By Diana Gerstacker
Most Americans know Cuba only as a forbidden land of rum, cigars and communism -- after all, most forms of travel to Cuba have been banned for more than 50 years. The long-time embargo has conjured images of a dark and mysterious place in the minds of those not allowed to visit.
In 2011, the Obama administration took a big step toward repairing relations with Cuba by allowing "people to people" trips, opening educational travel opportunities. Last month the administration made history once again by announcing further repair --and more travel opportunities -- easing travel rules even further.
Though the increased travel opportunities haven’t taken effect yet, tour operators, airlines and travelers are excited about what’s ahead. In preparation, we’ve compiled some of the best active adventures that can be found on the island of Cuba. From hiking to the highest point in the country to diving deep in caves, there’s plenty to do in Cuba, should you have the opportunity to visit.
Best Active Adventures In Cuba
Cuba offers many opportunities for underwater adventure in the crystal clear waters surrounding the island. Top diving spots include Jardines de la Reina (the Queen's Gardens), a remote well-preserved marine park known for shark sightings and Ojo del Mégano, a wide crevasse that acts as a refuge for marine life.
The birthplace of many dance forms celebrated throughout Latin America, Cuba is the place to be when you feel like dancing. Whether you make your way down to Callejon de Hamel on a Sunday afternoon for some live Afro-Cuban rumba or you wander into a Salsa club late at night, there’s plenty of music waiting for you in Cuba.
Though Cuba may not be a country known for epic peaks and steep climbs there are many worthwhile treks with plenty to see. Those looking for a longer trek should head to Pico Turquino (pictured left), the highest point in the country, which offers stunning views. There are also many nature reserves with trails that allow travelers to get an up-close look at wildlife like the endangered Cuban crane.
Cycling is a great way to see Cuba and tour operators have realized that, many offer two-wheeled trips around the country. Whether you’re hoping to see the whole country by bike or just take a ride for a few hours, cycling is a great option in Cuba. You can cycle just about anywhere, but the Vinales Valley in Pinar del Río is a scenic spot that is especially popular. For some urban riding, Havana is a top option.
Zip lining is a thrilling way to catch a glimpse of Cuba from above and Las Terrazas Biosphere Reserve is one of the best spots in the country. For around $30 you can get hooked up to the line and then afterward spend some time in the nearby eco-village.
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