Hi everyone. As you may or may not know, I just got back from a six day cuban vacation! It definitely had it’s ups and downs but I left with a completely newfound appreciation for Cuba and its people, especially the people. I had so much fun, ultimately and would definitely revisit again. I would honestly love to organize a group trip! This post is just to discuss some of the stuff I did that I LOVED and the stuff I didn’t care for. Let’s jump into it, I’ll start with the experiences I did and enjoyed and I’ll include links for booking!
Before I travel anywhere, I always do a TON of research. I hate surprises and the knowledge gives me a sense of ease before I embark on a new adventure. Thank God I do this because Cuba is not somewhere you want to just jump into visiting. There’s just a lot of little things you should know before going so I was glad to do my research on those. I definitely looked deep into fun things to do while there and I ended up booking about 7 different Airbnb experiences! A lot of people don’t know that you can also book experiences via Airbnb, in the same way you book stays. Just search a location and go to experiences and you’ll get tons of fun things to do hosted by locals of the community. Just another way Airbnb builds connections! If you’re new to Airbnb, you can use my link to save $40 off your first stay AND $15 off your first experience, sign up here.
The first night, I signed up for a bar crawl, hosted by Andito. This was such an amazing experience; it was so fun and the perfect way to be introduced to nightlife in Havana. We started by meeting at a rooftop bar; there was about 12 of us altogether. We went around and talked about ourselves and just bonded over a couple drinks and Andito brought us Cohibas (good Cuban cigars) and taught us how to smoke them correctly. From there, we moved on to another bar/lounge that had just dance and proceeded to hang out and drink. He paid for most of the drinks but you were more than welcome to get more on your own. It felt like a big, happy family. Finally, we ended the night at one of the biggest clubs in Havana! It was mostly electronic mixes but there was a good amount of Reggaeton and Spanish music as well. It had a huge dancefloor and it was just good vibes all over. He finally called us all taxis around 2:30 am and saw to it we got home safely. He also sales cigars, too, at a cheaper price than you can get them from a cigar house so he is actually the plug, lol. I highly recommend this experience and as you can see by all the five star reviews, it’s definitely widely regarded as a fun time! You can check it out here.
The second day, I did a few experiences! I had a cool history walk booked because I was super interested in the history of Havana/Cuba. Cuba has such a tumultuous and interesting story and I really wanted to hear the local perspective about it. I also had a cigar rolling/pairing class, because it just sounded like a once in a lifetime class to take. What is more cuban than cigar rolling? Nothing, really! The history tour was super informative and discussed things such as social classes, the architecture, and the restoration going on. It was about a mile and a half of walking all over Havana and i really enjoyed it. I recommend if you’re wanting to learn more about the city and it’s history. You can find it here.
The second experience I did that day was one of my favorites. We went to the hosts house and they had it all set up for learning the process of how to roll cigars. One of the hosts, the guy teaching the actual rolling, works in the cigar factory so we got to learn firsthand from someone experienced! He can roll a cigar in less than 2 mins. There is SO much that goes into cigar rolling, there’s like 20 or more steps LOL. They taught us about the plants and the tools they use, as well. We had a cigar rolling contest to see who could roll the best cigar, which i won. So i won a cigar and got to keep the one I rolled lol! That’s two free cigars. After we finished rolling, we went to the balcony to smoke and pair the cigars with cuban rum and coffee. Our host, Osmel, showed us how to infuse the rum with the cigar smoke which was super cool. We sat outside talking and smoking for hours and just getting to know about one another. We had a “who can make the biggest ash” contest too, which I also won. It was a really great experience and I can honestly say I left with new friends by the end of it. You can check out this experience here.
The third day, I did a photography walk with a local photographer. It was a 3 hour long experience where he showed us all over Central Havana and some cool photo spots we would’ve never come across on our own. My best photos definitely came from this experience. I absolutely loved it. David, the host, was very helpful and informative and was able to work with photographers of all skill levels from phones to dslrs to film. If you’re wanting to great photos or to explore this area of Havana, I highly recommend! You can check it out here.
Later that night, I had another experience which was called “Night to the Rhythm of Havana” which was essentially a salsa based experience! We all met up at a rooftop bar and had mojitos and some food then proceeded to a salsa rooftop club. It was so much fun! Our hosts showed us the basic moves for salsa and we all went up to the stage dancefloor and had a salsa dance off LOL. It was really and a bit out of my comfort zone, which is always a good thing. After that, we went to a little hole in the wall type place that had a live singer/saxophonist who was AMAZING. I recorded some of her performance which you can see on my instagram story highlights, if you’d like here. It was such a fun time, just full of dancing, drinking amazing Cuban rum, laughter and good energy. I loved everything about it. We stayed out until like 4 in the morning and I regret nothing. Here’s the experience if you’re interested.
The next day, I did a classic car tour. We were picked up in a beautiful, yellow convertible and our guide took us all over Havana and told us about the history of some of the strongholds, the Cuban Jesus and other landmarks. It was cool but it isn’t something I would really recommend, to be honest. It was nice being able to get to these places as a lot you do need a car to get to and to have a driver waiting for you after is convenient but it’s not an unmissable or once in a lifetime thing by any means! Just a little touristy thing to do to say you did it. You can check it out here.
On the last night, I did my favorite experience! It was called “Tasting Afro Cuban Culture”. The Afro-Cuban cooking class was by far my favorite experience of my time! It was hosted by Beyond Roots and they have a few other experiences based in Afro-Cuban culture as well. The cooking class was so fun! We learned how to make traditional afro-cuban dishes, tried a traditional drink and got a live music performance before dinner. We even got to try out the instruments and learn traditional dances. I loved it all so much. I feel like Afro-Cuban culture as a whole sometimes gets forgotten so it was nice to find an experience that was all about it. It was just a really fun night and wish I could do it all over again. You can check it out here.
That was all the experiences I did! I enjoyed most, honestly. Some more than others. As for Havana, would I recommend for others to visit? Absolutely. I fell in love with the people and the culture. I do have things I didn’t especially care for here such as the food, the lack of resources, the lack of good internet, etc. However, I try not to hold these particular gripes against it because I understand why things are the way they are. If these are thing you cannot get past, I wouldn’t recommend Cuba as a place for you or I would recommend it for a short amount of time, if anything. Cuba is an amazing island, and it’s come a long way for sure. It has a lot more to work on of course but it’ll come with time, I have hope. For those wondering if it is safe, the answer is YES. I felt extremely safe in the dark of night, wee hours of the morning and every time in between. The people are so welcoming and kind, you feel like family.
Is Cuba a place you want to visit? Do you have any questions about Cuba? I plan to write a guide so would love to hear what you’d love to know. Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!