Explore Cuba with the Inland Ocean Coalition and Susan Bruce Travel!

March 16 -26, 2019

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

11 Days / 10 Nights | From $5125 Per Person

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

 

           Wondering what this trip is like? 

Read reviews from travelers on our  2018 Cuba trip!

Here are just a few of the highlights:

  • Exploring Guanahacabibes, NOAA Sister Marine Sanctuary,  in Maria la Gorda — off limits to most U.S. citizens.  We have authorization to take you here!
  • 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 one of Cuba’s oldest NGOs and our primary host in Cuba.
  • 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
  • The BEST local guides

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

       Book now!  Our trip, is limited to just 12 guests for an authentic and personal experience.

               

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

Trip Information

Flights

(Not Included in the Price)

   March 16    JetBlue Flight 387            Depart Fort Lauderdale 11:01 am          Arrive Santa Clara 12:15 pm                             

   March 26    Multiple return flights from Havana, as you wish.

Accommodations

 

Hotel
Trinidad: Private Accommodations  2 nights
Playa Larga: Private Accommodations  1 night
Soroa: 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 we’ll  to meet our guide and driver and make our way to Trinidad via a spectacular 2 hour driver through the mountains.

Our private accommodations are well located in this 500-year-old colonial town.  Dinner is at a private restaurant.  Afterwards those who wish may want to visit one of several infamous 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 and swim among waterfalls and natural pools. Our specialist guide will point out the many endemic species of birds.  After lunch visit a coffee house to learn how coffee was traditionally grown and processed in the mountains and how it is today. Now, practically the entire coffee production of these mountains is exported to Japan.  Visit a local farm for lunch, hosted by the family before returning to Trinidad.  Late this afternoon we take a walking tour through the colonial heart of Trinidad.  Dinner is on our own.  Those who wish to check out the thrumming music scene will have lots of options!

Meals included: B,L 

Day 3 – Trinidad & Cienfuegos to the Bay of Pigs
This morning we stop in Cienfuegos for a brief tour of this beautiful town which was originally founded by French settlers and whose French architecture is prevalent in many of the majestic buildings.  We visit the main square before heading southwest to the Caribbean Coast and small museum at Playa Giron that presents the Cuban perspective of the Bay of Pigs invasion.   Next is a quick lunch in a bayside restaurant followed by a dive/snorkel exploration in crystal-clear waters right off the beach.  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, the largest wetlands and protected area in the Caribbean, and the conservation work being done here.

Meals included:  B, L, D

Day 4 - Bay of Pigs to San Francisco de Paula and on to Soroa
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 Finca Vigía.  It was here 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.  Hemingway would later buy Finca Vigía 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 to Soroa where we visit one of the finest gardens in the Caribbean, famous for its orchids.   Dinner tonight is at the unique Castle in the Clouds where we can swim and play billiards while enjoying the amazing views from the mountain top.

Meals included:  B, L, D

Day 5 - Vinales and on to Maria la Gorda
This mornig we enjoy an optional short hike to swim in the Soroa waterfalls. After breakfast we depart for  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 visit one of the tobacco farms and meet the family that cares for the land.  Lunch is at an organic 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 National Park.  Our hotel has a great bar right on the beach — you feel like you are a million miles from anywhere!  Dinner tonight is buffet style at 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 at the International PADI Dive Center.  Note:  There will be alternate tours for those who don’t wish to partake in the water activities such as exploring an amazing cave in the area and wildlife scouting.

Dinner tonight is at the hotel.

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.  We’ll travel to the remote Cabo de San Antonio and Las Tumbas stopping along the way.  We’ll visit the Roncali lighthouse, built in 1850 standing watch over the Yucatán Strait.  A lunch of fresh fish is provided at the open-air home with the staff of Guanahacabibes.

Dinner tonight is at the hotel.

Meals included: B,L,D

Day 8 – Maria la Gorda to Pinar Del Rio and on to Havana
After breakfast, we depart for Havana with a visit to a famous but small cigar factory in Pinar del Rio.  From here 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.   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 our guide can suggest convenient locations for drinks and evening entertainment if you wish to go out after dinner.  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). 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.   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. We 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. 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. 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), and 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 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.   Your 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.

Meals included: B 

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 the excellent museum of Fine Arts for a private guided tour.

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 have a special visit to a mechanic’s shop to see, firsthand, how they restore these vintage automobiles and what it takes to keep them 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 with a rum & cigar pairing.  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 U.S.  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$  5898

    8 – 10 pax                  US$  5365

 11 – 12 pax                 US$  5125

Per person based on sharing accommodation.  Additional single supplement.

Note:  Price includes a $100 tax deductible donation to The Inland Ocean Coaltion.

Inclusions

  • Expert private guide and vehicles as per itinerary
  • Hotels and private accommodations
  • Trip escort from Fort Lauderdale through the last day in Havana
  • Meals as per noted in the itinerary (B,L,D): breakfasts, lunches, dinners
  • Ample drinks at lunch and dinner, including some rare rums and fine wines and beers
  • Fresh water while touring
  • 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 excursions
  • Tips for housekeeping maid service and live music
  • 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]

 

   

HOW TO BOOK?         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!

Wondering what this trip is like?  Read reviews from travelers on our 2018 Cuba trip!

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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