With the recent relaxing of travel restrictions to Cuba, it seems like every one of us here in the US has added a trip to Cuba to our bucket list. Travel writers, photographers and travel agents are heading to the island to experience this formerly off-limits country before it becomes another crowded Caribbean destination. While Cuba may not be full of five-star hotels, luxury accommodations and over the top service, it is certainly a romantic, magical destination that is full of life, music and beauty.
Planning a honeymoon to Cuba can be overwhelming at first, but here are a few tips for a successful, unforgettable post-wedding vacation on this once-forbidden isle.
Some US airlines now offer flights from New York and Miami to Cuba. More major airports and airlines will be adding routes later this year. JetBlue now has direct flights from JFK New York, and smaller airlines like Sun Country are offering direct flights from Miami.
Another option to consider for your Cuba honeymoon is flying through Cancun and spending a part of your vacation in Playa del Carmen or in Tulum. You can relax beach-side, swim in cenotes and nosh on fish tacos before heading to Cuba. Cancun has direct flights to Havana on Cuba Air and AeroMexico. A Cuba-Mexican Riviera honeymoon itinerary will give you the perfect combination of culture, adventure and relaxation.
Where to stay during a honeymoon in Cuba
Cuba is not like Mexico. You won't see new resorts popping up every week. There are few chain hotels and even fewer large scale resorts. If you are even considering a honeymoon in Cuba, then you probably are not looking for that all inclusive luxury experience. You are looking for adventure on a once-in-a-lifetime trip. There are a few boutique hotels in Havana that are historical landmarks. Even if you don't stay at these places, it's worthwhile to pop in for a cocktail at the bar.
Hotel Nacional was the “IT” place before the US placed restrictions on travel to Cuba. It was tourists' best chance to catch a glimpse of Sinatra or other '50s stars at the bar. The music scene is still alive here. Nowadays, you may be lucky enough to hear The Buena Vista Social Club playing onstage.
Head to the rooftop of the Saratoga Hotel for a cocktail and to soak in the amazing views of the city. The Saratoga is certainly the most upscale accommodation to be found in Havana, and its rooftop has some of the best views in the city.
A visit to Cuba would not be complete without staying in a casa particular. These are regular Cuban homes that take guests. It is just like a home-stay. You can see how the locals live and have an experience that you would never get in a hotel. The hosts at these venues will often provide you with valuable travel information, tips on where to go to listen to music, and directions to the best places to go to sample rum and cigars.
What to do
Havana is a magical city that will make you feel like you have just entered a time machine. You will see old-fashion cars, colorful buildings, frozen-in-time neighborhoods, amazing Latin music, people dancing in the streets, rum, cigars and romance.
A trip to Havana would not be complete without a visit to Havana Vieja (Old Havana). After taking in the aged neighborhood, you can cruise the Malecon (Havana's famous waterfront). You can also stroll through La Catedral de la Virgen Maria and visit the famous "Che" mural in the Plaza De Revolución. You should also make a stop to listen to live music at the famous La Floridita. Baseball is Cuba's national sport, and there is nothing like catching the local club, Industriales, playing a game.
Take a day trip
Another popular activity for tourists in Cuba is a visit to a tobacco farm. You can take a tour of one of the many local tobacco farms and watch how they roll a perfect Cuban cigar.
Getting around Cuba can be an adventure in and of itself. It will certainly provide you with many instagram-worthy photo opportunities. All the cabs are vintage cars from the 50’s. Actually, not just the cabs are old... all the cars in Havana are from the 50’s. We highly recommend hiring a driver during your stay in Havana, especially if you plan to take a trip outside of town.
Honeymoon Travel Tips
Bring plenty of cash: While hotels are beginning to accept credit cards, ATM machines and places that accept credit cards are almost non-existent. That said, your tour provider will accept credit cards when you book your vacation in the States. These specialty companies can book tours and rooms for you, and you can pay them with your credit card. This will limit the amount of cash that you take.
The essentials: Unlike the US and Mexico (and most other countries), Cuba does not always have easy access to the essentials (deodorant, tampons, and other toiletries), so be sure to have a well-packed honeymoon suitcase just in case.
Cell phones and internet: If staying connected is a necessity for you on your honeymoon, then you may want to reconsider going to Cuba. While most of the hotels do offer wi-fi, it is usually spotty and very slow when it is actually working. While we do believe internet will become more accessible in Cuba over the next year, it's still something to consider if you are a couple who really can't disconnect.
For more on Cuba, check out our Guide to A Getaway in Cuba.
Have you been to Cuba? Do you have any honeymoon planning tips to share?