US trade and travel restrictions make travel to Cuba a little more complex than traveling virtually anywhere else – but the slight inconvenience is well worth the trouble to experience all the amazing features of the island nation.
As a result of Cuba’s special status in the eyes of US law, organized tours to Cuba offer a wide variety of ways to see the island and also comply with US rules for people subject to US jurisdiction. Almost all tour operators who accept US travelers offer rules compliance and adventure in their tours. This essentially means organized “people-to-people” cultural and educational exchange – and excludes things like vacationing on a beach. That’s right, technically speaking, going to Cuba to sit on a beach is a violation of US travel restrictions. But don’t worry because there is so much else to do in Cuba, you likely will not miss the beach scene.
Here are three tours we believe are the most interesting offerings this year:
In this “eco-surf and turf” tour you can discover the island’s most extraordinary marine, cultural, and nature offerings. The tour is available through the Center for Responsible travel (CREST) May 1-8, 2016. Itinerary highlights include: a stay at a traditional countryside bed-and-breakfast; a visit to Vinales Valley; a visit to Las Terrazasa; snorkeling, birding and/or scuba
diving on the Guanchacabibes Peninsula; and a tour of Old Havana. The trip also includes a visit to La Finca Vigia, Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban home.
Smithsonian Journeys offers a tour for travelers interested in learning about the history, culture and contemporary issues facing a nation in transition. The next tour is November 4-12. Smithsonian Journeys, part of the famous Smithsonian Institute, focuses its Cuba offering on four main aspects: preservation of Cuba’s architectural heritage through efforts by UNESCO World Heritage sites; Cuba’s sophisticated art traditions; the African origins of Cuba’s Santeria religion; and the complex rhythms and unique Cuban music styles.
This non-traditional tour is offered by Abercrombie & Kent. The next tour date in April 12-21. The itinerary highlights Cuban culture through the exploration of its architecture, agriculture, music, and dining – and one-on-one experiences with Cubans. Travelers will experience Cuba’s baseball culture and interact with scholars who will discuss the history of US-Cuba relations. Plans also include a visit to UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the Las Terrazas eco-community. Finally, local musicians will perform for travelers during a Buena Vista Social Club-style concert and cultural discussion.