With a major increase in popularity over the last year, Cuba has definitely been brought to the travel spotlight, especially in the U.S. Now that you’re probably doing your research, there are some common misconceptions about this island that you won’t know unless you go. Keep reading and you'll learn a few facts that are completely unexpected.
1. Just because it’s an island, does not mean it’s tiny! In fact, the length of Cuba is nearly 800 miles from tip to tip. Definitely don’t go on a 5-day trip with the intention of covering a lot of ground, or else you’ll be sorely disappointed. You’ll at least want to spend 2-3 days in each place in order to really see anything, and past the main tourists spots, the roads are not kept up so small distance may take longer than expected.
2. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Walking through the neighborhood of Vedado to central Havana, the city seemed run down, yet, undoubtedly charming. As you explore more and more, you’ll begin to see that these seemingly decaying buildings house some of the most stunning restaurants and apartments, and the old architecture adds to the atmosphere of each place.
3. Cubans do not like Americans. In fact, I found that to be quite the contrary. Everyone was pleasant and welcoming, and the locals LOVED Americans. There was no instance where I told someone I was from the states and they didn’t respond with a huge smile and conversation.
4. Cuba is dangerous. Since Cuba is really looking to maintain it’s growth in tourism, the country is also trying to preserve it’s low crime rate. Not to say you shouldn’t be cautious, as you should wherever you travel, but I did not at any time feel in danger or unsafe no matter where I was on the island.
5. The food is bland. Maybe this was the case several years ago; however, there’s definitely some culinary magic happening in Cuba. The food here is absolutely AMAZING. I’d recommend La Guarida and the rooftop bar for a great meal and place to hang out. You'll also quickly notice there's no shortage of trendy rooftop bars in Havana. On a side note, if you’re not into Latin American cuisine, this definitely won’t be the place for you.
6. The opening of borders is going to change Cuba, so get there now! While this can potentially happen, don’t forget that Cuban borders have been open to the entire rest of the world for years, so unless some crazy tycoon manages to buy all the land, I don’t see this ‘change’ happening in the foreseeable future.
7. Cuba is stuck in the 1950’s. A lot of people are so intrigued by the idea of Cuba, thinking they're going to teleport back in time. Honestly, I did not find it to be that far behind any other Central American country, and I think their way of life is extremely refreshing. Yes, Wi-Fi practically does not exist, but this adds to the beauty of a vacation to Cuba. Human beings are solely enjoying the moment and engaging with the physical people in front of them. It's inspiring and I have to say, it was what I enjoyed most about my time there. No Internet, Snapchat or Instagram. Just engagement and groups of people simply creating moments, not bothered by what's happening on an irrelevant tiny phone screen. It’s definitely a great way to disconnect!
What are your views on Cuba? Have you visited and found any other misconceptions that we didn't cover? Let us know in the comments below!