10 Reasons to Visit Cuba Now
Cuba is one of the most unique destinations on earth. Seemingly stopped in time, with a rich cultural and political history, it’s changing fast. There’s no better time to visit than right now.
Our Top Ten Reasons to Visit Cuba Now
1) Beaches, Beaches and more Beaches
It’s no secret that Cuba lies smack dab in the centre of a whole lot of sparkling turquoise water. The thought of unwinding on one of the country’s many sandy beaches, fresh mojito in hand, is too divine for words.
2) Travel Back in Time to the 1950s
Since the 1960s, a U.S. embargo against Cuba has prevented virtually all trade between the 2 countries, with mostly negative effects, except one. The preponderance of lovingly cared for American classic cars.
Cuba might be the last place on earth where 1950s era Fords, Buicks and Pontiacs cruise the streets. It’s like taking a step back in time.
3) Get musical in Buena Vista Social Club Style
Though the infectious rhythms, and heartfelt vocals of Cuban music were brought to international recognition in the late 1990s by Wim Wenders documentary, the members of the Buena Vista Social Club had been meeting and playing together in Havana since the 1940s.
What better place to take in a Buena Visa Social Club Style show than in Havana, the place of its birth.
4) See the Bay of Pigs, where the World Changed Forever
In 1959, Castro, El Che and many of their supporters overthrew the American backed dictator Batista and set up a new form of government. At this time, Cuba was NOT a communist country, despite warm relations with the USSR.
The Americans under Eisenhower, and then Kennedy set up a CIA trained group to retake the country by way of arms. The planned invasion happened on April 17th 1961 and failed a few short days later.
The consequences of this failure were enormous: 1) Cuba was pushed into Soviet arms and nuclear weapons landed on Cuban shores for the first time, in 1962. When the Americans found out, both the Americans and Russians had their fingers on the button for a whole week. This is the closest we’ve ever come to nuclear warfare. 2) Kennedy was blamed by many for the failures of the operation and he was killed for it, regardless of whether it was Lee Harvey Oswald, the CIA or the Cuban exiles who did it. 3) Cuba became the David who defeated Goliath and became an inspiration for other Latin American countries to do the same.
The Bay of Pigs invasion was a pivotal moment in the 20th century and there’s no better way to understand this history than in the place where it happened.
5) It’s on the Cusp of Historic Changes
Agri was born in a Communist country. Propoganda with his comrades carrying AK47s or pickaxes are vividly imprinted on his memory. He can still hear his own voice saying “Down with the Capitalist Imperialists” and “Long Live the People’s Party.”
He watched the Berlin Wall fall from the other side of the Iron Curtain, in Albania. He remembers tanks on the streets, wild riots, and food shortages. He thought that things would never change. But they did. And Communism fell.
Now, Cuba is on the cusp of historic changes. The old guard is ailing fast and a new generation, with new ideas is coming to power. The winds of change are upon the country and a transformation is inevitable. We want to get there before it changes too much.
6) Complete a Communist Mausoleum Viewing Trifecta in Santa Clara
Communist countries seem to have a habit of preserving the remains of their leaders for public viewing. And while viewing corpses is not really our idea of “fun” on a holiday, we can’t seem to resist these ghoulish sites. We’ve seen Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi and Mao in Beijing, but missed out on Lenin in Moscow because he was being re-embalmed.
In Cuba, we’d have a chance to complete a trifecta at the Mausoleo in Santa Clara, which houses the remains of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara and 29 of his fallen comrades. Executed in Bolivia in 1967 for attempting to spur an armed uprising, at the Mausoleo, we’ll be able to gaze up at a 22 foot statue of Che, peruse a museum dedicated to his life, and see the eternal flame lit in his memory by Fidel himself.
7) It’s the Home of the Cohiba
Created in 1966 for Fidel Castro himself, and made at a then top secret location, Cohibas are considered by many to be made of the finest cigar tobacco available in Cuba, and perhaps the world.
In Canada, a box of the tiny Cohiba Siglo I’s costs $425, but in Cuba, it’s possible to buy a box for around 130 convertible pesos, 1/4 of the price. That’s quite a discount. And even though I wouldn’t call myself anything close to a smoker, the chance to taste one of the world’s finest cigars in the country of it’s origin, is something I just can’t resist.
8) When Your Scooter Breaks Down, a Village Comes to Help
On our last trip there, we spent much of our time in a small village close to La Boca Beach in Camaguey. It was an 8 kilometre scooter ride from our all-inclusive resort, and a beautiful ride we happily made each day, in order to meet with our new friends.
The problem was that the darn scooter kept breaking down, leaving us stranded far from where we needed to be. Fortunately, Cubans despite not having much themselves, are some of the kindest, most generous people on earth. Whether it was treating us to home cooked meals, a private performance of Guantanamera, fixing our scooter, or baking us a tart with rationed sugar, we were always treated like family.
It’s a genuine warmth we long to experience again.
9) Re-Connect with Pepe, Miguel and Maria in Santa Lucia
We met a lot of wonderful people in Cuba, but Pepe, Miguel and Maria are the ones we still think of to this day. Days spent practising Spanish on Pepe’s porch, early morning fishing with Miguel and Maria’s warm hospitality are experiences impossible to forget.
We wonder, are they still there? Will they remember us? How are they? The only way to know is to go back to Cuba.
10) Cuban Sunsets are full of Magic
When the sun sets in Cuba, wild horses walk romantically down the streets and hearts magically appear in the sky. And why wouldn’t they? In a country who’s very soul is overflowing with love and enchantment, we’re not surprised.
Cuba is truly unique, and we can’t wait to return.
Would you like to visit Cuba? What are your top reasons to visit?
I am very interested in visiting Cuba now that Americans can go. I have heard wonderful things about it and appreciate your insight!
Yes it’s definitely a wonderful place to visit! The people are so kind and the natural environment is unbelievable! I would try to visit sooner rather than later, before it gets changed too much by the impact of too much tourism! 🙂
Amazing. If Cuba already wasn’t on my bucket list, it would have been now 🙂
Hi Patricia. 🙂 I’m dying to get back there, especially with the recent news of the US and Cuba attempting to thaw relations. A sudden influx of US tourists would definitely change the vibe of the place!
Hopefully it will keep its spirit until I get there! 🙂
Po' Girl Shines
Always wanted to visit Cuba when my grandma and mom told me about it.
Cuba is a truly unique and amazing country! Were your grandma and mom able to visit there themselves? I hope you make it there one day so you can experience it’s beauty for yourself. 😀
Been to Cuba 🙂 Lovely post and agree with your reasons! Additionally I would like to return to Havana and dive in Jardines de la Reina for sharks diving 😉
Cuba is a wonderful place, isn’t it Indah? Sharks diving!?!? You’re brave! 😀 Lol…when we were in Cuba, my hubby was swimming, and all of the locals were freaking out because they said there were sharks in the water where he was. He made it back safely though, thank god!!
Awwww man!! Totally inspiring post 🙂 We SO want to visit Cuba (as we do the rest of the world).
We would love to return. It’s been about 8 years, but it’s still one the best trips we’ve ever taken… mostly because of the amazing Cuban people! 🙂
Great read Shelley. Cuba has been high on our list for the very same reasons. Was hoping to visit next year, but looks like we will have to put it off a bit.
Thanks Madhu. 🙂 Cuba is a truly amazing destination, and it’s changing fast. Definitely worth getting there as soon as possible I think (before Starbucks ends up on every corner – god forbid)! 😉
I LOVE Cuban salsa dancing. I can’t wait until I can sneak into Cuba (I’m American) and take some Cuban salsa lessons, listen to live Cuban salsa music, and dance till I drop every night!!
-Amanda at http://teachingwanderlust.com/
Hey Amanda. Lol, well hopefully there will come a day when you don’t have to sneak into the country to take those Cuban salsa lessons! 🙂 It’s a beautiful place, filled with beautiful souls, I hope you get to visit soon.
Justine of The Travel Lush
Cuba is my favorite country on Earth! I agree that people should visit now. It’s political situation and embargo make it an incredibly intriguing place. And it’s going to change A LOT once the US opens relations with Cuba. Now’s the time!
Cuba is so wonderful, in no small part to it’s amazing people. I hope it only changes in ways that benefit the Cuban people, but that they keep as much of their beautiful culture as possible. I would hate to go there and see Starbucks outside a historic site, like in Beijing, (where I was completely shocked to find a Starbucks just outside the Forbidden City!) 🙁 So much for communism…
Ended up with 10 great reasons I think. ^^
There are so many great reasons to go there, I actually started with 17 and had to seriously narrow down and edit. It was turning into a monster of a post. 🙂