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A photo of colonial buildings in old Havana, with many colorful old american cars driving along the road. Courtesy of Travel & Leisure.

When I think about my bucket list, I think about all the places that I crave to experience. One of those places, happen to be Cuba: the largest Caribbean island, yet the most unchanged. So alluring, as the one thing we all want, but have been forbidden to have. I guess, for me – a native Caribbean girl – it’s the call of the warm sea breeze and fresh, salty air. It’s the calm crystal blue ocean, set to a tropical backdrop…how could anyone not be attracted?

As a Caribbean born, New York native – who loves all things travel – Cuba is a country that I definitely desire to knock off my bucket list for 2018. I am seriously considering hosting a Virtuous Journey (luxury girls trip.) For half a century, Americans have been banned from exploring Cuba. Today, it’s a little bit easier, however, there are still certain criteria and restrictions in place. Our trip will be a culturally educational excursion, conducted by a government licensed tour operator. I’ve collected some facts about Cuba, to help you get an understanding of not just the country, but how to experience it’s splendor – as Americans. ***Canadians, Europeans and everyone else can travel freely to and from Cuba***

People-to-People (Legal) Tours to Cuba

Americans can travel, (legalities click here), to Cuba by chartering any of two types of “people-to-people” tours:

  1. Private Custom Tours – once hosted by a US tour operator, two or more people can independently witness the exotic side of Cuba. This is great for companions, family, friends – ideal for those seeking privacy and freedom (FIT) to explore and choose your own activities.
  2. Public Tours – offers a wide range of music, art, history, dance, nature and adventure. These are all-inclusive packages: meals, hotels, air-conditioned buses with professional chauffeur, English-speaking tour guides, airport transfers and amazingly fun activities.

The Culture: Music, Dance, Food

Image courtesy of MyPlaceCuba

Cuba’s culture is one of the very few that is currently stuck in time. Cuba blends an eclectic mix of diversity, including African, Asian, French and Spanish influences. Music and dance remains the island’s most important cultural pride. Music is also an enormous part of the Afro-Cuban religion – Santeria…with it’s enchanting beats of the African drums known as toques. Cuban music is considered on of the richest, and most influential in the world. The native Taino, Arawak & Ciboney are known for areito, a style of music. Folk music and European dances, include the zapateo, zampado, fandango, canción and retambico. The foundation of Cuban musical forms, is rooted  in the cabildos – a form of social club – popular among the African slaves who were brought over to the Caribbean island. Other Caribbean islands also have deep influence on Cuban music, such as Jamaica and Haiti – like the charangas which hail from Haitian refugees during the Haitian Revolution. This created it’s own style of danzón (dance), like the tumba francesa, which became known for comparsa, mambo, chachachá and just to name a few. With such lively sounds and rhythms, it only makes sense that the flavors be just as vibrant. Cuban cuisine blends the aboriginal Native American Taino dishes, Spanish, African, & Caribbean. Many recipes call for spices and cooking techniques – of the Spanish and African – with a strong Caribbean spice/flavor influence. You can expect rice and peas/beans (together: Moros y Cristianos or apart: arroz con frijoles), with either black or red kidney beans, white rice and sofrito. Meats are marinaded in a sauce called mojo, which is a blend of oil, garlic, onion, spices such as oregano and bitter orange or lime juice. The national dish is called Arroz con Pollo. 

There is so much to Cuba. From eclectic Afrocentric beats and rhythm, to a blend of tasty authentic Caribbean, Asian, Spanish and European influence. The culture is one that seems to be stuck in a time warp, but that adds to the experience. It gives it an untapped, unchanged, original appeal. I pray that the Cuba-America Relations doesn’t take a turn for the worst. In fact, travel – on a whole – is set to skyrocket in 2018. It’s time to knock locations like Cuba, off of our bucket lists! Who is interested in joining us for a Virtuous Journey, of the luxurious kind? Please fill out this form, and our team will get right back to you to help you plan your visit! If you would like to leave us a comment and show some love, please scroll all the way to the bottom of this post page :).

Image courtesy of NationaInterest.org

Sapphire Kharyzma
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Sapphire Kharyzma

Blogger-in-Chic, Travelpreneur at Queens of Virtue
Travel. Beauty. Style. engages women through an empowered life of Luxury Travel. Leisure and Life of Style. We seek real affluent minded women, to offer real, mind, body soul'U'tions, as we are transformed into queens through storytelling and capturing memories with Virtuous Journeys.

Travel is our lifestyle; our luxury tribe - where we come together as one collective, united and driven by the desire to experience the best of the best, rooted in the freedom of possibilities - abundantly available through luxury travel, with beauty as our canvas, and style as our artistic tool.

Join us as we explore and get culturally inspired. Travel. Beauty. Style is our luxury gateway. Blog features focus on experiencing diverse cultures through the life of luxury, uniquely and creatively. Gather your bucket lists, cameras, journals, passports, chic outfits, trendy beauty must-haves and tastebuds...sit back and relax, as queens don't catch feelings, we catch flights, trains and ships - in beautiful style!
Sapphire Kharyzma
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Travel. Beauty. Style. engages women through an empowered life of Luxury Travel. Leisure and Life of Style. We seek real affluent minded women, to offer real, mind, body soul'U'tions, as we are transformed into queens through storytelling and capturing memories with Virtuous Journeys. Travel is our lifestyle; our luxury tribe - where we come together as one collective, united and driven by the desire to experience the best of the best, rooted in the freedom of possibilities - abundantly available through luxury travel, with beauty as our canvas, and style as our artistic tool. Join us as we explore and get culturally inspired. Travel. Beauty. Style is our luxury gateway. Blog features focus on experiencing diverse cultures through the life of luxury, uniquely and creatively. Gather your bucket lists, cameras, journals, passports, chic outfits, trendy beauty must-haves and tastebuds...sit back and relax, as queens don't catch feelings, we catch flights, trains and ships - in beautiful style!

  • Lena B

    Cube is definitely a country. Growing up in Russia we heard a lot about Cuba yet in reality, I don’t much about it. It does looks like an amazingly colorful country with amazing traditions and local character!

    • Cuba is so vibrant and rich in colorful culture. It boast so many diverse influences. It’s definitely on my bucket list 🙂

  • I’ve never been to Cuba but would given the chance. I do love the Caribbean and traveling though.

    • I love the Caribbean as well! Sometimes, I miss it so much! Would love to have you join us should we decide to do a bucket list Virtuous Journey for 2018 *wink*

  • Tina Butler

    Cuba is definitely a place I would love to visit. I would love all the cultural events and all that food. I’ve never been out of the us and really don’t plan to any time soon, especially how the world is today. So sad because I would love to travel to places like Cuba.

    • I have found that the best experiences are found when exploring the various cultures of the world. When you decide to travel, Cuba is a must-see! *wink*

  • Melanie

    This is a good overview of touring Cuba for those interested. I have not considered very much international travel. You bring up several good points about traveling to Cuba.

  • Censie Sawyer

    I love the look of the bright colored buildings on the street. Makes me happy to see it so colorful. My husband and i were talking about making a trip to Cuba one day. We both really want to go. Thanks for this great guide.

  • Eileen

    I’ve always wanted to visit Cuba too! The colors and the foods look amazing!

  • Shelley R Zurek

    Cuba has always looked so forbidden to me. Interesting that we can go there now.

  • Melanie E

    This is a good overview of touring Cuba for those interested. I have not considered very much international travel. You bring up several good points about traveling to Cuba.

    • Thank you! I love traveling. I am happy you enjoyed the article 🙂

  • Oh my goodness, this is the destination that I’ve been aiming to visit for ages! I hope I get to make it happen next year. I’ll surely be taking note of your tips here too ;)Thanks!

    • I also have been waiting to visit! So happy I could help 🙂

  • Our Family World

    I love the photo of the multi colored buildings and old cars. It looks like an interesting place to visit. I would love to experience Cuban culture and the food too!

    • Cuba is all culture and great food! It’s vibrant and beautiful 🙂

  • Lisa Rios

    This looks like so much fun! Going to new Latin American countries is always so amazing. My mom hails from the Dominican Republic, so I know they each have unique, colorful, and beautiful cultures.

    • I love to venture and experience new cultures! Latin American countries usually are the most delicious and fun!

  • Allison Lancaster

    oh wow! What a beautiful place. I’ve always heard amazing things about Cuba but have never been. This makes me want to go and explore the area. Thanks for this guide, perfect for ‘first time visitors’!

    • Thank you! Cuba is truly beautiful and vibrant! You will love it when you do go 🙂

  • Rose Ann Sales

    This such an interesting place to visit! love to try and see the foods and their culture,Looks so much fun visiting there.

    • It’s very interesting, delicious and entertaining 🙂 you will love!

  • The food is definitely amazing! It’s such a creatively artistic journey back into time!

  • Gigi Eats

    At some point in my life, I will visit Cuba. It’s not high on my list of places, but I will go because I know it’s full of insane culture and um, GREAT food!