Not sure where to go this spring? Catch the tail end of Cuba’s dry season in April and May. With borders recently opened to American travelers, the Caribbean’s largest island is experiencing a true tourism renaissance.
The arts and culture
What better way to fill a steamy Havana night than with Cuba’s easy-flowing music and vibrant art. Jazz clubs and salsa bars are a great way to get your culture fix, but one of Cuba’s great beauties is the constant filling of its streets with music. Buskers and painting vendors are constantly out peddling their wares, and it’s no difficult task to enjoy Cuban creativity. Joyful arts and culture are simply part of the fabric of daily life.
Carnivores rejoice. Cuban cuisine doesn’t skimp on the meat. While you’re here, sink your teeth into succulent mojo-marinated pork, homey ropa vieja, or the famous Cubano sandwich piled high with pork, ham, Swiss cheese, and pickles. For an even more authentic treat, upgrade that sandwich to a medianoche – the filling is the same but the bread is swapped out for a sweet eggy variation similar to challah. Other items that should grace your plate include a savory chicken stew and sweet guava sugar cookies.
With nothing but coast, it should be no wonder that Cuba’s beaches are hard to compete with. Over 300 sandy stretches grace the country. Take a dip in the tranquil coves near Guardalavaca, the island’s prime resort area. Turquoise waters, white sands, and tropical foliage make this a picture perfect place to unwind. Divers might prefer Playa Ancon, while culture vultures will enjoy the colonial Trinidad.
Back in the day, Cuba made a fortune with sugarcane and landed the even more exciting discovery that the molasses byproduct of its sugarcane production could make rum. Mojitos, daiquiris, and Cuba Libres all originated on the island, and you will find the ever-popular Havana Club in every bar. The famed Bacardi brand is no longer actively produced on the island, but you can visit the old factory for a tasting, and learn more at the Havana Club Rum Museum. Sweet and delicious, no trip to Cuba is complete without a little rum. Or a lot – you’re on vacation, we won’t tell.
Cuban hospitality is world-famous, and you won’t be hard pressed to find a warm welcome on the island. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a beachfront jam session or a family seafood feast, accept! Cubans’ friendly genuine natures and true melting pot culture make this an easy destination to really get close to locals and see what life is like outside your bubble.
Because you can
For many years, travel restrictions prevented Americans from visiting Cuba. The country has been in many ways isolated – just take at look at its iconic colorful cars from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Though Cuba may be famous for these vintage wheels, they’re not a design choice. Cubans keep their wheels running out of necessity as American embargoes prevented them from getting newer cars. There is no better place to confront your privilege in being able to travel. You’ll come away from your Cuban getaway feeling enriched and grateful.