Regardless of how you feel about Cuba, it can’t be denied that it’s an island rich in cultural history, with plenty to offer any visitor. Havana has already started preparing for its 500th birthday in 2019, with construction crews hard at work renovating and remodeling. I recently came across an article about the top five things to do in Cuba. The author, who has visited Cuba before and is about to revisit, gave a great insight on what the island has to offer in its earlier stages of being open.
1. Eat at a Paladar: Paladares are local Cuban restaurants, with strict rules of definition: the restaurant owner must also own the private home where the restaurant is, and the restaurant’s’ staff all have to be in the same family, which has even led to arranged marriages. The results are excellent food that serves as an authentic and delicious alternative to tired state-run restaurants.
2. Enjoy La Opera de la Calle: From its celebrated beginnings, “Opera of the Street” has had some rocky times, thanks to moving locales, police raids and a series of missed opportunities. Yet this brainchild of entrepreneur Uliss Aquino has stood the test of time, singing twice a day for tourists in a classic story of passion for the stage.
3. Visit Trinidad: More than 500 years old, Trinidad is hailed as the “city that time forgot”. Since its founding in 1514 as the center of the sugar trade, Trinidad has changed little, as evidenced by its cobblestone streets filled with colonial architecture. While most lodgings are family-run B&Bs, don’t expect that to last; hotel chains and larger enterprises are licking their lips as they wait for restrictions to lift.
4. Swim the coral reefs: Cuba’s coast is home to one of the world’s top 50 coral reefs, with recent studies revealing them to be teeming with relatively unspoiled marine life. To get the full experience, make sure you use reliable boats and educated guides. However, the sad fact of the matter is that as more humans visit these reefs, the more they negatively influence with the marine life, which means the time to get the full experience of these coral reefs is limited.
5. Ride in an antique car: Since it’s stuck in a time warp of sorts without any American imports coming in since before the embargo, Cuba has got plenty of old cars from the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, many of them in mint condition. Riding in one of these cars is a throwback to a subtler time in the world of American brands.