Cuba is no ordinary beach destination for Brits looking for a tropical tan. Behind the all-inclusive resorts and away from the sand and palm trees lies a fascinating country waiting to be discovered.
The island is the largest island in the Caribbean rich in both colonial history and more modern events including the rise to power of General Castro and the exploits of Chef Guevara. It feels different to every other destination you will visit in the area and offers a truly rich holiday experience.
It exudes Latin passion through its love of music, dance and fiesta and you can practice your Spanish on the friendly locals.
With the island around 9 hours flying time from the UK and direct flights from London as well as the regions it's an easy island to visit.
The biggest resort area is Varadero, a purpose built resort complex on the North coast filled with hotels, restaurants, nightlife and lined by a palm fringed 21 kilometre long white sand beach. There are plenty of watersports and lots of entertainment in the hotels. Get to Havana on days trips from here.
Guardalavaca is set in the Holguin region and is much quieter than busy Varadero with lush tropical forests and lots of individual beaches such as Playa Esmeralda to get into a range of watersports or to just lay about to top up your tan. Holidays here tend to be all inclusive so it's eating and drinking in your property as well as for your nightlife. You can however make a trip down to Santiago de Cuba, the second city of the nation and famous for its musical heritage
Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria are also on the north Coast and some of the quietest resorts in Cuba. Again the hotels tend to be all inclusive however the beaches are pure white soft sand and the many small islands that make up this archipelago can be explored while holidaying here.
Havana is the capital and a must see city, whether on a day trip from Havana, a twin centre with one of the beaches or as part of a tour on the island. Check out the colonial buildings such as the Parliament building, march across Revolution Square visit the UNESCO protected old town, tour a cigar factory or stroll along the Malecon waterfront. And once the lights go down catch the famous Tropicana show or try a daiquiri at El Floridita bar.
On a tour of the island you can also visit Trinidad, a protected Spanish colonial city in the south along with nearby Cienfuegos. In this area you can also visit the famous Bay of Pigs. Travel out west to the Sierra Maestra mountains to see the tobacco plantations around Vinales and Pinar del Rio. Sancti Spiritus is the burial place for Che Guevara.
Cuba can be visited year round however the best times of the year to visit are late November through to April with the temperatures in the high 20s, lots of sunny days and minimal rainfall.
Hurricane season starts in late summer and runs through to early November so be prepared for more unpredictable weather in those months. July and August tend to be the hottest months and it can feel uncomfortable for many holidaymakers at this time.
March - International Celebration of Classic Cars festival - see the many American vintage cars parade through Havana.
July & August - Havana hosts its annual carnival with processions and partying each weekend along the Malecon.
December - check out the Las Parrandas festival in Remedios near Cayo Santa Maria - partying to celebrate the end of the farming season with fireworks, floats and dancing till dawn.
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