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Havana Archives - Air Canada Vacations

20 Apr

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Cuba with the kids

April 20, 2016 | By |

Cuba with the kids is one of the best choices you’ll ever make: tons of activities, warm, calm waters, and resorts for every style.

Havana

The largest city in the Caribbean welcomes you with rich heritage, glorious colonial architecture and a lively atmosphere of love, music and life. Be sure to wander the streets of Old Havana, a fascinating World Heritage Site.

With the Kids: Lenin Park

Inaugurated by Fidel Castro in 1973, this sprawling park makes for a great day for the family with an amusement park, an aquarium, pools and lots more.

Choose from 20 hotels & resorts

Holguin

Christopher Columbus called this area “the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen.” Explore pristine reefs, spectacular beaches, rolling hills and a provincial capital full of life and history.

With the Kids: Bahia de Naranjo Nature Park

A beautiful natural aquarium lets you swim with dolphins and watch trained sea lions. Be sure to enjoy some great home cooking, the mini-zoo and the lovely nature trails.

Choose from 10 resorts

Varadero

One of the world’s greatest beaches! Glistening white sands stretch on forever, touched by turquoise waters and cool breezes. Here, you’ll find lots of family-friendly resorts and activities for everyone.

With the Kids: Boca de Guamà Crocodile Farm

Cuba’s largest crocodile farm is great fun for everyone, offering a unique experience of these incredible animals in a facility that has saved two species from extinction.

Choose from 33 resorts

Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara)

Ringed by the whitest, softest beaches you’ve ever seen, this pristine island is a vacation paradise. Spend your time relaxing on the beach, dining at your stylish resort or exploring the wonderful natural world.

With the Kids: Swim with Dolphins

At the Dolphinarium Cayo Santa Maria you get to swim, interact and have your picture taken with these graceful animals. Now, that’s a pretty great childhood memory.

Choose from 11 resorts

Cayo Coco / Cayo Guillermo

Tucked away in the brilliant King’s Gardens (Jardines del Rey) archipelago, these two islands offer a getaway full of white-sand beaches, great resorts, watersports, pristine nature and lots of family fun.

With the Kids: Catamaran Tour

For a new perspective, take to the water onboard a smooth-sailing catamaran. Many tours include snorkelling and lunch, so you can make a day of it.

Choose from 12 resorts

24 Jul

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Cuba’s 7 Best Beaches

July 24, 2015 | By |

The island of Cuba has some 300 beaches spread across 600 km, so choosing the best is no mean feat. How white is the sand? How soft? How turquoise and clear is the water? And what are the options if you’re looking for something a little more energetic than napping in the sun? These are our 7 favourites, but Cuba averages 330 days of sunshine a year, so you have plenty of time to explore.

1) Varadero

Varadero beach

Probably the most famous beach of all, Varadero’s soft, white sand stretches an incredible 20 km. It’s well developed so you’ll find lots of activities, watersports, and all-inclusive resorts offering stress-free vacations. Off the beach you’ll find intriguing caves and a chain of offshore islands surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. You’re also only 140 km from Havana, which means you can easily spend a few days in the historic capital. The streets and fortifications of Old Havana are a World Heritage site and well worth a visit.

2) Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo

Playa Pilar, Cayo Guillermo beach

Ernest Hemingway was enchanted by the towering dunes of Playa Pilar in the gorgeous Jardines del Rey archipelago. In fact, this area was the inspiration for parts of his book Islands in the Stream. Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo, tiny islands joined to the mainland by a causeway, have immaculate beaches with excellent diving, snorkelling and tons of watersports. Playa Pilar is well known as the most beautiful of them all for its perfect white sand, swaying palms and warm clear waters. There may not be much traditional Cuban culture here, but you will definitely enjoy the mojitos and piña coladas.

3) Playa Flamingo, Cayo Coco

Playa Flamingo, Cayo Coco beach

This undeveloped beach on Cayo Coco will feel like your own little secret of white sand, and turquoise water. Cayo Coco is Cuba’s fourth largest island and has nine beaches over 22 km. There’s rich, indigenous vegetation here and over 150 different species of bird, including the graceful flamingo, hence the name of the beach.

4) Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos

Playa Megano and Playa Ensenachos, Cayo Ensenachos

These protected crescents of soft, warm sand are located on the tiny islet of Cayo Ensenachos in La Cayería del Norte. The land here drops off very slowly allowing you to wade out to 90 m or more in crystal clear waters. As an added attraction, the sea is calm here all year round, so there are no worries about getting red flag days (no swimming). Both beaches are incredibly beautiful, but Playa Ensenachos is closer to the resorts, which is perfect if you’re in the mood for something a little more upbeat. Playa Megano is more removed and is the spot if you’re looking for relaxation.

5) Playa Periquillo, Cayo Santa Maria

Playa Periquillo, Cayo Santa Maria beach

Cayo Santa Maria is part of a vacation area of three islets (cayos): Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Las Brujas (a.k.a Los Cayos de Villa Clara), all of which are part of the UNESCO-recognized Buenavista Biosphere Reserve. There is great diving and snorkelling here as well as bird watching, especially on the south coast of Santa Maria, which is dominated by salt marshes and mangroves. Playa Periquillo is a low-lying crescent of white sand and warm water. The shallow waters are great for bonefishing and long, sun-filled walks. Further out are coral reefs and a wreck perfect for diving.

6) Guardalavaca, HolguinGuardalavaca, Holguin beach

Holguin is Cuba’s most attractive resort area. The beaches of white sand and clear water stretch forever, occasionally interrupted by secluded coves and some elegant resorts. The town is quite charming and history buffs will enjoy some of the island’s best pre-Columbian archeological sites. As to the name of this area, it does mean “guard the cow,” a possible malapropism of guarda la barca, “guard the ship.” This area was once a frequent target of pirates. The name, then, would be a call to arms.

7) Playa Paraíso, Cayo Largo del SurPlaya Paraíso, Cayo Largo del Sur beach

Playa Paraíso is the most outstanding of all the beaches on this secluded islet. There are no permanent residents on Cayo Largo, which means it’s very quiet, calm and undisturbed. There’s a thriving coral reef, lots of wildlife including iguanas, and beaches for days. On Playa Paraíso (literally paradise beach) there’s a beachside restaurant and not much else, which is really what it’s all about.

Is one of these beaches calling your name? For more information or to start planning your Cuban getaway, check out our Cuba travel page.

26 Jun

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The true Cuba

June 26, 2015 | By |

Some things in Cuba are so classic they never go out of style and really should be part of every trip.

Endless beaches

With 330 days of sunshine every year and more than 500 km of soft sand spread across 400 beaches, Cuba has earned its reputation for some of the best beaches in the world. Enjoy lots of watersports, relaxation and fun in the sun. Kids will love it too because most of the beaches are sheltered, calm and warm.

Eco-tourism

With about 25% of the island protected either as National Parks or Nature Reserves, there is a growing trend for getting out and exploring. Try hiking, trekking, cycling, horseback riding, caving and cave diving, bird watching, or nature photography—whatever will inspire you and get you feeling connected.

Classic cars

An estimated 60,000 vintage cars are still in Cuba. As a proof of the ingenuity of the Cuban people, since no new parts have been shipped to Cuba since the early 60s, they either manufacture their own replacement parts or repurpose parts from older Soviet vehicles to keep them running. The cars are beautiful labours of love.

Timeless music & culture

The warmth and charm of the Cuban people is alive in their music. The rhythms of Son Mambo and Cha Cha Cha are celebrated and shared. So too is the architecture, faith, art, literature and cuisine—all a fusion of indigenous, African, French, Asian and Spanish influences.

Old-school rum

Maestros Roneros (rum masters) have been refining their knowledge and skills for generations. The result is a world-famous tradition of quality and taste. Visit the Museum of Rum in Havana or Barrita el Caney in Santiago de Cuba, and be sure to ask for a sip of extra old for a new taste experience.

Storied streets

Cuba has more World Heritage Sites than any other Caribbean country. Extraordinary historical cities are scattered throughout the island. Havana Vieja and its impressive fortifications, the historic centre of Cienfuegos, the town of Trinidad in the province of Sancti Spiritus, and the winding streets of Camagüey should top any must-see list.

 

26 Jun

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The new Cuba

June 26, 2015 | By |

Since 2014, Eloy Govea Rodríguez has been the Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto. Originally from Cuba, he shares his unique perspective on this island and what you can look forward to when you visit.

How has Cuba changed over the years?

Tourism in Cuba has grown a lot in recent years. We now have 10 international airports and resorts for every kind of traveller with lots of facilities and options. But we’ve also worked to preserve our culture and heritage. We have 10 World Heritage sites, 257 national monuments and 332 museums.

What will surprise us most about Cuba?

Over a quarter of the island is protected, which means you can experience some really amazing natural habitats.

Why does Cuba have such enduring appeal?

The people! Cubans are very friendly and happy to share their culture.

What’s the best place to visit in Havana?

Havana was recently declared one of the New Seven Wonder Cities so there’s a lot to see. I definitely recommend Old Havana. Those old streets are very charming.

What can families look forward to most?

Families will love how peaceful and safe this island is. You can visit with even the youngest traveller and they’ll have a great time.

One thing we all have to try?

Combine the beach with the cities. Cuba has incredible beaches but get to a city centre to experience the music, the life of the island.

What’s the best part about a vacation in Cuba?

You mean aside from everything I’ve just mentioned? Maybe the fact that Cuba is still

very affordable and only three and a half hours from Canada.

One thing we all have to bring home?

Cuban cigars, of course. Cuban rum and music are also great.

 

26 Jun

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Cuba: What’s old is new again

June 26, 2015 | By |

Cuba has a life, an energy, and a passion that are truly unique. A vacation here is a journey along endless white-sand, a trip down a cobblestone street, and a night on the town with locals helping you find the island rhythm.

Cuba has changed a lot in recent years and the vacation options have grown along with it.

Air Canada Vacations now flies to six destinations across the island and offers resorts for every style, from quietly simple, to grand luxury, with decadent rooms and superior service. You’ll also find family-friendly resorts on calm beaches with features like waterparks and more, making this a truly affordable family destination.

Welcome to the island.

 

30 Mar

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5 Must-See Havana Hot Spots

March 30, 2015 | By |

In the 50s, the Spanish colonial charm of Havana was a magnet for celebrities and industrialists. These days, the Cuban capital caters to all sorts of travellers. Which Havana hot spots are drawing in the crowds? Here’s a look at our top 5.

1. Tropicana

Tropicana Havana

Watch pure magic unfold at Havana’s Tropicana. A hot bed for nightclub glitz and glamour, this legendary landmark punctuates rhythm with plenty of soul as a live orchestra accompanies dazzling dancers who sway from the palm trees. Nightly shows are year-round except Christmas Eve. Reservations are recommended.

2. Coppelia

Coppelia Havana

Ice cream is a must when you’re under the Cuban sun. Our recommendation? Coppelia. Though the Jetsons-like, flying saucer-shaped building may seem like it’s from the future, it is a fantastic place to enjoy the present moment. Make sure to ask for the flavour of the day, or for the “ensalada,” a mix of 4 scoops of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce. Yes, the line-up may be long, but it is worth the wait.

3. El Floridita

El Floridita Havana

Quench your thirst at El Floridita, known as one of Ernest Hemingway’s favourite hangouts. Pony up to the bar (preferably near the bronze statue of the iconic writer), order their famous daiquiri and watch how bartenders continue to recreate the beloved rum cocktail first invented here.

4. Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Overlooking the Malecon, which is a chunk of oceanfront real estate frequented by canoodling couples and locals alike, this Spanish Colonial structure radiates old charm and has many star-studded tales to tell. The mojito, Cuba’s other famous drink, is a popular choice at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba and can be enjoyed by the bar or al fresco on the terrace.

5. Old Havana/La Habana Vieja

We cannot forget the pearl of Cuba: Old Havana (La Habana Vieja). This corner of the capital has survived years of neglect and is now slowly being restored to its former beauty. You can spend hours exploring cobblestone streets and local markets around the pedestrian-only Calle Obispo. The Cathedral de San Cristobal, The Plaza Vieja, and the Plaza de San Francisco are also classic Old Havana landmarks.

Interested in visiting the Cuban capital? See what else Havana has to offer here.

 

30 Apr

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Brighter Cuba

April 30, 2014 | By |

Canadians love Cuba! And with good reason. It’s the best value for an all-inclusive vacation, plus it’s a really quick non-stop flight, which means you’re on the beach in just a few hours. Air Canada Vacations flies to six separate areas of the island and offers you a huge choice of resorts on long, powder-white beaches with warm turquoise waters. But that’s not the end of it. Eco-adventures in World Heritage nature reserves, inspiring history, romantic architecture and unforgettable music that reaches deep inside will have you wishing that every day could be a Cuba day.

30 Apr

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Gustavo’s Havana

April 30, 2014 | By |

Gustavo Rodriguez Zaldumbide started out as a tour guide in Havana. He’s now the Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Canada and takes us back to his hometown.

Why is Havana such an inspiring place?

It’s the impressive European facades. The tang of the sea. The music. The spirit of the Habaneros. The city’s full of light and poetry.

One thing we have to see in Old Havana?

The Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. It was the home of the Spanish governors, now it’s a wonderful city museum.

What’s your favourite place?

The Morro Castle. It has a spectacular view of the harbour.

The best place for an afternoon of people watching?

The Malecon, the seafront promenade. It’s where everyone seems to live and let live.

What’s the best spot to pick up some salsa steps?

Salón Rosado de la Tropical on 41st Avenue. It’s the salsa capital of Cuba.

Where can I get authentic Cuban cooking?

Try a small, family-run “paladar”. The food is great.

How can I get a ride in one of those vintage cars?

It’s very easy. Just rent a car with driver from Gran Car and tour the city.

One thing to bring with us to Havana and one thing to take away?

To bring: a camera. To take away: rum, cigars, art and jewellery from local artists.

Any events or shows coming up?

International Ballet Festival in November and Havana Jazz Festival in December

Where can I get the best mojito?

As Hemingway wrote: my mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita.

What do you think the future holds for Havana?

The future is bright for Havana. The restoration of the city will go on and the city will keep evolving.

30 Apr

By

The best of Cuba

April 30, 2014 | By |

Cayo Coco / Cayo Guillermo

This pair of immaculate islands is a great choice for beach and water sports lovers. Quietly secluded, the abundance of wildlife here is wonderful to witness.

What not to miss: Boat adventure

Pilot your own jungle boat through the mangroves. Next, snorkel the colourful waters of Cayo Guillermo.

Varadero

Take your pick of beachfront resorts for all styles and tastes. In recent years eco-adventures have grown in popularity at the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, and the Zapata Biosphere Reserve.

What not to miss: Day trip to Havana

See the sights like the Capitolio, Revolution Square and a local market. Also enjoy a Cuban lunch and a visit to a traditional cigar factory.

La Habana

In 1982, Old Havana was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and as you wander its colourful streets, it’s easy to understand why.

What not to miss: Hemingway’s Cuba

Visit the Finca Vigia Museum, sip a daiquiri at La Terraza de Cojimar and visit Papa’s room at the Ambos Mundos Hotel.

Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara)

Spectacular Cayo Santa Maria is a true tropical paradise. Enjoy secluded, elegant resorts, long beaches, virgin mangrove and spectacular coral reefs.

What not to miss: A night in Remedios

See the sights and take in a show. Treat yourself to dinner in town to really make a night of it.

Holguin

Esmeralda, Pesquero and Guardalavaca are some of the most stunning beaches in the world. Of historical interest, visit Castro’s childhood in nearby Birán.

What not to miss: Jeep adventure

Cross the wild and majestic Cuban countryside. Visit Bariay, Columbus’s first landing site, before taking a speed boat to a local restaurant for lunch.

Cayo Largo del Sur

This sandy island is all about R’nR. The beaches are absolutely beautiful and native wildlife, like flamingos, iguanas and Cuba’s tiny bee hummingbird are everywhere you look.

What not to miss: Snorkelling Cayo Iguana Visit Iguana Island, which really does earn its name, and snorkel the colourful coral reef. Open bar on the yacht for the trip back.

01 May

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Stay in Style in Cuba

May 1, 2013 | By |

Ready to go in Cuba for your next vacations but don't know which hotels to choose ?  Here is a list of grand hotels where everybody will find peace and pleasure. All inclusive for family or adult-only all inclusive resort, Cuba has everything to make your vacations pleasant. 

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