Family travel in Cuba: why a Caribbean is easier than you think
Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you lose your sense of adventure. Christian Wolters, Intrepid Canada Vice President Sales and Marketing, knows this better than anyone, since his son’s first overseas trip was to Cuba…
“Back in 2011, my wife and I took a trip with my 2 year old son to Cuba. We didn’t want to stay in a resort as we wanted to explore the interior and experience the vibrant Cuban culture. As a history buff, I wanted to visit historic sites, especially after watching ‘Che part 1 & 2’. I yearned to visit the Bay of Pigs, explore the train that Che destroyed in Santa Clara and witness the relics form the revolution everywhere.
Cuba is the land of the perfect cigar and you can watch them being rolled in factories in Havana or see the tobacco being cured in barns in Vinales. The same goes for their world famous rum! My wife especially enjoyed the music, dancing and clubs, which seems to find you, rather than the other way round in Cuba.
As for all parents, safety is a major concern, so I wanted to make sure we chose and itinerary that would be practical and I asked for vehicles with seatbelts that could accommodate booster seats. My image of Cuban vehicles was the iconic 60’s sedans, but in reality Cuba is slowly getting stocked up with modern Asian vehicles… a relief for safety-conscious parents, but maybe a bit of a drag for sightseers and photographers. Cuba is also stocked with many clinics and hospitals with some of the best trained doctors in the Americas, a positive byproduct of the government’s reforms. Finally our local tour leader who works with Intrepid Travel was excellent, as he was able to accommodate our needs and was the perfect friend to our young son.
For our young family living in Toronto, Cuba is the perfect destination as it is only a 3 hour flight away. The Cuban people, like all Latinos, love children and you will find yourself having more interaction with the locals than so many other places. Cuba is the land of the homestay, where the government allows families to set up guest areas in their homes. Homestays were a huge delight as my son was able to play with Cuban kids of the same age while I shared experiences with the local family. Homestays always had much better food than the hotels and resorts – you can never beat good ol’ home cooking.
Our tour started on the beach in Varadero, and then Havana, Vinales, Bay of Pigs, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Santa Clara. Trinidad was especially a delight as the town is perfect for evening strolls while the surrounding cost is an excellent area to make day trips by boat. Vinales is a great spot to enjoy day hikes, horse rides and visit the many tobacco plantations. While I learned to roll a cigar my son chased the chickens in the yard with the other boys.
Havana, while busy, is a fantastic place to explore and is a photographer’s paradise. Cienfuegos and Santa Clara are much slower paced and ideal for family strolls through markets while observing the daily life. Finally Varadero offers great beach time, something that both parents and kids can appreciate. I especially enjoyed a couple of Cuba Libres on the beach while the sun went down.
The best news is that travellers can book almost the identical trip on Intrepid’s 11-day Family – Viva Cuba adventure, that has been designed for children 5 and up!”
Feature image c/o Balint Foldesi, Flickr