin and therefore Cuban dances. Another classic is the Mambo and cha-cha-cha from Mexico City in the 1940s. Drums, jazz and woodwinds delight the ears.

Other more or less contemporary music is revealed in Cuban parties: batanga, bolero, guajira, tonada, reggaeton, etc. Do not forget to introduce yourself to salsa, knowing that if the term is Cuban, it is in New York, via the Cuban-Puerto Rican community, that these famous sounds were born.

This trip to Cuba will also allow you to taste the culinary specialists of the country. Let yourself be tempted by the Guama crocodile, a meat similar to veal. Dare the lobsters and crabs, accompanied why not by staple foods rice and black beans. In terms of meat, the cochinito is recommended grilled, roasted and even fried! Finally, enjoy the ubiquitous fruits such as guavas, planter bananas, papaya and other mango. Also, don't forget to taste the rum and its many cocktail versions ... in moderation of course!

From your hotel in Cuba, you have the possibility to do many sports activities. The presence of the Caribbean Sea is very appreciable for scuba diving. Go sea kayaking, boating, or even deep-sea fishing trips. For lovers of walks, go to Viñales, in the Zapata peninsula, the Humboldt National Park or the mountain range in the center from the island. On the famous cayos, enjoy the sun for endless lazy sessions barely interspersed with swimming and snacks.

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Those interested in Cuban history and heritage are not left out. From the Bay of Pigs to Havana, from Trinidad to Santiago de Cuba, walk the streets, the old towns and step back in time.

The capital of Havana is a must visit with its unmissable Spanish colonial architecture. The fortresses and the straight ramparts from the 17th century appear with magnificence and gravity on the seafront. Follow in the footsteps of the Spanish colonizers by treading the historic city center called Habana Vieja. Thanks to the renovation works, the splendors of yesteryear have been given a second lease of life. Time stands still and the weight of history emerges in the form of the silhouette of the religious building, the Plaza de la Catedral. Then direction in the footsteps of cigar factories and the Museum of the Revolution.

Access to hotels in Cuba is fairly straightforward thanks to reservations made in advance to make your life on site easier. Trust, for example, Lonely Planet Cuba which offers addresses for all budgets. In addition to the hotel establishments which are shared by five large Cuban chains, there are campsites. These are actually residential spaces with bungalows. For a short time now, it has been possible to sleep with locals to get to know Cubans' daily life as closely as possible. Finally, the seaside regions welcome establishments run by foreigners with all the comfort and luxury service.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The direct flight time from Montreal to Havana is estimated at 3 hours and 46 minutes. Havana, the capital of Cuba with its 2.4 million inhabitants, is located 2,612 km from Montreal. A little further east of the capital, or 145 km by land, we find one of the most popular seaside resorts in the world, Varadero. Direct flights from Montreal to Varadero are available year round as well as Santa Clara, Cayo Coco and even Holguin, all of which Canadians love.
The island of Cuba is the second most populous island in the Caribbean with almost 11,253,000 inhabitants (2018). The most recent census was conducted in September 2012. Cuba's population in 2012 was 11.1 million. The density was 100.7 people per square kilometer, and the life expectancy was 78.0 years
Cuba is a republic under the concept of government of "popular democracy" and a socialist state established at various stages after the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959. It is a one-party republic which has, since 1980, a parliament and direct and secret election of deputies to municipal, provincial and national parliament. The President of the Council of State is ex officio Head of State, President of the Council of Ministers, Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the leader of the country. These positions have been occupied since 2018 by Miguel Díaz-Canel. For example, the opening of an internet line is subject to the authorization of the authorities of the island. Internet use must not "compromise state security" or go against "the laws and moral principles of the country", grounds sufficiently vague to arbitrarily cut off access to the Internet.
In 2016, in proportion to the gross domestic product (GDP), the main sectors of activity of the Cuban economy were: services (74%); industry (17%); agriculture (5%). Cuba's economy is largely state-controlled, an economy with central planning overseen by the Cuban government, although significant foreign investment as well as private businesses exist on the island. The embargo suffered by Cuba for fifty years has been a handicap for the growth of its foreign trade.
There are two types of currencies in circulation in Cuba. The Cuban peso (CUP) concerns only Cubans who use it in their everyday life to pay for example their rent, car etc. The convertible peso (CUC) is used by tourists, everything is paid in CUC if you do not think outside the box. Neither of these two currencies is exportable. Since October 2019, American money has been accepted in shops and people can now open accounts in dollars. However, it is best to bring Canadian money and exchange it on the spot for convertible pesos. Most credit cards issued by a non-US financial institution are accepted. It's best to check with your bank to make sure your credit card will be accepted in Cuba. Debit cards bearing the Visa or Mastercard logo are accepted. However, in an AMT, only cards with the Visa logo will work.
The best time to discover Cuba is winter and early spring, from December to April. Temperatures start to increase seriously from March. The month of February is the perfect compromise between a pleasant climate and a cheap plane ticket. June to November is hurricane season in Cuba and the Caribbean.
The Republic of Cuba is located between the Caribbean Sea to the south, the Gulf of Mexico to the northwest, Florida to the north and the Bahamas to the northeast, themselves bathed by the North Atlantic. Cuba is a Caribbean island state made up of the island of Cuba (the largest island in the Antilles), the Isle of Youth (called Isle of Pines until 1978) and 4,095 cays and islets.
According to the Government of Canada website, tourists must take normal security measures. There are no significant security concerns. General security is similar to that of Canada. You must take the usual security measures. Source; travel.gc.ca
Since 2013, Cubans over the age of 18 can travel abroad if they have a valid passport. Minors can also leave the country as long as they have in hand a notarized authorization from their parents or guardians. By 1961, severe restrictions were imposed by the Communist regime. There was a strict process to be followed to get out of the country. A maximum of eleven months was given to complete the trip, under penalty of having their property confiscated and being considered as permanent expatriates.
The embargo was put in place on February 3, 1962 following nationalizations expropriating American companies and remains so to this day. Since the 2000s, exports of food and medicine have been legal, but subject to enormous restrictions. Many observers accuse the Cuban government of multitudes of human rights violations. In 1960, an assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs in the United States wrote that causing Cubans to hunger and despair was the only way to push them to overthrow the government. He also mentioned that the US government must use all possible means to undermine the economic life of Cuba. The losses caused by the embargo to the Cuban economy in 2014 amounted to more than 116 billion dollars.
Varadero beach, located in the north of Cuba, is undoubtedly the most popular on the island. You will be amazed by its 20km of white sand and sparkling water. Varadero is the ideal place for water sports. Also to the north is the island of Cayo Coco. It is the perfect place to go diving because of its coral reef which is one of the most spectacular in the world. You will be dazzled by the beach of Playa Pilar with its turquoise waters and white sand as far as the eye can see. Further south, we find the paradise island of Cayo Largo. Paya Paraiso beach is located on the south coast. It can rejoice with its white sand, crystal clear waters and almost deserted landscapes. It has been named one of the best beaches in the world by TripAdvisor. On the side of Santa Maria there are also magnificent beaches. The island itself is made up of around 11km of practically pristine white sand beaches. Travelers can go diving or fishing. The island is also part of the Buenavista Biosphere Reserve recognized by UNESCO. Close to Holguin, Guardalavaca stands out for the beauty of its beach. Coral reefs of nearly 300 meters protect it. Diving enthusiasts will be delighted. This beach contains one of the most turquoise waters in Cuba.
Most hotels in Cuba run on 220V. The majority of sockets are European type. It is therefore strongly recommended to check with your travel agent whether it will be necessary to bring an adapter or a converter. The adapter is installed between your devices and electrical wall outlets. It mainly resolves connection incompatibilities. The converter has the function of matching the type of voltage between your devices. It is connected to the batteries from which it receives current and to which you connect the electrical devices you want to operate.
Cuba is made up of several seaside towns and magnificent cayos (islets). People love to visit this Caribbean island and cayos, like Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo. As seaside towns, Varadero and Holguin are among the most popular. There are several all-inclusive hotels with swimming pools, activities, meals and above all because they are bordered by magnificent beaches. The capital, Havana, is also worth a visit. It is a fascinating city that allows you to experience Cuban culture. Cuba received 4.28 million tourists in 2019.
Since 2018, Miguel Díaz-Canel has been President of the Republic. Fidel Castro, this revolutionary and Cuban statesman ruled Cuba for 49 years. For some, he is seen as an icon while others see him as a man who established an authoritarian regime. Nowadays, he is considered mainly as a dictator by historians. From February 24, 2008 to April 19, 2018, Raúl Castro, officially succeeds his brother Fidel Castro. Surprisingly, Raúl Castro had already convinced Fidel to bet on tourism in order to avoid an economic crisis and the end of the regime. The number of tourists has increased from 400,000 to 4 million in 25 years.
Cubans work very hard in hotels and most earn very little money. Housekeepers will love useful gifts, more than a cash tip. We can think of toothbrushes, cosmetics, pencils, small children's toys or even clothes. Think about gifts that can be useful and enjoyable for them and their families. You can also bring small gifts for gardeners, cooks, waiters etc ...
Cuban cuisine is quite simple. Black beans, rice, spices and meat are part of the daily life of Cubans. Moros y Cristianos is the typical dish made with rice and black beans. Cuban lobsters are famous and prepared in several ways. At your hotel, don't forget to order a mojito, this drink made with fresh mint and rum.
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