Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean at 780 miles long. Cuba is East of Mexico and South of the United States. Southeast are the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. Cuba was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and became a territory of Spain. Cuba is the most populated island in the Caribbean and home to over 11 million inhabitants. In 1898, the U.S. claimed Cuba during the Spanish-American War. In 1902, Cuba gained its independence. The Cuban Revolution occurred between 1953 and 1959, which removed Fulgenicio Batista and appointed a government run by Fidel Castro, who proclaimed Cuba a socialist state in 1961. Castro stayed in power until becoming ill in 2008, when he handed over control to his brother, Raul Castro. It is only in very recent times that Cuba and the U.S. have opened up diplomacy talks between the 2 countries.
With most of Cuba south of the Tropic of Cancer, the climate is tropical, subdued by northeasterly trade winds that blow all year round. The temperature is also shaped by the Caribbean current, which brings in warm water from the equator. Generally there is a dry season from November to April, and a rainy season from May to October. Nearly 2/3 of all rainfall occurs during the wet season. The average temperature is 21 °C (69.8 °F) in January and 27 °C (80.6 °F) in July. The warm temperatures of the Caribbean Sea and the fact that Cuba sits across the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico blend to make Cuba prone to hurricanes. These are most common in September and October, so it is best to avoid this time of year.
Cuba is a country trapped in the 1950’s. Its varied geography includes rolling farmland, rugged mountains, urban towns, quaint Colonial villages and wonderful white sandy beaches. Cuba is an island packed with vibrant art, soul-stirring music and old American cars. Home to 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and friendly locals, it is a country begging to be visited and explored.
There are so many places to visit, but popular parts include Havana, the capital city. Here, you will find the magnificent El Morro Castle across the Bay of Havana like picture from a fairy-tale. Wander the narrow cobbled streets and you’ll find yourself surrounded by 5 centuries worth of majestic Spanish architecture. Visit Ché’s mausoleum, museums, beautifully preserved palaces, top-rate hotels and great restaurants. Stroll through parks and shop, listen as Salsa music fills the air as you enjoy the rum in one of the many bars. Havana’s greatest attraction is its authenticity. A lively city, with a romantic atmosphere and an infectious energy. It is in Havana where you get a flavour for Cuban life.
Pinar del Rio to the west of Havana offers a wonderfully different holiday. Home to mountain ranges and expansive fields filled with tobacco plants and sugarcane. The area is known as “the Garden of Cuba.”. The tantalising fragrance wafting from the world’s finest tobacco is found throughout Pinar del Rio. Quiet, comfortable hotels have been built in some of the most beautiful spots in Pinar del Río. . The architecture in the historic centre is diverse, and the low houses painted in gentle colours, have a charm about them.
From the top of Holguín’s 16 foot tall Loma de la Cruz, visitors can gaze down at the many charming parks and galleries, its baseball field, brewery, and small town amusements. Columbus is believed to have landed here in 1492 and declared it “the most beautiful land eyes have ever seen.” Known as The city of parks, Holguin has maintained its unspoilt beauty. With elegant plazas, a scattering of colonial buildings and a few museums make for a pleasant daytrip.
Guardalavaca is a town in Holguin province. A popular destination due to its white sandy beaches and warm waters. Guardalavaca souvenir market dominates the small town, take a trip here for your souvenirs. There are a few restaurants and snack bars around the market and the end of the market leads onto the excellent Playa Guardalavaca beach, which is the main public beach. A long stretch of soft white sand, with warm turquoise sea and the odd palm tree to give Playa Guardalavaca that classic Caribbean look. There are a few thatched parasols here to give protection from the strong sun. Swim with dolphins in Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park. Playa Esmeralda enchants travellers with gentle waves and the bright green water that gives the beach its name.
Varadero is Cuba’s top beach destination, it sits on a 13 mile long peninsula with soft sand lapped by waters of the Kawama Channel. Clubs and bars provide Mojitos and cheeriness, after long days spent in the sun, golfing, snorkeling, diving or deep sea fishing. Highly recommend you to rent a scooter or hop aboard an open air tourist train or bus to see more of this stunning spot. Caves at Varadero, are one of the area’s most famous attractions. Spectacular, with stalactites and stalagmites, some of them underwater and divers can explore these. At the North eastern end of Varadero is a virgin forest nature reserve, some of the trees over 100 years old.
Cayo Coco (Coco Key) is an island in central Cuba, known for its All Inclusive resorts. Cayo Coco and its neighboring Cayo Guillermo, are the setting for Ernest Hemingway’s “Islands In The Stream” and “The Old Man and the Sea”. Joined to the mainland by a 27Km long causeway. Flamingos live in the shallow waters in this area and can often be seen from the causeway on the drive to your hotel. Still largely wild with swamps and scrubland, the islands boast about a dozen large international hotels spread out. Beaches are very good and the massive coral reef off the north coast attracts divers from around the world. One of Cuba’s best beaches, the Playa Pilar (Pilar Beach) is found at the western end of Cayo Guillermo. Try a lobster meal in the restaurant on the beach, great value and highly recommended. Take a trip to the local town of Moron to see more of how the Cubans live – fascinating!
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