Each year millions of tourists visit Florida to vacation and relax. While many of them visit for spring break, people of all ages flock to Florida. While there are many great things to see and do in the state, if you keep going just a little further you'll find Cuba which is actually a better vacation destination. Cuba is near the United States, but the way of life is much different. Things are more laid back and slower paced, and you might think you've stepped back in time.
There are lots of places to go and things to do in Cuba. You'll certainly love the many beautiful beaches and the culture is amazing. From delicious food and drinks to great music and entertaining dancing, you'll find that the Cuban people love to relax and enjoy life and they are also very welcoming.
You can enjoy some local rum and cigars as well as spending plenty of time at the beach. There are also historical sites to visit and great nightlife to enjoy. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and one of the most enjoyable to visit. You'll rarely hear anyone come back saying they had a horrible time when they took a vacation to Cuba.
Some people think that it's only a matter of time before Cuba becomes more like the United States and gets taken over by corporations and big chains. For now it's still a great place to go relax and take in the sights which also include many classic cars and interesting architecture. Check out these 20 reasons to skip Florida and visit Cuba instead.
20 Visit Before It Gets Taken Over By Big Corporations
Cuba is known for being a place you can go to step back in time where mom and pop businesses and restaurants are still common and big corporations haven't ruined everything. Unlike in Florida and the rest of America, you won't find a McDonald's on every corner. Even though the hurricanes took their toll in 2017, talks between Cuba and the United States have made it more likely that Cuba may not always remain so untouched by big businesses. The only McDonald's in Cuba is actually located at Guantanamo Bay which allows the workers there to get their hands on some American fast food.
19 The Whole Island Is A Classic Car Museum
If you like classic cars you're in luck because it seems like that's all there is in Cuba. Old American cars are everywhere and there are plenty of different makes and models to look at. If you like going to car shows you know that they're held in isolated areas, but in Cuba every street is like a classic car museum. Many of the cars date back to the 1950s and are still running. They mostly travel around on local streets and don't rack up very many miles. If you've ever wondered where your old car from the 50s ended up it may be in Cuba.
18 The Weather Is Great
Florida generally has nice weather but it gets pretty hot during the summer and it also rains a lot more than you might expect. Since Cuba is a long and skinny island much of it is near the beach which makes the weather more tropical. You might get a bit chilly during the first few months of the year but overall you'll be satisfied with the weather. Humidity is a factor but it's worth it and you can always take a dip or enjoy a cold beverage. There is air conditioning for when you're indoors, but if you're visiting Cuba you'll want to spend most of your time near the beach.
17 Learn About Socialism
While living in a democracy is great, chances are you forgot about the concept of socialism that you learned in school. Since Cuba seems to be a bit behind the times they have preserved some history giving you the chance to experience and learn about socialism. You can visit parks, statues, and other buildings that are named after past leaders like Vladimir Lenin or Karl Marx. You'll likely see billboards with political slogans on them but you won't see similar sized advertisements for products and services. The Communist Party of Cuba is described in their constitution as the “leading force of society and of the state”.
16 Drinking Is Cheap
If you go down to Miami chances are you'll overpay for drinks and also have to pay to get in the clubs as well. Unless you're drinking at one of the nicest resorts in Cuba, you won't be paying very much at all. Cuba has its own beer brands like Cristal and Bucanero which are only a dollar or two each. You can drink in public like you can in Las Vegas so for a few bucks you can double fist it walking down the street. Cocktails in Cuba typically aren't very expensive either. Cuba is also known for its rum so don't be afraid to try to traditional Cuban drinks.
15 Life's A Beach
Cuba has lots of beaches and they are considered to be some of the most beautiful in the Caribbean. Going to the beach in Cuba will likely be less crowded than it would be in Miami. The beaches in Cuba has crystal clear water in addition to find sand. You won't have to search too much to find a beach and some of the popular ones include Varadero, Havana, Cayo Largo del Sur, and Cayo Coco. Playa Paraiso is known for its turquoise water and white sand and was voted the 3rd most beautiful beach in the world in 2016.
14 Have A Cigar
Cuban cigars are known all around the world. Whether it's the Seinfeld episode where Kramer smokes Cuban cigars or your Uncle Vito who swears by them, cigars from Cuba are so popular they're often referred to simply as “Cubans”. Cuban factories have been making cigars for decades and the skilled workers there are considered to be some of the best in the world at what they do. You can find Cuban cigars at many stores and give them a try if you've never had the pleasure. Just be careful about bringing them back home; you may want to enjoy them on vacation and leave them behind.
13 Listen To Local Music
Cubans love music and they have many talented musicians who have been playing all their lives. There are musicians performing on the street, Djs in nightclubs, and plenty of other acts to catch. You might be surprised to learn there are a good amount of music schools in Cuba and you might be able to visit one to see some of the up and coming artists in the act. Several restaurants and hotels in Cuba offer live music to accompany your meal and make the atmosphere more enjoyable. Styles of music you may find include jazz, rap, and fusion bands.
12 Lots Of Dancing
Where you like to dance or want to just watch and leave it the professionals, Cuba has plenty of opportunities for both. As mentioned before Cubans generally love music and many of them are passionate about dancing as well. You might be lucky enough to see a group of dancers form a circle and perform what appear to to be very rehearsed moves, but they're just a part of the traditional group dancing in Cuba. You can catch several fun and furious dances like congas, the rumba, and the guaguanco. You might want to brush up before hand if you feel like joining in, but feel free to let loose and have some fun.
11 Relax With The National Beverage
While the beer and most alcohol in Cuba is cheap, going to enjoy the rum is a perfectly good reason. Sugarcane is one of Cuba's best products and using it to make sweet drinks only came naturally. Back in 1862 the Bacardi Rum Company was founded and was the most popular rum in the country for a good 100 years before the government seized all of the company's property. Bacardi moved to Bermuda but in Cuba you can still find the Havana Club brand. Enjoy some rum in a drink like a mojito, a daiquiri, or a Cuba libre. You can also visit the Havana Club Rum Museum.
10 See Some Historical Sites
There are nine UNESCO world heritage sites located in Cuba. What that means is that those places are being protected and preserved because they hold a special physical or cultural significance. One of the biggest attractions is Old Havana and after you take a look around you can have lunch at a private restaurant on the rooftop of a mansion. Visit San Pedro de la Roca Castle located in Santiago de Cuba which was important in the Spanish-American war. You should also check out the Desembarco del Granma National Park which has waterfalls and cliffs. In addition to visiting the beach try to check at least one of these sites out.
9 See Some Beautiful Art
In addition to music, art is another important part of Cuban culture. Many Cuban people are very creative and love to work with bright colors. Their artwork is not only done on canvases but also on buildings. For example, in Old Havana you can see the brightly colored buildings lining the streets. Painters will set up shop at local cafes and paint the scenery around them. You can purchase art made by local artists to take it home with you at an affordable price. Cuban art draws on elements from African, North American, European, and South American works and brings out the best of them.
8 Meet New People
Many people who visit Cuba say that the people who live there were the best part. Cubans are known for being friendly and hospitable. Many places you travel to you aren't going to find locals who are so welcoming, but Cuba feels different. Cubans have been known to mix with tourists with some even welcoming them in their homes for a meal or including them in public events. Spend some time talking to the locals to learn about Cuban culture and they can probably tell you the best places to go. You'll be doing your part to support the local economy which likely makes them even friendlier.
7 The Beautiful Architecture
You certainly won't find the same architecture in Florida that you'll find in Cuba. There are plenty of styles and colors to look at and each one is as interesting as the next. Spanish settlers altered their architecture to fit better with the lifestyle and climate in Cuba in the 16th century. There are lots of covered porches, glass panes above doorways to make the sun less harsh, and metal bars covering windows to let breezes inside. Neoclassic architecture came to Cuba in the 19th century and several other styles have been combined over the years. Make sure to stop and look at the architecture even if you don't usually do so.
6 To Get A Small Town Feel
Florida is full of huge cities like Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and more. While Cuba also has big cities like Havana and Santiago de Cuba, there are smaller towns like Baracoa or Trinidad which are certainly worth visiting. You can visit palaces and even attend a night club located inside a cave. If you venture to Baracoa you can see plenty of waterfalls and a black sand beach. Even in the small towns you'll find great food and find out what the country is really all about. There's plenty of areas most tourists don't get a chance to visit which means you can extend your stay to take it all in.
5 See What Hemingway Was Writing About
The great writer Ernest Hemingway purchased a home in Havana with his wife in 1940. He lived there for 20 years and even lived there after the relations between the United States and Cuba soured. He often fished aboard his boat and wrote several works from his home. Many of his works weren't from Cuba weren't published until he passed away but if you are familiar with his writings you can visit the places he wrote about. He even hunted German submarines off the Cuban coast and met with Fidel Castro. You can visit his two favorite establishments which were the La Bodeguita del Medio and the La Floridita and take a tour of his home.
4 Stay In A Cuban Family's Home
When visiting Cuba you have the option to stay at a private home. Similar to a bed and breakfast or the Airbnb concept, Cubans have been welcoming tourists into their homes for years. Sometimes you can also rent the whole home out like you can with other options. This allows you to live like a local to get a better feel for how things are in Cuba. You can rent a private room or an entire apartment and there are also studio or mini-apartments available. Since most Cuban people are very hospitable they will take good care of you in their homes.
3 It's The Largest Island In The Caribbean
Visiting the Caribbean islands has always been popular for tourists. You might as well visit the largest island in the group which is Cuba. If you prefer to do some island hopping and visit Cuba for a while before checking the other islands out, you have plenty to choose from including Barbados, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, and many more. There are 13 sovereign states and 17 dependent territories in the Caribbean which are home to about 40 million people. Cuba has a lot to see and do and the people are very welcoming, making it the best choice of Caribbean islands to visit.
2 Scout Some Baseball Players
Over the years Cuba has produced some great Major League Baseball players. Cuba has different series and leagues that are governed by the Baseball Federation of Cuba. The country has historically been successful at baseball and won Gold at the Olympics in 1992, 1996, and 2004. Players have to defect in order to join a MLB team in the United States or Canada. Some of the notable players who have done so include Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig, and many more. You might be able to spot some of the next baseball superstars playing in local games while visiting Cuba.
1 The Food Is Delicious
Cuban food is well known for being delicious and the people that prepare it take great pride in it. Cuban cuisine blends together other cuisines including Spanish, Caribbean, African, and Native American Taino flavors. The Cuban sandwich is popular in other parts of the world and includes ham, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and dill pickles on Cuban bread. Visiting Cuba allows you to try other local flavors and dishes like dulce de leche, flan, tamales, and much more. Almost everything is prepared fresh in Cuba since they don't have fast food and they like to take their time and enjoy their meals. The lobster is cheap and delicious as well.