Cuba is calling, and more and more Americans are hearing that call. The vibrant island nation previously shrouded in mystery is now ready to be rediscovered by its neighbor to the north.
Due to travel restrictions that remain in place visitors to Cuba from the United States, more and more structured “people to people” holidays to Cuba have popped up. Countless tour operators cater to the curious by operating within the confines of the rapidly changing rules and regulations for U.S. travelers.
While convenient, these large tours are often complete with overcrowded hotels and massive buffet meals. These mass tourism pitfalls can feel really impersonal, and make it difficult for visitors to immerse themselves in the warm and inviting communities they visit. There’s little room for exploring your own interests when you’re traveling alongside 50 other people!
Don’t want to miss out on all the special moments that make traveling to a new place so fulfilling? There are other options that allow for more meaningful experiences. In fact, Discover Corps recently introduced new holidays to Cuba, including a Celebration of Arts & Culture tour, a Preserving Nature’s Wonders tour, a Yoga & Culture Exploration tour, and a shorter Havana Weekend Getaway.
Read on for our choose-your-adventure guide on things to do in Cuba, designed to help you decide which of these Cuba travel options is right for you!
Yoga & Culture Exploration
Over the course of this 8-day experience, beginning and advanced yogis alike can connect with Cuban people of all ages through yoga.
As you deepen your practice under the leadership of Havana’s “Godfather of yoga,” Eduardo Pimentel, you’ll also have a chance to explore some of the most beautiful places on the island.
Hand-selected Cuban cultural experiences (such as a private Salsa class and an Afro-Cuban dance performance) will give you a taste of the local flavor. A visit to a nearby island will give you the opportunity to practice your favorite asanas on a beautiful, secluded beach.
While not purely a yoga retreat, this happy medium is the perfect way to deepen your practice without sacrificing the adventure of exploring a new place, stress-free.
Preserving Nature’s Wonders
From the colorful reefs off Cuba’s coast to biosphere reserves that dot the island’s interior, this 8-day trip allows travelers to uncover a side of Cuba that is still largely untouched by development.
After the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s, the government instituted strict environmental policies, allowing the Cuban countryside to become one of the more unique ecosystems in the world.
From spending an afternoon on an organic farm overlooking the beautiful Viñales Valley to meeting with environmental conservationists while hiking at a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, your time in Cuba will give you a new appreciation for, and understanding of, the island’s diversity.
Of course, you’ll also get in on the action in the hotspot of Havana, where you’ll soak in the island life as you take a cocktail class, explore historic squares and dance to salsa music played by musicians on the historic cobblestone streets.
Celebration of Arts and Culture
In Cuba, music and art reign supreme. On this 8-day vacation designed especially for culture buffs, you’ll be inspired by the energy surrounding the artists that call this island nation home.
You’ll discover an eclectic mix of traditional and modern Cuban music as you attend private performances and meet with up-and-coming new artists.
You’ll explore the famed architecture of Havana, Trinidad and Cienfuegos, and learn about the work that goes into preserving these historic communities.
You’ll also eat at the favorite restaurants of our local guides and feed your inner foodie, learn to salsa from a private instructor, and strut your stuff as Plaza Mayor comes to life with music and dance!
Havana Weekend Getaway
Don’t have time for in-depth holidays to Cuba, but still dreaming of a weekend getaway? It’s possible to get a taste of Cuba in a long weekend, and this 4-day Havana getaway will ensure that you get the most out of your time on the island.
You’ll hit the ground running with a visit to Cojimar, where Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his most famous novels. You’ll also spend just enough time exploring Havana, with all of the historic sights, shopping, live music, and culture that your Cuban dreams are made of.
A stay in Discover Corps’ hand-selected casa particulares (private bed and breakfasts), spending time with our friends who call Havana home, will make your whirlwind holidays to Cuba feel as easygoing and authentic as it can be! –Sara McDaniel
BIO: Sara McDaniel is a San Diego-based educator who uses her summers to explore the world, often alongside her students! In addition to writing for The Volunteer Traveler, she has directed international programming for various travel organizations. When she’s not writing or researching, she can often be found swimming in the ocean, eating all of the delicious foods, and teaching in San Diego State University’s College of Education.
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