Remarkable Reasons to Visit Cuba in 2017

Is 2017 the year that you will finally get to Cuba? There’s no time like the present, and while there has been talk of Cuba changing now that it’s easier for US tourists to visit, don’t worry. Sure there will be a lot more traffic between the two countries, but it’s not as though the distinctive charm of Cuba is going to disappear in a blur of McDonald’s and Starbucks outlets. If you needed any convincing, here are 8 reasons why you need to see Cuba as soon as possible!

1. Go Offline and Relax

If you’re a social media junkie, then the idea of spending some weeks with limited online access might sound like torture. But isn’t this going to be rather refreshing? There’s not a huge amount of internet access in Cuba, and this can be a kind of freedom. You won’t be checking your phone every five seconds, although you can of course accumulate an impressive collection of photos to upload when you get home (and yes, yes… these photos will be selected to make everyone you know jealous… which is kind of the point of holiday photos on social media). And if you have the type of job where you are expected to respond to emails all day (even with the inference that you should do this when you’re on holiday), you have a legitimate reason to ignore these. You can use one of the minimal public access internet hot-spots in larger towns and cities (you’ll need to buy an access card) or find an internet cafe if you need to get online in an emergency.

2. Dance, Dance, Dance

Even if you have two left feet, you will be tempted to hit the dance floor in Cuba. It might seem like you’ve stumbled into an elaborately choreographed musical in some bars and clubs since everyone seems to be able to dance amazingly well. Don’t be afraid to join in, and if you really want to make an effort, take a dance class while you’re there. Being able to salsa semi-professionally will be a wonderful souvenir of your time in the country.

3. Hit the Beach

You’re going to spend rather a lot of time in Cuba on the beach. Even the so-called Cuban winter is moderate with a lot of sunshine, and if you come from a cold climate, the Cuban winter will be warmer than your summer. You’re rarely going to be far from the beach, and for some dedicated beach time, try the long white sands of Varadero, a short distance from Havana, or Playa Ancon, on the outskirts of Trinidad.

4. How Many Drinks?

We’re not suggesting that you get drunk each and every day, but your consumption of alcohol is probably going to climb upwards when you’re in the country. And why wouldn’t it? Cuban cocktails are renowned the world over, and there’s just something special about enjoying such a drink in its country of origin. You could try having a daiquiri in the bar where Ernest Hemingway was known to enjoy one of two (or five). Head to El Floridita, located on Calle Obispo in Havana’s Old Town.

5. Socially Acceptable Smoking

Again, we’re not suggesting that you start smoking cigars when in Cuba, but it’s infinitely more socially acceptable than in other countries. Grab a few cigars to take home with you, as the smokers you know will be incredibly appreciative. Never buy from a tout on the street as these cigars are likely to be counterfeit.

6. Those Classic Cars

The US-imposed embargo on Cuba has meant that those classic cars needed to stay running over the last decades since there was no way of replacing them. Many of them have stayed running with loving maintenance, cannibalised parts from other cars, and sheer faith. A lot of these vehicles operate as taxis, so you really should take a ride, even if it’s just the once.

7. A Rich and Interesting History

From being settled by the Spanish, attacked by various pirates, coveted by the French, the British, and even the US, Cuba has had a rather eventful history (and this was all before the Cuban Revolution by the way). You really can’t throw a stone in Cuba without hitting something of profound historical significance, and a 10 day private tour around Cuba is an excellent way to experience this rich and interesting history for yourself.

8. Experience the Real Cuba at a Casa Particular

Hotels? Not on this trip. You need to stay at a Casa Particular, which is the Cuban equivalent of a bed and breakfast. It’s a home stay type of environment, wherein Cuban families rent out a section of their home. You are free to come and go as you please (so it’s not like you’re staying with your actual family), but this is much less expensive and more authentic than staying in a hotel. It’s like Airbnb, only much more friendly.

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