Best of Western Cuba + Beach Extension

Best of Western Cuba + Beach Extension

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10 Days From

$1940

$1624

Best of Western Cuba + Beach Extension

10 Days Starting in Havana and ending in Playa Jibacoa

Visiting: Havana, Vinales, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Playa Jibacoa

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

CNB

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 18

Physical rating:

Moderate

Age range:

16-

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans

Tour operated in:

English

Trip Styles:

Adventure Tours

From: $1940 $1624 Operator discount: -$270 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$46 -16%

NB: Prices correct on 16-Jul-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

There's no place quite like Cuba, from the colourful, crumbling streets of Havana to the colonial charm of Trinidad, experience it all on our week-long tour. Walk in the footsteps of the revolution, try your hand at salsa and sip mojitos in Hemingway's old haunts as you traverse the country's highlights. Staying in local \ casas\ , this holiday gives you an authentic taste of la vida Cubana before you\ re whisked to the coast for two nights unwinding at Playa Jibacoa.

Havana - Walk the iconic streets of the Cuban capital with a monument to the revolution, a colourful Cadillac, and the rhythm of salsa at every turn.

Trinidad - Explore the cobblestone streets of this UNESCO-listed town with its neo-baroque square and charming terraces.

Vinales - Witness the bizarre, steep-walled limestone \ mogotes\ that dominate the landscape as you learn more about Cuba's tobacco farming history.

Playa Jibacoa - Finish your trip relaxing on the white sands with a two-night stay at an all-inclusive, beachfront hotel.

Highlights

  • Soak up the vibrant culture of Havana and Trinidad, plus relax on a white-sandy beach

  • Take in Vinales' spectacular landscape and relax on white-sand beaches

  • Visit the iconic Bay of Pigs and Che Guevara's Mausoleum

Itinerary

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Day 1: Join Trip In Havana

Location: Havana

Accommodation: Casas Particulares

Accommodation Name: Casa Particulares - Havana

Our tour starts today in Havana - home to salsa, mojitos, and revolutionary spirit. Cuba's capital is one of the most impressive cities in the Americas, almost frozen in time with crumbling tenement blocks and 1950s American Cadillacs rubbing shoulders with grand colonial buildings and monuments to the revolution.



Due to the number of evening flights into Havana, our tour leader will meet you for a welcome meeting on the morning of Day 2. Details of timings will be left at your casa particular, as well as information about anything else you'll need for the day.



There are no activities planned today, so you're free to arrive at any time. If you'd like an airport transfer, you'll need to arrive into Havana's Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) which is around a 45-minute drive from the airport. A representative from our local partners in Cuba will meet you at Havana Airport and assist you with the transfer formalities.



During our tour, we'll stay in 'casa particulares' (local guesthouses), a type of accommodation that's unique to Cuba. The industry began in the early 1990s when entrepreneurial homeowners would rent out rooms in their home. The side hustle was initially illegal as communist Cuba didn't allow for private enterprises but was legalised in 1997. Today, it's common to find large casas that run as bed and breakfasts, however, the majority - particularly in Havana - are still a couple of rooms in the owner's house. This gives you a truly unique, local experience as no two casas are the same - you'll have ensuite bathrooms, air-conditioning, and breakfast across the board but that's where the similarity ends. We choose to use these casas particulares as they give a truly authentic Cuban experience, an alternative to standard hotels, and a new perspective on local life.



Whilst some casas still have live-in owners (giving you a great opportunity to interact with locals), others are entirely independent. In Trinidad, your casa might offer some outdoor space, however, in Havana, many are in communist-style apartment blocks.



Your airport transfer will either take you straight to your casa or to a 'reception' casa in Havana (details of which will be in your final documents), where you'll be met by the host and shown to your room in one of the other nearby casas. We use 3-6 different casas for each group and all are located in the Vedado area of Havana. You'll find several restaurants and bars within walking distance and Old Havana is just a short taxi ride away.

Day 2: Tour Of Havana's Highlights, Afternoon Salsa Class

Location: Havana

Accommodation: Casas Particulares

Accommodation Name: Casa Particulares - Havana

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today, we'll begin to explore Havana and its iconic mixture of restored and crumbling buildings. Walking through the Vieja (Old) District, we'll discover the baroque cathedral and Plaza de Armas (the main square), alongside some beautiful neoclassical buildings. Along the way, you might notice the lack of advertisements which are commonplace in the West, and spot the hyperbolic, political slogans in their place - tokens that tell you, you really are in Cuba now. Passing by the famous Capitolio building (modelled on the White House), you'll get your first glimpse of the rows of brightly coloured vintage cards that adorn many a Cuban postcard. Interestingly, these are the result of legislation enforced until 2011 that meant only cars built before the 1959 revolution could be sold.



After our tour, there'll be free time to explore more at your own pace. You might like to visit the Museum of the Revolution, housed in the former Presidential Palace. The Museum of Artes Decorativas is also worth a visit, a collection of furniture, porcelain, and art pieces from the 16th to 20th centuries, located in one of Vedado's grandest mansions.



Later this afternoon, we'll get to grips with la vida Cubana with a rum and tobacco pairing followed by a salsa class, where you can learn some steps to Cuba's classic dance.



To finish off our packed day, there's the option to sample some of the capital's nightlife, giving you the opportunity to practice your newly learned salsa moves. The Hotel Ambos Mundos is a Hemingway landmark where the 1954 Nobel Prize winner lived for several years. Walk in his footsteps and grab a mojito up on the roof terrace. There are also several excellent bars in both Old Havana and Vedado where live music is played and the cocktails flow freely.

Day 3: Full-Day Trip To The Vinales Countryside

Location: Vinales

Accommodation: Casas Particulares

Accommodation Name: Casa Particulares - Havana

Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning, we'll travel three hours west to the Vinales region - arguably the most picturesque part of Cuba. Here, surreal mountains - the result of the erosion of limestone over millions of years - jut out of the landscape. They're locally known as 'haystacks' (or 'mogotes' in Cuban Spanish) thanks to their steep sides and rounded, jungly tops. Around them, are a patchwork of tobacco fields, with their iron-rich, red soil - the raw material for Cuba's famous cigars.



We'll have a two-hour walk through the valleys of this remarkable landscape to the village of El Palmarito. Mogotes tower above us as we pass through tobacco fields and past drying barns, and during our walk we'll learn more about Cuba's prolific cigar-making industry, which stems from the plants growing in this region. After our walk, we'll return to Havana for the evening.

Day 4: Drive To Trinidad Via The Bay Of Pigs Museum

Location: Trinidad

Accommodation: Casas Particulares

Accommodation Name: Casa Particulares - Trinidad

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today, we'll wave goodbye to Havana and head east across Cuba, driving through giant citrus and sugar plantations and out on to the Zapata Peninsula. We'll break up the long journey with a swim in a 'cenote' - a pool formed when the ceiling of an underground river collapses.



We'll also stop in Playa Giron around mid-afternoon, where we'll visit the museum dedicated to the infamous 'Bay of Pigs' invasion - a US-supported attack by Cuban exiles which failed to overthrow the Communist regime in 1961.



Our journey continues, past the wooded Escambray Mountains and hugging the coastline, with views over the sparkling turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. By early evening, we'll arrive at our hotel just outside the beautiful Spanish colonial town of Trinidad - our base for the next three nights, where we'll enjoy local hospitality staying in casas particulares again.



Our driving time today will be approximately five hours.

Day 5: Tour Of Trinidad

Location: Trinidad

Accommodation: Casas Particulares

Accommodation Name: Casa Particulares - Trinidad

Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning, we'll wander through the cobbled streets of the old centre of Trinidad, discovering its fine palaces, churches and cafes. A paradise for photographers, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a perfectly preserved colonial settlement unlike any other. In the early 19th century, French settlers fleeing a slave revolt in Haiti landed here and started to grow sugar cane in the Valle de Los Ingenios. This crop generated considerable wealth and consequently, the town had to be regularly defended from pirates.



Subject to opening hours, we'll visit a local museum before having free time to explore more. It's worth climbing the stairs of the bell tower at the small Museo de la Lucha contra Bandidos, purely for the views across the roofs of Trinidad out to the Caribbean at one side and the Escambray Mountains at the other. In the evening, you might like to head to the open-air Casa de la Musica, just off the main square, where live bands and salsa-dancing locals do their thing well into the night.

Day 6: Free Day. Optional Trip To The Topes Rainforest Or Boat Trip To Cayo Blanco

Location: Trinidad

Accommodation: Casas Particulares

Accommodation Name: Casa Particulares - Trinidad

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today is free for you to enjoy more of Cuba's beautiful landscapes and fascinating culture at your own pace.



You might like to take the short journey out to the Sugar Mills Valley to Manaca Iznaga where you'll have the opportunity to visit the old plantation home of the Family Iznaga, one of the richest in Trinidad during colonial times, climbing their bell tower for views across the valley.



Another option is to head into the Escambray Mountains to the Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve Park. With its acres of unspoilt forest, this area is famous for its many endemic species of flora and fauna, particularly birdlife. There are several different options involving short walks through the coffee growing area and rainforest. Most trips will drive up to some incredible viewpoints and several of the options offer an opportunity of a refreshing swim in one of its waterfalls finished off with a traditional creole lunch in one of the local haciendas.



Your tour leader will run through the different options with you.



Alternatively, you could visit the deserted island of Cayo Blanco, where you can eat fresh paella, relax on the beach and snorkel in the coral wilderness. Snorkelling equipment is not always available, so keen snorkelers might prefer to bring their own.

Day 7: Return To Havana Via Santa Clara

Location: Santa Clara

Accommodation: Casas Particulares

Accommodation Name: Casa Particulares - Havana

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today, we'll bid farewell to Trinidad and begin the road trip back to Havana, via Santa Clara.



Santa Clara is a pleasant university town which was originally a prosperous agricultural area, well-placed on the island's trading route. Now, it's most famous for being the site of the last battle of the Revolution, in which Che Guevara's troops took the city, causing the Cuban dictator, Batista, to flee into exile.



After visiting the Tren Blindado Memorial commemorating this historic event, we'll move on to Che's Mausoleum. Guevara was buried here with full military honours in 1997 after his exhumed remains were discovered in Bolivia and returned to Cuba. A flame lit by Fidel Castro burns eternally to honour the national hero who played a key role in Cuba's revolution and whose image is routinely displayed throughout the country. We'll also visit the museum dedicated to Guevara's life, containing many interesting letters and artefacts.



This evening, we'll return to Havana to enjoy a final dinner and a dance.



Our driving time today will be approximately six hours.

Day 8: Transfer To Playa Jibacoa, Afternoon On The Beach

Location: Playa Jibacoa

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Memories Jibacoa

Meals Included: Dinner

Today we'll say goodbye to the members of our group not continuing to the beach before travelling to Playa Jibacoa. Leaving Havana in the afternoon, we'll arrive at our hotel in time for check-in - the journey takes around one and a half hours.



We'll spend the next two nights at the four-star Memories Jibacoa Hotel. Whether you'd like to lie in the sun or take a dip in the ocean; your time at Jibacoa can be as active or as relaxing as you feel. If you fancy stretching your legs, the town is backed by a limestone ridge, with excellent cliff-top views and some easy paths for you to walk on.



Please note, our beach extension is unguided and your tour leader won't be joining you. Not all group members will continue on for beach extension and you might not be travelling with other customers.

Day 9: Free Day On The Beach

Location: Playa Jibacoa

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Memories Jibacoa

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we'll have a full day of leisure on the beach. Our hotel is all-inclusive, which means you're at leisure to enjoy everything the beach and hotel have to offer. The area is blessed with a coral reef located just a few metres from the shore, and the hotel provides snorkelling gear and kayaks for you to explore the turquoise waters and reefs. Nestled between the leafy mountains and golden sands, the hotel is beautifully situated with a tempting pool and lush green hills with easy-to-follow trails for keen hikers, offering spectacular views over the ocean.

Day 10: Trip Ends In Playa Jibacoa

Location: Havana

Meals Included: Breakfast

Our trip ends in Playa Jibacoa this morning after breakfast.



There are no activities planned today, so you're free to depart at any time. If you'd like an airport transfer, you'll need to depart from Havana's Jose Marti International Airport (HAV) which is around a 90-minute drive from the hotel. Depending on your flight time, you might need to check out of the hotel before your airport transfer but you'll still be able to make use of the hotel's services until your departure and luggage storage is available.

What's Included

  • Meals
    Breakfast: 9 Lunch: 2 Dinner: 1

  • Fully Guided

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Accommodation

What's Not Included

  • Country Entry Visas

  • Tipping and Gratuities

Why Book this Tour

This short tour covers most of Western Cuba's highlights, with 2 day's relaxation on the beach after your stay, and is designed for those who want to discover a truly fascinating country. You will stay in locally-owned and run private homestays in Trinidad and Havana. Staying with local families and experiencing the Cuban way of life will be a highlight of the tour. This tour also includes a salsa dancing class and a lesson on how to make Cuba's famous cocktails.

Meals

Breakfasts: 9
Lunches: 1
Dinners: 2

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Check out our Q&As

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    No

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    No

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    YEs

  • What is the maximum group size?

    18

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    No

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews from travellers on this tour

Robert  

Best of Western Cuba + Beach Extension

A most enjoyable trip with the right balance of ol

A most enjoyable trip with the right balance of old Spanish history and architecture, tropical landscape and social and political history

John  

Best of Western Cuba + Beach Extension

Thoroughly enjoyed the trip and wished it was long

Thoroughly enjoyed the trip and wished it was longer!

Simon  

Best of Western Cuba + Beach Extension

The group was amazing and the guide was superb. Cu

The group was amazing and the guide was superb. Cuba is stunning so all together made a fantastic trip

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    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 70 days before the start of the tour.

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  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of explore! charges.

    Up to 70 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 69 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

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