Vintage Havana, Hemingway haunts, live salsa music, those azure ocean blues— what could possibly be more romantic than a honeymoon in Cuba? The vibrant island nation is more accessible to American travelers than it has been in decades (it was just announced that commercial flights from the U.S. to Cuba will be restored starting Summer 2016), but there are still rules for travel. Most importantly, Americans must obtain a travel visa to visit Cuba and individuals traveling solely for leisure aren't yet allowed.
The good news: There are more ways to explore Cuba through group trips and even private tours than ever before. Booking through a licensed tour provider also satisfies the necessary travel visa requirements as licensed companies offer itineraries that emphasize education, engagement and cultural activities.
"Cuba is a magical place unlike any other destination," says Francis Harrison, founder of Conscious Cuba. "It's perfect for the couple that's looking for an active honeymoon filled with culturally rich, once-in-a-lifetime experiences." Harrison fell in love with the culture while studying abroad in 2009 and has made it her mission to give travelers what she describes as a "deep dive into the culture and lives of local Cubanos." Presently, tours (3-5 nights) depart from Miami, New York, and Los Angeles.
Two of Cuba's newest itineraries cater to adventure-seekers: This year, Backroads travel company is adding an 8-day, 7-night "Cuba Multisport Tour" that includes biking and hiking in the Viñales Valley and a ride with Cuba's National Cycling club, among other activities. ROW Adventures has introduced an 8-day "Cuba Adventure" tour, which includes numerous kayaking, hiking and snorkeling activities, as well as stops in Havana, Cienfuego, Parque Nacional Zapata and The Bay of Pigs.
And for culinary-minded newlyweds, James Beard award-winning chef Guillermo Pernot (Cuba Libre) leads a 5-night tour with Cultural Contrast several times a year. "It is always an incredible experience to expose travelers to the spirit, culture and history of Cuba," Pernot says. "The perseverance and heart of the Cuban people is so rich, and the culinary traditions are so fascinating — I rediscover the charm of this country each time I visit."