A holiday to Cuba with kids can suit all ages and inclinations: Grandparents will be able to regale the youngsters with stories from the history books; parents can enjoy the odd mojito on the patio of an atmospheric bar older kids can tackle a salsa class or learn to scuba dive and younger ones can relax in the homely atmosphere of a casa or paddle in the shallow waters of one of the many beaches.
With a lovely mix of activities on offer, here are our Top Ten ways to really make the most of your family holiday to Cuba.
1 – Travel in style
No trip to Cuba with kids would be complete without the obligatory classic car photo, so synonomous they are with the Havana street scene. Take an airport transfer in a gorgeous old American Chevy and arrive in style. Or enjoy an open top city tour in one – don’t forget to pose for a photo of you in the driver’s seat. With no air con or seat belts it is not for everyone but a huge amount of fun all the same.
2 – Aerial adrenaline
Take to the skies on a zip wire. With opportunities in Vinales, Las Terrazas and the Valle de los Ingenios outside Trinidad, this is a wonderful way to enjoy the stunning Cuban countryside whilst getting the adrenaline going. Toddlers can even go in tandem with the guides.
3 – Chill’in
Sit back and relax over a rum cocktail in one of the music bars of Plaza Vieja in Havana or on the steps outside the Casa de Musica in Trinidad. Both fab spots for kids being spacious, outdoors and pedestrianised. Also pepper your road trip with lunch stops in gorgeous colonial towns along the way. With food as a bribe, even the most disinterested of children will make it round an old plaza or a tour of grand neo classical buildings. Cienfuegos, Santa Clara and Remedios are ideal spots to break your journey between major sites.
4 – Horses or bullocks…
Hop on a (well-behaved) horse or for younger children and non-riders how about a bullock cart ride through the lush plantation scenery around Vinales. If you’re holidaying in Cuba with kids, don’t be surprised to find yourself puffing on a local cigar (without the nicotine) whilst sipping on a mojito before 9.30 in the morning. Children will learn not only about tobacco production and the coffee process but also witness an extremely rural side to Cuban life. And possibly experience their first drop toilet…
5 – Tasty nosh
Dine on some wonderful food in some really spectacular locations. Cuban food is much maligned but we find the casas by far the best places to enjoy really good home cooked food. Sample crab, lobster and prawns freshly caught off the Zapata Peninsula at one of the casas on the beach in Playa Larga. Or enjoy rooftop dining at Casa Milagrosa with the gorgeous buildings of Trinidad and the mountains of Topes de Collante as a backdrop.
The organic finca just outside Vinales may well provide you with your most memorable meal. When a hummingbird greets you instead of a maitre d’ you know you’re somewhere special. Plate after plate of food emerges from the kitchen (there is no menu) and you can gorge yourself on the terrace overlooking the neat rows of crops whilst the children run around the garden happily.
6 – Do ‘nada’
Cuba with children can be relaxing, we promise. Take a ferry to a Robinson Crusoe island and do ABSOLUTELY NADA. Cayo Levisa. Powder white sand, unbearably clear aquamarine sea and a pace of life that is horizontal. Bliss!
7 – Feel the beat
Take a salsa class. Go on, no one back home will see you. Get the whole family whirling round the room and reenact a Strictly session. A huge amount of fun. Your children will be hugely proud/embarrassed/amused. .
8 – Take a dip
Head to the mountains outside Trinidad and hike to a waterfall for an invigorating dip in a natural pool. Take a picnic and enjoy scenic views and lush greenery. El Nicho is a favourite and also the San Juan Falls in Las Terrazas.
9 – Boats and caves
If you decide to pick the Varadero region for a beach break, there are some great activities within about an hour’s drive. Our top two family favourites are the boat ride along the Canimar River, near Matanzas, and the stalactite-filled Bellamar Caves, the longest and deepest in Cuba.
10 – All-inclusive
Spoil the kids and give them what they want – an all-inclusive resort on the beach with amazing pools and facilities. With buffets and entertainment galore, they’ll love you for it.
We found travelling to Cuba with kids allows you to enjoy a much slower pace of life, Cuban-style. With an international airport that only serves rum and beer you’ll need to just go with the flow here.
Hasta pronto (see you soon)!
Cuba with kids
Check out our Cuba family holidays section for more ideas and see our Places to Visit in Cuba page and When to go to Cuba. For up to date health advice on travel in Cuba, visit the NHS travel website.
For a detailed report from Stubborn Mule’s Helene Cooper, check out her Postcards from Cuba blog.
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
We’d love to hear about your holiday to Cuba with kids so do send us your reviews and opinions – [email protected].