The Cuba Travel Guide


In March 2018, I traveled to Cuba. As an American citizen, that statement still gives me shivers. What a privilege! What a time to be alive! Until recently, traveling to Cuba has been restricted to Americans for over half a century. Today, Cuban-American relations are still complex. But they are certainly improving! 
Just rest assured that traveling to Cuba is totally possible with an American passport,
and its really not as complicated as one may think! 

If you plan on traveling to Cuba with a U.S. Passport,
you're gonna need a "special license” with the US Government, and a Visa.


The license is essentially your reason/category for travel. There are 12 categories for authorized travel to Cuba. You can see them here! Simply declare your category when booking flights, lodging, and customs at the airport. As for the visa, most airlines sell them at the gate upon boarding. Just double check with your airline to make sure they provide that service!


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My boyfriend Avi and I traveled independently under the “support for the Cuban people” category. Which meant we needed to stay in Airbnb’s (casa particulars), eat at local restaurants, support local artisans, go to museums, and avoid resorts + hotels. Literally all of the things we would do anyway! 

We spent 8 days exploring
Havana, Varadero and Vinales.
The city, the beach, and the mountains.
My holy trifecta :) 

horseback riding in vinales national park. cuba travel.

ADVENTURES IN VINALES

Traveling to Vinales was by far my favorite part of the trip.
Vinales is a small town right in the middle of the Sierra de los Organos mountains.
Just 2 hours west of Havana.
It's home to Vinales National Park, dozens of tobacco plantations, and the best food we found in Cuba.

One of the most rememberable days of my life happened in Vinales. 
It all started when Avi and I met a Cuban cowboy named Jesus. He took us to meet his horses and we rode them down into the valley of Vinales National Park. Along the way, we stopped at his friends tobacco plantation where they taught us all about tobacco farming, toured us around the drying huts, and rolled + smoked a few cigars. The cigars were out-of-this-world DELICIOUS. 

As the sun started to set, we rode the horses back to Jesus’s house + met his family.
His wife cooked us dinner while Jesus poured the rum and taught us how to play dominos. 
I left Jesus's house with knots in my hair, dirt on my face, a full belly, sore cheeks from smiling so much, and a grateful heart. 

This crazy unforgettable experience was made possible by Airbnb! 
I kid you not... Here is the link

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better... I've got a $40 credit to Airbnb for you :) 
HAPPY TRAVELS MY FRIENDS! 


 
 

ADVENTURES IN HAVANA

Growing up, my dad always took me to classic car shows.
Havana basically felt like a giant classic car show.
The roads are flooded with them!!! Its so surreal.
One of my favorite memories in Havana was hopping in a ‘58 Chevy Impala
and cruising down the Malicone (a seaside avenue) to soak in the sunset. 


 
 

ADVENTURES IN VARADERO

Ahhhh, Varadero. 
The most relaxing way to wrap up your adventures in Cuba. 

Varadero is a 2 hour drive East of Havana. It's home to the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen.
The water was crystal clear, warm and still. There were hardly any waves and as a New Englander who's used to aggressive waves that test your strength and courage, this was quite a treat. Not to mention the $3 pina coladas. Keep 'em comin, buddy! 


 
 

Traveling to Cuba felt like I had traveled back in time. It's really an incredible thing that American's currently have the chance to go. And I'm so grateful that Avi and I seized the opportunity together.
I highly recommend you do the same! 


Leaving you with just a few reminders before boarding the plane: 

  • Prepare to unplug. There's no wifi in Cuba.
    There are a few places that sell wifi cards - $5 for 30 minutes. Personally, I'd rather spend that money on another pina colada. Emails + instgram can wait :)

  • Don't forget your cash!
    U.S. Bank cards and credit cards don't work in Cuba.
    Make sure you figure out how much money you'll need to cover your trip, and bring it all down in cash!

  • Freshen up on your Spanish speaking skills.
    Honestly, I would have been royally screwed if I didn't have my Spanish speaking travel buddy with me. Cheers to you, Avi!

  • HAVE A FREAKIN BLAST - CUBA IS REALLY COOL AND SO ARE YOU!!!


Adventures in The Middle East || Israel + Jordan

Last month, I traveled to Israel and Jordan with my boyfriend Avi and IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!

The desert has always been my ultimate happy place, and after visiting Joshua Tree together back in August, we were both on a bit of a desert streak and decided to take our next adventure to the Middle East. We packed our bags for 10 days, which felt like the perfect amount of time for everything we wanted to do and see.

The culture was inspiring. The food was incredible. The people were kind and welcoming. The bar scene was super fun and hip. The shopping & thrifting totally delivered. 
All in all, the adventures we had there together, were priceless.

Here are a few of my favorite highlights: 

 
 

Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is for the night owls. Perfect for Avi and I. The streets are filled with hip restaurants, bars and clubs. Not to mention - THE BEACH! We danced, we drank, we ate, we smiled until our cheeks hurt, and then we took a nap on the beach. Not too shabby! 

Favorite Restaurants + Bars in Tel Aviv
Abu hassan - This place is known for having the best hummus in Tel Aviv. After a whole lot of taste testing, I can agree! 
Old Man and the Sea - A classic Israeli Shipudei (kabob) restaurant located on Jaffa Port. Shipudei means that when you sit down, you will be immediately served 22 salatim (salads). Thats right…. 22. Good luck saving room for your meal! 
Cafe puaa - My favorite restaurant from the entire trip. The food is seriously SO good, we went back a second time! Located on an adorable street in Jaffa! 
Carmel market - A great way to sample the local food. Don't forget to grab a freshly squeezed pomegranate juice! SO YUMMY. 
Manta Ray - Best seafood I've EVER had, and I live in Boston, y’all! A bit pricey, but WORTH IT. If you’re lucky, you'll get a seat on the balcony overlooking the Mediterranean! 
Jaffa flea market - Lots of jewelry, rugs and a fair share of random trinkets. 
Vitrina lili - This place is known for having the best burger in Israel. You’re probably thinking - who goes to Israel and orders a burger? Well, what can I say… I’m American.

 
 

Masada
We set out from Jerusalem to Masada at 2:30am. Yuuuuup… We hiked up Masada in the dark and from the top, sat beside the fortress walls to watch the sunrise. Soaking in breathtaking views of the Dead Sea and Jordan. 

 
 

The Dead Sea 
Ahh, what a funky experience! We didn't rent a car for this trip. It wasn't really necessary for us! But to get to the Dead Sea - you need a ride. Our driver gave us 1 hour at the Dead Sea and initially we were worried that wasn’t enough time, but once we rubbed the mud on our bodies, began floating and the salt started to suck up every ounce of moisture in our bodies…. 1 hour turned out to be PLENTY of time. Ha!

 
 

Jordan // Petra
Jordan still feels like a dream. We took a day trip to Petra through a tour company called Tourist Israel. If visa paperwork and boarder crossing stresses you out - I would recommend booking through them. They handle everything for you. Petra itself is one of those places thats so unique and breathtaking, its really hard to wrap your head around it - I left questioning everything - did that really just happen?! Yes. Yes it did. Camels, ancient cities, rolling dunes, gypsies. What a dream! 

 
 

Jerusalem
We were in Jerusalem at a very interesting time. Just 3 days after President Trump declared it as the Capital of Israel. Yes, we were a bit on edge setting out for Jerusalem. The reality is - Western media is really good at pumping fear into our brains. Of course, there are terrible scary things happening in the world - but its important to remember that what we hear about a place isn’t always true. I felt nothing but pure love and open arms for the entirety of this trip. Especially in Jerusalem. Im so happy I didn’t let fear stand in my way, and I can only hope the same for you.

We hired a private tour guide for our first day in Jerusalem. His name is Dvir. He was awesome - he toured us through ALL of the old city. The Muslim, Jewish, Arminian, and Christian quarters. I was so happy to have Dvir by our side that day - I never had to worry about navigation, and was able to give all of my attention to the tension rich, ancient city. 

Favorite Restaurants + Bars in Jerusalem
Talbiye - Random french restaurant we stumbled upon for dinner one night. Home of some damn-good cocktails. 
Abu Shukrin - Best hummus in the entire world. I kid you not. Do yourself a favor and GO! Located in the Old City - Muslim Quarter. 
Maharanee yehuda market - Our favorite market in Israel. Top quality everything. We caught it right before Shabbat started. What an experience to see the city so lively and then totally quiet down. Its beautiful. 

 
 

Israel + Jordan. You have my heart.
I can't wait for the day we meet again.