Why Should You Visit Cuba?

title: why visit cuba

What makes Cuba so special?

It’s been a couple of weeks now since my last trip to Cuba, and I’m sure I could make another 20 visits and I still won’t really understand the place. I know I’m not the first person to say that.

So why go? What makes it so different from another Caribbean island? Here’s where I’m at:

The History.

You don’t need to be a gearhead old-time car fanatic to take pause over the rainbow of “almendrones” in Havana. In the same way you don’t need to be a historian or architect to appreciate what’s all around you.

Parque Central
Parque Central, Havana

Havana is a big city, and it’s history is equally big. The 3 C’s are all on display:

In times of Colonialism, it was a thriving port and full of Spanish gold and pirates. The forts and cannons are everywhere to prove it.

When Capitalism took hold, Cuba was superlative – the mobsters brought their excesses in night clubs and hotels, and American money built great homes and estates. That’s all still there showing witness, crumbly as it is.

Grand Theatre of Havana
Outside the Grand Theatre of Havana

And, of course, Communism is the Cuba we all think of – and this is the one that I found so interesting – not just in revolutionary relics and soviet-style buildings, but in conversations with Cubans. They are just as eager to learn about life in the States as they are to tell you about theirs.

Playing baseball with local kids at Finca Vigía
Playing baseball with local kids at Finca Vigía

The People.

Yes, lovely people can be found everywhere. But it just felt like a good conversation, even briefly on the street, was enough on its own, and not just a pretext for some other less virtuous motive. Maybe it’s because Cubans are supposed to be miserable, repressed and held back, that they seem to us so friendly and engaged. Maybe it’s just the island life and the rum.

beaches and mojitos

Yes, they would like– and should have– Freedom. But it doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate their strong education or healthcare. It’s so complex. Maybe Starbucks doesn’t equal happiness.

The Music.

Ours was a music tour – a children’s choir from California. But even without that special focus, it still would have been a music tour. There is good, no, great music everywhere on that island. From the professional entertainers in restaurants to the street musicians in the plazas, the sounds of Cuba are what sticks with you longest, I think.

Cuban musicians outside a restaurant

Getting to know our Cuban hosts after concert with the Cuban National Children’s Choir
Getting to know our Cuban hosts after concert with the Cuban National Children’s Choir

You should check it out.

Ready to see Cuba for yourself? There are still a few spots left on our “Many Faces of Cuba” tour, with two departures to choose from: 

The Many Faces of Cuba — November 1-9, 2016

The Many Faces of Cuba — November 8-16, 2016

Island Route Tours

Island Routes is a Caribbean Tour operator and a member of the Sandals Group of Companies.  It was founded by a group ofCaribbeanpeople whose mission is to showcase the culture, beauty and natural resources that define each unique island destination.  Currently, Island Routes operates over 140 tours inJamaica,St. Lucia, Antigua, theBahamas, Turks and Caicos, andBarbados.  Island Routes recently received the 2010 World Travel Award for “World’s Leading Caribbean Attraction Company” and has set the tour industry standard by becoming the only tour company to receive a prestigious Six Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

 Islands Routes has tour desks in all of the Sandals and Beaches properties as well as the Grand Pineapple locations; however, guests staying anywhere on the islands (or cruise passengers visiting the islands) can book tours with Island Routes.

Sandals Grande Antigua

Sandals Grande Antigua is situated on the most beautiful and longest white-sand beach in Antigua, Dickenson Bay. It is 15 minutes away from the VC Bird International Airport and 10 minutes from Antigua’s capital, St. John’s.

There are 373 rooms and suites in 25 categories in this beautiful 27-acre resort. Accommodations range from one-story buildings with patios to Honeymoon Rondavels with private plunge pools, to exotic Mediterranean Honeymoon Penthouse One-Bedroom Suites and Luxury Ocean Villas with private pools!

The resort comprises two distinct sections: the Caribbean Grove (the original resort) and the new Mediterranean Village.

All accommodations in the Caribbean Grove have air-conditioning, king-size mahogany four-poster beds, ceiling fans, amenity kits, hairdryers, private bath and shower, safe, clock radios, cable television, coffee/tea maker, iron and ironing board.

Accommodations in the Mediterranean Village offer concierge service, air-conditioning, king-size mahogany four-poster beds, ceiling fan, amenity kits, hairdryer, telephone, private bath and shower, safe, CD clock radio, cable television, coffee/tea maker, iron and ironing board. These suites have Italian floor tiles, large flat-screen televisions, custom-designed mahogany furniture with leather trunks and fabrics from Turkey, Italy and India. The bathrooms feature Italian Giallo marble, custom his-and-her washbasins, the latest Kohler Purist bath-and-shower fixtures, whirlpools and overhead walk-in rain showers.

There are 11 restaurants and 7 bars throughout the resort. Theme nights, weekly events and nightly entertainment is also provided. There are six freshwater pools and six whirlpools, including two swim-up pool bars. This resort also offers volleyball, aerobics, table tennis, day/night tennis, darts, bocce ball, pool tables, snorkeling, aqua cycle, Hobie Cats, Sunfish sailing, kayaks, pedalos, windsurfing and scuba diving.

This resort is fairly large and may require a lot of walking from one area to another. Guests with limited mobility would probably be more comfortable in the Mediterranean Village, as it is more compact and elevators are available.