It’s hard to know where to start when writing up my guide for Cuba. To start, there was so much pastel everywhere that I can hardly call my time there “pastel hunting” – the entire island is a rainbow of milky shades!
I did a horrible job of researching before our trip (in my defence, it was fairly last-minute), so unlike my usual travel habits, I landed in Cuba almost entirely unprepared. In retrospect I definitely should’ve packed some allergy medication and bug spray, brushed up on my Spanish skills etc. but there was something exciting about not having it all figured it out.
Though our trip was short and not properly scheduled, we managed to do so much between the resort and Havana!
We stayed in Memories Jibocoa Resort an hour outside Havana, and split our time between the two. At the resort we indulged in massages at the on-site spa, sipped endless pina coladas by the beach, swam in the pool under moonlight and frequented the 24-hour deli for late-night grilled cheese sandwiches. On Fridays there is a Cuban party on the beach complete with fresh cut coconuts, cocktails served in pineapple and a killer live band, so make sure you check that out if you’re around! A catamaran tour complete with snorkelling at the reef is also not to be missed – who knew flying fish actually fly?! If you feel like getting a bit wild, you also have to visit the piano bar, where singing along is a must (don’t worry, if you order the “fire drink” you won’t be shy for long!)
When it comes to our time in Havana, I’m just going to list all of the things we loved most below. The city was so alive, it was almost overwhelming, but with the help of our amazing driver we were able to cover a lot of ground in a super short time.
In Havana //
Eat at Paladar Los Mercaderes
Drink at La Guarida
Dance with Daiquiris at El Floridita
Explore at Fabrica De Arte
Stock up on snacks at the fruit stands
Walk along the Malecón seawall
Hire a colourful vintage taxi for a tour
Shop for cigars at Morro Castle
Keep scrolling for our travel tips and so many photos!
A few general travel tips:
*Take out Canadian cash and exchange it into the convertible peso (for tourists) at the hotel when you arrive. There is no way to get this currency outside of Cuba, and when you’re heading back you can have any leftover cash changed back to Canadian at the airport.
*Learn as much Spanish as you can, even if it’s just the basics.
*If you’re vegan, bring along a lot of protein bars and other filling, nutrient dense snacks. We love Luna Bar in Lemon Zest . Being pescetarian is super easy, and vegetarian isn’t bad either, but if you’re vegan you’ll likely be living off of just fruit and bread the entire trip. Also if you’re vegetarian watch out for meat products in unexpected dishes, like rice and beans!
*Plan to disconnect as much as possible. Wifi is few and far between, and buying internet time can get pricey – but who wants to be on their phone anyway in such a beautiful place? A portable charger is always a must in our packing routine.
*If you can, plan to bring along some extra clothing and household goods, like toothbrushes, condoms, tampons/pads and baby products. These items are expensive and hard to come by in Cuba, and in my personal experience leaving them with locals can be a great way to say thank you.
Additional resources: Margo & Me has a super helpful guide on her site for American travellers!