Family Vacations to Cuba

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Cuba – Family Vacation Guide

Cuba has only been on the family vacation map for Americans for the past year or so and it hasn’t had time to become overdeveloped, throw up theme parks or lose its unique character in a landscape of high-rise hotels and luxury resorts. However, the travel rules surrounding this destination have gone back and forth recently so be sure to check U.S. travel regulations before booking.

It’s unlikely mass tourism will ever invade the largest of the Caribbean islands. For a start, most of the cities have World Heritage status and, even without that protection, they’re fiercely independent, proud of a remarkable culture and heritage and not about to let outsiders influence their way of life.

Havana alone is a miracle of unchanged charm where people dance in bars, drive classic Buicks and chat to strangers as if they were family – more so if you’re travelling with kids.

Here life moves at its own pace and nothing gets done in a hurry. Cities seem hectic, until you get into the rhythm, which doesn’t take long. And the entire country is bigger than you might realize, so touring can be a challenge. But if you want a vacation your kids will remember always, for the best reasons, Cuba’s perfect.

Why Go

  • Easy Access

    At least eight U.S. airlines now offer direct flights to Cuba and flying from Florida can take as little as just one hour.

  • Sunshine

    Cuba has 330 days of sunshine a year with average temperatures of 78˚F.

  • Weather

    Sub-tropical climate with dry weather from November to April and some rain between May and October.

  • Great for a Swim

    Water temperatures range from 79˚F and 88˚F year round.

  • Historic Sites

    Cuba has nine World Heritage sites including Old Havana, the historic centers of Camagüey and Cienfuegos, Viñales Valley and Desembarco del Granma National Park.

  • Beaches

    The Cuban coastline is over 3,100 miles long and has some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches.

  • Nature

    The Bee Hummingbird is the world’s smallest bird at just two inches. It’s indigenous to Cuba, along with several other rare species, which thrive in what UNESCO describes as, “one of the most bio-diverse tropical island sites on earth.”

  • Accommodations

    There are international brand hotels in Cuba but they can be expensive and are booked up quickly in high season (U.S. winter). Many of the country’s vacation hotels are state-owned and an excellent value. Try CubanaCan first to get an idea of range, quality and prices. Casa Particulares guesthouses and bed & breakfasts are unique to Cuba, often good quality, always inexpensive and usually in a family home with meals included.

Where to Go

One of the most famous cities in the world, Havana leaves few visitors less than completely spellbound. From the grand colonial buildings to the music, theater, food, classic cars and big city beaches, older kids will be amazed by the sheer spectacle. And the Cuban capital loves families almost as much as dancing, so children are welcome everywhere.


The island’s main vacation resort is a good family base for big beaches and international hotels. Far from touristy by global standards, Varadero is mainly about sand and sea (both amazing), taking it easy and the water activities.

  • Cuba’s best choice of family-friendly, state-owned and international vacation hotels.
  • 16 miles long Varadero beach is the island’s biggest and most popular.
  • Two and half hours east by road from Havana and the airport
  • 19 miles from historic Matanzas and the colonial seaside town of Cárdenas
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Trinidad de Cuba

Trinidad de Cuba is a World Heritage site and one of the world’s most beautifully preserved examples of a 16th century colonial settlements. It’s a lively and colorful town beyond the history and an interesting place to stay with older children.

  • Trinidad has good choice of high-quality Casa Particulares and several heritage hotels.
  • The town is 9 miles from the Peninsula de Ancón for larger hotels and the south coast’s best beaches.
  • Heartland of Cuba’s historic sugar plantations
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Santiago de Cuba

To the far east of the island, the stunning city of Santiago de Cuba is second only to Havana for art, culture, music and graceful, historic architecture.

  • Good city for family Casa Particulares and smaller, boutique hotels.
  • Close to the Desembarco del Granma National Park and the Sierra Maestra for Cuba’s highest mountain, Pico Turquino.


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What to Do

  • Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabaña, Havana
    Fortaleza San Carlos is a huge 18th century fort is in Old Havana and part of the city’s World Heritage area. Spread over 25 acres, it’s great for views, exploring and bloodthirsty tales.
  • Havana Supertours
    Tour Havana in pre-1959 American cars driven by expert city guides with Havana Supertours. Choose from eco-adventures in the Viñales Valley to historic city exploration and tailor-made tours.
  • Playa Coral, Varadero
    Playa Coral is Cuba’s best beach for snorkeling with dazzling tropical fish around the coral reef of Laguna de Maya. Guides and equipment are available.
  • Cuevas de Bellamar
    Cuevas de Bellamar are the longest and tallest caves in Cuba and were first discovered in 1860. They’re as thrilling today as ever.
  • Santiago de Cuba Carnival
    Visit Cuba in July and the Santiago de Cuba annual carnival is a colorful Caribbean legend and great fun for families.
  • Swim with Dolphins
    Sail out from Varadero to Rancho Cangrejo and swim with dolphins in the open sea with Dolphin Adventure.
  • Kite surfing, Varadero
    Learn to kite-surf with your kids on Cuba’s longest beach.
  • Fusterlandia, Havana
    A brilliantly bright and creative “land” built by sculptor, José Fuster, in the Jaimanitas neighborhood of Fusterlandia, northwest Havana.
  • Camera Obscura, Havana
    Take the kids to look out over Old Havana from the startling perspective of the camera obscura on Plaza Vieja.
  • Horseback Riding in Viñales Valley
    A family tour on horseback through the unique landscape of World Heritage Viñales Valley in the company of expert local guides.

Educational Value for Kids

  • From the country’s mesmerizing history to its musical traditions, dance skills and outdoor adventure, kids can learn something new all over Cuba.
  • Rainforests, enormous caves, two World Heritage national parks, coral reefs, sand cays and beaches, Cuba is a natural for exploring in the wilds.
  • There are good water sport schools at most resorts and marinas.
  • Booking all or some of your stay in a Casa Particulares gives kids an opportunity to live in a family home, get to know local children and learn about Cuban life.

Getting Around

Driving is the best ways to get around with kids. Car rental is state-run and you will need your own child seats. An extensive public transport network includes buses and trains, but journeys can be slow and uncomfortable. Taxis are widely used in major cities.

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