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Ay, Cuba! At times exhilarating and exhausting, this sensual Caribbean isle is a unique blend of communism, colonialism, and carnality. Seemingly caught in a time warp, it is eccentric and enigmatic. Ox-drawn plows till tobacco fields at the base of dramatic limestone formations, and cars from the 1950s trundle down the roads on underinflated tires. Revolutionary slogans exhort everyone to work harder and live by good values. The gorgeous beaches are being harnessed for tourists, with plenty of all-inclusive resorts and watersports, although standards fall below international par. Scuba diving is mind-blowing. And there's plenty of ...

Ay, Cuba! At times exhilarating and exhausting, this sensual Caribbean isle is a unique blend of communism, colonialism, and carnality. Seemingly caught in a time warp, it is eccentric and enigmatic. Ox-drawn plows till tobacco fields at the base of dramatic limestone formations, and cars from the 1950s trundle down the roads on underinflated tires. Revolutionary slogans exhort everyone to work harder and live by good values. The gorgeous beaches are being harnessed for tourists, with plenty of all-inclusive resorts and watersports, although standards fall below international par. Scuba diving is mind-blowing. And there's plenty of wildlife thrills.

And the colonial cities! Habana Vieja (Old Havana) is a trove of castles, cathedrals, and palaces that have been restored and turned into museums, boutiques, and hotels. Havana also has a thriving jazz scene, plus sizzling Las Vegas-style cabarets such as Tropicana. In fact, music pulsates across the island. Cuba is steeped in romantic trovas and son, and sensual Afro-Cuba dance forms associated with santería. The best places to experience all this in one package are the colonial cities of Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba.

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean at the confluence of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Cuban Peso
  • Research: Wikitravel | Cuba
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    February-April for the springlike climate; December for jazz and film festivals