Commercial flights from the United States to Havana begin December 1st, 2016, and are effectively replacing group charter flights as the standard mode of travel between the two countries. We now ask that our guests book their own travel between the U.S. and Havana. This tour will begin in Havana at approximately 11:00 AM on Day 1. Our meeting point on Day 1 will be Havana's Jose Marti International Airport where your Tour Leader and local guides will meet you to begin your tour.
If you are unable to fly all the way to Havana on Day 1 with an arrival before 11:00 AM, we recommend that you consider a "Day 0" for your tour and choose either of the following:
Travel to Havana on Day 0. With this option, we recommend that you overnight in a casa particular (a private home with rooms for rent) of your choosing and make your way back to the Havana Airport to meet your Tour Leader, guides, and fellow travelers the next morning.
Travel to Miami on Day 0. With this option, we recommend that you overnight in Miami and take a flight to Havana on the morning of Day 1.
We are happy to offer guidance with scheduling your travel to and from Cuba, and our office staff is ready to answer any questions you may have.
Please note that starting October 2017, we have a couple slight changes to the itinerary mentioned below. To download the new Cuba Kayak West itinerary, please click here (pdf).
Day 1: Saturday
Arrive in Havana!
Bienvenido a Cuba! Once we’ve all gathered at the Havana airport, we travel deeper into Havana for our first day of Cuban adventure.
We begin our tour by finding our way to a local paladar, a privately owned restaurant, where we can delve into Cuban culture by trying its Caribbean-tinged cuisine. Once we’ve satisfied our appetites, we begin our walking tour of the city. The highlight of our afternoon is Habana Vieja, or Colonial/Old Habana. It’s a burgeoning downtown area where it’s turbulent history is evident in every colonial plaza and Cuba’s future can be seen on the still-bustling streets. Unlike many other colonial city-centers throughout the island, Habana Vieja appears very much sentient to the present rather than being lolled into a slumbering past.
After a full afternoon exploring Havana Vieja’s many sights, we sit down to dinner at another local paladar. Then, you have the choice to return to your hotel for a good night’s rest in preparation for tomorrow or stay out a bit to see what the music scene in Havana is all about.
- Accommodations: Habana Hotel
- Meals Included: L,D
Day 2: Sunday
Cycle Havana to Las Terrazas
We rise early and drive out of the urban sprawl toward San Antonio de Los Baños, known to Cubans as the capital of humor due to the city’s idiosyncratic humor museum and film school founded in part by famous novelist Gabriel García Márquez. We don’t spend much time in the eccentric town as we start our day’s cycle toward Las Terrazas.
Our peaceful ride today takes us past Vereda, Caimito, Guayabal and Cayajabos. The undulating path is fairly smooth as we travel along verdant citrus plantations and plots of various other crops. As Artemisa Province is one of the best citrus producers in the country, there are plenty of cooperatives peppering the towns and we stop at one to sample some of the famed fruit as well as meet with a manager. In this People-to-People experience, learn about Cuba’s agriculture, the role of cooperatives in the market, and the people who manage these resources—with a fresh snack on the side—before we continue on our ride.
Our trail concludes in Las Terrazas, a UNESCO protected biosphere originally created as part of Castro’s 1968 reforestation proposal. The region, which had been over-logged since the enterprising days of Spanish conquistadors and coffee plantations, is now a verdant haven for over 117 different bird species including the endemic tocororo and zorzal. Stretch your legs after a day on the cycle and explore the flourishing pastures. If we have time, we may visit a local artist workshop where we learn about how politics of the environment blend with artistic passions within the small community.
Later, we make our way to our accommodations for the evening. Hotel Moka embodies the spirit of Las Terrazas with its teak tree backdrop and 100-year-old rain tree thrusting up through the lobby’s rooftop. Enjoy the cool, invigorating night air as well as a delectable dinner before turning in.
Day 3: Monday
Cycle Las Terrazas to Viñales
Today we cycle rough roads, rolling roads, and smooth roads that take you through some of Cuba’s most lush landscapes. It’s a fun ride with new adventures at every turn! We set off early, and we pedal through La Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve and stretches of forests and grasslands, rounded hills and waving royal palm trees. Keep an eye out for some incredible rock formations jutting out of the earth. Our meandering path takes us to Bahía Honda, where we stop for lunch, and passes through several beautiful towns such as Cabañas, Palma Rubia, and La Palma as we make our way to Viñales.
We pause at La Palma, where we are picked up and transferred to Viñales, a region encircled by the misty, pine-covered hills of the Sierra de los Órganos. Valley de Viñales has a fantastical appearance with its stocky limestone mogotes abruptly rearing from flat plains and labyrinths of caves secreted away in cragged overhangs. Explore some nearby paths and take in the immersive scenery before we get some well-deserved R&R with dinner and a drink before bed.
Day 4: Tuesday
Explore Puerto Esperanza and Viñales
We enjoy a hearty breakfast before once again climbing onto our bikes to explore more of the sprawling karst landscape. On our way toward Puerto Esperanza, we peddle our way through plantations with bright green swathes of tobacco leaves and recently turned rust-colored earth, rural villages with their sillo bedecked porches. It’s a peaceful morning ride through one of Cuba’s most serene corners.
Around lunchtime we land in the Puerto Esperanza, a fishing village which serves as a primary port for Viñales. Expansive mango trees said to have been planted in the 1800s bound the entry road, and the gentle crash of waves greets your entrance into the placid town largely untouched by the last 50 years. We stop for lunch in the seafront town before getting picked up for a transfer back to our lodgings in Viñales.
Once we’re back in the valley with the afternoon before us, we have the opportunity to walk along the arbitrary “train systems” that unfurl throughout the valley or visit a nearby organic farm. The trail systems may lead to the rising, vertical walls of mogotes, the pock-marked faces of the caverns, or obscure river systems—arresting sights that comprise the unique landscape. Visiting an organic farm allows us to engage with the local people who tend to the land that sustains them and gives us insight into their everyday livelihood.
Later, we enjoy another dinner of fresh ingredients prepared with Cuban authenticity before retiring for the evening.
Day 5: Wednesday
Cycle Viñales to Pinar del Río
Greet the morning in verdant Viñales before we transfer to Puente de Cabezas, a rural town surrounded by swathes of undulating green fields. Our cycle today takes us through the San Carlos Valley, where you’ll be surrounded by incredible views. Limestone bluffs blanketed in foliage look over isolated huts and rust-colored tobacco fields. Palm fringes rustle in the wind and birds call to one another. With the smooth road unwinding before you, you can soak in the bucolic scenery as we cycle along and do some exploring when we pause for a box lunch en route.
Our ride takes us to Cuba’s tobacco mecca San Juan y Martínez, whose abundant rainfall produces some of the country’s finest tobacco leaves. There, we take to our feet and visit the Alejandro Robaina Tobacco Planation. Though the vegas (fields) have been producing quality tobacco since 1845, the Vegas Robaina cigars didn’t launch into international acclaim until the late 1990s. Tour the grounds and gain insight into the cigar-production process from sprouting plant to fragrant-wrapper rolled treat.
After our tour, we continue our Cuba cycling tour to Pinar del Río. The city lives up to its name, as pines adorn its river banks. Though the city has a bit of a reputation for its wealth of jinteros, it has an intriguing energy and an abundance of well-maintained neoclassical architecture. Check into your hotel before meeting for dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 6: Thursday
Cycle Pinar del Río to Soroa
We continue our travels through rural Cuba as our cycle today take us along the La Carretera Central highway passing through Herradura, Capilla, and Paseo Real de San Diego until we arrive in Fierro. We enjoy a picnic at a scenic spot en route and have the opportunity for a People-to-People interaction when visiting a small Cuban industry.
Our afternoon takes us to the evergreen rainforests of Soroa—aptly named the “rainbow of Cuba” as the regular rainfall commonly disperses shimmering rainbows over the rivers, waterfall, and orchid-laden trees. Located high in the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, it’s a secluded haven in nature. Relax in lush, tropical surroundings with a cool drink before dinner.
Day 7: Friday
Cycle Soroa to Habana
Today’s lively ride takes us out of the calm countryside sprawl and into the urban bustle of Havana. We pedal along smooth, gently winding trails from Soroa to Guanajay, another town enveloped by sugar cane and coffee plantations. From there, we transfer to Habana whose vivacious spirit and near-constant motion are an invigorating change from the repose of the countryside.
We enjoy a refreshing lunch at a paladar in Habana before taking a short trip to Jaimanitas. Although geographically we gather in the town of Jaimanitas, we step into the created fantasy-world of artist José Rodriguez Fuster. Fuster took the streets of the formerly average town and shaped it into a widespread art exhibition Picasso would have felt at home in. We walk through Fusterlandia and witness the incredible world where roofs, doorways, benches, and city blocks become expressions of the artist and iconic Cuban images.
After our walk, we return to Habana for a night out on the town. We explore the city as night falls as Cubans do—in classic cars that haven’t lost their 1950s glamour—before making our way to a paladar for dinner.
Today is a day of rest as we either take a casual ride or leave the bikes behind and explore Habana on foot. We have several options for the day’s activities. One option is to learn about Cuba’s artistic and manufacturing culture by touring museums and factories. In this case, we visit the Museo de Ernesto Hemingway located in his former home at Finca Vigía. Tour the restored facilities to gain insight the life and mind of Cuba’s favorite literary expatriate. This tour is paired with a visit to one of Havana’s premier cigar factories where we can see how cigars are produced en mass and appreciate the future of all the tobacco plots we passed by on our Cuban journey.
Our other option for the day is to take a tour of the city both on bike and on foot. Walk along the Malecón, explore the narrow streets of Habana Vieja, and wonder at the palpable presence of Cuba’s revolutionary heroes in the Plaza de la Revolución at your leisure. It’s an immersive day of architecture, history, and the ever-evolving Cuban culture as we follow the labyrinthine paths of Havana’s history.
We conclude our day with a final dinner together featuring Cuban classics and authentic dishes with a Havana flair. Enjoy Havana’s salsa-filled nightlife before returning to the hotel to rest up for tomorrow’s flight!
- Accommodations: Habana Hotel
- Meals Included: B,L,D
We wake early and enjoy a final Cuban breakfast before heading to the airport. There, meet your departing flights for home!
Meals Included: B