Cuba - Viva La Salsa and So Much More
If there is one place in the world that should be on everyone's bucket list, it must be Cuba. Totally unique and stunningly beautiful, with beaches, nightlife, food and scenery to leave lasting memories, it is a country like no other. Cuba is a 9 hour 30 minutes flight time from the UK, but from the moment that you land, the island and its history will enchant you. The people are friendly and appreciate visitors in a way that will make you immediately feel welcome and because Cuba is pretty much self-sufficient, you will be able to enjoy beautifully cooked authentic food and drink, rather than the fast food places that seem to be everywhere these days. All around you the music of Cuba will resound and your feet will not stop tapping until you leave. There are many luxury all-inclusive resorts in Cuba and these are a great choice as authentic food is still served; you will not find yourself sitting down to Italian pasta or fish and chips. The best on the island is probably the Royalton Cayo Santa Maria which is an adult only resort and offers everything that you would need from a luxury all-inclusive holiday, including accommodation with incredible ocean views. With two swimming pools, a superb spa and beachside location, there are plenty of opportunities to show off your beautiful beach and swimwear in the sun. . The capital, Havana, has to be top of the list and don't forget your camera. The sight of the stunning, yet crumbling colonial buildings have a beautiful, rather faded splendour that leaves you hoping that they will not be renovated more than necessary. Stroll down the Calle Obispo which is the home of some unusual shops and has been frequently used in many famous films. Also visit the Castillo de la Real Fuerza, which is Cuba's oldest building. But the one thing that will remain with you forever is the sight of the 1950's cars which are proudly paraded around the streets and the salsa music that will be coming from every bar and restaurant; and of course the fragrant aroma of Cuban cigars. After Havana, move on to the town of Trinidad with its gorgeous coloured houses and cobblestoned streets. The sea views are incredible and you should stop for lunch or a snack at one of the restaurants to try some local Creole cuisine. Then take the road to Soroa/Vinales, a stunningly beautiful area that has natural waterfalls, orchards and tobacco plantations, all set in a lush green valley. Another 'must see' is Cienfuegos, which is also known as the 'Pearl of the South'. It was designed by the French and has a very unique Caribbean feel to it. Pack your best swimwear as Cuba has so many beaches that you will be spoilt for choice, but the one that should not be missed is Varadero. The crystal waters and gorgeous sandy beach is everything that you could ever wish for and from here you can take a short boat trip to Cayo Santa Maria, which is almost untouched and like stepping onto your very own desert island. Holguin is also a stunning beach and Christopher Columbus described it as "the most beautiful land eyes have ever seen”. White sandy beaches, delightful little coves, lagoons and water so clear that the underwater scenery is unrivalled. So if snorkelling and diving is something you've always wanted to try, then make this part of your trip to Cuba by visiting the coral reefs just off Guardalavaca. They are teeming with sea life, some unique to Cuba - don't forget a underwater camera! Your resort or hotel will undoubtedly provide great nightlife, but as Cuba is the home of salsa music and dance, a night out at a local salsa bar is not to be missed. The Cubans have a way of dancing that is sensuous and enchanting and the locals will be more than happy to show or teach you how it is done. A night out in Havana is essential, with many great places to visit and enjoy the music and see live shows. Try Casa de la Musica for salsa music and dancing or for something more romantic and chilled, the piano bar El Delirio Habanero is perfect and right next door to the Café Cantante Mi Habana where, after a few rum cocktails, you can take to the dance floor and salsa the night away. Cuba will steal your heart and once you have been there, you will never forget the atmosphere and the Cuban's great laid-back attitude to life. So sit at a beach bar sipping a Mojito or Cuba Libre, listening to salsa music while watching a stunning Cuban sunset – this is what holidays are all about.