CUBA! CUBA! CUBA! Is a very beautiful tropical gem. Surrounded by colorful people, beautiful architecture, culture and food, Cuba is one place that you must see in your lifetime. Once a playground for citizens of the US, Cuba was the diamond in the rough. Due to civil and social unrest along with political disagreements and Cuba’s independence in the 1950’s US citizens were restricted from traveling there. During his presidency, our favorite President, Barack Obama loosened the restrictions so that now US citizens would be able to enjoy this beloved country. Within the past few years this has lead many people, young and old alike, to travel to this beautiful place that still shines with its bustling nightlife filled with music, dancing, food and beautiful beaches.

Cuba has always been on my bucket list since I was a little girl and even when I grew into a teen and realized from what I had learned that Americans were not able to travel there. I never got the “why,” but I am thrilled that I can travel there now. I know there are still rules and regulations, but I’m just excited that something that was once a dream is now a reality. Now that we can maneuver in and out of Cuba without much hassle here are some places you can visit if you get the opportunity to travel there:

1. Varadero. One of Cuba’s most famous beaches. It also includes Cueva de Ambrosio and Cueva de Musulmanes which are caves that reside in Varadero. They also have a nature reserve, the Parque Natural Punta Hicacos that contains a beach as well. Another location to see would be Cayo Piedra Underwater Park. There you can go snorkeling and discover shipwrecks. You can also do some deep sea diving, along with fishing and skydiving.

2. If you are looking for a classic creole cuisine, you can find it at Dona Eutemia. This culinary gem is tucked away from the main view of where the tourists would dwell, but this independently owned and ran restaurant is a staple in Havana. With the recipes being passed down from generation to generation, Lettia cooks classic creole dishes such as ropa vieja (shredded lamb), malanga fritters and large portions of beans, Spanish rice, fresh seafood and exotic fruits delivered on a platter. This is a feast fit for a king but at reasonable prices. Another gem of Cuba would be El Cocinero. Giving you a New York City vibe, El Cocinero is a nouveau-esque place for the trendy crowds in Havana. With its rooftop terrace and modern style lounge, El Cocinero offers a sophistication of duck confit and blinis and well prepared cocktails where you can sit back and enjoy a beautiful view of the city. Definitely a place to jump start your foodie cravings in Havana.

3. If you love art, please check out Havana’s Museum of Fine Arts or the Museco Nacional de Bellas Artes. Havana’s art museum offers one of the most vast collections of not only Cuban art, but international art as well. The art portfolio includes works such as, Palacio del Centro Asturiano by Manuel Bustos that was originally designed in the 1920’s. With pieces from the 17th century up to modern day, pieces includes sculptures, paintings and prints. With collections coming from Rome, Egypt, Latin America and Greece, this is definitely a place where you can fulfill your love for fine art and art history.  

4. Havana’s most famous seafront promenade is the Malecon. It was built in 1902 and offers a great stroll through the rich history of the city. If you are a photographer, with the different pastels and colors, here you can find different architectural styles, people watching, fishermen casting their lines into the sea and young lovers strolling hand in hand. The Malecon is a good place to pass the time by and just use the visuals to think and clear your head.

5. Cayo Coco. This beach destination is more isolated than the other beaches in Cuba. Cayo Coco is connected to the mainland by a bridge, however you can access the beautiful oasis by air. Some prime attractions would be Playa Prohibida, which is offers an exquisite nature trail along with birding. You can also access all inclusive resorts when you head over to Cayo Guillermo.

With all of Cuba’s beauty, colorful atmosphere, gorgeous natives, delectable foods and rich culture, who wouldn’t want to travel to this once forbidden land. Get your passports ready, review all of the travel guidelines for going to Cuba, pack your bags and get ready to have an unforgettable experience.

By: Etosha Bahaiddin
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