Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba

Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba

Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba

I’ve been to Cuba 6 times, it’s one of my favorite countries. It’s been in the news a lot lately and, with the gradual opening up of the island to tourism from the US, I’ve been reminded of what a unique country Cuba is to visit. Now is definitely the time to visit.

The sun kissed shores of Cuba attracts thousands of visitors every year. It’s no surprise given the beaches, resorts and natural wonders. If you’re visiting Cuba for the first time, these must-visit attractions can’t be missed.


Related: Cuba Travel Guide: Where to Go and What to Do (including the Best Beaches)



Havana is a living museum that has to be visited at least once in a lifetime. The streets of Old Havana made famous in movies and books is unlike anywhere you’ve ever visited. Stroll the winding streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, admire the colonial architecture and stop for a mojito in one of the many charming bars. The most popular street, Obispo, is often lined with classic cars which have become synonymous with the city. From Buicks to Chevrolets and Cadillacs, it transports you back to the 50s.

Square in Old Havana, Cuba. Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba

Revolutions Square
. At the center of Havana’s largest square sits the impressive monument to Cuba’s national hero, José Martí. If you can brave the heights, take a lift to the top of the 42 meter monument and enjoy the best views of Havana.

Cars in Central Havana. Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba

Other Havana highlightsCentral Havana, with its crumbling buildings and (more) old cars, The Malecón (the famous seawall) for its views over the city and ocean, and El Morro fortress at the mouth of the harbour. Lots of nightlife including salsa and jazz clubs, cabaret and ballet. Havana is one of the most exciting cities in the Caribbean and you’ll never be bored.

A couple of tours you might be interested in: This day trip of Havana from Varadero. Or, if you’re already in Havana, this 2 hour tour in a classic 1950’s American convertible.
Accommodation: We stayed at the Iberostar Parque Central. Excellent, a refuge from the busy streets of Havana.

Related: Why you HAVE to visit Havana, Cuba. And what to See and Do




A world Heritage site with grand colonial buildings, courtyards, and church towers. Small and relaxed with lots of museums, restaurants and music venues, Trinidad has some interesting sites within proximity such as Playa Ancón (one of Cuba’s most beautiful beaches) and the very green Valle de los Ingenios (the valley containing the ruins of the 19th century sugar mills that made this area rich). Trinidad is actually our favorite place in Cuba.
Tours: there are day tours from Havana but I don’t recommend that. Too rushed. Instead stay a night or two and enjoy this beautiful town.
Accommodation: We stayed at Addys and Suarez House, a really nice casa particular. Very comfortable, great food, sweet people. Highly recommended. 

Trinidad main square. Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba

Related: How to get to Trinidad from Havana. And why Trinidad is worth the visit




Famous for the Parque Nacional Vinales, one of Cuba’s most spectacular natural settings. The valley is known for the large rocky outcrops (called mogotes) rising above green tobacco plantations and palm trees. Great for hiking, climbing, and horseback riding.
Tour: This full-day trip from Havana in a classic car. It’s a fixed rate for up to 3 people.

vinales, Cuba. Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba

Above: Source

Cayo Naranjo

Nestled in the Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park sits a dolphinarium which has become one of Cuba’s major tourist attractions. The site is situated in the sea, giving the dolphins the option to come and go as they please. If you’re lucky they may showboat for the crowd, leaping into the air with impressive tricks. The surrounding national park also offers some great hiking routes for walkers of all abilities.

dolphin in Cuba


Cayo Saetia

For a castaway paradise, take the short boat journey from Guardalavaca and you’ll find this haven of pure relaxation. Aside from the beaches, the island is home to exotic wildlife where visitors can take excursions into the forests, spotting zebra and maybe even some water buffalo. The island is also home to plenty of dive sites, offering an unforgettable underwater adventure.



A Unesco World Heritage site known for its impressive colonnaded buildings (most built in the mid-1800’s) and monuments. Must see’s: downtown around Parque Jose Marti (you’ll see Cuba’s version of the Arc de Triomphe, a Theatre, cathedrals, and a museum), the malecón (like Havana’s seawall, except the views are over the beautiful Bay of Cienfuegos), and Punta Gorda (the peninsula at the southern end of Cienfuegos).

car in Cienfuegos. Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba


Montemar Great National Park

Situated on the Zapata Peninsula (and not far from Cienfuegos), wildlife fanatics shouldn’t miss a trip to this expanse of verdant forests, lagoons and beaches. It’s also home to Cueva de los Peces (Cave of Fish) – a 70 m crack in the tectonic plate where visitors can scuba dive or snorkel in a flooded cave among a jaw dropping array of tropical fish. The area is also known for its Cuban crocodiles, best spotted in the swamplands on a guided tour.

.Beach at sunset, Varadero, Cuba


Cuba’s best Beaches

I couldn’t have an overview on Cuba without including beaches, they are the reason most travelers come to Cuba.

Varadero. The most popular and least expensive destination in Cuba. If you’re just going for the beaches, maybe with the kids, it’s a fine destination as the beach is beautiful. Lots of water sports as well as some fantastic golf courses.

Playa Ancon. One of the country’s best beaches, close to Trinidad. It’s a wonder that it hasn’t been built up yet but you can bet that this will change in the near future. For now a very quiet, white-sand beach.

Playa Ensenachos and Playa Mégano. Located on the tiny islet of Cayo Ensenachos, which is part of la Cayería del Norte, these protected crescents of sand drop off very gently, allowing bathers to wade 90m (295 ft.) or more out into the calm, crystal-clear waters. Both beaches are astoundingly beautiful. Entry point is the city of Santa Clara.

Cayos Coco and Guillermo. These tiny cays off the north coast, separated from the Cuban mainland by a long man-made causeway, are tucked into shallow waters that flow into the Atlantic. There’s barely a sign of the “real Cuba,” but what you do get is stunning, unspoiled beaches, excellent diving, and a full contingent of watersports. The most beautiful beach is Playa Pilar at the western tip of Guillermo.

Guardalavaca: Probably Cuba’s prettiest resort area, Guardalavaca is a hot spot, but not as overheated as Varadero. The area is one of lush tropical vegetation, brilliant white sands, and clear turquoise waters. Long stretches of coastline are interrupted by charming little cove beaches, and some of Cuba’s finest resort hotels are here. Located close to Holguin.

Playa Paraíso and Playa Sirena. These two connected beaches are the most outstanding of the uniformly spectacular stretches of sand along the length of Cayo Largo del Sur (a small island south of the Cuban mainland). Located on the more protected western end of the island, these are broad expanses of glistening, fine white sand, bordering the clear Caribbean Sea.

Tired and just want to relax? I’ve had a trips where I’ve just gone to a beach resort and spent the whole time drinking Cuba Libres, Mojitos and smoking cigars to the sound of Salsa. So Cuba is also a pretty perfect place to do nothing but chill.


Flying in

Most international travellers entering Cuba will fly into Havana’s Jose Marti Int’l Airport (airport code: HAV). Another popular entry point is Varadero (Juan Gualberto Gómez International Airport. Airport code: VRA)

Below: We use CheapOair to find the cheapest and most flexible flights


Related: Reasons We love Cuba


Have you been to Cuba? If so, what is your favorite spot?

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Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba
Why Now is the Time to Visit Cuba

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  1. We’ve talked about Cuba, it’s on the list. I’m one who has to ponder a place for a while before making the decision to visit. Kind of come at it from all angles so-to-speak. I’m keenly interested, I think because there is a kind of mystique about Cuba, but I’m not yet quite ready. With that being said though, your photos are certainly enticing! That sunset photo is to die for!

    1. It’s 90 miles off the coast of Florida, so for you guys it’s nothing when it finally opens up tourism. I’ve flown there so many times and it is so weird leaving the brightly lit coast of Florida then, suddenly coming up on Cuba which is mostly dark at night. Like flying over parts of Africa…Just another world just at your doorstep which for now has zero American influence.

  2. Diving in a fish cave, now that would be one for the books! You know I’ve never really thought about going to Cuba, possibly because I just didn’t really know what it had to offer, but having read this I’m quite intrigued. Such a photogenic place too, I’d love to wander the streets with a camera, wouldn’t even need a bit of sepia to make it look lovely and old fashioned. 🙂 I have mixed feelings about it being opened up to the US, as yes, much of the old world charm will doubtless be destroyed, but on the other hand everyone deserves progress, and whilst tourists may moan about it, surely it’s all about what’s good for the local people. Having said that, I’d definitely want to see it before it changes too much (I’d be one of the moaners as you know!!).

    1. We feel exactly the same way Heather. Cubans need progress and if anyone deserves it they do – but it’ll eventually end up like every other place which will be a shame for the tourist.For now can’t even imagine a McDonalds in Cuba but you know it will happen one day, just a question of time…

  3. Am I the only one surprised that there are zebras? I never would have guessed that. Glad to hear that the dolphines can come and go as they please. How long do you recommend a minimum stay?

    1. All depends on what you want to do. But for most 7-10 days fine…anything more you have to learn how to live without communications with the outside world because internet really is quite weak…

  4. I HAVE to get to Cuba! As you said, I definitely need to get there before it starts getting overrun with tourists. I want to see Cuba as it is now in a time capsule. I’ve never heard of Viñales before, but it looks dreamy. Aaahhh…this post is making me rethink my 2016 travel plans.

    1. “Time Capsule” – that’s exactly how I feel about it. I’ve compared Havana to Venice somewhere because when you go there you just feel like you’ve entered a crumbling museum of old buildings (in this case dating from the early to mid-1900’s). You know that’s all going to change when the place opens up to foreign investment…and those old cars will probably all be replaced by Hondas…The locals deserve investment, but it will definitely mean Cuba will lose some of its uniqueness.

  5. I’m heading to Cuba on the 28th. My family is from Cuba and I’ve been several times throughout the last few years. I think it’s going to take a long time for things to change in Cuba. They don’t have an infrastructure in place to handle many of the changes that are needed. Certain things like paint, wood, and building supplies are lacking. We need the embargo to be lifted so that many of these supplies can be imported into the country.

    1. Yes, the first thing that has to go is that ridiculous embargo. That was all about the US having the rug taken out from under them – they’ve made Cuba suffer for that for over 50 years. Like you say, infrastructure is terrible – banking and internet is 3rd world and the whole dual currency thing is a sham. But the people are smart, educated, motivated and proud. I think Cuba will do very well economically in the future given the chance. But it will take time.

  6. Looks really cool! I love the old cars. I think l would go there just to have an authentic Mojito . Gorgeous images as usual, the last one is awesome. I would love to go one day, it’s somewhere in the middle of the list, this has made it move up a bit 🙂 What??? You’ve only been six times?? Slacker!!! hahah!!!

    1. One of the main reasons was that it was the cheapest destination from Montreal – lots of discount fares to Cuba from Canada. Actually Canadians and Cubans have always had good relations. If you go to Varadero they actually have old Montreal buses on the roads..
      So I went a bunch of times when I was young and the money was tight. Then I went a few times with my son when he was young, they have some nice all-inclusives. Then, a couple of years ago, Lissette and I travelled there independently, visiting Havana – Trinidad – Cienfuegos. So I’m pretty comfortable in Cuba by now 🙂

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