eight days and seven nights in the Pearl of the Caribbean
Single room supplement $0
Full itinerary and tour activities descriptions
A Cuba expedition focused on people-to-people education, nature and cultural exchanges. This program is geared to naturalists, and lovers of the arts, music, history and architecture. The tour has a very diverse itinerary and features comfortable accommodations and authentic Cuban cuisine.
Day 1 – Friday :: Havana (evening of culture and music)
Arrive at Havana International airport. Collect your bags and go through customs. You will be welcomed just outside the airport by your Cuban guide and professional bus driver. Enjoy the comfort of our coach bus while taking in the scenery on route to our first location. Lunch on the first day is the only meal not included in your trip cost due to the uncertainty of arriving flight schedules. If your flight arrives in time for lunch, we will arrange a great meal for you. With our bellies full we are off to check into our first location in Havana for our overnight stay.
Once settled in, the group will enjoy a splendid meal in old Havana at Club 54 private restaurant. Enjoy your first night in a city that was first settled in 1519 by the Spanish. Rich in history and culture, Havana is a sprawling Metropolis with over 2 million inhabitants. Welcome to Hemmingway’s favourite city.
Day 2 – Saturday :: Havana (biking, walking and classic car tours)
After a great breakfast at 8:00am we depart around 9:00am on the bus to the bicycle pick-up point in western Havana. Here we will start our bike tour travelling through Havana towards the sea-side malecon. Enjoy the scenery and several interesting stops along the way. Biking the streets will give you a great perspective on Cuban city life. Our bike tour will last a maximum of 3 hours and circle through the old city and return back to our starting point in western Havana.
We leave the bikes behind and continue via old classic Americano cars through the streets of Havana to Morro Castle. This Castle was built by the Spanish to protect Havana bay and the city from pirates, buccaneers and invading countries. Our classic car ride continues into Old Havana to further explore monuments, streets, churches and shops but first we will recharge with a great lunch at Templete restaurant and then continue by foot. Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site has 5 historic plazas, we will visit 4 of them. Havana contains the largest collection of remaining colonial-era architecture. This is a private tour led by your Educational Tour guide. 1- Cathedral Square, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plazas on the island. Named after the masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: The Cathedral de San Cristobal de la Havana built by the Jesuit order. 2 – Square of Arms, an ancient military parade ground for Spanish soldiers, surrounded by impressive buildings such as: Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, former seat of colonial government. Today the building houses the Museum of the city. Palacio del Segundo Cabo [Palace of the Second Lieutenant] dates from 1770. Today it is home to the Centro para la Interpretación de las Relaciones Culturales Cuba - Europa [Center for the Interpretation of Cultural Relations Cuba-Europe]. 3 – We continue onto San Francisco Square, one of the oldest plazas in the historical quarter. The square is named after magnificent Iglesia y Monasterio de San Francisco de Asis dating from the 16th century. The basilica is a striking example of Cuba baroque architecture. 4 – Then on to Plaza Vieja, the only civic square of colonial times. Absent are the churches, and government buildings, and is in contrast surrounded by opulent aristocratic 17th century residences. We’ll visit an important center for the visual arts. After visiting the old squares we will continue to Havana’s National Art Museum. Take in the exhibits and through this expression of art the Cuban culture really enlightens its admirers. Just in front of the Art Museum is the Historical Revolution Museum. This is a great display and a reminder of Cuba’s struggles for change. What a great day taking in the culture of Cuba and its people. A short bus ride takes us back to accommodations for the night.
Dinner will be at one of the newest paladars in Old Havana. With the double invocation of one of the most emblematic drinks of Cuba, this space wants to stay in the gastronomic memory of its clients. Specializing in paellas and seafood dishes, Mojito-Mojito invites you to spend a pleasant time marked by the wide and varied cocktails, but above all, by the distinctive taste of its essence.
Day 3 – Guama (crocodile farm tour, boat ride and stand up paddle board or kayak)
Breakfast at 8:00 am in Havana. We then load up and are on our Guamá Islands in the Treasure Lagoon. This was once the site of a Taíno Aboriginal settlement. Here, we will stay in traditional native style cabins with thatched roofs raised on stilts above the water. Don’t let these rustic cabins fool you; they are all equipped with a private bathroom, satellite T.V. and balcony with a lake view.
Before taking an exhilarating boat ride into the lagoon we will enjoy lunch at Enrique’s private restaurant in Playa Larga and after a special visit to the Caribbean’s largest protected natural park. Cienaga de Zapata National Park boasts some of the best bird watching in all of Cuba. Here we have been granted permission to take an afternoon excursion deep into the salt flats to observe pink flamingos, pelicans, rosette spoon-bills, herons, egrets and many more species of birds in their natural environment. Bring your camera! After enjoying the park we will make our way to the Guama landing and take a short walk to a crocodile farm. To get to Guama village we will take motor boat ride through a labyrinth of back channels to arrive at the main village. Check in and explore the numerous islands via bridges and board walks. The afternoon is yours to explore and discover.
Dinner will be served at the hotel’s restaurant at 7:30pm. This amazing restaurant is featured on the 1 C.U.C coin. Enjoy nature at its finest!
Day 4 – Monday :: Cienfuegos (snorkeling, city tour, flamingo reserve, private restaurant)
Good morning adventurers! Breakfast is served at the restaurant at 8:00am. 9:00am we catch the boat ride back to the landing where our bus will carry us south towards Playa Larga. On route to Cienfuegos we will make two stops. First stop is at a great snorkeling area on the “Bay of Pigs” called Caleta Buena. Prepare to be amazed at the diversity of fish that will surround you.
Here enjoy a couple hours of snorkeling and lunch ocean-side with a great view. With our bellies full we will continue to the town of Giron for a quick visit to the “Bay of Pigs Battle” museum. The “Bay of Pigs” battle location represents the first military defeat of the modern United States on April, 1961. On to Cienfuegos City, also known as "La Perla del Sur" (Pearl of the South) and the only city founded by French settlers (1819). Once we arrive in Cienfuegos a sightseeing city tour will give you a taste of Cuban city life and culture. Visit the city’s foundation, Jose Marti Park, where the most representative buildings include the Government Palace (City Hall, current office of the Provincial Assembly of the Popular Power), San Lorenzo School, the Terry Theater, Cathedral de la Purisma Concepcion, the former Lyceum building and some residential buildings. A short bus tour down the malecon to Palacio de Valle where you will visit this beautiful National Heritage Memorial. Be sure to climb the circular stairs up to the roof top bar for a perfect 360-degree view of Cienfuegos and the Bay. If you look out to the east, you will see the Escambray Mountain range in the distance. We will be visiting them on day 7 of your adventure.
After enjoying the “Pearl of the South” (Cienfuegos) we will travel approx. 25 minutes to a real hidden gem called Rancho Cristal on the south side of Cienfuegos bay. Welcome to one of the best private restaurants in Cuba. Friendly staff treat you like family and serve up some great food for us to enjoy in a perfect natural setting. With our tummy full we are off to Villa Guajimico nestled in the forest on top of ancient coral cliffs above the ocean. Paradise! Check in and enjoy your new home for the next 3 nights.
Day 5 – Tuesday :: Guajimico (hiking, caving, snorkling, horse-back riding, diving and dancing)
Guajimico is one of the best kept secrets in Cuba. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle and surrounded by pristine nature. After an 8:00am breakfast at the resort the group will enjoy a nature hike to an isolated private beach surround by massive cliffs. Bring your camera to capture this spectacular diamond in the rough. Relax, swim or enjoy some world class snorkeling in the turquoise waters. On our hike back we will do a slight detour through a massive cave system that will take your breath away. This amazing cave system is seldom travelled and is truly off the beaten path. Lunch is at the resort.
In the afternoon if you haven’t tried stand up paddle boarding before now is your chance to get an introduction and paddling tips from your tour leader / instructor. Paddle boarding is one of the world’s fastest growing sports in the world. Time to see why and what a better place to do it than the aqua blue waters on the Caribbean Sea. Bring along a mask and snorkel to view the reefs while lying on your paddle board. The other option is to relax by the pool. We can also arrange horseback riding and/or diving if you are interested. These activities are not included in the pricing of the program but are between $20-$30 CUC extra.
Dinner will be served at Guajimico at 7:30pm and a special evening learning traditional Cuban salsa and bachata dance will start at 9:00pm. Increased mojito consumption increases your hip motion!
Day 6 – Wednesday :: Guajimico / Cayo Blanco / Trinidad (catamaran and walking tour of Trinidad)
Get ready for an exciting action packed day. Breakfast is at 7:30am at the resort and on the bus at 8:00am sharp for an hour long drive along the coast to the Ancon peninsula south of Trinidad. Here we will climb aboard a catamaran at Marlin Marina and set sail for Cayo Blanco Island. This Island is located approx. 10 miles south of the main land and is the ideal spot to enjoy the ocean and the beach away from the crowds. The island is 2 miles long and worth exploring. This is a great spot to enjoy snorkeling in shallow sandy waters.
A lunch is served on the island and around 3:00pm the catamaran will sail back to the mainland. We will cruise into the old city of Trinidad for a historical tour. Trinidad was founded in 1514 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy a walking tour in the Plaza Mayor in the center of town. Located around the plaza are the Museo Romántico and the Iglesia Parroquial de la Santisima Trinidad.
Dinner will be at Visa Gourmet, one of the best private restaurants in the city. It’s then back to Guajimico for the evening. Adventure and culture at its finest!
Day 7 – Thursday :: Guajimico and Topes de Collantes (4 by 4 mountain tour, waterfall jungle hike)
Pack up your stuff and let’s head to the mountains! After breakfast we depart at 8:30am via bus to a junction that heads to Topes De Collates. Here we will hop aboard a 4 by 4 Russian mountain truck at 9:15 am to make the drive up and into the mountains. The Escambray Mountains are one of three mountain ranges in Cuba. This area is three quarters park lands and has some of the most beautiful scenery in Cuba. This ride will take approx. 45mins. and then we will arrive at a mountain coffee house and a botanical tea shop. Enjoy one of over 30 different specialty coffee drinks before we carry on to our lunch stop and the start of our hike.
Nessled in the valley of the mountains is a restaurant called Casa De Gallega. Here they will be serving up a great lunch at 12:00 pm with a beautiful setting. After lunch we will do a jungle hike to a series of crystal clears pools, a cave and waterfalls. Relax and soak up nature at it’s best. Sendero Centinelas Del Rio Melodioso is the name of this hiking trail in Guanayara Park. We will be hiking approx. 2.5 hours and only covering half the trail. At the half-way point our mountain truck will be waiting for us. Load up and dress warm for the ride up out of the valley to meet our bus and drive back to Havana for our final evening.
It’s a long dive back to Havana so get cozy and relax. Our final dinner and accommodations will be in Havana. Enjoy the evening, lights, music and buzz of Cuba’s capital city one last time before heading home with loads of great memories.
Day 8 – Friday :: Bye bye Cuba – for now
After breakfast, we will aim to get you safely back the Havana approx. three hours before your flight. Remember to tip your tour guides well. Without them this amazing adventure wouldn’t be possible. Our goal is to always meet or exceed your expectations. From the Cuba Adventure Crew and San Cristobal we thank-you very much for picking our adventure. Have a safe flight home and we hope to see you again on another Cuba Adventure.
Included in tour cost
- All taxes. Prices listed are the total amounts you pay. All amounts are quoted in US dollars
- Certificate of Legal Cuba Travel in compliance with US Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations (OFAC)
- Airport transfers: We meet you at José Martí Int’l Airport in Havana and take you to your hotel upon arrival. We return you to José Martí Int’l Airport in Havana for departure
- Hotels as listed in tour itinerary or similar
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners as per itinerary
- All activities, services, speakers, meetings and meals as described in tour itinerary except those noted as “optional” or “not included in cost”
- Modern air-conditioned bus and professional chauffeur
- Bottled water on bus
- An expert Cuban English-speaking guide and translator whose background matches tour content throughout the program
- Ongoing support from Cuba Education and Explorer Tours staff in Canada, United States and Cuba before, during and after your stay
- Emergency collect call access to our North American staff while in Cuba
- Emergency cash advances for our tour participants who face complications accessing funds from aboard while in Cuba
Not included in cost
- Domestic or international flights. Please see our suggestions for commercial flights to Cuba
- Mandatory Cuban medical insurance (generally included in the cost of US flights to Cuba)
- Mandatory Cuban Visitor Visa. Purchase your Cuban Visitor Visa here
- Gratuities for Cuban tour guide, bus driver, chambermaids, restaurant staff, porters. See Cuba tipping guidelines
- We strongly recommend trip interruption and cancellation insurance. We partner with Allianz Global Assistance for Cuba travel peace of mind