Claudette, Richard, Lucy and Paula's trip to Cuba
A few of Tropical Sky's sales team embarked on a fantastic group trip to Cuba, a fascinating Caribbean island full of culture and history. Stopping in Havana, Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Varadero, our team got to really delve into Cuba’s lifestyle, and here’s what Claudette, Richard, Lucy and Paula have to say about their trip.
Claudette: "After our interesting trip to Cuba, it’s safe to say that this colourful destination is perfect for an ‘experience holiday’. This isn’t the place for you if you’re only looking for a Caribbean beach getaway - but if you’re a traveller who loves to experience new, completely unique cultures, Cuba is worth exploring. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect when we first arrived, but I’d now tell people eager to experience Cuba to expect basic standards of hotels and food – Cuba isn’t all about the lavish, all-inclusive vibe. The island is definitely stuck in the 1950’s, but that’s part of its charm! To really enjoy Cuba you’ll need to be laid-back and open minded – it’s a chilled pace and certainly for confident travellers."
Richard: "One thing we all noticed is that Cuba isn’t really a place to randomly dip in and out of restaurants with not much thought – the food is very basic, but research restaurants beforehand and you’ll be sure to find some gems. I’d definitely recommend visiting La Terraza in Havana – all of the food is barbecued – fish, chicken, beef…you name it! The portions are massive too, and I was very happy with their chilled beers and cold glasses after a day of exploring in the heat.
It’s nice to know basic Spanish - the locals really appreciate it - but mostly it’s easy to get around and chat to people, and the cities feel very safe. There’s a lot to do too – Cuba is all about their old-time history and culture, so I’d recommend walking around their cigar museums and plantations.
Trinidad was by far my favourite city in Cuba, hands down, and it’s definitely worth an overnight trip there. When on holiday I really enjoy spending the evening chilling in a bar, and Trinidad really comes alive in the evening, with lots of live music and cool salsa dancing. It’s an awesome vibe at night time; locals just hang out in bars and chill in the streets, whilst the sound of funky live bands creates a fun yet relaxed atmosphere. I loved the city in the day time too – the colonial buildings and cobbled streets are brilliant."
Lucy: "I was really excited to see the classic American cars driving around when we first got to Cuba, so our classic car trip was a real highlight for me – it’s not a trip to Cuba without enjoying a tour in an old car! It was such a cool way to get around, and you even finish at the Royalton for a refreshing mojito – you just can’t go wrong.
There’s so much to see in Havana, so it’s definitely worth joining a walking tour at the beginning of your holiday – you really get a feel for the place, and you can make a note of the places you really want to explore. Oh, I loved the little coconut taxis too – they’re more expensive than a normal taxi, but you just won’t be able to resist! They’re so bright and cute; it would be a spectacular way to get around the city.
I agree with Claudette, Cuba isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for a luxury beach holiday, but that’s not to say that the beaches aren’t nice. In fact, the beach in Havana was lovely – it’s a massive stretch of sand close by to lots of hotels, but the forest in between the hotels and the beach means that it all feels quite secluded. I love a rooftop pool though, so I’d definitely recommend visiting the Saratoga hotel – the rooftop pool there is amazing, and has beautiful views of the city. The location of this hotel is fantastic too; it’s great for getting out and about.
Cuba isn’t a destination where you should just choose one hotel and stay there for the whole trip – you definitely need to travel around and make it a multi-centre. Havana and Trinidad are high on my recommendations, but Varadero is great if you really want to see the real, classic Cuba."
Paula: "Cuba wasn’t quite as behind the times as I thought it would be – it definitely has a great shabby chic feel to it, and the locals are so lovely. Old Havana was one of my favourite parts of the trip, its little squares and small cafes gave it all a really friendly, welcoming atmosphere, and I felt very much at ease there. I loved Havana itself too – it has a real buzz, and I just loved the mix of old and new there. The beaches in Varadero were amazing too – I was in awe of the white sands and clear waters, just stunning!
The trip was full of fun experiences, from driving around in a classic American car, to experiencing real salsa dancing on Trinidad’s very lively and bright streets. The Jet Ski trip we did in Varadero was great fun too – it was so cool whizzing through the mangroves!
I definitely agree with Richard’s recommendation of La Terraza. The BBQ food was delicious, and I loved the pretty roof terrace overlooking Havana’s streets – it was a beautiful view. It was recommended to us by the Virgin Cabin Crew, so it’s definitely a favourite with quite a few people, and definitely worth a trip. The restaurants in Saratoga hotel and Iberostar Parque Central were reasonable too – and they’re both lovely hotels too."