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Cuba: People to People - Be the change you want to see in Cuba!

Due to the unique socio-political history between Cuba and the USA, American citizens are held to a higher standard of tourism on the island. Our government does not allow us to behave purely as tourists, rather we must 'maintain an itinerary of cultural exchange activities consistent with a full-time schedule'. Here's a link to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) FAQ

But, what does that mean?!?

It means you can't wall yourself off in an all-inclusive mega-resort and subsist on mojitos and daquiris while ignoring Cubans and their culture. It also means that we don't contract for services with certain Cuban government entities.

This definitely complicates Cuba travel but, honestly we believe that 'People to People' is the best way to travel and we promise you'll have a genuine experience connecting to the people and places of Cuba.

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Does that mean I won't be able to relax and enjoy my vacation?

No, of course not!

You don't go on vacation to work harder than you work at home. You go for fun, excitement, perspective, relaxation - to see the sights and meet the people at your destination. and, when you go you want to make sure your presence and impact are positive on the people and their natural environment.

Following the rules and keeping your Cuba travel is our full-time job and we're good at it. We promise to provide all of the documentation and guidance to take you to Cuba and keep you from breaking US laws there. We'll keep you busy and moving but we don't overdo it. We will take your breath away without leaving you winded!

That is how we do people to people travel! And, you can too. Have a look at these interactive map sample itineraries. You can either request to join a trip just like it or work with us to custom tailor it to your tastes:

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Havana, Viñales, Trinidad

This itinerary is designed to hit the three biggest destinations in Cuba. You'll cover the entire Western half of the island and you'll need about 9 days to do it.

  • Begin and end in Havana where you'll get to tour the town in classic American cars, learn about colonial and contemporary history and sample Cuban culture in its capital.
  • Head West to Viñales where Cuban cowboys lead you through their tobacco fields on horseback. Cigar culture is on display here and there are plenty of ecotourism activities on offer as well.
  • Between Havana and Viñales are Soroa and Las Terrazas, eco-communities with botanical gardens, rivers and waterfalls where you can hike, swim and zip-line through canopy tour!
  • Hit the beach for history and ecology programming at Playa Larga and Playa Girón. Study history at the Bay of Pigs Museum and free enterprise at an upstart SCUBA outfit that'll take you to pristine coral reefs nearby.
  • Stop over in the French colonial capital Cienfuegos and marvel at the neoclassical style, art nouveau and art deco roots of its buildings, parks and streets.
  • Trinidad is the Spanish colonial capital of Cuba and the Caribbean with its cobblestone streets and brightly colored buildings. Study history in its museums and culture on the streets.
  • Santa Clara is the site of the last battle of the revolution and the tren blindado park dedicated to it. This provincial capital is also the resting place of Che Guevarra and his colossal monument and mausoleum.

9-16 Days, from $200 per day

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Varadero, Havana, Playa Larga/Bay of Pigs

This trip is designed to get you in and out of Varadero when HAV is too crowded or too expensive. You also get to decompress on both sides of your travels at the nicest resort hotels in Cuba. Then strike out in search of genuine cultural exchange in Havana and even sample the beaches of the Southern Coast.

  • Begin and end in Varadero where you can sample the resort vacation that Canadians and Europeans have been on since the 90s. Just a taste though because it's not meant for Americans. then we set out for genuine cultural exchange.
  • Head West to Havana where Cuban culture is concentrated. Spend a few nights here getting to know the city aboard classic American cars, learning its colonial and contemporary history and immersing yourself in the culture - music, dance, mojitos and more!
  • Hit the beach for history and ecology programming at Playa Larga and Playa Girón. Study history at the Bay of Pigs Museum and free enterprise at an upstart SCUBA outfit that'll take you to pristine coral reefs nearby.

5-9 Days, from $200 per day

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Havana, Soroa, Playa Larga/Bay of Pigs

Short on time or want to go deep into Havana? This itinerary is for you! Spend a few nights or more in Havana at the seat of government and culture learning about history, colonial and contemporary. Take a couple of excursions to jungle - Soroa - and beach - Playa Larga/Bay of Pigs - to break up the cityscape.

  • Begin and end in Havana and while you're there learn about Cuba's history, colonial to contemporary, and immerse yourself in culture. Be it live jazz, ballet, salsa, whatever? Havana has it.
  • Take an overnight to a pair of eco-village paradises. Soroa and Las Terrazas take ecotourism very seriously and have terrific programming like hiking, horseback, swimming and zipline canopy tours.
  • Playa Larga and Bay of Pigs offer fascinating mixes of history, nature and emerging free enterprise. Visit the military museum, snorkel or SCUBA off the beaches, stay in family run boutique hotels.

5-9 Days, from $200 per day

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Viñales to Baracoa - Tip to Tip

Got some time and want to see the entire island (well 12 or 13 provinces anyway)? This is your trip. We'll take you all the way out West to and then start a journey to the Eastern tip of the island and many points in between.

  • Begin at Havana and while you're there learn about Cuba's history, colonial to contemporary, and immerse yourself in culture. Be it live jazz, ballet, salsa, whatever? Havana has it.
  • Head West to Viñales where Cuban cowboys lead you through their tobacco fields on horseback. Cigar culture is on display here and there are plenty of ecotourism activities on offer as well.
  • Between Havana and Viñales are Soroa and Las Terrazas, eco-communities with botanical gardens, rivers and waterfalls where you can hike, swim and zip-line through canopy tour!
  • Stop over in the French colonial capital Cienfuegos and marvel at the neoclassical style, art nouveau and art deco roots of its buildings, parks and streets.
  • Trinidad is the Spanish colonial capital of Cuba and the Caribbean with its cobblestone streets and brightly colored buildings. Study history in its museums and culture on the streets.
  • Santa Clara is the site of the last battle of the revolution and the tren blindado park dedicated to it. This provincial capital is also the resting place of Che Guevarra and his colossal monument and mausoleum.
  • Strike out farther than most tourists ever get and pull up at the provincial captials of Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila on your way to Camaguey. The first two might be most interesting in that most tourists are busy hitting other highlights and largely leave them alone.
  • Camaguey is a medieval city built labyrinthine to confuse waves or pirate and corsair invaders that plundered the city throughout history. It's churches, parks and plazas still show its roots.
  • Holguin has a lot going on that no one has recognized yet. A good size provincial capital at a crossroads in the country both physically and metaphorically. It is heavily investing in tourism but isn't well visited yet.
  • Cuba's 2nd city in size but not soul, Santiago is closer in heritage to Afro-Caribbean culture than it is to Havana. It's also the birthplace of both revolutions. It's a hot city full of life at all hours of day and night.
  • Overshadowed by the US installation South out of town Guantanamo deserves a better reputation that it gets. See the beautiful side of the city that shares its name with an international political hot spot.
  • You'll earn everyone's respect if you make it this far and you'll be treated to some of the most interesting culture that Cuba has to offer. Baracoa thinks of itself as an island apart because it is so far out. The life here is genuine and vibrant and it's the cradle of Cuban music.

12-19 Days, from $200 per day

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Santiago, Guantanamo, Holguin, Granma - El Oriente

Cuba's East is a destination in its own right. You can fly into either Holguin or Santiago. Get real off the map in Moa and Baracoa. Bring it back to the realm of places you've heard of in Guantanamo and spend a few days in Cuba's 2nd city Santiago before flying out again.

  • Holguin has a lot going on that no one has recognized yet. A good size provincial capital at a crossroads in the country both physically and metaphorically. It is heavily investing in tourism but isn't well visited yet.
  • Cuba's 2nd city in size but not soul, Santiago is closer in heritage to Afro-Caribbean culture than it is to Havana. It's also the birthplace of both revolutions. It's a hot city full of life at all hours of day and night.
  • Overshadowed by the US installation South out of town Guantanamo deserves a better reputation that it gets. See the beautiful side of the city that shares its name with an international political hot spot.
  • You'll earn everyone's respect if you make it this far and you'll be treated to some of the most interesting culture that Cuba has to offer. Baracoa thinks of itself as an island apart because it is so far out. The life here is genuine and vibrant and it's the cradle of Cuban music.

7-9 Days, from $200 per day

Included in all our itineraries:

    • Customization - Cuba is dynamic and we have to rework these trips every time we run them so we'll ask for your input when we do.

    • Pre-departure guidance to help you pack and prepare yourself

    • Necessary legal documents

    • Travel health insurance documentations

    • In-country flights if applicable

    • Round the clock monitoring and support from the USA

    • English speaking local guide

    • Private transport - airport to airport

    • All meals

    • All accommodations

    • All activities, entrance fees and equipment rental
    • Professional fees and honorariums for local guides and experts
    • A personal water filter for each person

Not Included:

  • International airfare

  • Food and drink between meals

  • Tips for in-country guide and driver*

*Southern Star Travel makes sure our travel professionals are tipped at least the minimum expected amount but we believe that if Americans are bringing tipping culture to the developing world it should be representative of service rendered and not just added as a flat fee. Read more about tipping here.

What does People to People look like? Here's a video

p: 512.522.7016

info@southernstartravel.com

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