Although I’ve been focussed on city breaks this year, when June rolls round my mind wanders to lazy days based on beautiful beaches, tropical cocktails and luxury summer breaks. In fact, all I used to do was go on one big blowout holiday a year to a Caribbean destination, and my last proper Summer break saw me head to the destination of my dreams – Cuba.
For me, it’s my first recommendation for a fantastically varied holiday – and here are just five reasons why an all-inclusive Cuba Summer holiday is well worth the investment.
1. Incredible beaches and luxury resorts
I’ve been to a few destinations in The Caribbean, but I’ve never come across beaches that I’ve been totally happy with. I’m not a fabulous beach breaker – I can swim, I burn easily and I kind of hate sand, but in Cuba I had to be dragged off it each day. The sand was warm and soft, and the sea such a wonderful shade of turquoise I frolicked it in each day. Unheard of for me.
The quality of hotels and resorts were also a huge surprise given the trading restrictions Cuba has to deal with. I stayed at the Iberostar resort in Varadero and was treated to all-inclusive luxury treatment from the second we arrived. Whether that was high class service, wonderful dining options or an opulent pool to pose in, Cuba gave me everything I could have wanted from a relaxing holiday.
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2. Interesting places to explore
Cuba is way more than just a beach destination, and whilst tempting you shouldn’t spend all your time in your resort. Even if those all-inclusive cocktails say otherwise! I travelled out from Cuba to both Havana and Trinidad for an overnight stay, explored Boca de Guama for an afternoon and rode a steam train around a sugar plantation in Australia. Yes, Cuba appears to like naming places after other countries.
There’s so much variety in Cuba – whether it’s the bustling cities with their 1950s Americana, cobbled streets and a slower pace, salsa dancing until the small hours or French colonial architecture Cuba has it all, waiting for you to explore!
3. Hidden rainforests
A huge surprise for me was that Cuba had a rainforest tucked deep in the mountains just outside Cienfuegos. You can hop in jeeps to wind your way up the mountains for an entirely different holiday experience. With a guide, you can hike through El Nicho National Park and find out more about the animals, insects and plants that reside there.
If that’s not enough, you can take a dip in amazing freshwater pools and see the natural beauty of El Nicho falls, nestled right in the heart of the park. If you need to walk off all that all inclusive food and want respite from the bustle of the cities, a day spent at El Nicho is worth it.
4. An unrivalled history
You can’t think about Cuba without thinking about its incredible, and often tempestuous history. I can’t be alone in having studied the Cuba Missile Crisis at school, and I’ve been obsessed with visiting and understanding more about Cuba ever since.
As well as the 1950’s cars that line the streets of Havana, visiting the birthplace of the Daiquiri (at El Floridita, where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out) and understand more about cigar and sugar production, you can also head to Santa Clara to visit Che Guevara’s final resting place. Che Guevara is a key figure in any retelling of Cuba’s history, and to understand more about him at his memorial and museum is a perfect tribute.
5. All of the rum + cigars!
So you’ve got beaches, luxury hotels and enough culture to shake a stick at? You’ll definitely be wanting a souvenir to take home, so it’s a good job that Cuba is famous for its Rum and Cuban cigars.
You can visit both rum distilleries and cigar factories, but to get a real feel for the cigar culture, Pinar del Rio is worth a visit. A city located right in the best growing terrain for tobacco, you can visit a fantastic cigar factory and get a feel for life in the slow lane. Alternatively, head to Havana for a huge range of cigar shops where you can purchase your own, authentic Cuban cigars to take home – Cohiba is my Step-Dad’s favourite brand, but Montecristo and Romeo et Juliet are other famous Cuban brands.
And whilst the UK loves Havana Club Rum, leave that on the shelf and pick something that the locals drink. Santiago de Cuba dark rum came home with me and as well as being the cheapest dark rum I’ve ever bought, it’s by far the nicest.
A Cuba summer holiday offers everything – luxurious relaxation, history and culture and an amazing infectious vibe that will stay with you long after you return. I can’t wait to go back!
This post was written in collaboration with Cuba Holidays