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Soulful Cuba

Explore Havana Old Town in a 1950s classic car, learn how to salsa with locals and kayak to virgin Caribbean beaches only accessible by sea

Soulful Cuba

8 Days | From $2295

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Accommodation
  • Important Notes

ABOUT YOUR TRIP

In Cuba you’re pretty cut off from the outside world, so this won’t be your average Flash Pack adventure. But isn’t that the most exciting part?

From 1950s Cadillacs and rickety old tractors to crumbling colonial mansions and retro political billboards, Cuba feels suspended in time. You’ll need to be open-minded – even the best-made plans can go awry here – but for the chance to witness the magic of a country reinventing itself before your eyes? Cuba’s unpredictability becomes part of its charm.

Over eight days with Flash Pack you’ll cruise the Malecón of Havana in a classic convertible. You’ll take salsa and reggaeton lessons before hitting the lively night scene with your dance teachers, now Cuban friends. You’ll visit vibrant Trinidad and explore the spectacular coast by kayak, stopping off to swim in secret Caribbean bays. And you’ll meet extraordinary characters at every turn: like the Cuban Masters cycling athletes, who’ll take you on a backstreet tour of the capital, and an inspirational cultural leader keeping the country’s Afro-Cuban roots alive.

A world of its own that seems to follow no rules; if you’re willing to embrace the unexpected, this adventure is yours. Because there’s nowhere quite like Cuba.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in twin rooms
  • Max 14 travelers per group
  • Exclusively for people in their 30s & 40s
  • Arrival transfer included
  • 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 5 dinners
  • All activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • Experienced Pack Leader with your throughout the trip
  • Private minibus

Flashpackers are required to produce proof of COVID-19 vaccination 30 days before departure OR proof of a negative test within 72 hours of their adventure starting. Flashpackers must also provide evidence that they have purchased travel insurance for the duration of their adventure. Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.

Itinerary

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YOUR ITINERARY

  • Day 01 Hello, Havana

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    Welcome to Cuba. Your adventure begins in the nation’s charismatic capital, where a private transfer will be waiting to escort you to central Havana. You’ll be staying in a casa particular – Cuba’s answer to a boutique hotel – full of local flavor. Once notorious for its Mafia connections, this part of town is now heralded as a lively hub for bars, cafes and nightlife. You’ll meet your group for a welcome cocktail (mojitos, naturally) at the hotel before heading to the atmospheric Old Town for a delicious family-style feast. Buen provecho!

  • Day 02 cycling & salsa

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    Start your day with a two-wheeled tour of Havana, led by a group of cycling athletes called the Cuban Masters. These colorful characters know the city inside out, and will lead you expertly through the wooded valley of Almendares, through the Plaza de la Revolución and into the Centro Habana district, with its grand plazas, ornate palaces and 19th-century churches. Here, you’ll dismount at the edge of the Old Town, ready to venture into its labyrinthine streets on foot. Pause for lunch in a charming cafe, before spending an entertaining afternoon mastering the steps of salsa – an essential part of Cuban culture. Your energetic Cuban dance partners will accompany you to a paladar (local restaurant) for dinner, before escorting you to one of Havana’s lively salsa clubs where you can show off your new skills alongside the locals.

  • Day 03 Road trip to Trinidad

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    It’s time to hit the road, and today you’ll be travelling by private minibus to the enchanting colonial town of Trinidad. The cross-country journey takes about four hours and you’ll be stopping off en route to explore Zapata Peninsula National Park – a low-lying area of swamps and mangroves known for birdlife and crocodiles. Here, you’ll visit Punta Perdiz, on the infamous Bay of Pigs, where you’ll have a chance to swim and snorkel in the fish-tank clear water and dine overlooking the rocky coast. Continuing to Trinidad, you’ll check in at your casa particular in the heart of the city, before walking to a local restaurant for a cocktail-making class and dinner with your group.

  • Day 04 Local crafts & Cuban rhythms

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    Spend your morning exploring Trinidad on foot. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status to protect its cobbled streets, pastel-colored houses with red tiled roofs and ornate 19th-century churches, it’s a perfectly preserved Spanish settlement seemingly frozen in time. You’ll visit the nearby Valle de los Ingenios where wealthy sugar barons made their fortune, their opulent mansions now crumbling into ruin. You’ll visit a local initiative teaching youngsters traditional skills such as lace-making, dance and art. And you’ll try your hand at pottery under the guidance of a local family. This afternoon, it’s time to hit the beach where you’ll enjoy a BBQ and drinks. Later, you’ll feel the beat of local rhythms with a Cuban drumming class.

  • Day 05 Kayaking & reggaeton

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    After breakfast, prepare for a kayaking adventure. Starting at a shallow creek, you’ll paddle downstream until you emerge from the estuary into the turquoise open ocean. Together with your guide, you’ll skirt the stunning coastline, stopping off to explore rocky coves and swim at virgin beaches only accessible by boat. Back on dry land, there’ll be time to rest before this evening’s activities. You’ll meet with some locals for a fun introduction to reggaeton – a free-spirited style of dance that’s become a Latin American phenomenon. Having learnt the art of shoulder pops, body waves and lower body isolations, you’ll head to one of Trinidad’s night-time hotspots to let yourself loose on the dance floor.

  • Day 06 Modern music & cultured clubbing

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    Today, you’ll leave Trinidad behind as you travel back to Havana. You might want to use the journey to catch up on some sleep or reflect on your trip so far. On arrival, there’s more creative buzz in store, as you head to a recording studio in the city and meet some of Cuba’s contemporary musicians. Learn all about Havana’s modern-day music scene, before heading to one of Havana’s best venues: the Fabrica de Arte Cubano (FAC). A unique nightclub art gallery warehouse, you can expect anything from fashion shows and improvised theater to jazz ensembles and live DJ sets. No two evenings are ever the same but you’re guaranteed a good night out.

  • Day 07 Classic cars & star-lit cocktails

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    Your last full day in Havana will begin with a visit to Beyond Roots – an organisation that offers a fascinating insight into the Afro-Cuban cultural heritage. Here, you’ll find out about the local Santeria religion, which is practised by many Cubans. The afternoon is yours to explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town, with its beautiful ruins and historical atmosphere. Then, it’s time for one last Flash Pack experience. Early evening, you’ll gather with your group of new friends to embark on a tour of greater Havana. But naturally, you’ll be doing it in style, in a fleet of 1950s convertible cars, for which the city is famous. Cruising along the sweeping waterfront as the sun sets over the ocean is an unforgettable experience. End the night with dinner and cocktails at an upscale paladar, toasting your new amigos beneath the starry Caribbean sky.

  • Day 08 Hasta luego, Cuba

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    Today, you’ll be saying goodbye and making your way to the airport – your Pack Leader can assist you in arranging a transfer. While your adventure in Cuba comes to an end, another adventure begins – perhaps in Costa Rica? Take a look at our itineraries and see how you can extend your escape.

OUR FAVORITE HOTELS

Throughout this trip you will be staying in casas particulares (privately owned properties). Although not up to the luxury hotel standard, what they lack in facilities they make up for in charm and local character. Here's an example of a casa we use in Havana. The places you'll stay for your departure will be shared with you one month before you go.

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Boutique 25 Y G, Havana

Set in a beautiful colonial-style mansion in the heart of leafy Vedado, this intimate 8-room casa features a tasteful mix of modern and vintage furniture, and vibrant Cuban artwork. Head up to the top-floor solarium for sundowners – and amazing views over the city and sea.

Important Notes

Will I need a visa?

If you’re entering Cuba as a tourist, you’ll need to get a Pink or Green tourist card before you travel.

Pink is for anyone arriving in Cuba directly from the US only – including transit through the USA.

Green is for travel to Cuba from any other country, regardless of nationality. 

Both tourist cards are valid for 90 days from the day of entry into Cuba and can be extended by a further 90 days if required.

NOTE: it is essential for all travelers to buy a visa for entry into Cuba.  For most nations, this is as simple as buying a green “Tourist Card” and hopping on the plane. However, if you are travelling from the USA or via the USA, regardless of your passport, you will be obliged to travel with a Pink visa. The pink visa simply tells Cuban authorities you came into Cuba from the USA. 

PINK TOURIST CARD 

Travel from the USA to Cuba is complicated by the US Embargo on Cuba. According to the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)  regulations, no travel to Cuba for tourism is permitted.  However,  you can travel to Cuba under one of the categories for travel permitted by OFAC under a general license (for example, travel, which offers Support for the Cuban People).   

  • If you fly direct from the USA or travel through the USA – you’ll need to purchase a Pink Tourist Card.
  • This is a Cuban government requirement and has nothing to do with US Sanctions on Cuba. The Pink Card simply states that the passenger entered Cuba from USA. (Nationality is not important.) 

If you’re travelling to Cuba direct from the USA, you’ll need to satisfy US authorities that your trip complies with OFAC regulations.

(Most people travel under the Support for the Cuban People category.)

This is the General licence (you don’t have to apply for this just tick the box for this – it’s not a physical document).

  • If you’re travelling to Cuba directly from the USA – regardless of nationality, you’ll need to ensure that you comply with OFAC Regulations on travel to Cuba (we are aiming to update our itinerary to offer simple process for passengers travelling from or through the USA).
  • You’ll need to prove that you’re complying with these regulations by travelling under a General License to travel to Cuba.
  • Usually, this includes carrying a copy of your itinerary to prove that your trip is compliant.
  • That doesn’t mean you have to carry a printed licence with you. It simply means that your trip complies with one of the 12 categories of permitted travel to Cuba outlined by the US Government.

Whatever you do, don’t say you’re going to Cuba for tourism! 

The US Embargo on Cuba forbids travel for tourism to the island. And it places some limitations on where you can stay and what you can do whilst in Cuba.

Important information about travel to Cuba for US Citizens, US residents and people travelling from or through the USA

You’ll need to bring the following items with you;

  1. Return Travel Documents
  2. Valid Cuban Tourist Card/Visa
  3. Certification of Travel Form (click to access + download) LINK TO BE ADDED
  4. Valid Passport — valid for at least 6 months after scheduled departure
  5. Evidence of Sufficient Funds for Minimum Financial Needs
  6. Proof of Travel Medical Insurance

For up to date information for US citizens travelling to Cuba, please see U.S. Department of State International Travel Information.

Flash Pack provides legal tours to Cuba for Americans under the ‘Support for the Cuban People” category (§ 515.574); to be declared when selecting from the 11 permitted categories of travel.

United States law specifies that to comply with this category, travellers must engage in the full-time schedule of activities provided by our program. The responsibility of tracking and recording activities and interactions with Cuban people is on the onus of the traveller which will be encouraged and facilitated by your tour leader.

The US government is allowed to ask you for receipts and records from your trip to Cuba for up to five years.

US citizens are advised to keep all travel documentation for a period of 5 years.

Finally, the Cuban government has declared that travel insurance is compulsory for all travelers. Proof of insurance may be requested at Havana Airport by immigration officials.

GREEN TOURIST CARD

  • If you’re flying to Cuba from anywhere else in the world but the USA, you need to buy a Green Tourist Card.
  • You can apply online here:  https://www.cubavisa.uk/  
  • E.g. currently if Flashpackers are flying from Cancun (Mexico) or from Toronto (Canada) they need to buy a Green Tourist card, regardless of nationality.

Where can I buy my visa? 

It may be included in the plane ticket by your airline. Very few airlines (mainly the ones flying from Canada) do this, but some distribute the cards on board, with the price being included in the plane ticket.

You may buy it at the boarding gate while checking in. This option is available in many airports, but you should still make sure that your airline does sell the cards at the gate in advance, as some do not have this service. 

It’s your responsibility to check with your airline whether they sell the visa either at check-in or on the plane.

You may buy your card online. You can apply online here: https://www.cubavisa.uk.  

You can buy it from the Cuban embassy in your country. This is a good option, because the cards are available at all embassies, and you won’t have to depend on your airline, and the embassies don’t charge an extra price for the card. You may buy it at the airport on arrival. 

WARNING – if you don’t have a visa before you check in, you won’t be allowed to board the plane. 

Health insurance

Cuban authorities require all visitors to have valid Health Insurance Cover before entering the country.

This is difficult to buy when you’re travelling from the USA. We recommend Asistur S.A. the local Health Insurance provider. The approximate cost per person is USD5 per day. Insurance companies do not have contracts with Cuba so if you have a medical emergency while in Cuba, your insurance company will ask you to pay in advance for treatment and you’ll get a refund once you return.

However, if you buy local Asistur insurance, medical expenses will be paid for upfront. Please double check the terms and conditions with your insurance provider. You’ll need to have some cash just in case. 

Is there specific legal advice for US citizens travelling to Cuba?

Legal advice regarding Cuba

**Itinerary and customer documentation**

  • The itinerary complies with the OFAC regulations relating to both activities that you have scheduled and the lack of “free time.”
  • US citizens need to bring the following items with them:
    • Return Travel Documents
    • Valid Cuban Tourist Card/Visa
    • Certification of Travel Form
    • Valid Passport—valid for at least six months after scheduled departure
    • Evidence of Sufficient Funds for Minimum Financial Needs
    • Proof of Travel Medical Insurance
  • Please keep all travel documentation for a period of five years;

US citizens please refer to https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Cuba.html for up-to-date information for US citizens traveling to Cuba:

“Flash Pack provides legal tours to Cuba for Americans under the ‘Support for the Cuban People” category (§ 515.574); to be declared when selecting from the 11 permitted categories of travel. United States law specifies that to comply with this category, travelers must engage in the full-time schedule of activities provided by our program. The responsibility of tracking and recording activities and interactions with Cuba people is on the onus of the traveler which will be encouraged and facilitated by your tour leader. The US government is allowed to ask you for receipts and records from your trip to Cuba for up to five years.”

Travel insurance

“The Cuban government has declared that travel insurance is compulsory for all travelers. Proof of insurance may be requested at Havana Airport by immigration officials.”

Are there any other terms and conditions for this trip?

Travel to certain destinations may involve greater risk than others. Flash Pack urges Travelers to remain informed on a daily basis as to current news, as well as to review travel prohibitions, warnings, announcements and advisories issued by the United States Government prior to booking travel to international destinations. Information on conditions in various countries and the level of risk associated with travel to particular international destinations can be found at http://www.state.gov, and http://www.cdc.gov. In addition, you should consult with government websites to ensure that you are in compliance with all requirements for admittance into that country, including COVID- 19 requirements, as well as understanding local laws that govern travel within a country, such as medical tests and tracking. It is your responsibility to be aware of any and all requirements for admittance to a country or state, including Covid-19 requirements. Should you choose to travel to a country that has been issued a travel warning or advisory, Flashpack will not be liable for damages or losses that result from travel to such destinations.

It is the responsibility of each traveler to obtain and carry a valid passport, visa(s), inoculations, and all other documents required by applicable government regulations. For up to date requirements US citizens should visit www.travel.state.gov. When travelling domestically within the USA or internationally, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advise that everyone carry at least two forms of acceptable identification in order to board a flight, found here: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/acceptable-ids. Flashpack strongly recommends that you take into account that certain countries will not admit a passenger if their passport expires within six (6) months of the date of entry. Non-USA citizens may require additional documentation. Children and infants also require all such travel documents. Minors traveling with one parent, and/or without both parents, may be stopped and not admitted, unless authenticated and verified consent forms are provided to the authorities.

Recommended inoculations for travel may change and you should consult your practitioner for current recommendations before you depart. It is your responsibility to ensure that you meet all health entry requirements, obtain the recommended inoculations, take all recommended medication, and follow all medical advice in relation to your trip. Inoculation requirements can be found on the Center for Disease Control website at https://www.cdc.gov/.

You acknowledge any failure to strictly comply with these requirements may result in denied boarding or an undue delay at an airport security checkpoint causing traveler to miss flight(s), and subsequent scheduled travel bookings tours.  Flash Pack bears no responsibility for advising and/or obtaining required travel documentation for you, or for any delays, damages, and/or losses including missed portions of your vacation (or the entire vacation) related to improper documentation or government decisions about entry.

Which airport do I need to fly into? Plus airport code

Fly into and out of Havana José Martí International Airport (HAV). It’s also possible to fly into Varadero Airport (VAR) but the transfer time from Varadero is 2 hours. An additional transfer cost to/from Varadero is available on request.

What time should my flight arrive? (to arrive in time for the welcome meeting)

Before 4pm ideally. The welcome meeting and dinner will be from 7pm onwards starting at the hotel, which is located approximately 30 minutes away from the airport.

Are airport transfers included?

Your arrival transfer is included and is private to Flash Pack. Transfers will be in a group depending on flight times.

We don’t include departure transfers, but your Pack Leader can help book your transfers the night before if needed. The airport is approximately 30 minutes away from the airport and a taxi costs around 40 EUR for two people. If you and some fellow Flashpackers are getting the same flight, we recommend splitting the taxi journey.

What time should my flight depart on the last day?

There are no activities planned for the last day, so leave any time you wish. 

What standard of accommodation should I expect?

The accommodation choices in Cuba are plusher than your average Cuban dwelling, but not quite up to Flash Pack’s usual high standards. However, we are staying in some of the best places in each location. Casas particulares (privately owned properties) are some of the most charming places to stay in Cuba but room sizes vary.

Regardless of where you stay in Cuba, power cuts and breaks in hot water are sometimes unavoidable, but we’ll always make sure hotels or casas are clean and comfortable, with rooms that are truly unique. Sometimes hotels/casas cancel on us at the last minute, so with this in mind, we always have a backup hotel/casa of a similar standard.

What is traveling in Cuba like?

Cuba is a country that is changing rapidly and travelers need to be prepared that things might not always go according to plan: basic itinerary changes will likely happen, along with the odd power cut. There is often baffling red tape and the simple luxuries that we take for granted – such as air conditioning and toilet seats – are often missing in this beautiful country. However, those who love the odd surprise and the charm of visiting places a little different to home will absolutely fall in love with Cuba.

Is there WiFi in Cuba?

Mobile roaming isn’t easily accessible in Cuba and it’s super expensive so best to turn it off when you land in Havana and get used to connecting via WiFi only, which is accessible in your accommodation. Don’t expect to connect while moving around from A to B. If you need to be constantly connected to the internet, this trip may not be for you. However, it’s the perfect excuse for those who want to unplug and appreciate local culture.

What do I need to bring?

A full packing list will be sent to you upon booking, but here are a couple of things to know in advance:

  • You need to bring everything – from medicine to toiletries – with you to Cuba as it will be hard, if not impossible, to get things like paracetamol or deodorant once there.
  • Tap water in Cuba is not drinkable we recommend bringing a water-filter bottle so you can always have a fresh supply of drinkable water, rather than having to source single-use plastics and/or rely on bottled mineral water always being available.
  • If you’re vegan, you might want to consider bringing some nuts and nut butter to supplement your diet, as traditional Cuban meals often revolve around meat. Having said that, you’ll find plenty of veggie side dishes, such as beans, chickpeas, sweet potato and salad.
  • Keen snorkelers might want to bring their own mask and snorkel, however local equipment will be available to rent.
Will this itinerary change?

Shortages and unforeseen circumstances are part and parcel of Cuban life. But one of the benefits of traveling with an organised tour company is that we can help you navigate bureaucracy and bumps along the road. All we ask, is that you arrive with a sense of adventure and an understanding that unlocking the richness of Cuban culture doesn’t always align with clear-cut comfort.

What currency should I bring?

Euros, in small denominations, is the currency to bring. Everything will be priced in Cuban peso once there, but locals will happily let you pay in euros and give you change in local currency. Dollars are no longer king, due to their chequered past in Cuba. If you’re keen to get hold of Cuban pesos once there, use a local CADECA or ‘casa de cambio’ money exchange (there are a few ATMs in Havana and Trinidad but these shouldn’t be relied on for cash). Avoid the airport ones and wait until you get to Havana for these.

What sort of insurance do I need?

Everyone who travels with Flash Pack must have travel insurance for their total travel time. This needs to start from the moment you set off on your adventure, to when you arrive back home. It’s a legal requirement to have medical insurance for entry into Cuba. For most Europeans, this will be included as part of your travel insurance. US citizens can buy health insurance on arrival at Jose Marti International Airport. Your Pack Leader will be on hand to help.

What level of fitness do I need for this trip?

So long as you are reasonably fit and healthy, you’ll be fine on this trip. The most challenging activity is the Day 2 cycling tour of Havana. However, we know you’ll be jetlagged and recovering from the flight so we take it easy and don’t cycle too far.

What are the drive times like?

The longest drive on this trip is from Havana to Trinidad, which takes about 4 hours and includes a stop at a Zapata Peninsula National Park for swimming and snorkeling.

OUR PROMISE

Joining the Flash Pack comes with a few special guarantees

THE PEOPLE

Our mission to create 1 million friendships so we obsess over the group dynamic. Everyone is aged 30-49, 98% travel solo & 80% stay friends. Want to know more about your group? GET IN TOUCH

THE SECURITY

We operate using a 3rd party trust bank account meaning we guarantee refunds in 14 days if your trip has to be cancelled BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE

THE TRIPS

Our trips are made up of ‘can’t-do-by-yourself’ experiences – think staying on your own private island in the Arctic and glamping in Land Rovers on the Serengeti SEE TRIPS

THE GUIDES

We only work with trusted local guides who know their destinations better than anyone.

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