Most of my Canadian clients who travel to Cuba stay at all inclusive resorts. When they come back from their trip they usually tell me that they are happy with where I booked them and that the beaches were nice but I don’t usually hear good things about the food and getting to know Cuba’s culture and seeing much beyond the beach. As Cuba’s tourism industry now has 30 years of experience, Cuba is offering other ways to stay and be more immersed in the culture partnering with tour suppliers who recognize the demands of travellers where they want a more intrepid experience. In April just before the rain season started in Cuba, I ventured on an 8 day tour with G Adventures that started and ended in Cuba’s capital Havana with their travel style: 18 to 30 somethings. If you are looking to explore Cuba beyond the beach, I would recommend doing a small group adventure that has various inclusions to be immersed in the real Cuba.
Here’s what was included in my G Adventures 8 day adventure package:
- Homestays in Havana, Viñales and Trinidad
- Arrival transfer (usually picked up in a classic car!)
- Salsa lesson
- Che Guevara mausolem and museum visit (Santa Clara)
- Orientation walks in Havana, Trinidad and Viñales
- Casa de la Trova visit (Trinidad)
- Day trip to Cayo Levisa including lunch
- Las Terrazas biosphere reserve visit
- Beach time in Trinidad
- Informal Spanish lesson
- Transport: Private vehicle
About the tour: G Adventures tours in Cuba are between 14-18 people. In each location we spent approximately 2 days. On most days we had included activities and on the second day we could choose to do a group activity or go off on our own. Our Chief Experience Officer included a lot of very fascinating information about Cuba while driving on the road to our next destination and kept us entertained. We learned about Cuban history, education, religion, the economy, and many other facts from our CEO, Elena.
Travellers can expect that when you travel with G Adventures, you will experience everything that was mentioned in your package itinerary and a couple extra surprises. Our guide Elena was from the outskirts of Havana and was very well educated, spoke English at an advanced level, did all the activities included in the itinerary plus joined us for a few nights on the town and did extra activities with us that were not required of her. She went above and beyond to make our experience the best that it could be. Our driver Pepino was also very friendly and made sure our belongings were safe when we were out exploring for the day.
G Adventures offers 8 different itineraries in Cuba. The one that I did – Cuban Rhythms starts from $1129 CAD taxes included. Besides the 18 to 30 something travel style, you can travel around Cuba with G Adventures experiencing a cycling, sailing or classic theme.
I very much enjoyed travelling with the 18 to 30 somethings travel style as I got to know travellers similar in age to me and we had very similar interests. In the group we had people visiting from the UK, Switzerland, Poland, Denmark and myself and my fiancé being from Canada. We blended very well together as a group and were mostly all in our twenties and some being 19 and 35.
Making new friends in Trinidad on our included visit
Food: At our homestays we had breakfast included each morning which was made by our hosts. Each host made us a huge breakfast with lots of fresh local fruit accompanied by either tortillas, eggs and bread with coffee or tea. Pork is the most common meat consumed in Cuba. You will also find other meats such as chicken and beef. Main dishes are usually accompanied by rice, beans and vegetables. If you are visiting the coast, seafood is recommended to try especially while in Trinidad where you can have the lobster. Our CEO took us to a fabulous seafood restaurant just outside of Trinidad.
Homestays: The Cuban homestays G Adventures uses are very comfortable, clean, and centrally located to the group’s meeting point. They are simple rooms that offer a comfortable bed, a private bathroom, air conditioning and a fridge full of bottled water. Your host will not speak English very well but you can find their friendly manner will make up for their lack of English language skills. If you wish to learn a few phrases before you go, you can download a free app Duolingo to learn a few basic Spanish words. See blog post on homestays in Cuba for more details.
Travel tips for Cuba: Bring some toilet paper or tissue packets to have for public washrooms along with some hand sanitizer. Public washrooms can be very basic without any paper or soap. In most public washrooms you will be expected to pay 25 cents. There will be a lady sitting in front of the washroom to hand you some toilet paper before you enter. It is not mandatory to give 25 cents but is appreciated.
Bottled water is expensive at restaurants. Our Chief Experience Officer Elena pointed out some shops in each town where we could buy bottled water. Buy bottled water at your homestay or at a store.
Las Terrazas biosphere reserve