Explore Cuba with the Inland Ocean Coalition!

MARCH 15 - 25, 2018

Join us on our Land-to-Sea Travel Program to Cuba

11 Days / 10 Nights | From $4952 Per Person

An exclusive insight into Cuba’s history, people, and nature

Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Exploration of Guanahacabibes, NOAA Sister Marine Sanctuary,  in Maria la Gorda — our host and partner.
  • Diving (or snorkeling if you prefer) the coral reefs of the southern coast which sustain rich marine life
  • Birding with an expert in the Zapata National Park, the largest wetlands in the Caribbean, home to large numbers of migratory birds and rare endemic species
  • Soroa Orchid Garden with 20,000 plants including 700 orchid and thousands of fern species
  • Viñales National Park and its 250 million-year-old loaf-shaped limestone mountains laced with caves and famous tobacco farms
  • Exchanges with Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation, who is instrumental in the planning and implementation of marine conservation and our primary host
  • An evening with Sr. Ariel Ricardo, a retired diplomat from the Cuban foreign ministry who worked with Jacques Cousteau on the Calypso
  • Havana’s art and music scene and the colonial cities of Trinidad and Cienfuegos

And we’ll have plenty of time with locals including a beach clean-up in Maria la Gorda!

Note:  You don’t have to be a diver to fully enjoy this trip!

Book now!  Our trip, is limited to just 10 guests for an authentic and personal experience.

               

Update Feb 1, 2018     We have 2 spots available. 

Join us for this amazing trip to really see what’s going on in Cuba!

Trip Information

Flights

(Not Included in the Price)

   March 15      JetBlue Flight 387            Depart Fort Lauderdale 11:01 am            Arrive Santa Clara 12:15 pm                             

   March 25      Multiple return flights from Havana, as you wish.

Accommodations

 

Hotel
Trinidad: Private Accommodations  2 nights
Bay of Pigs: Private Accommodations  1 night
Las Terrazas: Hotel La Moka or Vinales Private Accommodations  1 night
Maria la Gorda : Hotel Villa Maria la Gorda  3 nights
Havana: Private Accommodations  3 nights

Itinerary

Day 1 – Fly Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara
Fly nonstop this morning departing at 11:01 am and arriving in Santa Clara at 12:15 pm.  Upon arrival at the airport you process through immigration, pick up your luggage, move through customs and depart the arrivals hall to meet our guide and driver. We make our way to Trinidad located about 2 hours from the airport.

Our private accommodations are well located in this 500-year-old colonial town.  Dinner is at a private restaurant and afterwards, those who wish may want to visit one of several music clubs in Trinidad.

Meals included:  D

Day 2 - Trinidad & Topes de Collantes
Today we travel into the mountains above Trinidad to Topes de Collantes where we enjoy an easy hike along a beautiful jungle trail. Several endemic species of birds can be seen here.  After lunch visit a coffee house to learn how coffee was traditionally grown and processed in the mountains.  Now, practically the entire coffee production of these mountains is exported to Japan.  Visit a local farm and meet the farm family before returning to Trinidad.  Late this afternoon we take a walking tour through the colonial heart of Trinidad before dinner in a private restaurant.

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 3 – Trinidad & Cienfuegos to the Bay of Pigs
This morning we travel to the Bay of Pigs but first make a stop in Cienfuegos en route.  We have a brief tour of this beautiful town which was originally founded by French settlers and French architecture is still prevalent in many of its buildings.  We visit the main square before heading west and then south to the Caribbean Coast and the small museum at Playa Giron that presents the Cuban perspective of the Bay of Pigs invasion.   Next is lunch in a bayside restaurant and then we meet a coral reef specialist for a briefing and optional dive exploration.  Afterwards we continue along the shores of the Bay of Pigs and check into our private accommodations near Playa Larga.  Dinner tonight is at a private restaurant that specializes in seafood.  This evening we have a guest from the Zapata National Park headquarters who gives us an overview of the Zapata and the conservation work being done there.

Meals included:  B, L, D

Day 4 - Bay of Pigs to San Francisco de Paula and on to Las Terrazas or Vinales
Before breakfast, those who wish may join a naturalist from the Zapata National Park for early morning birding.  After checking out we travel west to the outskirts of Havana to San Francisco de Paula where we visit Ernest Hemingway’s estate in Cuba, Finca Vigia.  A local Hemingway guide takes us through his life in Cuba and shares some interesting stories.  It was at Finca Vigía that he wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls, a novel of the Spanish Civil War which Hemingway had covered as a journalist with Martha Gellhorn in the late 1930s—the novel was started at the Hotel Ambos Mundos in Havana, and some was also written in Idaho.  Hemingway would later buy Finca Vigia out of some of the first royalties from the book, published in 1940.  Our lunch today is nearby at Il Divino, one of the best in Havana and whose gardens help supply the restaurant.

After lunch we continue our journey west of Havana to Las Terrazas or further northwest to Vinales subject to hotel availabilities.   Dinner tonight is included in a private restaurant.

Meals included:  B, L, D

Day 5 - Vinales and on to Maria la Gorda
We leave Las Terrazas this morning after having a look around the town.  About twenty minutes away is the botanical gardens at Soroa.  This is one of the finest gardens in the Caribbean and is famous for its many orchids.  The gardens are administered by the University of Pinar Del Rio and we are accompanied by a specialist guide while there.  We continue our travel west and then cut north to the Vinales Valley which is one of the most scenic areas in all of Cuba.  It is also the area where the best tobacco is grown for the best cigars.  We have time to visit one of the tobacco farms and meet the family that cares for the land.  Lunch is at a farm.  We may have a little time for other activities in Vinales before traveling further west, almost to the end of Cuba to Maria la Gorda, arriving in the late afternoon.  We check into our hotel which serves as our base for activities with the Guanahacabibes Marine Protected Area and the National Park.  For convenience after a couple of long travel days, dinner tonight is in the hotel.

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 6 – Maria la Gorda Research & Conservation Activity
Today is devoted to marine research and conservation activities under the direction of our Cuban research partners, including scuba diving/snorkeling.  Note:  There will be alternate tours for those who don’t wish to partake in the water activities.

Dinner tonight is in a private restaurant.

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 7 – Maria la Gorda Research & Conservation Activity
Today is devoted to marine research and conservation activities under the direction of our Cuban research partners.  Diving is again available at this PADI International Dive Center.

Dinner tonight is also in a private restaurant.

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 8 – Maria la Gorda to Pinar Del Rio and on to Havana
After breakfast, we check out and depart for Havana with a visit to a rum factory or cigar factory in Pinar del Rio.  From Pinar del Rio the highway is good and we can travel at a faster speed to Havana where we check into our private accommodations with some time to relax and refresh before dinner with our colleagues from the Antonio Nunez Jimenez Foundation at the private restaurant La Habanera in Miramar.   The Nunez Foundation has been instrumental in the planning and implementation of marine conservation programs and has been active facilitators of our program in Cuba.   Another special guest tonight is Sr. Ariel Ricardo who is a retired diplomat from the Cuban foreign ministry.  Sr. Ricardo is an accomplished diver with a special interest in marine conservation.  He spent three months with Jacques Cousteau aboard the Calypso and assisted with three of the Cousteau films.

Tonight and every night your guide can suggest convenient locations for drinks and evening entertainment if you wish to go out after dinner.  Drinks and any admission costs are on your own.  You will need to return to the hotel by taxi if you are out late but your guide can help with this.  Some suggestions: Jazz is really popular among Cubans but the action starts late, around 11:00pm. We have many recommendations, including, for an earlier night, the Fabrica de Arte Cubano (F.A.C) open Thursdays through Sundays.  This amalgamation of art exhibition, local meeting place and entertainment mecca is uniquely Cuban but has captured the attention of celebrities and VIPs from around the world.  F.A.C. has become an especially great location to mingle with local artistically minded young Cubans.

Meals included: B, L, D

Day 9 – Exploring Havana on Foot and by Classic Cars
This morning begins with a walking tour with our guide to explore the streets of Old Havana as they come to life. Walking down Obispo Street we pass La Floridita, Hemingway’s favorite bar and where the daiquiri was perfected.  Later you may want to visit La Floridita to try one.  In Plaza Vieja we will enjoy a fresh juice drink at a very popular spot, La Vitrola (The Jukebox). Next we take a very short walk through Plaza Vieja and along the meandering streets to Plaza de San Francisco, stopping to pay our respects to the bronze statue of El Caballero de Paris (the Gentleman of Paris) and learn about the interesting story of why he was immortalized. You then take the short walk to Plaza de Armas, Havana’s oldest square, and learn about the history and rich heritage of the buildings in this charming plaza. This is also the location where Havana was founded. From the City Museum (the former Captain General’s residence) to the street vendors trading authentic books and memorabilia that commemorate the Revolution, Plaza de Armas is one of Havana’s greatest treasures. Continue on to Plaza de la Catedral, the fourth of Havana’s wonderful squares. The picturesque plaza usually provides an opportunity for photos of local Habaneros dressed in traditional costumes. Our lunch stop is at a paladar just off the Plaza.

After lunch we continue our exploration of Havana but now by classic vintage convertible cars. These marvelously preserved automobiles from the 1950’s will take you through Miramar (where the wealthy once lived during Havana’s heyday), down the Malecon (Havana’s sea-walled avenue), through old and modern districts. You pass by the reopened U.S. Embassy and on to the Capitol building, the Grand Theater, Central Park, and Paseo del Prado (a wide avenue separating Old Havana from the central city where Chanel recently displayed their 2017 Cruise collection). We also check out the view of Havana from across the bay at the 17th century Morro Castle.  Our ride ends back at our accommodations or at a restaurant of your choosing.  Dinner tonight is on your own.   You guide will help with reservations though.

Those who wish may take in a late-night performance at the famous Tropicana Nightclub at additional cost.  When you drive up to this throwback to the 1950s, you fully expect Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner to be one of the many guests!  The shows are still excellent and have kept up with the times.   Admission fee and transportation back are at additional cost.

Meals included: B, L

Day 10 – Iconic Havana
The evening before could have been a late one so this morning we won’t leave until around 10:00am.  First we visit a cigar factory in Havana observing traditional methods that have changed very little over the centuries.

After lunch we learn about how the mid-century American classic cars have survived with the help of the inventive Cubans who keep them running.   We’ll visit a well-regarded mechanic’s shop to see, firsthand, what it takes to keep their vintage automobiles on the roads.

Later in the afternoon we make a stop in the neighborhood of Jaimanitas to visit Jose Fuster’s home and workshop. As you arrive you notice the art work all around. You have a chance to visit the studio or purchase a piece to bring home with you.

Return to your accommodations to rest and refresh and later tonight it’s time for you to enjoy cocktails, Cuba’s vibrancy, and the emerging exceptional cuisine at one of the city’s finest paladars.   A special celebratory evening lies ahead starting with drinks in the gardens overlooking the sea at the classic Hotel Nacional.   Its beautiful lobby has welcomed statesmen, royals and VIP’s for over 85 years and many times lovers accompanied the well-to-do adding scandal and intrigue to the hotel’s legacy. You stop to visit the famed Hall of History on the way to the gardens outside where you enjoy drinks and take in the stunning views from the terraces overlooking the sea and Havana’s seaside avenue (the Malecon).    Visiting Hotel Nacional lends tremendous perspective into what Havana was like during the days of Lucky Luciano and Frank Sinatra.  You continue to dinner at another of Havana’s best private restaurants, San Cristobal.   Begin with a rum & cigar pairing followed by dinner.   Your guide can assist with any late night arrangements you may wish to make.

Meals Included: B,L,D

Day 11 – Havana to USA
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to the US.  Make certain you have the half of the visa you retained during arrival ready for Cuban Customs.

Meals included: B

Price

6 – 7 pax                     US$  6924

 8 – 11 pax                  US$  5477

12 pax                         US$  4952

Per person based on sharing accommodation.  Additional single supplement.

Note:  Price includes a tax deductible donation to The Inland Ocean Coaltion.

Inclusions

  • Expert private guide and vehicles as per itinerary
  • Hotels or private accommodations while in Cuba
  • Trip escort from Fort Lauderdale through the last day in Havana
  • Meals as per noted in the itinerary (B,L,D): breakfasts, lunches, dinners
  • Drinks at lunch and dinner (local beer, bottled water, soft drinks, house wine)
  • Fresh water while touring with the guide and driver
  • Gratuities for included meals
  • Gratuities for local specialty guides when required
  • Donation to The Inland Ocean Coalition

Exclusions

  • Airfare from home city to Santa Clara / return from Havana. Air arranged separately
  • Meals not mentioned in the program as included
  • Optional activities not included in the itinerary such as dive/snorkel gear and excursion
  • Tips for housekeeping maid service and live music during meals
  • Baggage charges, laundry or other expenses of a personal nature
  • Gratuities for your private guide and drivers. Guide: $10 CUC per day, per guest recommended.  Drivers $7.00 CUC per day per guest recommended.
  • Cuban tourist visa, required for entry [We can assist with the visa, they are $90 per person]

 

Update 2/1/18  We have more than the minimum booked and this trip is a go! 

Still have 3 spots.  Deadline February 10.   

HOW?         Simple.  Pay deposit and book your flight.  We do the rest!

Upon booking you will be sent more information about our trip and preparing for it.

Book now to join us!

Contact Us

Get more information about this trip, have your questions answered, or start the booking process by filling out our simple contact form.

p: 1 (303) 586-6815  Ext 402

e: Susan@SusanBruceTravel.com

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