Discover pristine coastlines and intriguing cities on this exotic Caribbean isle


Click to follow
The Independent Online

The largest island in the Caribbean and historical favourite of hedonists and thrill-seekers, Cuba is beautiful, passionate and never less than fascinating. As the last bastion of world communism in the Americas, this land of elegant towns and stunning beaches has achieved something of a cult status with travellers, writers and musicians, paying homage to its beauty and resilience.


Beyond the rhythms of the island, the mysterious mangroves, the towering rainforests, the chalky sands, the coral reefs and its great historical appeal, it’s the inhabitants that make Cuba truly unforgettable. Here we find a true melting pot of cultures, a country filled with educated, gentle and captivating people who will welcome you with open arms.


Holiday highlights


Cuba’s beaches

The popular resort of Varadero, idyllically situated on a 12-mile stretch of sugar-fine sands, is home to the quintessential Cuban all inclusive holiday. Along the coast of the Hicacos Peninsula, family-friendly resorts with myriad facilities, such as the Paradisus Varadero Resort & Spa, sit side-by-side with adult-only retreats, perfect for those romantic interludes of sheer indulgence.

A natural paradise rich in flora and fauna, the Cayos are many islands and keys strung along Cuba’s northern coast, also known as the Jardines del Rey or the ‘Gardens of the King’. Perfect fine, white, sandy beaches and clear aquamarine seas with large coral reefs and abundant marine life make these islands ideal for relaxation. Cuba’s native Caribbean flamingos live in the shallow waters that surround Cayo Coco, adding an extra splash of colour to those deep blue seas and talcum-white beaches.

Curiously, Guardalavaca translates as ‘guard the cow’, a name possibly derived from an era when cut-throat pirates often raided the area. These days, the resort is much more laid-back yet it retains an authentic Cuban charm that other resorts lack. Just a short drive from the town, backed by rolling hills covered by fields of sugarcane, is Playa Esmeralda, an idyllic bay boasting powdery, soft sands and azure water west of the Bahia de Naranjo National Park.


Cultural Cuba

Havana, Cuba's capital city, is simply bursting with character and charm, possessing an unique allure that fascinates and delights visitors from around the world. Set along a dramatic coastline with a beautiful natural harbour flanked by ports and home to a designated Unesco World Heritage site, Havana boasts stunning colonial architecture, vibrant culture, beautiful theatres and an incredible music scene. The classic American cars that dot the streets and the eclectic mix of architecture, ranging from colonial to classical to modernist, are a throwback to the grandeur and glamour of the capital in the 1950s.

One would be hard-pushed to find a finer example of an authentic Spanish colonial city than Trinidad, a Unesco-listed city which prospered on the back of the sugar industry that dominated the surrounding Valley de Los Ingenios. Today, this charming city is a living museum documenting the region’s history and culture through beautifully restored 18th- and 19th-century architecture and a relaxed ambience that is unmistakable Cuban.

Elsewhere, discover the natural beauty and cocoa plantations of Baracoa at the island’s far eastern tip; feel the distinctive Cuban rhythms in the once revolutionary city of Santiago de Cuba; be inspired by the beauty of French colonial city Cienfuegos; and learn about the island’s historic sugar industry in the small city of Remedios.


Need to know…


Cuba’s climate

Cuba has a moderate subtropical climate with two well defined seasons: rainy (from May through October) and dry (from November through April). The average annual temperature is 25°C (77°F). January is the coldest month, and August the hottest.


Traditional Cuban dishes

Delicious Cuban cuisine is built around pork meat, plain rice, black beans, fried bananas and tapioca with ‘mojo’ sauces


Traditional Cuban cocktails

Thirst-quenching alcoholic drinks include the mojito (white Cuban rum, soda water, lemon, hierba buena and sugar), Cuba Libre (Cuban rum, cola soft drink and lemon) and Daiquiri (rum, lemon, crushed ice and sugar) cocktails.


Health advice

Though tap water is drinkable, we advise you to drink bottled water to avoid tropical illnesses.


Currency and ways of payment

US dollars no longer circulate in Cuba and will have to be changed into Cuban convertible pesos. US dollars can be used at airports at duty-free shops. You can change hard currency into convertible Cuban pesos in airports, banks and hotels and into Cuban pesos or Cuban convertible pesos in the Cadeca money-exchange offices in the main cities.

Most hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and so on take Visa and MasterCard credit cards, as long as they are not issued by American banks.



Electricity in Cuba is 110 volts, 60 hertz. Use plugs with flat prongs. Some hotels and other installations also have 220 volt outlet.


Car rental

You must show your passport and driver's license in order to rent a car. The driver must be at least 21 years old. The license could be international or from your country, but at least a year old.

We recommend you buy a Road Guide of Cuba which is very helpful for finding your way around.

The main agencies for car rentals are and


Entry requirements

To enter Cuba you must obtain a tourist card either from your tour operator or the Cuban consulate. A tourist card is valid for one month and costs £15 from the Cuban consulate.

Please visit our website for more information.