500 years ago Christopher Columbus arrived to Cuba, declaring it the most beautiful place that eyes have ever seen. No wonder the stories of El Dorado are set here! It is a place of undefinable magic and wonder, with turbulent history and an economic embargo turning it into a perfect time capsule. This is a country where you can wave goodbye to everyday assumptions and expect the unexpected!
Cuba has it all
For wildlife-watchers and divers, Ceinaga de Zapata in the southern Matanzas, offers great opportunities to enjoy it’s virtually uninhabited swampy wilderness. It is the place where you will find most of Cuba’s endemic birds and the most magical offshore reef diving there is. It is a UNESCO Biosphere reserve and Ramsar site due to its ecological importance to the world.
And whilst we are mentioning Biosphere reserves, Cuba has 6, another one of which is Soroa, set in the beautiful valley at the edge of Sierra del Rosario. The region’s heavy rainfall promotes the growth of tall trees and beautiful orchids. It is rich in flora and fauna, includes lakes, rivers and waterfalls and is the perfect place for exploring and getting in touch with nature. There are so many more amazing nature sites and treks to enjoy.
Cities like Havana provide amazing insights to culture, history and vibrant nightlife. Havana was founded in 1519 by the Spanish and the city’s core, Old Havana, still retains much of its character to this day. Grand, palm-filled squares are surrounded by streets with the well-known pastel-colored houses, tiny kiosks, and let’s not forget the 1950s-era cars. Havana is without a doubt one of the historical sites in Cuba you really can’t miss!
If you are willing to venture further out of Havana, Camaguey, Cuba’s third-largest city is easily the most sophisticated with a vibrant arts scene. Get lost in it’s maze-like streets and explore hidden plazas, baroque churches, amazing art galleries and may be even enjoy some culinary delights. The city’s well preserved historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Further to the east you will find Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s cultural capital. Passionate and noisy with Afro-Carribean influences and a historical significance this place hides some untold magic. These influences meant that nearly every Cuban music genre from salsa to son first emanated from these dusty, rhythmic and sensuous streets. Perfect spot to dance the night away!
If you want some slow down time
If you are craving to slow down and recharge, Vinales is the perfect place for you! Wedged spectacularly into the Sierra de los Organos mountain range, it was recognised as a national monument in 1979 and made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. It is a national park and main tobacco growing region. Perfect spot to learn about the famous Cuban cigars, enjoy some light trekking on bush treks and snap some amazing shots of the iconic mogotes the valley has to offer.
For more of a romantic charm, Trinidad is the perfect place to visit. Most people recognize this city for its beautiful but crumbling yellow bell tower that graces the cityscape, but there is truly much more hidden in the streets of Trinidad. Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1988, Cuba’s oldest and most enchanting ‘outdoor museum’. Wedged between Ancon Beach and Topes de Collantes nature park, it offers the best of ‘city life’ and natural wonders.
What’s the best way to discover Cuba?
You have seen the postcards with the vintage cars, colorful buildings, the famous Cuban cigar… But if you want to see the real Cuba, then nothing beats having a local born and bread tour guide, filled with passion to show you his country! Simply Cuba Tours specialises in such tours. Our guides have over first-hand local knowledge and vast experience in making people fall in love with Cuba, a place our founder calls home. We thrive on creating unique travel experiences.
You can join our signature Simply Cuba Tour – where you can enjoy nature, culture and fun rolled into one, whilst you also get to discover half of this amazing Caribbean island over 13 days. Walk through the tobacco fields and learn the secrets of the perfect cigar, zipline over tree canopy in Las Terrazas, Taste run in Trinidad and snorkel in Playa Larga are just some of the activities you get to immerse in whilst staying in local casas and enjoying farm to plate culinary experiences.
If you are a diver, you can join Simply Cuba Scuba tour. This tour was created by divers for divers, to ensure underwater enjoyment. Where you get to explore the Cuban reefs in pristine, balmy waters with great visibility in the perfect underwater playground. You even discover some shipwrecks along the way and if opted in, can have a night dive.
We also offer shorter tours, like our photography tour that allows you to capture the essence of Cuba through your lens, our birdwatching tour that showcases the spectacular birdlife in Cuba or our Western Cuba tour, that will help you unplug and recharge. No matter, which one you choose, we always stay at local casas, eat at local restaurants and have local service providers, through which we are giving back to the community, whilst bringing you a deeper cultural experience.
Article by Orsolya Bartalis, CO-Founder of Simply Cuba Tours