Cuba: Go for the Beaches, Stay for the Flavour

by Emma Hackwood


This year when I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba with Intrepid Travel. Having never seen the Caribbean before, I jumped at the chance to go. Intrepid showed me that Cuba is so much more than beautiful beaches and mojitos in the sun.  With merely a three and a half hour flight from Toronto, and no time difference, I was shocked to see that Cuba is just as exotic and wonderful as my previous trip to India.  The food and culture, in the cities of Cuba are absolutely worth staying and exploring.  If you’re thinking about a trip to Cuba, definitely go for the beautiful beaches, but stay for the culture.

We began our journey at a local homestay in Santa Clara.  What was waiting for us when we arrived was one of the best meals I have ever had.  As I had never done a homestay before, I was a little apprehensive about the food, considering the reputation Cuba has in the travel industry regarding all-inclusive buffet options.  That night we had plates piled high with fresh mango and guava, black bean soup over rice, smoked and then roasted chicken that was one of the most flavourful pieces of chicken I ever had, two huge platters of fresh salad, and the list goes on.

Cuba- food

As we continued on our tour we had the chance to have several meals in home stays and they were all unique and flavourful.  Ranging in price from $7-$10 for dinner you really cant go wrong – especially since the home stays only cost about $30/night for a double room (which were clean, air conditioned, and in beautiful old colonial houses).

Outside the homestays we ate lobster, fish, and shrimp prepared a variety of ways from café style to fine dining but never paid more that $15.00 for an entrée.  If you are not one for seafood then there are a ton of chicken, lamb and pork options – often smoked, grilled or skewered with rice, vegetables, fresh salads, and delicious salty fried potatoes or plantains.  For breakfast we never got tired of all of the fruit. Other options were eggs with different smoked meats, ham, and fresh and smoked cheeses.  The food in Cuba was one of the biggest surprises of our trip; aside from the beautiful art and amazing culture that runs through the entire country.


Situated on the north coast of the island and built around a natural harbour, Havana (La Habana), is one of the most lively and colourful cities in the Caribbean. Much of the city’s charm can be found among the narrow, derelict streets packed with crumbling buildings and fascinating people.

Havana really is one of the coolest cities I have ever seen.  Everywhere you go there is art; installation art, sidewalk art, paintings hanging in hotels and cafes, statues, sculptures, and murals.

Cuba- Havana Art

Although I purchased three small paintings in Trinidad, I could have bought enough art to fill a gallery in Havana. Cuba’s art is often saturated with the history of the country, and everywhere you go there are reminders of freedom and revolution with historically significant attractions every where you go.

From sipping mojitos in the lively square surrounded by historic buildings and dancing Cubans, to snorkeling in the Bay of Pigs, to sidewalk art and antique bookstores in Havana, Cuba is one of the most exotic, exciting and culturally rich countries I have ever been to.

cuba cigar lady


Looking for more information on travelling to Cuba or touring with Intrepid Travel? Jill is an International Travel Consultant in our e-commerce division who can be reached by e-mail or calling 1-866-368-0396. 

Set off on the ultimate Cuban adventure. Travelling from the crystal waters of Cuban beaches to lush tropical valleys in Topes de Collantes, the Cuban Highlights Ride showcases the very best of this charismatic Caribbean island. Discover beautiful, cobbled refuges from the modern world in Cienfuegos and Trinidad, and unwrap the colourful delights of enigmatic Old Havana. Hear about the rise and fall of revolutionary figure Che Guevara, visit the famous Bay of Pigs and see history etched

Havana, Cuba is highlighted on the Flight Centre Map.