Considering a trip to Cuba? Here are some tips to travelling Cuba from Contours Travel for travellers to help them with their planning and choice of tours.
Cuba is an extraordinary, enigmatic country and strikingly different from its Caribbean neighbours; an island steeped in the history of Spanish colonialism and post-war revolution. Reminders of the communist revolution of Fidel Castro are everywhere- from the Museum paying homage to the revolutionaries in Havana, to the party slogans painted on city walls. Cuba’s unique political system is an attraction in itself.
From the vibrant cities of Havana, Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba to the quiet natural beauty of the West, rich in tobacco and coffee plantations, Cuba offers real variation for the visitor. Some of the Caribbean’s best beaches offer a relaxing end to your Cuban adventure.
There is a sugar mill township in Cuba called Australia, which should not be missed, especially by Aussie travellers for obvious reasons. Australia had a moment of fame when Fidel Castro operated his administration office form there to repel the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The office is now the Museo Memorial Comandancia de las FAR. A quick stop at Australia is easily done on an overland trip for Havana to Cienfuegos and Trinidad.
Cuba may not have the best reputation for its food or food supply due to the limited range available thanks to the embargo, but the fact is, the food in Cuba is not as bad as perceived, especially when fresh lobsters can be enjoyed for only $10. Other local delicacies that are a must-try include their traditional roast pork or pork chops, fried plantain and fruit marmalades.
Fidel Castro was an Atheist, declaring Cuba an Atheist state and banning religion and religious holidays including Easter and Christmas. However, as he aged, he changed the religious state of the country to “secular”. President Raul Castro even conceded to Pope Benedict’s request to recognise Good Friday.
Contours Travel advises that apart from hotels, villas, apartments and hostels, another great option to get to meet locals is via homestays. This accommodation option has been made available over recent years and presents a highly personal experience where travellers can learn more about Cuban cultures, lifestyle and people. It is also a great opportunity to practise Spanish. However, it is important for travellers to look for the official house rental license logo outside the house to ensure industry standards are met.
Diving in Cuba is becoming increasingly popular among the diving community. The island is surrounded by thousands of kilometres of some of the world’s richest and most diverse marine life. Experienced divers will enjoy exploring the many caves and caverns throughout the island, some of which feature ancient native pictographs. According to the team at Contours Travel, some of the best and less touristy diving spots are found on Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth). The best time to dive in Cuba is between December and April when water temperatures are around 25°C.
There are two currencies used in Cuba – the Cuban Peso (CUP) for locals and the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) for tourists, which is pegged to the USD. In 2013, the Cuban government announced that steps are being taken to unify the currencies, but this may take many years. The best currencies to bring to Cuba are GBP, EUR or CAD. It is useful to note also that the banknotes to be exchanged must be clean and cannot be torn, marked or written on. It is also advisable for travellers to only change currencies at the CADECAs (Official exchange houses) or banks.
So when should you visit Cuba? The best time to visit is November and February; and the most efficient and direct route to Havana is via Los Angeles and Mexico City.
Thinking of heading to Cuba? Check out the travel deal to Cuba.
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