Like its Caribbean neighbours, Cuba has pristine sandy beaches, friendly locals and a tropical climate. But where Cuba is absolutely unique is in its history, and in the way this has shaped the country to this day.
Ruled by a communist government for over 50 years and living under strict trade embargos from the US, Cuba has remained in a relative time warp. Classic American cars adorn the streets, the façades of once elegant buildings crumble in the midday sun and there is not a Starbucks in sight.
Arriving in Cuba can feel like stepping straight back into the 1950’s, and this is a big part of the appeal for many tourists travelling to the island - for anyone interested in photography, this makes Cuba an absolute paradise.
Pretty much anywhere you point your lens you’ll find a suitable subject. From the architecture to the people, Cuba is packed full of so much visual vibrancy, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
The romantic atmosphere of Havana is a great place to start your image making, and you won’t find yourself short of inspiration. But if you want to get away from all the other happy-snappers then Santiago, Cuba’s second city, is definitely worth a visit. Here you will find the UNESCO protected citadel of Pedro de la Roca, a dramatic fortress built to protect the city from the threat of marauding pirates.
In Cuba you can really indulge your fantasies of being James Bond or ‘Our Man In Havana’. For many this will involve sitting in a high-backed chair with one of Cuba’s famous cigars on the go. Probably made more notorious for their rarity in the US, Cuban cigars are never the less among the country's most recognizable symbols.
To get a real understanding of what makes the Cuban cigar so iconic, you have to visit one of the factories where they are made. One of the oldest cigar producers in Havana is the Fábrica de Tabaco Partagás, established in 1845. Tours operate every 15-30 minutes daily and last around three-quarters of an hour.
After a long day of cigar smoking and picture taking, the only way to relax in Cuba is with a classic rum cocktail. The most famous is obviously the Cuba Libre, with the Mojito and Daiquiri following close behind.
Known as the “Isle of Rum”, Cuba has fertile soil, sugar cane and a favourable climate but most importantly world famous master rum makers. Which all combine to make it a mecca for connoisseurs of Caribbean rum.
Visit the Rum Museum in Havana to learn about the processes involved in making Cuba’s favourite tipple. But the only way to truly appreciate the splendour of Cuban rum is to head into downtown Havana, find a local bar to settle down in, and relax with a nice long cocktail.
So, whether you’re planning to add to your photography portfolio, or just soak up some of the 1950’s atmosphere. Cuba is a fantastic destination that will definitely keep you coming back for more.
The Cuba Adventure Holiday with Explore! Lasts 15 days and takes you from one end of the island to the other in search of its history and culture