Where to go in Cuba : Essentials
Cuba is the best vacation destination in the Caribbean. History, culture, great food, beautiful beaches, charming villages, amazing weather, fun nightlife, and island hopping. What more could you want?
All places are unique, wonderful, and worth visiting. But my favorites (especially for first timers) are Havana, Trinidad, Viñales, Santiago & Baracoa
If you can only go to one place then visit Havana or Santiago (they have the most to see and do). If you can only go to two then visit Havana & Trinidad (very easy to get between) or Santiago de Cuba & Baracoa (both have international airports making visiting from Canada easy).
- Best Place to visit for Couples and Honeymoon: Varadero, Guardalavaca
- Best Place to visit for Kids and Families: Varadero, Havana, Trinidad
- Best Place to visit for Nightlife: Havana, Varadero, Santiago
- Best Place to visit for Beaches: Varadero, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Levisa
- Best place to visit for Food: Baracoa
- Best places to visit for Hiking : Viñales, El Yunque, Topes de Collantes
Havana deserves one or two full days of sightseeing. But after that, get yourself to another city.
There are some great tours in Havana that should not be missed and most of the Best Hotels in Havana are centrally located and close to the main tourist sights.
From Old Havana, it’s an easy 20-minute taxi ride to the bus station.
Best places to visit in Cuba : Top 11 must-see sites
It is the city “with a thousand columns” classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Among the sites to be discovered:
- Habana Vieja (Old Havana),
- Catedral of San Cristóbal de La Habana,
- Strolls by the sea the Malecón,
- Castillo de la Real Fuerza,
- Capitolio Nacional which resembles the Parisian Pantheon,
- Paseo del Prado, avenue that separates Habana Vieja from Centro Habana,
- Grand Theatre Alicia Alonso, home of the Cuban National Ballet,
- Museum of the Revolution installed in the former presidential palace,
- Plaza Vieja, its restaurants and art galleries…
- Take a break in one of Ernest Hemingway’s two favourite bars to taste one of their best cocktails: the Floridita, and the Bodeguita del Medio.
2. La Finca La Vigia
Hemingway resided in this field until 1959, alternating trips to the Americas and Africa.
When he was in La Vigia with his fourth wife, he wrote, drank and received the bullfighters Dominguin and Ordonez, Gary Cooper, not forgetting the most beautiful women in the world: Ingrid Bergman and Ava Gardner.
The superb house is as Hemingway left it in 1959.
Situated on the heights of San Francisco de Paula, 15 kilometers southeast of the capital, Finca La Vigia overlooks the valley and offers a magnificent view of Havana and the sea in the distance .
Trinidad is located on the southern coast of Cuba.
The city is famous for its historic center with colonial architecture, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.
Strolling through the streets of this perfectly preserved small town is a real pleasure, with its colonial houses with pastel facades, traces of the glory years.
Take a short stroll around the Plaza Mayor and the Museo Romántico.
This small, isolated town, located northeast of Guantánamo, lies in the heart of a sumptuous natural environment.
The city, founded in 1511 on the seafront, glows in the sunshine with its colonnaded houses, wooden houses and lively town centre.
Discover the local culinary speciality with a spicy taste, the cucurucho, a coconut delicacy.
There are many beautiful walks to do in the surroundings of Baracoa, and many beautiful beaches.
5. Santa Clara
In the center of the island, Santa Clara is about 280 km from Havana.
The city is a must for all Che worshippers, who will go to see the Plaza de la Revolución or the Armoured Train monument.
6. Cayo Levisa
It is an islet surrounded by translucent water, a dream beach in all its splendour.
Cayo Levisa has a single and magnificent wild beach.
This island of white sand is covered by mangroves.
You can rent there masks, pedal boats, canoes or catamarans to go quietly observe the fish on the coral reef.
7. Santiago de Cuba
Port city located at the end of a deep bay controlled by a narrow pass (200 m wide) between the Caribbean Sea and the mountains of the Sierra Maestra.
It is the second city of the country, capital of the Oriente, “cradle of the revolution”.
It will delight lovers of colonial cities.
To see absolutely: the Céspedes park and the cathedral of Our Lady of Asunción.
Its lively character is present in its streets, where tradition and culture breathe, for example on Heredia street and in the Casa de la Trova.
The “city of churches”, those of the Spanish immigrants, whose colonial centre is classified by Unesco.
Its alleys, as labyrinthine as those of a Moroccan medina, hide Catholic churches and triangular squares, and reveal the most unexpected artistic secrets everywhere.
It is also the city of the tinajones (terracotta jars) intended to collect: water, oil or grain.
These jars can reach up to 2 m in height and 3 or 4 m in circumference.
Located at the bottom of one of the most beautiful bays in the Caribbean Sea, 228 km southeast of Havana.
The historic centre, which received the honours of UNESCO in 2005, is well preserved.
This colonial city nicknamed the “Pearl of the South” of Cuba certainly has a charm all its own and its maritime atmosphere gives it a unique character.
Every year the Benny Moré International Music Festival takes place in September, an important date for Cuban culture.
Likewise, the Carnival of Cienfuegos is one of the most famous days in the cultural context of the region and the island.
Not to be missed in Cienfuegos: El Parque José Martí, the main square, but also a lot of monuments such as the theatre, the Ferrer Palace or the Palacio del Valle.
10. Viñales Valley
Splendid landscape composed of orange trees, bougainvilleas, tobacco plants, small painted wooden houses called bohíos.
Everywhere you can see tobacco casas, where tobacco leaves are dried, sugar cane plantations and peasants at work in the fields.
The Viñales valley is especially famous for the mogotes, mountainous limestone mounds emerging from the plain that rise here and there in the middle of the fields.
The region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Varadero is located on the Hicacos Peninsula, 140 kilometers east of Havana.
It is a modern and gleaming seaside resort of Cuba, famous all over the world.
With more than 50 hotels on a peninsula with 20 km of beaches, Varadero is a special place on the island.
Lovers of natural spaces will be delighted by the splendid nature reserve of Punta Hicacos.
It is possible to visit several caves, including Cueva de Ambrosio and its pre-Columbian frescoes, a lagoon (Laguna de Mangon) and many desert beaches.
The peninsula is also a prime location for diving enthusiasts, as it has 23 dive sites.
Best places to visit in Cuba for nature
With its 6,000 kilometres of coastline, thousands of square kilometres of mangroves and coral reefs, tropical forests, mountains and 1,600 islets, Cuba spreads its abundant mosaic of landscapes under the tropical sun. It holds the record for the largest variety of floral species in the West Indies. Among these plants, no less than 6,000 are endemic.
To discover the richness of Cuba, you will be spoilt for choice: hiking, cycling, diving, fishing, observation, there is no shortage of activities for nature lovers. Need help choosing? Here are five of the must-see natural sites to discover during a sports trip to Cuba!
#1 Alejandro de Humboldt National Park
Mountains covered with forests exposed to the trade winds, mangroves along the coast, palm trees, an altitude of between -220 and +1175 meters: the largest of Cuba’s national parks offers the best conditions for the development of thousands of endemic species of the island.
It is located in the east, on the north coast, in the provinces of Guantanamo and Holguín. After a somewhat tortuous road, a guided walk will allow you to explore the small accessible part of the Humboldt Park (PNAH). Mammals, amphibians, reptiles, amazing plants, and in the sea the manatee, may be found in your souvenir photos. This territory was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
#2 Peninsula de Guanahacabibes Park and Biosphere Reserve
In the west of Cuba, in the province of Pinar del Rio, a peninsula is deep in the deep blue, between the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Gulf of Mexico to the north. This region is entirely protected.
The Guanahacabibes National Park is only one part of it: it represents an area of nearly 40,000 hectares, a small half of which is marine territory. Cliffs, beaches, coves, mangroves and lagoons form a rich ecosystem for more than 700 species of plants. You will see mammals, rare birds such as the zunzun (hummingbird), but also turtles, iguanas, fish and shellfish, and even whale sharks…
#3 Viñales National Park
Located north of Pinar des Rio, in the interior of the country, the Viñales National Park will seduce you all the more if you like cycling or speleology. Indeed, it is a lovable cultivated valley that stretches around a three hundred year old village, Viñales.
Although it is flat and perfect for cycling, the region is dotted with the famous “mogotes”: curious mountains with rounded summits that have resisted long erosion. There are many underground caves in the ground, one of which, the Cueva de Santo Tomas, has at least 50 kilometres of galleries that have been explored! Leave for an excursion at sunrise to discover the region in different colours.
A popular spot for cavers from all over the world.
#4 Ciénaga de Zapata
The Montemar Natural Park, formerly Ciénaga (marshland) of Zapata, is a wild and preserved wetland, which extends over a peninsula located about 150 kilometers southeast of Havana. You can explore this biosphere reserve in the company of a guide… and a good mosquito repellent!
But it’s worth it to observe this very special ecosystem where crocodiles and manatees, 900 species of plants, 190 species of birds (including hummingbirds and parrots), fish and many other creatures live side by side…
#5 Great Sierra Maestra National Park
In the province of Granma, in the south-east of Cuba, stands the largest mountain range on the island: the Sierra Maestra. Mountains covered with dense vegetation, whose peaks play with the clouds, lakes and waterfalls will offer you a dream land for unforgettable hikes.
Among them, you will be able to climb to the top of Pico Turquino, the highest peak in Cuba (1974m). This is a “serious” trek that will take you two or three days, necessarily with a guide. You will have the opportunity to discover high places of Cuban history such as Fidel Castro’s headquarters.
For the less sporty traveler, Cuba offers many places to see and activities to do on its territory. Lazing around, discovering the island by car, visiting cultural places… The choice is yours!
Best places to visit in Cuba for sightseeing
The island of Cuba brings together aboriginal, colonial European and African cultures.
It therefore has a very important heritage, and naturally abounds in magnificent cultural sites.
Difficult to appreciate everything during a short stay!
So, if you don’t plan to stay in Cuba for too long, here are five must-see sites on the island.
This agglomeration of 3.7 million inhabitants is not only the capital of Cuba, but also the largest city in the Caribbean.
It is the economic centre of the country and the seat of the Cuban government, but the focus will be on its historical heritage.
To start your trip to Cuba, Havana is an essential stopover that will allow you to take the pulse of the island.
The district “La Habana Vieja” (Old Havana) is the historical center.
It has been preserved and restored over the last few years and is even classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its “interesting mix of Baroque and Neoclassical monuments”.
It is a maze of narrow streets, with courtyards and admirable wrought-iron gates.
Densely populated, it contains the majority of monuments, churches and museums.
The fine arts and resistance museums are particularly complete and interesting.
Historic Center of Havana: La Habana Vieja
Outside of this district, the Malecon, the promenade along the coast, the cigar factories and the architecture in general, which has resisted modernism and remained authentic, are particularly noteworthy.
#2 The Valley of Los Ingenios
Also known as the “Valley of the Sugar Cane” because of the sugar cane plantations, this valley is located east of Trinidad City.
Visitable by train, it will give you the opportunity to admire a multitude of ruins and typical houses from the colonial period, as well as the fields where more than 11,000 slaves worked.
#3 The Castle of San Pedro de la Roca
Also known as Castillo del Morro, this fortress was built from 1637 onwards by Juan Bautista Antonelli to defend the city of the same name against pirate attacks.
Overlooking the coast of Santiago de Cuba, the building impresses by the way it is installed on the steep slopes of the coastline.
It is also cited as the best preserved and most complete example of Spanish-American military architecture.
#4 Tren Blindado
This unique place is one of a kind and a cultural site that cannot be ignored in Cuba.
It is a national monument, but also a park and an open-air museum. It pays homage to the Cuban revolution, in particular to the battle of December 1958, during which Che Guevara derailed an armoured train.
The train’s carriages have been restored and integrated into the museum, along with other equipment from that period. The site also has an obelisk in memory of Che and the revolutionaries.
#5 The city of Camagüey
Like Havana, Camagüey has an exceptional historical centre.
Indeed, the city having been the target of numerous pirate attacks over the centuries, it was shaped and rebuilt over long periods of time.
The architecture of its buildings thus reflects the different styles, as well as the evolution of artisanal construction techniques.
The layout, which is very particular, consists of an interweaving of narrow streets, winding alleys, small squares and irregular blocks of houses.
Best places to visit in Cuba for Beaches
#1 Varadero Beach, Varadero
Located 140 km east of Havana, Varadero is a 1.2 km wide barrier beach that penetrates the calm and warm waters of this Atlantic region.
It is Cuba’s most famous seaside resort and a holiday destination that has earned a worldwide reputation.
On 20 km of fine white sand, in turquoise and shallow water, enjoy the pleasures offered by Playa Azul among others, between swimming, water sports, discovery of the sea bed and magnificent caves and many other activities to do.
It is a long and magnificent beach that will allow you to get away from the big and busy hotel complexes.
#2 Playa Perla Blanca, Cayo Santa Maria
Cayo Santa Maria is part of a large archipelago called Jardines del Rey, or King’s Gardens.
The islet is distinguished by 13 km of magnificent beaches, a coral reef and an ecosystem classified by UNESCO.
At the eastern end of Cayo Santa María, by a dusty road, access the splendid beach of Perla Blanca, one of the most preserved in the country.
Enjoy these kilometers of virgin and wild beaches, white sand and azure blue water, calm and limpid.
#3 The Jardines del Reina Archipelago
The Jardins de la Reine archipelago is the ideal site for diving enthusiasts.
This virgin and wild marine nature reserve, located 60km off the coast of Havana and accessible by boat, is a fabulous site.
Reefs and mangroves shelter an incredible marine fauna.
If you want to meet sharks, crocodiles or even turtles and groupers, this is definitely the place to be!
#4 Cayo Levisa, Viñales
Cayo Levisa accessible by boat is a unique and little frequented place and is located not far from Viñales.
Here again we find the white sand and the turquoise sea so characteristic of this region. You will find only one beach, the rest of the island being covered by the mangrove.
#5 Playa Paraíso, Cayo Largo del Sur
Literally, the beach of Paradise! It is not a fortuitous name for this place, still preserved from mass tourism.
The islet Largo del Sur is located off the southern coast of Cuba and has no permanent inhabitants.
It is a very quiet and wild place, famous for its spectacular dive sites and coral reefs. In your corner of paradise, enjoy a mojito while admiring the magnificent sunset.
Best places to visit in Cuba : Off the beaten tracks
- Santa Isabel de Las Lajas : Organize an interesting excursion to Santa Isabel de Las Lajas, the city where Benny Moré was born.
- Sancti Spíritus : Visit the authentic paradise of Sancti Spíritius and enjoy its culture, nature and important and well-known places.
- Matanzas : Let yourself be seduced by Matanzas while you visit all the corners of this magical province of Cuba.
- Versalles : Stroll through the historic French Quarter of Matanzas, today the Popular Council and across the bridge over the Yumurí murí River.
- Cárdenas : Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Cárdenas, a perfect example of the colonial city on the island of Cuba.
- Siboney : Visit the coastal town of Siboney, located east of Santiago de Cuba and next to Baconao Park.
- Chivirico : Visit a typical Cuban village and enjoy the mountains and the beach at the same time during your trip to Santiago de Cuba.
- Florida : Visit Florida, a small village full of traditions in the province of Camagüey.
- Nuevitas : Visit the industrial city of Nuevitas, located in the north of the province of Camagüey.
- Brasil : Discover the art of fishing in the ancient city of Brasil, north of Camagüey.
- Artemisa : Discover Artemisa and what you can see there
- San Antonio de los Baños : Discover the village of San Antonio de los Baños in Artemisa, Cuba
- Soroa : Visit Soroa in the province of Artemisa, Cuba.
- Las Terrazas : Enjoy Las Terrazas in Sierra del Rosario, Artemisa, Cuba.
- Gibara : Discover the beautiful municipality of Gibara and the interesting history of its foundation.
- Isla de la Juventud : Come and discover the incomparable charm of the marvellous landscapes of the particular Cuban municipality of Isla de la Juventud.
- Nueva Gerona : You will find your ideal destination in Nueva Gerona, the capital of Isla de la Juventud, if what you are looking for is a quiet place with lots of entertainment.
- Guardalavaca : Explore one of the most beautiful areas of the province and enjoy its amazing beaches and natural landscapes.
- Banes : Visit Banes and find out why it is called the archaeological capital of Cuba.
- Guantánamo : Visit the famous province of Guantánamo and enjoy the purest nature in the east of Cuba.
- Baracoa : Explore the beautiful colonial city of Baracoa, discover its splendid enclaves and admire its historic fortresses.
- Granma : Let yourself be surprised by Granma, the cradle of the Revolution, and discover all the secrets that surround this province.
- Bayamo : Discover the history that has made Bayamo a legend and enjoy the dances in the streets of the city.
- Manzanillo : Discover the authentic Cuban sound in the nights of Manzanillo and admire the particular architecture of its houses.
- Ciego de Ávila : Begin your visit to Ciego de Ávila by immersing yourself in the culture of its small villages and end up in its heavenly beaches.
- Morón : Visit this more relaxed-looking Cuban town where there is a huge variety of activities to do.
- Las Tunas: Visit Las Tunas and immerse yourself in the history and culture of the paradisiacal “Balcony of the Orient” during your trip to Cuba.
Best places to visit in Cuba for hiking
If you like to hike in nature, Cuba is also the place for you: the island has many parks and nature reserves where you can venture to discover the native flora and fauna.
Of course, the geographical position of the island gives it a tropical climate that allows for a natural richness unparalleled in the Caribbean.
The Cuban archipelago can be considered a paradise on earth in terms of its vast biodiversity.
Thus it presents a great variety of landscapes and ecosystems. The flora includes about 11,000 species, including 6,700 types of higher plants with 51% endemism.
This means that 4% of the planet’s vegetation is represented in Cuba.
With regard to fauna,there are
- 88 species of mammals
- 406 species of birds
- 21 of which are endemic
- 120 species of reptiles
- 46 amphibians
- 1,400 species of molluscs
- 8,300 insects
- 1,400 arachnids.
None of the species is dangerous to humans.
As a result, hikers will be in direct contact with all this exuberant nature and will be able to explore in complete safety.
According to the criteria of our experts, the mountain sites in Cuba offer not only beautiful views but also a world to discover. Here is our Top 10 hiking spots:
#1 – Viñales Valley, Pinar del Río
In the heart of the Sierra de los Organos, Viñales is a very fertile valley dedicated to the cultivation of tobacco and dotted with “mogotes” (limestone cliffs).
Considered as the most spectacular landscape in Cuba, the valley has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the category of natural landscapes.
It is a wonderful destination for hiking, caving, biking and horseback riding.
#2 – Mil Cumbres, Pinar del Río
A protected area that hosts a great diversity of plant species, such as the cork palm (Microcycas calocoma), considered a living fossil, and the only rainforest formation in western Cuba.
It is an excellent place for bird watching.
There is also the highest peak of Pinar del Río, Pan de Guajaibón, with 700 m of altitude.
#3 – Sierra de Banao, in Sanctis Spiritus
With a surface area of 6,091 ha and heights of over 500 m, the region stands out for its high degree of conservation and its landscapes that are home to a fascinating biodiversity, where some species exclusive to Sierra de Banao can be found.
History has also left its mark on the different periods of the revolutionary struggle, such as the Caballete de Casa camp used by Che Guevara’s troops in 1958.
#4 – Topes de Collantes (Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus)
The Escambray massif seems to be specially designed by nature for hiking.
The mountains reach an altitude of almost 1,000 metres, the climate is cool and several rivers allow for pleasant stops along the way.
The Topes de Collantes park offers several excursions and hikes with the possibility of swimming.
The endemic flora and fauna of the region will not disappoint you, in a landscape populated by the main local culture: coffee.
#5 – Lake Hanabanilla in Villa Clara
The Hanabanilla is an artificial lake surrounded by mountains and of extraordinary beauty.
Its name means in Arawak language “little golden basket”, due to its natural wealth.
The excellent state of conservation makes it ideal for fishing and hiking.
#6 – Desembarco del Granma Park
It was in this region that Fidel, with 81 expeditionaries, disembarked from the yacht Granma and headed for the Sierra to lead the revolution that culminated in the triumph of 1959.
In addition to its historical context, this park is the largest and most preserved exponent of the system of marine terraces on limestone rocks. It also contains dozens of important archaeological sites.
#7 – Turquino Park (Granma) and Humboldt Park (Guantánamo)
Pico Turquino is the highest point in Cuba at 1,974 meters above sea level.
Located in the center of the Sierra Maestra, it is in the homonymous national park.
Its summit has been the object of a kind of pilgrimage since the father of the revolutionary fighter Celia Sánchez had a bust of the national hero José Martí erected there in 1953.
The Alejandro de Humboldt Park is a national park located 40 km from Baracoa on the road to Moa.
It was named after the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt who visited the island in 1800 and 1801.
The park contains much of the virgin forest of the country.
It has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its great wealth of flora and fauna and its excellent state of conservation.
At Taco Bay, it is possible to take a boat trip to observe manatees in the mangroves.
#9 – La Gran Piedra in Santiago de Cuba
The Gran Piedra is part of the Sierra Maestra mountain range.
It is considered the third largest rock in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records with 70,000 tons and 1,225 meters in height.
On a clear day you can enjoy an exceptional panorama.
Pleasant because of its microclimate, there are coffee plantations bequeathed by French immigrants from Haiti in the 18th century, including the “Cafetal la Isabelica” classified by Unesco.
#10 – El Yunque, in Baracoa, Guantánamo.
This mountain, 560 m high, is the symbol of the oldest city in Cuba.
Christopher Columbus described this elevation in his Navigation Diary, upon his arrival in Baracoa on November 24, 1492.
Since then, it has become a natural lighthouse for all navigators crossing the Old Bahamas Canal.
Best places to visit in Cuba for Diving
In the heart of a calm and safe sea, Cuba offers many dive sites, each one wonderful from the other.
What makes marine explorations even more fascinating is the rather impressive number of galleons and pirate ships that ran aground in the course of the XXVIII and XIX century that are still in the depths.
The inhabitants of the sea are not displeased by this, as they find refuge there, colourful and abundant fish.
From North to South or from West to East, the island is a mine for ocean lovers, adventurers or divers in search of new landscapes to explore. Here are a few examples.
#1 – Avalon – Jardines de la Reina
The Jardines de la Reina archipelago is renowned as one of the best diving and fishing sites in the world.
Thanks to its isolation and environmental protection measures, the marine park has an abundant fauna of giant groupers, barracudas, rays, obispos, turtles and reef sharks.
The Avalon is reserved for shark enthusiasts.
At 25 meters where visibility is good and currents are weak, you can see up to twenty reef sharks.
This site is not for the shy.
#2 – Cueva Azul (The Blue Cave) – Isla de la Juventud
The Isle of Youth has, to its credit, the largest number of dive sites in Cuba (56 sites). This natural paradise is home to giant corals, caves, galleries, huge “sugar loaves”, impressive walls and a wide range of fish.
The Blue Grotto, an ideal diving site, is accessible through a gallery with three different exits (the exit is located at a depth of 35 or even 42 meters).
In addition, sponges, coral formations and schools of manjúas welcome divers.
Before leaving this magical place, you will be at a depth of 1,500 metres.
#3 – Yemayá – María la Gorda
María la Gorda and Cabo de San Antonio, the two international diving centres, have the most varied dive sites on the island.
Located at the western end of Cuba, they are romantic sites with unforgettable sunsets on white sandy beaches.
The site known as Yemayá is special.
You will have to go down a vertical wall and enter through a mysterious cave following observations of a profusion of fish, giant gorgonians and black corals.
Martín, guide and diving instructor, is the specialized person to accompany you on this marine excursion.
#4 – Ojo del Megano – Varadero
Located some 6 km from the coast. The expedition is organized by the Club Barracuda de Varadero.
Ojo del Megano is a vertical gallery (in English, “blue hole”), in other words an ancient underwater cave whose roof has collapsed. At a depth of only ten metres, the cave is a natural refuge for various species of fish, including snappers, barracudas and chernas, in addition to predators.
The walls are covered with a large number of lobsters and several coral fish.
With a circumference of 45 meters with a depth of more than 70 meters, Ojo del Megano offers an easy and pleasant trip.
#5 – Banco de Jagua – Cienfuegos
The excursion is organized by the Faro Luna Club on a quiet day, some 80 km from the coast.
Banco de Jagua looks like a mountain emerging from an abyss, hence the difficulty of the immersion.
At a depth of 18 to 40 meters, one can admire a wide variety of corals, sponges and various marine species, including barracudas, bass, chernas, snappers, parrot fish, poisonous rays, turtles, gatas, reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and, depending on the season, whale sharks.
#6 – El Colón – Santiago de Cuba
100 km from the city of Santiago in a beautiful place known as La Mula, where the Turquino River flows into the Caribbean Sea.
El Colón contains the best preserved wrecks from the colonial era.
Only six meters from the coast you can go straight down to the stern and if you go towards the bow, at 32 meters you will appreciate other remains.
The bottom is sieved with bullets, casings and other metal pieces.
Stones dragged by the current produce a mystical sound that gives a magical touch to the site.
#7 – Tiburones Toro
Sharks’ Friends Centre, Playa Santa Lucía
Here is another site for shark lovers.
As visibility is not very good, choose a clear day to witness the feeding of whale sharks by experienced divers.
This takes place at a depth of 28 meters during the ebb and flow of the sea.
Stay out of the way and avoid the red! (Just kidding! )
#8 – El Acuario – Cayo Largo
The beaches of this beautiful little island have the whitest and finest sand in the archipelago.
You will find a large number of seagulls, pelicans, sea turtles and iguanas.
In addition, the waters contain more than thirty dive sites.
El Acuario is located at a depth of fifteen meters, where coral fish, poisonous rays, obispos, turtles and gatas live.
#9 – El Ebano – Playa Girón, Bay of Pigs
Twenty-four dive sites are scattered from Playa Larga to Playa Girón, all accessible from the coast.
A turquoise sea with very clear water invites you to scuba diving, snorkeling and offers excellent visibility.
Close to the coast, we descend through a beautiful canyon to the point where the wall rises to a depth of 23 metres.
In this place, there is not a great variety of fish, but the wall and the sea are spectacular.
Under the cliff, on the way back, you must visit the small caves, another attraction of the site.
#10 – Boca de Caldera – Habana del Este
Boca de Caldera can be considered the best diving area in Havana, accessible through the rocky coast.
You will have to swim some 200 meters.
At a depth of five meters, you will find a small cave that will lead you to the first 12-meter wall.
In addition, the good visibility and the absence of sea currents will allow you to enjoy an impressive garden of corals, sponges and gorgonians, as well as a large population of coral fish.
Eric Testi is an avid diver who has more than 3,500 dives to his credit, most of which were in Cuban waters.
Together with his wife, Déborah Andollo, the diving instructor has participated in various underwater documentaries, most recently with NHK of Japan, in addition to his participation in several environmental defense projects.
Best places to visit in Cuba to dance Salsa
In Havana :
In Santiago de Cuba
- Casa de la Trova
- La Claqueta
Best places to visit in Cuba for Nightlife
72 y 41, Marianao
Inaugurated in 1931, the Tropicana cabaret, which has hosted Benny Moré, Nat King Cole, Jack Nicholson and ‘Lucky’ Luciano, among others, can accommodate 1,400 people and 200 dancers performing all the popular dances of Cuba in a Las Vegas-style show.
The dancers are beautiful and the costumes, choreography and numbers are excellent.
However, the food is more than mediocre, the show is a bit long and the place is invariably very touristy.
No substantial reforms have been adopted, and the basic formula has remained the same for years.
Hôtel Nacional, Vedado
Le Parisien is located in the Hotel Nacional and shares the richness of its history.
The show is much less pretentious than Tropicana’s and has fewer dancers, hence its intimate and welcoming atmosphere.
The dancers are very beautiful and the costumes, choreographies and numbers are excellent.
We advise you to leave before midnight, before the actor’s act and the start of the disco music.
Cabaret Nightclub : Havana Café
Hotel Cohíba, Vedado
This is where Vincent Vega would come to drink a $10 milkshake in Havana, and even if you can’t sit inside the Chevy, Pontiac or Buick, these cars on display here bring the chic touch of the 50s.
Not surprisingly, in the case of a facility located inside the Meliá Cohiba, the Havana Café is a quality space that offers impeccable service, even if the pompously Americanized gastronomic offerings are not up to Melia’s standard.
When the best Cuban orchestras, such as Van Van and the Charanga Habanera, perform there, the Havana Café is the best option and the cues form long before the opening.
Club de Jazz Café
1ra y Paseo, Vedado
Quiet, sophisticated and very cold because of the air conditioning, the Jazz Café is not only an excellent place to listen to some of Cuba’s best jazz performers – including Chucho Valdés – but also to converse in a pleasant atmosphere.
The gastronomy there is correct and the prices are very affordable.
Club de Jazz : La Zorra y el Cuervo
23 y O, Vedado
This box was named after the famous fable of the crow and the fox.
The facility – located in the basement – is accessed through a red telephone box made in the UK. Famous bands, both Cuban and foreign, come on stage at 10:30 pm. Intimate and intense atmosphere.
Bolero : El Gato Tuerto
O e/ 21 y 19, Vedado
Closed during the 90s, El Gato Tuerto reopened a few years ago.
Decorated in postmodern Art Deco style, the box, which is usually crowded, is the perfect place to listen to good boleros.
Connoisseurs usually go there. The pleasure will not be complete for non-smokers.
Bar : La Taberna
Plaza Vieja, Vieille-Havane
This micro-brewery (a semi-public company between Austria and Cuba) almost only serves beer.
Located in the Old Square, beautifully renovated, it is the perfect setting to enjoy a Cuban “cerveza”.
Grilled chicken and pork are nothing extraordinary, but after five mugs they become a treat for the palate.
To dance : Café Cantante / Delirio Habanero
These two addresses are part of the complex of the Theatre Nacional on Revolution Square.
Although you can dance in both of them, we recommend that you first visit the Café Cantante, in the basement, and then the Delirio, one of the few establishments in the city open until 5 in the morning.
The simple decor and its basement location do not prevent the “singing” café from attracting the best salsa groups of the moment.
To dance : Turquino
25th floor of Hotel Habana Libre, Vedado
An absolutely chic site. This discotheque, located on the twenty-fifth floor of the Hotel Habana Libre, offers the best view of Havana.
The windows are like a wall, and a retractable roof revealing the starry sky: the decor is certainly that of a discotheque, the glasses are expensive and the atmosphere is not really authentic, but the view is always pleasant. It’s worth it at least once.
To dance : Casa de la Música
Miramar and Galiano
Currently, Havana has two music houses. In general, Miramar’s clientele is more elegant and the “matinees” attract a crowd that prefers dancing rather than sitting down to watch and drink.
If you like to dance salsa, look no further.
You’ll return several times. When the most popular groups perform there, the price of admission goes up considerably, but the frenzy of the crowd makes it an unforgettable experience.
Bar : Café Paris
Obispo y San Ignacio, Old Havana
Café Paris, which some people think is as Parisian as Middlesbrough, remains one of the few places in Old Havana where tourists rub shoulders with other tourists and Havanese.
Main attraction: Café Paris looks authentically Cuban and, true or false, its small and full bar, with an incredible band, maintains its frank popularity.
Friday Night House Party
Look for the Friday night party, the perfect opportunity to meet the trendy young people of Havana.
The seat changes every week. Last year it took up residence at the Morro Fortress, the Copa Room at the Hotel Riviera and the bar above the Karl Marx Theatre, among others.