Cuba: La Isla Grande
Explore the lush cocoa plantations surrounding the vibrant coastal town of Baracoa
Includes return economy airfares
16 days priced at £pp flight and hotel inclusive
Fly into sensational Cuba with this colourful Journey, encompassing a wide range of stops and covering all four corners of the Isla Grande.
Wander through Havana’s atmospheric Old Town, tour sugar cane plantations and lush national parks, and learn more about Cuba’s intriguing history. There’s even the option to take a catamaran to the idyllic white-sand island of Cayo Blanco.
Some of the highlights included are:
- Look out for brightly coloured vintage cars parked along Havana’s cobbled streets
- Explore the lush cocoa plantations surrounding the vibrant coastal town of Baracoa
- Walk along the steep mountainside pathways of jungle-clad Sierra Maestra
- Discover the history of the Castro-led revolution in Santiago de Cuba
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- Small Group Journey with maximum group size 18
- All authentic local experiences mentioned except where specified optional
- International flights
- 12 nights in comfortable hotels
- 2 nights in Casas Particulares
- All breakfasts, 5 lunches, 1 dinner
- Arrival transfers & all internal transport
Need to know+
- Arrives: Aeropuerto Internacional José Martí (HAV)
- Time difference: GMT-4
- Visa requirements: British passport holders require a tourist visa; please ask your travel consultant for more information
- Language: Spanish
- Currency: Cuban Peso (CUC)
- Flying time from UK: around 10 hours
- Plug type: 2 flat pins or 2 round pins
- Voltage: 120V – 220V
Spend the morning exploring the cobbled streets and bustling squares of Old Havana and swing by the Capitolio building and Revolution Square. Visit the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, site of the last battle of the Cuban Revolution, and take a look around the train museum. Later on, arrive into Sancti Spiritus, an especially photogenic colonial city founded in 1514, and where you’ll spend the night.
Today is a long driving day: pass through lush sugar plantations and agricultural towns and learn how sugar cane cultivation has shaped the Cuba we know today. Break up the journey with a lunch stop in Camagüey, whose historic centre is on the World Heritage list, before continuing to Bayamo. You’ll return to Camagüey later on in your holiday.
Leaving Bayamo behind, you’ll pass through Guantanamo and stop for a refreshing dip on Cuba’s south coast before heading on to Baracoa. This former capital was settled in 1512 and was frequently attacked by pirates, leading to the construction of three protective forts in the 18th century. The town is nestled among lush mountains, and you’ll have the option to trek up El Yunque, a full-day hike. You’ll also explore the River Toa and surrounding cocoa plantations by boat.
Discover the history of Santiago de Cuba and the role it played in the struggle for independence. Take a look around town, taking in the Santa Ifgenia cemetery, Revolution Square, El Morro Castle and Moncada Barracks, where the first shots of the revolution were fired in 1953. You’ll have the afternoon free to explore, and perhaps catch a live musical performance at La Casa de Trova.
Head for the lush green mountains of Sierra Maestra, stopping off in El Cobre, the most sacred pilgrimage site in Cuba. Ascend into the peaks of the stunning Sierra Maestra National Park, Cuba’s highest and largest mountain range and where Fidel Castro had his operations base during the Cuban Revolutionary War. There is a range of walking trails through the cloud forest, allowing you to explore the park at your own pace.
Explore the winding historic streets of Camagüey. The city was originally built on the coast in 1515, but was moved in 1528 due to persistent pirate attacks, and rebuilt with a confusing layout as a defence mechanism. You’ll have time to soak up the sights and find the ‘tinajones’ – large terracotta jugs used to store water – that you’ll see all over town.
Trinidad, a colonial town and one of the best preserved in all Cuba, is your next stop. You’ll still see horses pulling carts along the cobbled streets and a number of museums can tell you the history of the place. After dark, visit La Casa de la Musica and dance to the lively Cuban beats. The next day, board a catamaran and sail to Cayo Macho and Cayo Blanco, small beach-trimmed islands where you might spot iguanas (optional, extra cost).
Visit El Cubano Nature Park, just outside Trinidad, and take a walk through the tropical forests to a refreshing waterfall where you can swim. Once everyone’s feeling relaxed, you’llcarry on your way to Cienfuegos. Take a look around the main plazas of this colonial town, and check out the historical buildings including a 19th century theatre. The seafront is a good spot for a stroll, particularly in the evening as the sun sets.
Call in at the Bay of Pigs, site of the 1961 attempted invasion by the USA, on your way back to Havana. Stop off at Playa Giron for lunch, and a swim or snorkel in the protected cove of Caleta Buena. Back in the capital, immerse yourself in Cuba’s intoxicating salsa beats and soak up the vibrant colours and distinct flavours of the shabby-chic streets. You’ll have a free day to explore or stock up on souvenirs, or you could choose to take a day trip to the tobacco farms of the Viñales Valley (optional, extra cost).
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