Cuba is almost undeniably electric. The heart of its culture beats so loudly throughout every nook, cranny, and Cuban person you come across. The energy is super contagious.
Like most Canadian vacationers, Dave and I checked ourselves into a resort by a beach – Grand Memories Varadero. Like most resorts in Cuba, they’re often understaffed, overwhelmed, and a 5 star hotel is more like a 3 star. Normally, we don’t like to stay in resorts, but we kept the resort as our home base and ventured out from there. We went on a Catamaran, swam with dolphins, had a private car take us around Mantanzas, and of course, visited infamous Old Havana. Bu there is definitely a ton to see and do while you’re there, so I wanted to make sure I captured the top 4 things you can look forward to when going to Cuba. You’ll come across them at one point or another, no matter what you do!
HAVANAELECTRIC COLORS & CULTURE
This is probably one of the most notable things Cuba is known for – their carefully preserved architecture, specifically in Old Havana. If you don’t happen to make it to Havana, I suggest checking out neighbouring towns to it, like Mantanzas. You’d think that their buildings were maintained constantly, given how bright the colours and shapes of the old buildings still are. The truth is is that they aren’t. The reason for it apparently is because of the weather they get – it doesn’t wear down the buildings as much as our harsh climate in Canada does. Truly, it makes for feeling like you’ve gotten into a time machine and traveled back in history. It’s something you 100% don’t to miss if you go!
BACK IN TIMEVINTAGE CARS
You would think that Cuban people are really into cars, given all the vintage cars in Cuba. There’s almost no new cars, they’re all vintage. And some of them are in really beautiful shape.The reason why they’ve maintained the quality of the bodies is also because of the weather. No harsh weather conditions calls for no salting of roads and no rust (for example)! Riding 3 seaters in the front is something I never thought I would experience. If you’re in the same boat as me, make sure you visit Cuba. And if you’re a car fanatic, you’ll probably feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven.
BEACHESFIT FOR KINGS
The reason why anyone in Canada goes on vacation right? We make any excuse possible to escape the cold and get our butts to the beach. Cuba’s beaches get a good rep, and it’s for good reason. Their waters are super clear, their beaches are almost always white, and the water on most beaches feels like bath water. If you get a chance, jump on a catamaran from Varadero’s marina. They bring you to this beautiful isolated beach called Cayo Blanco and it’s literally the most beautiful beach I’ve seen in the Carribean. Because it’s not big enough to have any resorts on it, it’s literally just an excursion beach, but the sand and coean waters surrounding it don’t even feel real.
REALITY CHECKSOME THINGS TO KNOW
You learn a lot when you leave your home and head to a foreign country. Here are some of the things I learned about Cuba, that wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows… and probably what you want to know if you’re headed there soon!
- The have a tourist currency called the CUC. It’s worth more than a US dollar and every place to exchange money changes the rate on you! To change it back, wait till you’re back in the airport, past security.
- There’s not a lot of good produce or meat in Cuba. It has to do with the way they cultivate their lands. Just be prepared to not be picky!
- The mosquitos have no fear and they’re smart. I got bitten 32 times and they go for your legs and feet! So if you’re prone to bites, make sure you bring anti-bite.
- If you’re in Varadero, take the double decker. It costs 5CUC and you can ride it all day back and forth!
- There’s a lot of stray dogs and cats. Apparently a lot of them have diseases though, so if you’re a dog person like me, try your best to refrain from petting!
- Cuba has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, so don’t be so paranoid (if you’re anything like me)!
- They have a specific voltage for their plugs that’s not compatible with North America. Make sure to bring an adapter(s)!
- Internet and wifi isn’t a widespread thing. You’ll likely have to pay at your hotel/resort, and if you’re in the city, you’ll know where the places with free wifi are by the hoards of people around the building
- If you’re staying in resorts, lock up your valued items. Tourists sometimes bring old stuff for maids to keep. They might think something you left on the bed was for them (no joke, it happened)
- Wear sunscreen. Sounds obvious, but the Cuban sun is no joke.
As a whole though, Cuba was magnificent. The beaches and Havana were definitely the 2 highlights. I don’t know when the next time I’ll see Cuba again, but it was definitely a sight for the books.