Cigarillos, Castro, Cuba Libres and Cadillacs
Before the revolution rolled into Cuba, it was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. Many Americans owned beach homes and properties along the coast. However, after the 1960’s tourism declined mainly due to the political turmoil which engulfed the country. Cuba is a land of distinct culture and vibrant society. The people are friendly and warm and it is an epitome of life in the Caribbean. Unlike most of the other islands in the region, the African population in Cuba is almost nonexistent. Spanish is the main language in the country but most people speak a smattering of English. Cuba has been portrayed in more than one James Bond movie and an image of tropical suits, bar umbrellas and orange bathing suits come to mind.
Life in Cuba is quite laid back and the locals never seem to be in any hurry. Traffic flows at its own steady pace and there are countless pathways and cobbled streets in town. Street lights are practically unheard off and most of the cars are ancient artifacts and remnants of the American period. You shouldn’t be surprised if you find a pink Cadillac Seville or two wandering around the streets. Cuba as we all know is known for its excellent cigars. Since import of Cuban cigars is banned in many countries, you might want to smoke a cigar or two during your visit. Cuba has a long coastline and the conditions are generally tropical.
The country has a varied topography and offers a variety of seaside and inland activities to the visitors. You will find everything from lush green jungles to white sand beaches in Cuba. There are a range of national parks and nature reserves located in the country as well. Cuba is a country which offers much but has been put on hold due to the various internal problems and sanctions.
There are plenty of attractions around town and this range from ex mafia clubs to white sand beaches. Prostitution is quite a bit of a problem, especially in place where tourists are known to frequent. Certain Cuba beaches are known to be centers for picking up women and they are notoriously open towards tourists as well. Walking around Havana is the best way to experience the culture of Cuba. Tropicana is an expensive club which is frequented by tourists. Since the price is too steep for the locals, you will find only expats and foreigners in the club. The place will transport you back in time and provide a glimpse of Cuba before the revolution.
Most of the clubs around town play music with a Cuban influence. Cuban reggae is the most popular and the music scene is a mix of tradition lyrics and modern music. The beaches in Cuba are clean but prostitution is a problem along the coast. In fact both female and transsexual prostitutes can be found near the beaches and you might want to avoid them. Most beaches have shacks which serve local liquor (usually rum) and some food. You will also come across countless markets in the towns and surrounding villages. Taking a day trip to countryside is also a good option.
The National Fine Arts Museum and Museum of the City are also worth the visit. There are several cigar factories in Cuba and you can visit them if you are interested in learning the process and taking a puff or two. Cuba also offers excellent spots for scuba diving, river rafting and mountain biking. Kayaking and wind surfing activities are also available in beaches such as Cayo, Verdadero and Coco.
Hiking, trekking and conservation tours are common in most of the national parks in the region. These Eco systems are quite beautiful and are definitely worth the visit. However, it might take you a long time to get there and you have to check the proximity beforehand. The Parque Nacional La Guira, Vinales and Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes are some of the options. There are several villages located along the coast and these tiny villages are ideal for escaping the hustle and bustle of the city. Some of them even have facilities for snorkeling and diving along with good sea food.Maria la Gorda is one such village which is popular among western tourists.