Colorful cars in Havana

Colors of Cuba May-Oct 2016

Stay in 5-star hotels as you tour Havana, Cojimar, Las Terrazas, the colonial treasure of Trinidad, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara & Sancti Spiritus

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Click here for our Colors of Cuba Nov 2016-Mar 2017.

Overview

Style Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of 15-24 likeminded travelers escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. More of these packages
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
Departures Scheduled Dates
Price Includes
  • Flights
  • Coach
  • Transfers
  • Hotel
  • Meals
  • Guides
  • Non-stop round trip flights from Miami to Havana via U.S. Government-licensed charter service; May - Oct, 2015 departures will return to Miami via Cienfuegos
  • Priority check-in and one checked bag per person (please review luggage restrictions)
  • U.S. Treasury Department, OFAC License Certification and Authorization Letter
  • Cuba Entrance Visa & Departure Tax
  • All land transportation, transfers & porterage in Cuba
  • 1st night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel with Pre-tour introductory briefing
  • 7 nights 5-star hotel accommodations in Cuba
  • 18 meals: 8 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 3 dinners (Oct, 2015 & May-Oct, 2016- 17 meals: 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 3 dinners)
  • Comprehensive educational exchange program, including entrance fees
  • Friendly Planet escort
  • Professional, English-speaking local guide, who will facilitate the educational exchanges with Cubans
  • Health insurance in Cuba (mandatory)
Highlights Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Clara, Cojimar, an authentic Rumba block party, Ernest Hemingway's Finca Vigia, and a dinner in a "paladar".
What to Expect This fast-paced, escorted educational program includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.
Already Booked? Find everything you need to know before you go, including how to pay your balance due, passport & visa requirements, flight information, weather, and more.

Colors of Cuba tour itinerary In recent months, we’ve seen the restoration of ties continue between the US and Cuba, and more and more travelers are clamoring to visit the elusive island now, while it remains a genuine time capsule.

On Colors of Cuba, you have the opportunity to explore more of the island than with some of our other Cuba tours while staying in elegant 5 star hotels with authentic Cuban details and architecture. Your program takes you to Havana, Cuba’s colorful capital, the picturesque Spanish Colonial towns of Sancti Spiritus, Santa Clara and Trinidad, and beyond. Cuba's culture is rich with contributions from its indigenous, African and European roots. But above all, the people of Cuba are the island's greatest asset. They are friendly, welcoming, resourceful and full of life. This program will introduce you to the people and provide ample opportunities to interact with them in meaningful and rewarding ways.

Friendly Planet is proud to be one of the first U.S. tour companies to have been awarded a People to People license. We received our first license in September, 2011, and since then, we’ve sent thousands of American travelers to Cuba to participate in unique, inspiring, and affordable encounters with the Cuban people.

Dates, Prices & Options

Departure Dates & Prices

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Click here for our Colors of Cuba Nov 2016-Mar 2017.

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Itinerary

First day of listed departure date is an overnight stay and introductory briefing in Miami. Tour sequence is subject to change depending on hotel availability. Click here for our Colors of Cuba Nov 2016-Mar 2017.

Day 1: Miami Overnight/Pre-tour introductory briefing

Accommodations: 1 night Crowne Plaza Miami Airport Hotel.

  • Arrive in Miami
  • Attend an introductory briefing at your hotel at 7:30 p.m.

Full Day Itinerary: Your journey to Cuba begins today with an overnight stay in Miami. If you are arriving at Miami International Airport, complimentary hotel shuttle service to the Crowne Plaza is available every 20 minutes from any 2nd level departure terminal; simply hail the driver as they pass.

This evening at 7:30 p.m., participate in an introductory briefing to get acquainted with your fellow travelers, review your documents, and complete the final paperwork for travel to Cuba. You will be informed of the departure time of the group shuttle leaving the hotel tomorrow morning.

Day 2: Miami/Havana

Accommodations: Parque Central, Havana. Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.

  • Depart the USA on your charter flight for Havana
  • Leisurely orientation walk through Old Havana
  • Welcome dinner at your hotel

Capital Building, HavanaFull Day Itinerary: Today, transfer to the Miami International Airport to board your non-stop flight bound for Havana, Cuba's capital city and designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bienvenidos a Havana! You are welcomed by your private Cuban National Guide holding a Friendly Planet sign outside the arrivals terminal at the Havana Airport. Board your air-conditioned coach, and jump right in.

Plaza de la Catedral, Havana Vieja Photo by KrasivajaEnjoy a leisurely orientation walk with your guide through the vibrant cobblestone streets as you immerse yourself in the colors of Cuba which surround you.

Now that you've had a taste of what lies ahead during your visit to Cuba, it's time to check into your hotel. This evening, enjoy a welcome dinner at your hotel.

Day 3: Old Havana

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Visit a primary school or an another interesting community project
  • Continue to a private studio of one of Cuba's talented independent artists
  • Learn about Cuba's two currency system at a local ration store
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant
  • Watch a performance by Vocal Leo
  • Engage in a discussion with a Cuban expert about the history of U.S.–Cuba relations

Students of Angela Landa Elementary SchoolFull Day Itinerary: Begin our day with a visit to a primary school (ages 5–12) located in Old Havana. Interact with the children in their classrooms and participate in a discussion session with some of the school's administrators and teachers about Cuba's education system and how it compares to that of the United States. Should a school not be available or not in session, you'll instead enjoy an equally interesting visit to another community project in Havana.

Then continue on to the private studio of one of Cuba's talented independent artists. During your visit you'll learn different techniques of printmaking, sculpture and other art forms from innovative Cuban artists and their teams.

Scale in a ration store © Jeremy Woodhouse, pixelchrome.comContinue to a local ration store. Your Cuban host will explain the system of rationing and the two-currency system as well as the difference between Ration Stores, Cuban Peso Stores, and CUC stores.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon, visit the Vocal Leo, a group of 14 talented singers who perform under the direction of Corina Campos, general and musical director of this unique, award-winning group known internationally for its distinctive interpretation of choral music. The group is named for the Cuban guitar virtuoso, composer and orchestra conductor, Leo Brower. After watching a performance or rehearsal, discuss the professional music scene in Cuba and the USA.

Return to the hotel and gather in a pre-reserved, private meeting room where you will engage in a discussion with an English-speaking Cuban expert on the history of U.S.–Cuba relations in the 20th & 21st centuries with the opportunity to ask questions in an uncensored format.

Enjoy dinner on your own this evening. We recommend dining at a paladar. Feel free to choose one from the list we provide or ask your guides for alternative recommendations.

Day 4: Havana & Las Terrazas

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Stop by the Clinica Las Terrazas
  • Continue to the kindergarten of the community
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee at Café Maria
  • Tour the old coffee plantation
  • Visit the studio of Lester Campa, when in residence
  • Enjoy an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors
  • Visit the community project Clave Sol

Las TerrazasFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast, depart for Las Terrazas in Artemisa Province, a must-see in Cuba and known worldwide for its magnificent, scenic beauty. Las Terrazas was founded shortly after the Cuban Revolution in 1959 as a model community, where local farmers, known as campesinos, moved closer together in order to help each other overcome the hardships of their rural life: sleeping in huts with thatched roofs, without electricity, and with no local schools or medical services. First, stop briefly at the Clinica Las Terrazas† to learn how medical services are handled in rural Cuba. Locals visit this small, multi-purpose center for medical advice, often non-traditional and homeopathic, and referrals to larger medical centers in the city, dental care by the area's sole dentist, and even a haircut by the town hairdresser, with whom the space is also shared.

Continue to the kindergarten of the community. After a tour of the facility conducted by the director and teacher, discuss early childhood education in Cuba and the USA with school staff. Then, enjoy a brief presentation by the children.

Enjoying coffee at Cafe Maria, Las TerrazasAt your next stop, you'll visit the town's coffee shop, Café Maria. Maria's family has been welcoming visitors for years to enjoy the "best coffee in the country." Discuss coffee culture in Cuba and throughout the world and how cafes act as places for social interaction.

Las Terrazas is now part of UNESCO's Biosphere Reserve, much of it reforested coffee plantation. Real reforestation began in the late 1960s by the local farmers who were concerned that their land had been degraded by former French coffee barons. Tour the old coffee plantation.

Visit the art studio of Lester Campa (when in residence).

Now you're in for an authentic, country-style lunch prepared and served outdoors at a local farmhouse near Las Terrazas.

On the way back to Havana after lunch, visit the Clave Sol community project. This neighborhood project was established by parents in the San Augustin neighborhood, in an effort to provide safe, wholesome afterschool activities for their children. Children select among various string instruments and then learn to play them, to perform not only Cuban but international music. During our visit, meet the children, their teachers and hear them rehearsing for upcoming performances.

Return to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 5: Havana

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Take a ride in vintage cars to visit a mechanic's workshop
  • Watch a rehearsal by one of Havana's well-known dance companies
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant
  • Visit Jose Fuster's whimisical "Fusterlandia"
  • Explore the Used Bookseller's Market

Vintage car, Old Havana © Jeremy Woodhouse, pixelchrome.comFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast, embark on a one hour classic car tour through the streets of the city. After your ride, meet in one of Cuba's workshops to learn about how the old cars are cared for and maintained.

Then, you'll travel to one of Cuba's well known dance companies to enjoy watching a rehearsal, followed by a discussion with the directors and dancers about dance opportunities in Cuba compared with those in the USA.

Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Friendly Planet traveler posing for picture, FusterlandiaAfter lunch, you'll visit "Fusterlandia," the home and surrounding neighborhood of "The Picasso of the Caribbean," Jose Fuster. Starting with a small wooden home as his canvas, Mr. Fuster has turned his dream into reality and transformed not just his own home but the entire neighborhood into a unique and colorful artistic landscape. Using the money he makes from selling his artwork, Jose adorns the community with sculptures and mosaics galore.

Used Booksellers Market, Old HavanaExplore the Used Booksellers Market, a cross-cultural treasure trove for readers of every genre. Meet local independent booksellers and engage in friendly conversation with Cuban readers about popular Cuban and American literature.

Afterwards, enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 6: Havana, Alamar & Cojimar

Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Explore Ernest Hemingway's home, Finca Vigia
  • Tour co-op community gardens in Alamar
  • Enjoy lunch in the fishing village of Cojimar
  • Visit the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery
  • Stop by the Artisan's Market, situated along the Malecon
  • Join your fellow travelers for your last dinner in Havana

Hemingway's home, Finca VigiaFull Day Itinerary: This morning, drive to Hemingway's Cuba retreat. There are many historical and cultural ties between Cuba and the United States, and one of the best known is the legacy of Ernest Hemingway, who lived more than 20 years in Cuba, from 1939 to 1960. You'll visit Hemingway's beautiful mansion, now a museum, Finca Vigia, (literally meaning "lookout farm"), where his 9,000 book library is preserved, as well as his animal trophies and famous fishing boat, Pilar.

Then, drive to the district of Alamar on the outskirts of Havana. Started as an expansive social housing project in the 1970's, these Soviet-style pre-fabricated concrete apartment blocks are now home to hundreds of thousands of Cubans. Among the buildings in Alamar are community gardens, called "Organoponicos," where residents grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for their own consumption and local sale. Similar to co-op and community gardens in the United States, these Organoponicos facilitate community development and offer Alamar's residents access to fresh produce. Enjoy a visit to one of these Organoponicos, which few visitors to Cuba have the opportunity to do.

Friendly Planet group in CojimarYou'll continue on to the quaint fishing village of Cojimar, the setting for Hemingway's book, The Old Man and the Sea, and enjoy lunch at a local paladar. La Terraza Restaurant, where the book's character Santiago brings in the remains of his epic fish, still stands today, and the pier where Hemingway's fishing boat docked can be seen from the shore.

This afternoon, visit the famous Christopher Columbus Cemetery, a miniature city of mausoleums, crypts, family chapels, vaults, sculptures and ornate gravestones. Continue to the Artisan Market, where you'll find plenty of souvenirs, including handicrafts, posters and other collectibles.

After some well-deserved downtime at the hotel, join your fellow travelers for your last dinner in Havana, served in a privately owned restaurant. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes as you enjoy live, traditional Cuban music and salsa dancing, reminiscent of Buena Vista Social Club.

Day 7: Havana, Santa Clara, Sancti Spiritus & Trinidad

Accommodations: 2 nights Iberostar Trinidad. Included meals: Breakfast, lunch & dinner.

  • Drive to Santa Clara
  • Stop at the Che Guevara Mausoleum
  • Visit the Santa Clara Performing Arts School or a community project
  • Enjoy lunch at the Los Caneyes Hotel
  • Continue on to Sancti Spiritus
  • Drive to Trinidad
  • Enjoy dinner at your hotel

Full Day Itinerary: Shortly after breakfast this morning, depart from Havana and drive along Cuba's "autopista" highway. Visit the town of Santa Clara and the Che Guevara Mausoleum.

Musician, Santa ClaraEnjoy a special visit to the Santa Clara Music and Performing Arts School, with dance, theater and music performances by the students. Participate in a discussion with faculty and students about the role of music and education in the USA, and the impact of music on Cuban life and its importance in education in Cuba. Please note that this visit is only possible during the school year (September through early June). Should the school not be available or not in session, you'll instead enjoy an equally interesting visit to another community project in Santa Clara.

Lunch will be served buffet style in the Los Caneyes Hotel in Santa Clara.

We continue on to the picturesque town of Sancti Spíritus, one of the original seven cities founded in Cuba by the Spanish five centuries ago, and home to Cuba's oldest church, the Parroquial Mayor.

TrinidadContinue the drive to the charming old Spanish colonial town of Trinidad. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Trinidad is one of the best preserved towns in all of Latin America. Check in to your hotel before dinner this evening.

Day 8: Trinidad

Included meals: Breakfast & lunch.

  • Visit Casa del Afarero, a pottery house
  • Continue to a casa particular or bed and breakfast
  • Learn about the religion of Santeria at Templo de Yemaya
  • Enjoy lunch at Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga
  • Join Cubans at Casa de la Musica or Casa de la Trova for a neighborhood block party

Plaza Mayor, Trinidad  Photo by Nick GrunwaldFull Day Itinerary: After breakfast this morning, visit the Casa del Alfarero, a pottery house that was founded and has been managed by the Santander Family for generations. Today you'll learn the process of ceramic production and have the opportunity to create a piece of your own.

Continue to one of Trinidad's many "casas particulares" or bed and breakfasts, where you'll enjoy a tour and a discussion with the owners. Learn how bed and breakfasts are one of Cuba's new entrepreneurial opportunities in a society where the state typically owns most enterprises. Ask questions and share insights about U.S. businesses, including the ever popular bed and breakfasts that are ubiquitous in the U.S.

Continue to Templo de Yemaya, where a Santeria Practitioner along with some of the religion's devotees explains the basic principles of Santeria. Discuss the role of religion and religious organizations throughout both Cuba and the U.S.

Manaca Iznaga Observation TowerLunch today is at the beautifully restored Hacienda de Manaca Iznaga, located in the heart of the Valley de los Ingenios, a series of valleys once known as a center for sugar production. Built in the late 1700s, the mansion displays an exhibition of paintings depicting the lives of slaves on sugar plantations. Learn about the region's harsh past, where great fortunes were made on the backs of African slaves, and where many descendants of the Afro-Cuban slaves still reside.

After time to rest at the hotel, enjoy dinner on your own. We recommend dining at a privately owned paladar. Feel free to ask your guides for recommendations.

Later this evening, join Cubans at either Casa de la Musica or Casa de la Trova for a community block party, a celebration where locals from all walks of life and generations come to eat, drink, build friendships, and discuss neighborhood matters. Enjoy the celebration, regarded as one of the best experiences of the trip, and engage in discussions with the locals about community life in Cuba and the U.S.

Day 9: Depart Cienfuegos/Arrive Miami

Included meals: Breakfast.

  • Transfer to the Cienfuegos airport and board your charter flight back to Miami

Full Day Itinerary: Today, bid farewell to Cuba as you transfer to Cienfuegos International Airport and check-in for your charter flight back to Miami. Adios Cuba!

† These visits are subject to availability. When not possible to visit, appropriate alternate visits will be included.

This itinerary provides a full time schedule of educational activities that will result in meaningful interactions between you and individuals in Cuba. U.S. law requires that all persons who participate in this program adhere to this full time schedule, and imposes on Friendly Planet the obligation to ensure such adherence.

Infrastructure in Cuba, including even the best hotels, may not always be up to U.S. standards. The hotels really do try to maintain quality accommodations, and in the properties we select for our tours, they generally do a good job. However, Cuba's resources and climate do sometimes impact a hotel's ability to keep up with maintenance and indoor air quality. For example, in Cuba's tropical climate, you might notice musty odors in some buildings, including hotels. We do our best to select the highest quality hotels, restaurants and paladars that Cuba has to offer, but we appreciate your flexibility and understanding when you encounter a minor imperfection. Cuba has a long way to go before its hotels, highways, public restrooms and other features reach U.S. levels, but all in all, you will not suffer any major difficulties in tolerating the small issues that may occur. If you have any medical or dietary concerns, however, please inform us when you make your reservation, so we can take whatever special precautions are required to assure your comfort and wellbeing.

Our Refer A Friend program is not applicable on our Cuba programs.

FRIENDLY PLANET'S LICENSE NUMBER FOR SELLING CUBA: CT-2014-309385-1

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We went on a tour to Cuba and have never been as well cared for on a trip as was done by Trish Oliveira. I hope you know what a treasure you have in her. She ensured our accommodations were perfect, answered myriad questions with patience and grace. The experience in Cuba was without equal. We will continue to book with your agency because of the excellence and professionalism at all parts of the booking and tour process. Please extend our gratitude to Trish and let he know that the Blums love her!

Lawrence Blum, Long Beach, CA

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