Take the family to Cuba
By Martha Hales
There aren’t many children who wouldn’t jump at the chance to enjoy a few days on a beach of soft white sand and sparkling, warm Caribbean waters - and for many families this is Cuba’s biggest draw. But there is much more to this beguiling island than beautiful beaches. Immerse yourselves in the unique culture of Havana, get active in the stunning landscapes of the interior and even learn some new skills with a selection of exciting workshop activities.
Children are universally welcome in Cuba, and Cubans take delight in fussing over them and making an effort to welcome families. Although there aren’t a huge variety of activities here which are aimed specifically at children, there are plenty of reasons that a family holiday in Cuba is a great idea, not least the opportunity to explore the beautiful island together, enjoy the fabulous beaches and the warm welcome. Here's a quick list of some of our favourite family friendly ideas for your next holiday in Cuba.
Get close to nature
Blessed with a tropical climate and abundant natural wonders, Cuba is a dream destination for families who like to immerse themselves in the natural world. Not far from Trinidad the lush vegetation and tropical splendour of the El Cubano Natural Park is situated at the fringes of the Guamuhaya Mountains. Set off on your forest adventure with a guide who can identify and illuminate all that you come across, from plants and flowers to insects and birds. There's a lovely trail - just the right level of challenge for most families - which crisscrosses the river a few times before arriving at the Javira waterfall, a tumbling delight deep in the forest complete with pools perfect for a cooling dip, so pack your swimmers. There's even a rock for jumping off into the pool if you are feeling daring!
There aren't a whole lot of child-specific activities in Havana, but that's not to say children won't enjoy the city. Colourful old buildings, an impressive devotion to music and dance, fun street life and all those wonderful old cars will keep curious eyes busy, and what could be better than an impromptu family boogie when you come across a Cuban band belting out some tunes in an atmospheric little plaza? Taking a spin in a lovingly maintained 1950's car with a fun colour scheme is a highlight for many children, while older children will enjoy markets, galleries and museums.
Head for this delightful rural enclave not too far from Havana to enjoy some of Cuba's most unique scenery and to witness a traditional rustic lifestyle where horse and carts still rule the road. Explore the dramatic valley on horseback, admiring the mountainous surroundings and the 'mogotes' - rocky eruptions topped with vegetation which rise from the valley floor at regular intervals, characteristic of the Viñales landscape. For older kids, mountain biking, hiking and horse riding are also great activities here.
After you have discovered and enjoyed some of Cuba's amazing natural and cultural wonders, why not kick back with a few days by the beach. Though the island has plenty of interesting diversions, it would a shame to visit without devoting at least some of your time to the incredible coastline where there are beaches to suit all tastes. Varadero is Cuba's most sizeable resort, where there are any number of hotels with water parks, pools, kids clubs and a huge expanse of stunning sandy beach right on the doorstep. Snorkelling and watersports are available here, but true underwater enthusiasts should head for Cayo Coco or Cayo Guillermo where the coral is out of this world and barefoot luxury comes as standard.
Learn a new skill in Trinidad
Not only is Trinidad a beautiful town with character and history radiating from its ancient colonial architecture, it is also a place rich with artistic heritage and numerous traditional crafts. Why not take home a souvenir of a new skill when you take part in a workshop or two in this charming old town? There are plenty of family friendly options to choose from and our local experts can organise activities to suit the ages of your children. Consider spending time with a local artist polishing your sketching skills and take home some family artworks as a memento of your time in Cuba, or perhaps you would enjoy the three dimensional appeal of a pottery workshop, following in the long tradition of ceramics in Trinidad. Lastly, why not keep everyone entertained with a fun and active salsa dance class? What could be more memorable than learning a new skill together?
Preparation is key
Planning ahead is definitely the key when you are organising your Cuba holiday, as there are limits to the number of long journeys and unexpected delays children can tolerate. Luckily TravelLocal’s partners in Cuba have extensive experience to draw upon when they are putting your bespoke itinerary together, and they can anticipate the demands of family travel, building in breaks on journeys and prioritising accommodation with child friendly facilities and extras, such as casas particulares with farm animals to pet or a pool for splashing good fun.
It can be tricky to source all the bits and pieces you need for your children in Cuba, especially outside Havana, and in some cases the products may not be as good quality as you are used to. If you need nappies, snacks, medicines, wipes, kids sunscreen or formula, bring it with you or accept the local brands might not be the same as those you are used to and can take time to track down. Car seats are also hard to come by in Cuba, so bringing yours from home is advisable if you are planning on any self drive sections of your trip. Do also consider the heat and humidity when you are away - plan activities for mornings and late afternoons allowing time to rest out of the heat at the hottest time of day.
Make it happen
The beauty of a tailor made tour of Cuba is that you can use the expertise of our local partners to design an itinerary perfect for your family. Send them a few details today and they will get to work on your bespoke itinerary which you can tweak to your heart's content. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.