Top Cuba Beaches
Travel to Cuba requires a return ticket, a tourist visa and a passport that is valid for 6 months after your departure from the Caribbean Island. It is recommended that tourist visas are sought before your Cuba vacation; the relevant Cuban embassy or consulate from the following list should be consulted in order to check visa requirements and to acquire a visa before departure from your country: Cuban Embassies/Consulates Abroad. Tourist visas are usually issued for ninety days and cost around $35 CUC – ample time for a wonderful Cuba holiday.
Visas can occasionally be purchased upon entry to Cuba from Customs officials; in this eventuality, sometimes only thirty days are given should the full quota of ninety not be requested. Tourist visas can be renewed for a further thirty days in person at the Immigration Office in Havana, which is located on Calle 20, between Avenidas 3 and 5, Miramar, a good idea for those who want to extend their vacation to Cuba.
While it is not technically illegal for Citizens of the United States of America to go on Cuba vacations, they are currently subject to The Cuban Assets Control Regulations. This essentially means that US citizens cannot spend money related to Cuba travel, and that they are required by law to hold a license to make any travel-related transactions while traveling to, from and inside of Cuba. A license can currently only be obtained in special circumstances, which do not include for taking vacations to Cuba; this license is also required when travel to Cuba is completed through another country.
Cuba travel is therefore made difficult for citizens of the US, but it is not impossible. US travelers are more than welcome to travel to Cuba and it is often easy to avoid prosecution as Customs officials stamp on a tourist card rather than on passports. In any case, United States Citizens who travel to Cuba without a transaction license should be fully aware of the legal consequences they may face on return to their home country should it be discovered that they have been on Cuba vacations. Please visit U.S. Department of State - Cuba for full details of current legal restrictions for US travelers.
Health & Safety in Cuba
It is regularly cited that Cuba has one of the best health care systems in Latin America. Thanks to its success, many tropical diseases such as cholera, malaria, and dengue fever have almost been entirely eradicated, and no vaccinations are currently required to directly travel to Cuba. Despite this, certain precautions should still be taken before traveling. If you are coming from an area with yellow fever, smallpox or cholera then Cuban health officials will require proof of vaccination against these diseases. It is also advisable to be up to date with tetanus, typhoid and Hepatitis A inoculations.
Dengue Fever, although scarce, is still contractible, and so prevention of mosquito bites is advisable during a Cuba vacation. The following actions for protection against insect bites are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• Using insect repellent (bug spray) with 30%-50% DEET. Picaridin, available in 7% and 15% concentrations, needs more frequent application. There is less information available on how effective picaridin is at protecting against all of the types of mosquitoes that transmit malaria.
• Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat outdoors.
• Remaining indoors in a screened or air-conditioned area during the peak biting period for malaria (dusk and dawn).
• Sleeping in beds covered by nets treated with permethrin, if not sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room.
• Spraying rooms with products effective against flying insects, such as those containing parathyroid.
Cuba is a tropical country that enjoys a great deal of sunshine, and precautions should be taken to ensure that exposure to sunlight is not excessive. Take strong protection factor sun cream and make sure to cover all areas of your body that will be exposed to the sun.
For all travelers, it is recommended that you consult a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to Cuba in order to allow time for vaccines to take effect and for advice on other preparations and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while in Cuba. Travelers should make sure to take any prescription medicines they may need in their original containers, along with basic medicines such as aspirins, stomach remedies and anti-diarrhea medication.
If you do become sick while on a Cuba vacation, the country has an excellent national health system, and reliable professional health care is generally easily accessible – although this is free for Cubans, foreigners will be subject to medical fees. Most of the larger resorts have a resident doctor and facilities for transport to the nearest clinic. Pharmacies are usually well stocked, particularly in Havana, though you should remember the generic name of medicines as brand names are often not recognized.
It is best to drink bottled water while traveling to Cuba as with anywhere in Latin America to prevent contracting any harmful parasites or water-borne illnesses. If no bottled water is available at your destination, be sure to travel to Cuba with water purification tablets or boil water for 15 minutes to eliminate any harmful bacteria.
Further medical advice for those who travel to Cuba can be found at The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection.
By and large, Cuba is a safe country with friendly people, and the police and security services are most effective at deterring criminals. Nevertheless, it is recommended that those on vacation to Cuba exercise the same level of caution that they would in any major city or tourist destination in the world.
With increasing foreign tourists in the country, pick-pocketing and muggings have been on the increase, and it is advised to remain wary of thieves. This particularly applies when in crowds or at bars and restaurants where bag-slashing or pick pocketing can be easily concealed, and is most frequent in poorer areas of Havana or Santiago de Cuba. Store valuable items in your hotel safe and always keep an eye on your bags – never leave bags unattended.
Theft during luggage handling at Havana airport is not unheard of. Consider placing locks on your suitcase and carry any valuables in your carry on luggage. Shrink wrapping luggage is also a service that is increasingly available in airports and is advisable for luggage containing anything of importance.
Caution should also be taken in central Havana and other cities at night. You should remain in well-lit areas, avoid dark streets wherever possible and try to stay with a group. A taxi should always be hailed for travel between locations after sunset even if you are just traveling a few blocks. Always make sure that taxis are registered and not a private car.
As one of the few remaining socialist states in the world with a one party political system, Cuba has a high level of social control and a noticeable presence of police and security. Those who travel to Cuba are advised to avoid political demonstrations as there are strong restrictions against freedom of association, assembly and speech in place.
For further information about safety in Cuba, visit the US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom.
Time Zone Along with the East Coast of the USA, Cuba is situated within the Eastern Standard Time Zone, which is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Buenos Aires is 2 hours ahead, London is 5 hours ahead, while Madrid and Rome are 6 hours ahead. Los Angeles and San Francisco are 3 hours behind. As with the East Coast, Daylight Saving Time is applicable to Cuba during summertime.Top ^
Electricity 220 volt outlets are the most commonly used, although 110 volts are also used in some areas. The sockets are usually compatible with plugs of two flat prongs, though sockets for rounded prongs can also be encountered. To ensure the use of your electrical appliances, pack a transformer or an adaptor – these are available at good hardware stores or airport gift shops. Power cuts are not as prevalent as they used to be, but can still occur on occasion.Top ^
Weights & Measures Metric weights and measurements are officially in use in Cuba. Despite this, many local traders still use libras (imperial pounds) which were traditionally used due to the high number of American imports that used to be made to the country.Top ^
Money in Cuba
Rather confusingly, Cuba has two versions of its official currency: The Cuban peso (CUP), which is used by most Cuban residents, and the Convertable Peso (CUC), which is more commonly used by visitors who are on Cuba vacations. You can exchange the Convertable Peso for most international currencies and use it to buy pretty much anything during your trip. Travelers sometimes have a few Cuban Pesos spare for public transport, cinemas and small markets, and you'll find using them is better value for smaller purchases such as ice creams and snacks in the street.
Foreign currency can be exchanged for pesos convertible at one of the larger banks, or at a CADECA, which are government licensed currency exchange booths that are widespread throughout the larger towns and cities. US dollars were in regular use in Cuba up until 2004 when new rulings came to fruition; a 10% commission is now charged for converting the US currency, and it is advised to travel with another currency such as pounds sterling or euros if possible.
CADECAS also exchange traveler’s checks provided that the original receipt of purchase and a passport are shown. Traveler’s checks can also be cashed at the front desks of many tourist hotels. Please note that all travelers’ checks issued in the United States, including American Express, are currently not accepted in Cuba due to the ongoing trade embargo.
Credit Cards such as Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted in hotels and restaurants across Cuba, provided that they have not been issued in the USA. Be warned that the computerized credit card system in Cuba is a little archaic and is prone to closing down for hours at a time, so it is not always possible to use plastic.
ATM’s in Cuba are not common and it is advisable to carry cash wherever possible, especially when leaving the larger cities. It is possible to withdraw money against credit cards from CADECAS and from the Banco Financiero Internacional in Havana; however re-evaluation of the CUC in 2005 has led to a commission of 11-13% being made on card transactions, including withdrawals from what few ATM machines there are in Havana.
Cash is by far the most convenient form of transaction, and a sufficient supply should be carried at all times in a secure place. It can be difficult to get change from the bigger denomination notes of Pesos Convertibles, so try to also keep some change at hand. Also keep an eye out for false notes, since the introduction of Pesos Convertibles these have become more widespread. And always take care not to confuse the two types of currency; the notes can look deceivingly similar.
Euros can often be used in larger beach resorts such as Varadero, Santa Lucia, Cayo Coco and Cayo Largo.
Getting to Cuba
The vast majority of people who travel to Cuba arrive at Jose Martí International Airport, just outside of Havana. Major airlines fly to Havana from Canada, Mexico and Europe while regional flights allow travel from Cuba to numerous other Caribbean islands. The national airline Cubana de Aviación also offers further flights to destinations in Europe, Canada, Central America and South America. It is also possible to charter a flight to the Varadero beach resort for those who are interested in a beach vacation to Cuba.
Travel to Cuba from the USA is tightly regulated; only Cubans visiting relatives and those with a transaction license can fly by charter from Miami to Havana. Popular midway points include Mexico, Jamaica and even Canada for those who do attempt to travel to Cuba.
Getting Around Cuba
Cuba’s small size is ideal for travelers who want to see as many of the Caribbean island’s attractions as possible within a limited amount of time, and many professional Cuba travel deals are well suited to such a purpose. Cuba For Less packages and tours include all transfers to all of your preferred Cuba travel destinations, but if you want to venture off and see some more of the country, the following Cuba travel advice may be of use to you.
Public transport on the island is archaic, suffering from many problems such as breakdowns, fuel shortages, cancellations and aging vehicles. Many Cubans use bicycles for short journeys while longer journeys are often completed by hitchhiking. There is one main highway through the center of the Island that services the Havana to Santiago de Cuba route via Camaguey which is the best for travel through Cuba by road.
One good bus company – Viazul - is in operation in Cuba. They have a modern fleet of coaches that are comfortable, fast and air-conditioned and also have an onboard toilet. Their service extends to the major cities; the main route between Havana and Santiago de Cuba is completed four times daily in around 14 hours. Other bus companies, such as Astra, have a more extensive network though these are not so fast and do not offer the same level of comfort.
Inner city transport is no more efficient than intercity Cuba travel. The buses, known as Guaguas, are usually packed full and are not very comfortable. They are, however, cheap to use and this can be a nice way to mingle with the locals. Licensed taxis are the most reliable way to travel short distances and within cities – beware of those who do not carry a license.
The rail network on Cuba is the oldest in Latin America; unfortunately it may well run less efficiently now than it did when it was first operated by steam engines and horse drawn carts in the 1830’s. The modern day service is slow and is prone to regular breakdowns and stoppages, moreover the carriages are crowded, seats are usually booked well in advance and there is no onboard service to speak of.
Renting a car is an increasingly popular option for those who travel to Cuba; there are various rental agencies in Havana and other major towns and the roads and highways are fairly well maintained. Be sure to purchase comprehensive insurance and make sure that your car is in good condition before you leave. Any damage – even minor – should be noted so that you are not charged for this when you return. The car should also be provided with a full tank of petrol.
"Cuba's history has a significance out of proportion to its size." - Philip S. Foner
Several thousand years before any Europeans were to travel to Cuba, the native Guanajatabey people are thought to have migrated to the Caribbean Island from the rainforests of South America. They were later pushed to the west of the island after the arrival of the Taino and Ciboney peoples – collectively known as Arawaks due to linguistic ties – whose populations extended deep into the South American continent. The indigenous peoples of Cuba led a peaceful existence that resonated with their natural environment, hunting and gathering from the islands abundant resources, and later developing a settled society based on agriculture.
During his famed first voyage across the Atlantic to the Americas in 1492, Christopher Columbus explored Cuba’s northern edge, and in subsequent voyages traversed its south coast. The island was not fully mapped by the Spanish until 1509, and after establishing bases on the neighboring island of Hispaniola (now split between Haiti and the Dominican Republic), they extended their interests to Cuban shores. The first colony on the island was established at Baracoa in 1511 by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar and others towns, including Havana, were soon to follow.
What came next was one of the most bloody and devastating conquests in human history; the indigenous populations of Cuba were all but annihilated within less than a century of European contact. This was primarily due to the onset of European diseases to which they were not immune, and secondly in the wake of the brutal subjugation to their Spanish conquerors. To the vast majority of the Spaniards, the native Arawak populations were a source of free labor that could help them not only to find gold, but to cultivate large quantities of lucrative New World commodities, such as tobacco, sugar and cotton, and many natives were forced into slavery. Due to disease, overworking and exhaustion, their population had entirely disappeared from Cuba within 100 years, and very little trace of their culture remains today. To replace lost laborers, tragically, more than one million slaves were eventually imported from East Africa, and the current population of Cuba is resultantly descended chiefly from European and African ancestry.
From the 16th to the 18th Centuries, Cuba was hotly contested between the European Colonial powers who looked to exert their influence over the Caribbean Island. Although the Spaniards remained in control of the key colonies and towns, these were frequently under siege by forces from France and England. In 1762, Havana fell to a large British force who broke the Spanish crown’s monopoly on trade from the port. The following year, however, Havana was returned to the Spaniards in exchange for Florida, which was given to the British under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
During the 1800’s, the Criollo population of Cuba began to seek independence from Spain. They were greatly influenced by events in South America, where Simon Bolivar had begun to initiate revolts against the Spanish with a great degree of success; indeed by 1825, Cuba and Puerto Rico were the only remaining colonial possessions of the Spanish Crown with swathes of South American nations declaring their independence. In 1868, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes aimed to imitate Bolivar’s success in Cuba when he liberated his slaves and rebelled against the Spanish instigating a ten year war for independence which was to end in stalemate. Subsequent attempts were made by Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gómez who continued the struggle against the Spanish presence on the island in various phases. They argued that Cuba should be a “raceless society”, popular rhetoric amongst Cuba’s various ethnic populations who had only recently been freed from slavery.
It was not until the involvement of the USA in the Cuban Revolutionary Wars that Spanish influence was finally driven from the Caribbean island. Provoked by the sinking of the U.S. battleship Maine, the Americans sent forces to Cuba who promptly defeated the Spanish forces. In the subsequent peace treaty, control of Cuba was given to the USA with the pretext that Cuba would soon be given full independence.
In the early twentieth century, the republic of Cuba remained under the protectorate of the USA under the terms of the 1901 Platt Amendment. Despite their promise of full independence, the American government had refused to give Cuba full control of its foreign policy and retained the right to intervene in Cuban affairs. The treaty also forced Cuba to lease Guantanamo in southern Cuba in order for the Americans to establish a naval base there. This intervention was met by widespread disapproval and anger amongst Cubans, who felt that their country had simply been swapped between two empires, though they had little choice but to cede to their much more powerful northern neighbor.
Thus the newly independent Cuba was frequently intervened by American forces. Marines were regularly sent to protect American interests, which existed in the form of heavy investment by companies and the purchase of large tracts of Cuban land. Elections for president were held though these were often corrupt, and the leaders held significance only as puppets of the US government. Resistance in the form of the Black Uprising of 1912, which was initiated by incensed Afro-Cubans, was brutally quelled by American marines – as many as 3,000 black Cubans lost their lives in retaliation against the quasi-independent state of Cuba.
Cuba, and in particular its capital Havana, became a playground for the rich and wealthy of the USA in the first decades of the twentieth century. A short boat journey from Florida to the Caribbean meant cheap alcohol, gambling and other vices in abundance, for those who could afford it, in a steamy tropical environment. Prohibition of alcohol in the 1920’s drove many to Cuba, allured by the decadent lifestyle that could be found on the Caribbean island.
In the wake of the depression of 1929, a young military general called Fulgencio Batista took advantage of the chaos to stage a coup and take control of the government from behind the scenes; the US government was satisfied that Batista’s regime protected their interests on the island and so made no objection to his taking power. His dictatorship was eventually legitimized through a fair election in 1940, though after a break he again seized power by force in 1952. There were many critics of his regime, notably a Cuban lawyer Fidel Castro, who protested against his undemocratic quelling of elections after the 1952 usurption.
In 1956, a now notorious voyage was made from the Yucatan peninsula to Cuba’s Sierra Maestra by a band of revolutionary warriors led by the now exiled Fidel Castro, with the aim of overthrowing the Batista regime. In their midst was an Argentinean called Ernesto Guevara, who had become known as “Che” to his contemporaries due to the common use of the word in Argentinean slang. Castro and Guevara led the small band of men into a guerrilla war against Batista’s dictatorship, defined by repeated and coordinated small attacks launched from thick jungle coverage. They fought for 3 years, struggling across various fronts through the shroud of Cuba’s hinterland, and slowly working their way west to Havana. With their forces being bolstered by many Cubans who had endured terrible hardship during previous decades, the capital was eventually captured by Castro’s army in 1959 and Batista fled.
The new government nationalized many private industries and introduced a number of state controlled initiatives, including a health care policy and land reforms. This was much to the dismay of American businessmen and investors in the island who saw the freedom that they had enjoyed to use Cuba for business purposes diminish. The socialist nature of the revolution was not proclaimed until 1961; during this year Cuba was also unsuccessfully invaded at the Bay of Pigs, believed to be a USA-backed attempt to regain control of the island.
The following decades saw Cuba as a key front in the Cold War between the world’s two salient superpowers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union. The United States had condemned Cuba’s new communist government on ideological grounds. For the Soviets, Cuba was a strategic ally given their shared ideology and the proximity of the Caribbean Island to the United States, and thus the republic became a subsidiary for Russian aid and investment.
The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 proved to be one of the highest phases of tension during the Cold War, when it was revealed that Russia had stationed offensive ballistic missiles on the island, naturally perceived as a direct threat to the United States. Then President John F. Kennedy threatened invasion of Cuba should the Russians not dismantle the base; luckily crisis was averted when they complied. Cuba fell further into the Soviet sphere of influence after the USA enacted a trade embargo against the state. Fidel Castro and Cuba remained an ally of the Soviet Union until it’s disintegration in 1991, but with the fall of the USSR Cuba became isolated as one of the only socialist states in the world.
In recent years relations between Cuba and the USA have remained frosty, though it could be said that this has now thawed to some degree. Recently elected president Barack Obama has initiated cordial dialogue with Raul Castro, who replaced his brother Fidel as president in February 2008 due to ill health of the latter. With the impending removal of the trade embargo increasingly looking likely at least in some part, travel to Cuba has never been such an attractive prospect.
Cuba’s history and geography both lend it to having a diverse cultural heritage. For centuries it has been the convergence point between peoples from different continents and ethnic backgrounds. The inhabitants of Cuba have a complex ethnic make-up, derived primarily from African and European ancestry; European colonial powers arrived and brought slaves from West Africa to work on their land. Although not much trace remains of the native Arawak peoples who were all but annihilated here, some native heritage is retained from early interaction between European and Arawak peoples, and the influence of North American indigenous peoples. This is coupled with more recent immigration to the island, notably an influx of Chinese immigrants during the nineteenth century. Today it is estimated that some 70% of Cubas population are of mixed race. The result of this racial diversity is an irresistible blend of artistic, musical, cultural and culinary traditions.
With seductive rhythm and scorching sentiment, the music and dance of Cuba are the islands most recognizable cultural trait. The social clubs of Havana and Santiago de Cuba have long been filled with the searing beats of samba, the pomp and swing of brass bands and the gentle but poignant tone of flamenco guitars. The eclectic blend has roots firstly from African slaves who used strong percussion and dance to animate their vibrant folkloric and religious traditions, and secondly from European instrumentalism and notational structure. A myriad of themes have been born from this infusion, or “creolisation”, of Cuban music; the habanera, the guaracha, the danzón, the rumba, the bolero, the chachachá, the mambo and the punto are all examples of typically Cuban musical styles. Highly recognisable is son, which was popularized by the Buena Vista Social Club with their hit 1990’s album and movie. The style uses melancholy African chanting alongside strong block percussion, repeated flamenco guitar riffs and meandering jazz; an enthrallingly somber sound that has been received with high international acclaim. Other artists such as Marc Ribot have added a modern and eclectic twist to more traditional sounds.
Art in Cuba is an equally strong indication of the country’s mixed heritage. Cuba has honed a strong and creative artistic scene, particularly in the early 20th century when many artists have fused a range of foreign influences with traditional Cuban styles, helping the artistic scene in Cuba to become popular worldwide. Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Cubism had a strong bearing on such artists as René Portocarrero and Wilfredo Lam, who created bold and colorful depictions of such various subjects as Havana, Cuban landscapes and Cuban people, while injecting their own personal symbolism and impressions. Film and literature have also seen a healthy range of contributions; outstanding poets and novelists have hailed from Havana, Camaguey, and Santiago de Cuba to name but a few.
Cuban cuisine is also inspired by different ethnic traditions. The most popular foods use a hearty compliment of crops harvested in the countryside, such as black beans, rice, plantains and root vegetables. The combinations are usually simple but delicious, a testimony to the Cuban love for food. Often white rice is accompanied by a stew or meat (pork is a firm favorite amongst many Cubans) peppered with Caribbean herbs and spices. Fresh fruit on the island is an absolute treasure; tropical produce such as mangoes, pineapples, bananas and grapefruits are harvested in season at optimum ripeness to produce a succulent and juicy snack or refreshing natural juice.
And who could forget the rum? This most quintessential of Caribbean liquors is a refined art on Cuban shores, sugar being in plentiful supply, it has long fueled operations in now famous distilleries in Havana, such as the ubiquitous Havana Club. White rum is the key ingredient in Cuban cocktails such as the piña colada, the daiquiri, the Cuba libre and the quite fabulous mojito which is crafted with rum, lime juice, mint and soda water. Aged brown rums are often better sampled straight on the rocks and rums over 7 years old have more refined and smoldering richness.
A fitting accompaniment to a glass of rum is another famous cultural symbol of Cuba: the Cigar. The tobacco grown in Cuba is the best in the world thanks to suitable rich soils, a warm climate and a weathered tradition of tobacco cultivation. The crop is especially revered in the western Pinar del Rio province where small plantations harvest tobacco leaves between February and March. Cigars are hand rolled in small factories for domestic consumption, while larger factories in Havana produce such famous export brands as Montecristo, which is venerated by cigar aficionados across the globe. You should head to a reputable tobacconist or factory to sample a Cuban cigar – those sold on the street are usually unauthentic and not of good quality.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of Cuban culture is the amiable personality of its people. Cubans are a generous, friendly and high-spirited people who are eager to offer warm hospitality regardless of their social status. The Cuban government emphasizes the notion of “equality for all”, and this has gone a long way to reducing racial discrimination, and to solidifying the unique national identity of Cuba’s people.
Many cultural events in Cuba happen throughout the year. The following resources have listings for museums, art galleries, social clubs and other cultural activities in Havana and across Cuba: www.afrocubaweb.com, www.cubarte.cult.cu and www.cartelera.com.
Situated between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean Islands and the seventeenth largest island in the world. The main island, the nucleus of an archipelago of more than four thousand smaller cays and islets, is around 1,199 km long and its width varies between 35 km and 200 km; its total area is 110,860 km2. The second largest island in the Cuban archipelago is Isla de Juventud (Isle of Youth) located to the southwest of the main island.
The archipelago includes four main groups of small islands dispersed around the main island. Jardines de la Reina and Canarreos are located to the south while the Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago is situated to the north - this contains a staggering 2,517 cays and small islands, most of which are adorned with outstanding and rarely visited beaches. Colorados Archipelago is also located on the north-western coast.
Nearby nations to Cuba include Haiti (50km east), the Bahamas (140 km north), the USA (145 km north), Mexico (210 km west) and Jamaica (146 km south).
Cuba’s landscape is chiefly rolling green plains that are interspersed with rugged mountains and hills, the highest of which is Pico Turquino at 2,005 metres in the south-eastern Sierra Maestra range, situated in the Santiago de Cuba province. Other ranges are the south-eastern Sierra Cristal in the Holguin province; the central Escambray mountains around Trinidad and Topes de Collantes; and Sierra del Rosario to the west of Havana in the Pinar del Rio province.
The coastline of Cuba, spanning 3,735 km, is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world; pristine beaches of fine white sand and sparkling turquoise water backed by lush tropical foliage are many peoples idea of absolute paradise. Arguably the best sands on the main island can be found at Varadero, Guardalavaca and Maria la Gorda, while offshore cays such as Cayo Coco, Cayo Levisa and Cayo Largo afford their own isolated beach paradise. One further reason to travel to Cuba and its gorgeous coastline: just off the north coast is the second largest Coral reef in the world, populated with several species of tropical plants and fish.
Cuba Weather and Climate
With persistent tropical sunshine and blue skies, the Caribbean Sea is renowned for having near perfect weather for a beach vacation. Cuba is not exempt from this blessing, with scorching sunshine being a regular occurrence; sunscreen and a hat are necessary precautions against skin damage and avoiding the sun during the midday hours is strongly recommended.
The country enjoys a hot sub-tropical climate, tempered by cool north-eastern trade winds blowing onshore from the Atlantic Ocean. What rain does occur usually falls between the months of May and October, the average annual precipitation averages at 1320 mm and this is usually concentrated around Havana. Cooler and drier months are from November to April. The average temperature for summertime is around 81º F (27°C) while in winter this drops to about 68º F (20°C); it is not uncommon for the temperature to reach as high as 35°C in summer, while it can also sink to 10°C on colder nights in winter.
Hurricanes most frequently pass between August and October, and although they can be hair-raising, substantial damage is rarely caused; violent hurricanes are by no means an annual occurrence. In any eventuality, modern hotels and resorts are fully equipped to deal with adverse weather conditions during the hurricane season.
When to Travel to Cuba
Cuba is an inviting Caribbean travel destination all year round with pleasant sunshine making a regular appearance. The temperature rarely ventures from between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit meaning that there is a high probability of agreeable weather conditions in any given month. It isn’t impossible for strong winds or rain to appear on some days, though these rare eventualities are sporadic and rather unpredictable.
The more humid season falls over summer - between May and October - when over 60% of the annual rainfall occurs, meaning that travelers are probably more likely to avoid rain between November and April. Generally speaking, it is best to travel to Cuba during these months; the sun is not so hot and they fall after the unpredictability of hurricane season.