Six reasons to visit Cuba: Full of charm, personality, and vibrant colors, Cuba is a unique destination. It has everything from rustic colonial-era buildings to first-class rum and revolutionary history.
While most travelers are drawn to the historic capital of Havana, there is plenty to see and do outside of the iconic old town.
The country reopened to tourists in November and thanks to the egalitarian spirit of its people, it has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. The country even produced two of its own vaccines.
Cuba is considered to have some of the best doctors in the world, and health tourism is an increasingly popular reason to visit the country.
Six reasons to visit Cuba
- Go scuba diving off the coast of Cuba
Cuba’s marine life is as rich as its culture, and you can find unique ecosystems and animal species along its 5,745 km of coastline.
One of the best places for divers is the Jardines de la Reina (Queen’s Gardens). If you like the idea of diving with sharks, then this offshore destination, a five-hour boat ride from the coast, is just for you. Here you will find Caribbean reef sharks, nurse sharks, and great hammerhead sharks, just to name a few.
The area is a protected natural park, which means the reefs are very healthy compared to other well-known dive sites. You will also be able to see giant sea bass, spiraling coral pillars, and coral walls. This is a real treasure trove for the senses.
- Visit Trinidad, Cuba
Trinidad, located four hours from Havana, is one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial cities in the Caribbean. The old town, with its cobbled streets and elegantly painted Neo-Baroque buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Once you’ve had your fill of the city, you can head to the nearby Escambray Mountains. This is the perfect spot for a hike before heading to one of the city’s bars to sample the local rum.
- Taste the World Famous Cuban Rum
A trip to Cuba is not complete without a rum tasting. Cubans are very proud of their national drink, made from molasses from their own sugarcane crop and exported all over the world. Many consider Cuban rum to be the best in the world, as the island has an ideal climate for growing sugar cane.
Whether you like your rum neat on the rocks, or as a thirst-quenching mojito or daiquiri—writer Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drink—you’ll find rum in just about every bar you meet.
- Tour of old Havana – old city, cigars, and classic cars
La Gabana Vieja, or “Old Havana”, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 and is the historic heart of the capital. The vibrant buildings and varied architectural styles mean there’s a lot to see and learn here. The old city, from fortresses to churches, is full of colonial and revolutionary history.
Be sure to check out the epic San Cristobal Cathedral and the Museo de la Ciudad (City Museum).
- Visit Ciénaga de Zapata National Park
Vast wetlands are just two hours from Havana. Ciénaga de Zapata National Park is a mixture of swamps, dense mangroves, and stunning underwater treasures. Flocks of bright pink flamingos live here, so a park is a great place for birdwatchers looking to see one or two pelicans.
The famous Bay of Pigs is also part of the park.
- Explore the Hemingway estate
Although he was not Cuban, no writer in the world is as connected to Cuba as Ernest Hemingway. The American literary giant lived in Finca Vigia, an estate outside of Havana, for 20 years. When not fishing, traveling or entertaining guests, Hemingway wrote extensively in his Cuban home, and many of these works were published posthumously.
After his death, the house was given to the Cuban government and opened as the Hemingway Museum.