Cuba Destination Guide
Cuba is synonymous with world-class cigars and rum and rightly so, as they are amongst the country's top exports – fittingly for a Caribbean paradise well known for its laidback lifestyle. Cuba is surrounded by other dream holiday island destinations, including the Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos and the Cayman Islands.
The turbulent political history of the country includes a period of Spanish colonial rule from Christopher Columbus' landing in 1492 up to 1898, United States economic, political and mafia influence until the Socialist revolution and Fidel Castro's subsequent rule from the late 1950s onwards. Cuba opened her arms to tourists again only in the 1990s and has been attracting curious visitors ever since.
Most travellers start their Cuban holidays in the beautiful capital, Havana, however there is plenty to see and enjoy in the countryside too. Havana's unique combination of decrepit colonial buildings, rugged coastline, old American cars, vibrant salsa, mambo and and Santería rituals in hidden corners, is both beguiling and exotic. An air of inimitable joie de vivre stretches out to Cuba's country towns, each more fascinating than the next. The coastal town of Baracoa offers character and beauty unrefined, with mountain trekking and local beaches hard to beat; Trinidad is an exquisite 19th Century time capsule; while Camagüey, off the usual tourist track, is more of a labyrinth than a city, echoing its dark history as a pirate hang-out. Those who would like to trace Che Guevara's revolutionary path will enjoy dropping by the university town of Santa Clara.
Any decent Cuba Travel Guide must include a mention of Cuba's sustainability success, rated by the World Wide Fund for Nature as number one in the world in terms of its small ecological footprint, with community-oriented Cubans eager to protect their natural environment.
Cuba travel is not a complicated affair and many travellers choose to rent a car and see the sights independently. Nevertheless, hitchhiking is a way of life for the locals, so it is both expected and polite to pick up such 'informal guides' on the way. For those short of time, a variety of Cuba tours are on offer that squeeze the sightseeing into more compact itineraries, while exploring Cuba as part of a Caribbean cruise is another popular option.
Remember there are no regular flights to Cuba from the United States, so if you're hoping to extend your Miami adventure to the Caribbean islands, you'll have to hop over to Cuba via Cancun, Nassau or Jamaica.