As time goes by and hard relations thaw, so too does the opportunity for eager travelers to expand their horizons become an easier and more fluid process.
I am speaking of course of the loosening restrictions the U.S. government has held onto in regards to citizens traveling to the communist country of Cuba.
Traveling to Cuba has never been easier for regular people like you and me thanks to the efforts of President Obama as recently as September of 2015.
Of course, one has to also assume that economic factors played into these decisions and lifting of the travel ban. Still, not everyone can simply board a plane and walk into Cuba. There are certain loose restrictions still in place which I will discuss.
Businesses can now establish offices and outposts in Cuba and for casual travelers, there is a 12 category stipulation that you visit has to fall under in order to be granted a license for travel to Cuba. This may not sound too free but trust me, you would have to try really hard not to qualify for a travel license in order to be rejected.
The stipulations allow for travel to Cuba if you are visiting a friend or close relative, academic purposes, journalistic purposes, religious purposes or even to attend a sporting event.
The two countries have already come to agreement that would allow U.S. commercial flights to land in Cuba. So now that there is much broader access to this once off-limits country, what is one to do when there?
What to do When You Are Traveling to Cuba
Visiting the Country
One of the requirements to travel to Cuba for Americans is that visitors have a full schedule or itinerary planned once they are there and to keep receipts of their activities in the communist country for 5 years after the visit. This is probably just to keep tabs on visits and make sure there is no shady business going on. This however is not a hard task since Cuba has so much to do.
Take in Some Culture
Authentic Cuban travel offers so much without the boredom of a history lesson. I suggest for example getting lost around Plaza Vieja. You will be enthralled by the art galleries and be able to slake your thirst at the beer museum as well. It is a lively place to spend an afternoon like a true Cubano.
Visit the Malecón
Did you think I wasn’t going to talk about night life in this corner of the internet? Traveling to Cuba practically requires a relaxed night of sipping Mojitos and dancing into the dawn.
The Malecón has something going on all night including live musicians, street vendors and of course plenty of rum flowing against the contrasting background of the Atlantic Ocean.
Music and History
I am a jazz lover but Cuba has so many great music clubs spanning genres from jazz to bossa nova to danzón. The University of Havana is a great place to reflect on Cuban history and what Cuba is today. It is where the Castro brothers studied and it remains the center of political action to this day.
Last but not least, if you squander the opportunity to lounge on one of the gorgeous beaches that Cuba has to offer, you may regret for the rest of your life.
Some playas (beaches) of note are Sirena Beach, Playa Paraiso, and Veradero Beach but for a more comprehensive list of beaches in Cuba, take a look at my Best Cuban Beaches article.