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Cuba with teens

(30 Posts)
Agiraffeisnotacat Sat 22-Oct-16 10:19:48

We're thinking of visiting Cuba next year with DSs who will be 16 and 13. They are keen on fairly active holidays rather than just lying on the beach.

Having had a quick look this morning, snorkelling and waterfalls with a bit of trekking off the beaten track sounds good with perhaps a few beach days at the end.

Does anyone have suggestions for places to go / things to do?

Also should we go in the school summer holidays in 2017 or wait and go over the Xmas holidays (2017) if the weather is so much better?

Finally any vague idea of cost range for 2 adults and 2 teens?

Any help would be much appreciated as we are at the beginning of our research.

Lucydogz Sun 23-Oct-16 13:09:30

I think it depends on your teenagers. We had a fantastic holiday travelling around independently. The Cubans are very proud of their revolutionary history and I would think it's the kind of history that would appeal to teenagers (armed struggle against the regime). If that was the case, you'd be spoilt for choice, but Santa Clara is especially good.

Agiraffeisnotacat Fri 28-Oct-16 09:37:26

Thank you Lucydogz - apologies for the delay I have only just seen your message.

Stopyourhavering Fri 28-Oct-16 17:13:24

We went with teens 2 yrs ago, stayed in Varadero(Paradisus) which I know is very touristy but it met our needs and the hotel had loads to keep the teens happy!
Howeverwe did manage to go on several excursions.....public transport is limited! So hired a taxi and guide to go to Havana (2 hr drive)
Would thoroughly recommend some time in Havana, the architecture culture and history is amazing. Everywhere you go there is ( live)music and the dancing is incredible
Fantastic country....go before its ruined by the cruise liners and American tourists!..... We loved the fact there was minimal advertising , limited internet....like going back in time....you must take a ride in a Buick convertible!
The staff at the hotel were so friendly, teaching us Spanish and talking about life in Cuba...food is a bit hit or miss but given the trade restrictions hardly surprising
We flew with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick....went in August and it cost £8 k but that's because we flew premium economy and upgraded rooms (X 2 rooms)

DearMrDilkington Fri 28-Oct-16 17:15:50

Oh Cuba's wonderful. Very good choice!
What part of Cuba are you thinking of?

DearMrDilkington Fri 28-Oct-16 17:22:11

Snorkelling is amazing there, literally just walk down the beach have a swim near rocks and you'll see so many different types fish.

I went fishing while I was out there on a small which was a brilliant experience, you'll catch so many in such a short time. We gave the fish we caught to the guys who worked on the beach as they'll take them home for dinner.

Entertainment was brilliant at the hotel I went to as well. 2 different shows on every night, one of which was a water show in the pool.

Cubans are lovely too, they are so friendly. You will also feel very safe there when you wonder about outside the hotel. There will be a few beggars but it's not that bad. Locals are always friendly and want to chat.

I've been 3 times now & happy to answer any questionsgrin

DearMrDilkington Fri 28-Oct-16 17:23:27

Of fish *
On a small boat*

Typed too fast!

Agiraffeisnotacat Fri 28-Oct-16 18:29:47

Thank you all. Am excited to have more replies 😊

I really haven't thought about too much detail of where and don't yet know much of the geography of the island. Our main reason is to go there now before it all changes.

We are definitely not just after an all inclusive beach holiday. I have heard Valadero listed as that but nice to hear that it is nicer than initially sounds.

We'd like to get a feel for the place and see some cultural sights, again not 100% sure what, I don't yet know enough to judge. I personally am not bothered about tobacco plantations etc as DH and I have never been smokers. We are also not into dancing so whilst I'd like to see some salsa we wouldn't be taking part much!

Personally I would love to do a fairly easy trek in a rainforest, see the beautiful waterfalls and go snorkelling. DH and the kids are all active and don't like just lying around on a beach.

We're not bothered about scuba diving as we've all done that before and enjoyed it but don't have a great need to repeat it.

Anyone been to Las Terrazas eco village?

Thanks for the cost estimate, I had £6-8k in my head so sounds as if I am on the right track. Obviously I would prefer to spend £6k but can spend up to about £8k if required.

Agiraffeisnotacat Fri 28-Oct-16 18:32:34

And we have decided to go in the summer, we may go mid July as DS1 will have finished exams and DS2 may be able to finish school a week early. If not it will be late July.

Lucydogz Fri 28-Oct-16 19:41:50

Public transport is fine as long as you don't use the big resorts, which are very separate unless you go on organised excursions. We started in Havana, then Trinidad, Cinfuegas, Santiago, Baracoa, Gibera, Santa Clara and Havana again. The sites can be done in a convenient loop east of Havana. We hired a car and drove after Baracoa. Santiago was a dump IMO.
This was an adult holiday, just me and dh, and several years ago, so I'm not sure how helpful it is, but it is a great country. Incidentally, I thought I wasn't into the dancing, but I loved watching the Cubans dance.

DearMrDilkington Fri 28-Oct-16 20:07:16

Our main reason is to go there now before it all changes
That's exactly why I went again this year, good choice to make. As unfortunately Cuba won't have the same uniqueness to it for much longer.

I go the playa pesquero hotel in Holigun which is the bottom and hotter part of the country. Absolutely beautiful place, we went right into Holigun city last time and it has such beautiful old buildings and you can get some lovely handcrafted souvenirs from the small markets.

The only downside is Cuba isn't known for the best food. There is nothing wrong with it but they have trouble getting certain food in so a lot of the food will be a bit bland and not very exciting. The scenery and lovely people make up for that though.

Summer is very hot in Cuba but if you enjoy the heat you'll be fine. It was the hottest June they have had in 60 years when I went this year, all of the lovely locals at the market were even telling us all to keep topping up the sun cream and to drink lots of water because of the heat!

dontcallmethatyoucunt Tue 01-Nov-16 21:05:31

We are heading to Havana for 3 nights with a classic car tour (got to do it) and a good look about.
Heading to Valle de vinales via the Eco town with zip wire trip in the canopy and a trek to a waterfall.

After 2 nights In vinales where we are hiring bikes and heading off to cave swim and see the bats.We will head to the bay of pigs and swim in the giant sink hole en route. Bay of pigs museum, crocs and animal sanctuary which is another 2 night stop.
Then on to Trinidad for the world heritage site and also the beach again for snorkelling.
We then head to valadero for 5 nights which is all about sand castles and water sports.

We are driving ourselves and staying in casas my DD are 8 and 6

dontcallmethatyoucunt Tue 01-Nov-16 21:09:07

All in with flights and car hire is just over 7k, which in the easter hols I thought was pretty good. The valadero stop is all inclusive, but the other places are B&B's.

We would have chosen a different beach resort, but the return to Havana for the flights made anywhere else impractical.

exexpat Tue 01-Nov-16 21:21:42

I did it with DCs a few years ago on a small-group tour just for families with teenagers: two weeks, including Havana, Trinidad, some more out of the way places and a couple of nights in a beach resort. We did things like river swimming in a national forest, a dawn canoe trip to watch birds in the swamps, as well as visiting Che Guevara's tomb and lots of music in Havana etc. DCs were 15 and 10 at the time, and they still say it's the best holiday we ever did.

I never normally do escorted/package tours, but for us it made sense in Cuba - much more relaxing for me (as a lone parent) not having to worry about the logistics of travel, hotels etc, given how often things don't quite go according to plan in Cuba. The only thing I would change is I wouldn't bother with the beach resorts, and the food was much better in the little privately run restaurants than some of the big buffet places we got taken to.

KeepCalm Tue 08-Nov-16 22:48:19

These sound amazing trips and exactly what am hoping to do with my three next summer. Who did you all book with? I'm at the very beginning of my search so a leg up would be amazing!

dontcallmethatyoucunt Wed 09-Nov-16 12:03:37

I booked via cuba direct. They were pretty helpful and had clearly been a few times. I felt they gave me a few other options than those I'd considered. I had looked a The Family Adventure Company, but the trip was shorter than I wanted so I just nicked a few of their ideas (eco village, zip wire) and booked our own trip. I'm quite happy to self drive and find our way, but I know not everyone would want that.

exexpat Wed 09-Nov-16 13:33:41

KeepCalm - we did roughly this one with Exodus - the exact itinerary changes every year, I think, but it's all pretty similar, and at the time they offered groups just for families with at least one teenager, but I'm not sure if that is still available.

KeepCalm Wed 09-Nov-16 21:47:50

Ah super thank you I'll give. It's id those a whirl later!

Allthebestnamesareused Sun 20-Nov-16 17:33:07

Christmas would be better as school summer hols here is still in hurricane season for the Caribbean

chrispenrallt1 Sun 27-Nov-16 08:38:44

I went in January this year booked with Cuba Direct and stayed in Havana finales Trinidad and varadero. Did the vintage car tour and many more things. One word of advice. Do not wear any jewellery around your neck. I did and it was snatched from my neck in Havana, I can assure you that the police station in Havana is not a place you want to spend any time at. I was insured on house insurance but the experience was very harrowing and I can't state enough or loudly enough don't wear any jewellery. I was in a shop when it happened to me !

Agiraffeisnotacat Mon 09-Jan-17 00:24:02

Just an update to this. We have adjust received the draft itinerary from the travel agent at eye watering cost!
Any thoughts?
Fly to Havana
2 nights in Havana including classic car and walking tour
2 nights in Cayo Levisa
2 nights in Las Terrazzas
1 night in Cienfuegos
2 nights in Trinidad
4 nights AI in Cayo Santa Maria
1 night in 'luxury' Havana hotel
Fly home.

All private transfers and tours included (apart from last transfer is a minibus from Cayo Santa Maria to Havana.

Total cost - gulp - £10,305

There were a couple of savings offered but not any we thought would make sense.
Guide reckons £35-40 per person per day on top for food etc where required and souvenirs etc. So another £2,000 spending money roughly.

Direct flights with virgin. Middle of July. Back about the time the schools break up so not peak flight time.

The itinerary sounds really great but v expensive (I was expecting more £7-9k really, perhaps naively).

Any thoughts? Flights are reserved for us and have until Tuesday to confirm if we want to book at that price. DH and my gut feel is to just do it, we have most of the money and can find the rest by then. We know DS1 won't be wanting to holiday with us forever and we're really keen to see Cuba before all changes.

Any thoughts?

Agiraffeisnotacat Mon 09-Jan-17 00:30:25

To compare prices we could go 2 weeks AI somewhere in Cuba for about £7k but we wouldn't see much of the island and tours etc would obviously be on top of that.

DispatchReady Mon 09-Jan-17 07:56:46

Not been to Cuba but it's on our list with teens hence why I'm reading. Itinerary sounds exactly what your family would like and you'll get to see loads. Easy for me to spend your money for you though, but if you can do it then I'd go for it! smile

Nonreplicable Mon 09-Jan-17 09:32:08

We organised it ourselves so worked out cheaper but travel agent obviously makes life easier.

One thing I highly recommend in Havana - watching the Buena Vista Social Club. They play in a restaurant in central Havana. We bought tickets on the day for that evening. There is a set menu, you eat seafood paella and listen to them play all evening, until the early hours. Unforgettable.

That was 2 years ago, hopefully they still do it.

Merrylegs Mon 09-Jan-17 09:48:52

That sounds like a fantastic holiday - I think you are flying at peak times though. Highest fares to the Americas tend to be June July early August and they go down around August 20th so if you changed to the last two weeks of the hols you might find a saving there (although risk of hurricanes!)

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