Cuba is without doubt the Caribbean’s most interesting island. It embraces great beaches, water sports and sun, just like the rest of those famously sunny islands, but also offers the discerning tourist gorgeous decaying towns and American cars, a wild live music scene, a fascinating history, friendly people, cheap living and a bizarre, collapsed Socialist system.
From Matthew Parris at The (London) Times
I cannot but be moved here in Havana: moved by the death of an idea. Slowly but inexorably now Castro is gone, economic liberalisation is coming; a slow-rising tide as little gullies and pools begin to fill and the water swells between stones and through myriad small channels. The signs are everywhere: little kiosks here and there; some paintings for sale, shyly pegged outside a small flat; the furtive undermining of state monopolies; restaurants with proper wine lists and real menus; an itinerant cartoonist who’ll sketch you for a few pesos.
The number of visitors from the US last year rose by 80 per cent. Canadians are the largest group of foreign tourists, Cubans living overseas are second, Americans are now third, a great change from previous years when Germans, Britons, Italians and French arrived more frequently than visitors from the US.
If you plan to visit Cuba, the old, charming, dilapidated Cuba, get moving!
New flights from USA to Cuba
JetBlue operated the first flights between the US and Cuba in summer 2016 and now runs 42 nonstop weekly flights, with a fresh route between New York’s JFK and Havana’s José Martí International airport.
American Airlines will begin regular flights from Miami to Havana. Delta Air Lines will resume scheduled flights to Cuba on December 1 2016.
By the end of the year there will be around 110 direct scheduled flights from the US to Cuba every day.
Most visitors to Cuba will require a visa, including citizens of US, Canada, Australia, UK and EU.
Officially Cuba travel for touristic purposes is still prohibited for US citizens but a) they are welcome in Cuba by Cubans b) if Americans wish to visit for one of 12 specified reasons – such as visiting relatives, research (compare and contrast Cuba Libres in Cuba vs the US version?), education (reading a travel guide to Cuba? Now that’s educational!), support for the Cuban people (buy them a Cuba Libre! Stay in their Casa Particular) – then a visa will be granted. Going through a professional visa provider will ease the way.
A Cuban tourist visa is known as a tourist card and allows the visitor to stay in Cuba for 30 days. The applicant must provide proof of confirmed return flight and booked accommodation.
A Trinidad cowboy.